Not everyone cheats, but a lot of us do. According to a 2006 report on sexual behavior by the National Opinion Research Center, nearly a quarter of married men and 13% of married women have had an affair. But there's more to infidelity than you think. The truth may surprise you.
Hormones affect fidelity
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Yes. Women with high levels of the sex hormone oestradiol may be more likely to commit adultery, according to a new study by psychology researchers at The University of Texas at Austin. Women with high levels of oestradiol, an ovarian hormone linked to fertility, felt more attractive and were more likely to flirt, kiss and have a serious affair with a new partner. Additionally, oestradiol levels were negatively associated with a woman's satisfaction with her primary partner. Researchers posit that the findings show that highly fertile women are not easily satisfied by long-term partners and are motivated to seek out more desirable partners. However, they're more likely to be serial monogamists than engage in casual sex.
Cheating is all about sex
Not so, says Scott Haltzman, MD, a clinical professor at Brown University and author of The Secrets of Happy Married Men. Cheating can occur on an emotional level without any sexual contact. Friendship becomes emotional infidelity when there is an emotional intimacy, sexual tension and is kept secret or outside the marriage, says Dr. Haltzman.
People cheat because they've fallen out of love
"Few affairs begin because one person feels like they no longer love their spouse or partner," says Dr. Haltzman. "They may not be happy at the moment but it doesn't mean there isn't any love." Reasons for cheating often point to other issues in the relationship, such as the husband needing an ego boost from a woman not his wife, or the wife looking for more attention than she gets at home.
People cheat only with hotter, younger people
If Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles are any indication, the unfaithful don't necessarily gravitate to the hotter, younger. An affair is often rooted in a void in your current relationship, says Matt Titus, a relationship expert and author of Why Hasn't He Called? "You cheat because you're looking for what your spouse or partner doesn't have." For example, some cheaters are blind to looks but bedazzled by wit, wealth or intelligence.
Read more from AOL Health:
- Researchers Identify Why Breaking Up is Hard To Do
- 20 Percent of You Are in Love With Someone Else
- Married People Don't Become Alike Over Time
Next: Once a cheater, always a cheater...?