Think Everyone And Their Mom Cheats? Science Says You're Wrong

Heartbreak, Sex

Even if we only think our friends are cheating, it still has an effect on whether or not we'll cheat

When I look at the relationships around me that have come to an end, usually it has something to do with one of them cheating. In fact, despite being in our mid-30s, I actually have more than a few friends who married in their late 20s and have recently become divorced because their husband cheated – with a younger woman. Did I mention we’re all like 34 and 35? Not exactly old.

Because of this I feel like cheating is really present and is something with which to be alarmed, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this feeling, but a new study says that I’m overreacting, and so are each and every one of you who think that everyone and their brother are cheaters.

Although the number of those who cheat is definitely in the majority, with 75 percent of men and 68 percent of women admitting to straying, the study revealed that when we think that so much cheating is going on, it’s as if our brain sort of makes peace with the idea, and then giving it a try isn’t such a bad idea after all. There’s also the issue that we tend to compare ourselves to those around us, and from there we define what is typical when it may not actually be typical.

A study out of the Netherlands found that even if we only think our friends are cheating, it still has a direct effect on whether or not we’ll cheat in the future.

These effects were even stronger when asking about their friends’ perceived attitudes toward cheating, rather than actual cheating behavior. That is, if we think our friends are cheating, or especially that our friends think it’s OK to cheat, we’re more willing to do so ourselves. Believing that our friends are unfaithful can make these behaviors seem both more desirable and more likely to occur.

Yikes! In our perception of others we’re pretty much creating our own screw-ups and then facilitating the demise of our relationship! No good, you guys. It’s like a weird adult version of peer pressure: “Well, if Regina George is probably cheating, then it’s totally cool if I do."

But why are we coming to these false conclusions? Well, for starters, scandals always make the news. You never see stories about fidelity; they’re always about these wild tales of infidelity. Another reason is that the faithful seem to think that everyone around them is up to no good, and that they’re somehow special in the fact that they haven’t gone that route—yet.

Basically, there’s far too much assumption going on, when we should really just focus on our own relationships. Besides, as we all learned in school, when you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME. See what I did just there? Yeah, so don’t do that.


Explore YourTango