11 Myths And Facts About Cheating

Lipstick and phone number on napkin
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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

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.

Once a cheater, always a cheater

"When you learn by loss, you see repercussions for your actions," says Titus. A reformed adulterer from his first marriage (which ended in divorce), he says he's felt the consequences of his infidelity and matured emotionally from the experience. He's now remarried. "I was given a second chance. I would never cheat on my wife, so once a cheater, always a cheater is not always true."

A marriage can't withstand cheating

"An affair doesn't have to be a death knell to a relationship," says Dr. Haltzman. "It can be a wake up call instead." If you look on the bright side, an affair can be a springboard to open a dialogue via counseling sessions to discuss the underlying problems in the relationship. "A marriage or relationship absolutely can withstand cheating."

One-time cheating is no different than an affair

"It is different," says Rhonda Fine, PhD, a clinical sexologist and diplomate of The American Academy of Clinical Sexologists. "One-time cheating still breaks a bond of trust in your relationship, but affairs are much more emotionally vested than a one-night stand." In both cases you've disrespected your partner and marriage vows, but ongoing affairs could be worse, as they often lead to emotional intimacy.

Women don't cheat

Oh yes they do, corrects Dr. Fine. "As women are more involved in the workforce and travel on business trips, they encounter more situations which make them prone to cheating." Plus, Dr. Fine says women bond more easily than men. "When they work closely with men, they feel more emotionally vested in the relationship."

Men cheat because they're not getting enough at home

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There are a variety of reasons why people cheat, and it's not always about the sex, says Dr. Fine. "People cheat because they're selfish, immature or narcisstic. Or they're excitement junkies and attracted to the drama. They put their needs ahead of others and rarely blame themselves why they cheated in the first place."

Midlife crisis = cheating

The thing about clichés, like graying hair and convertibles, is that most are based on fact. But a midlife crisis is much more. In an online poll produced by Wisconsin Public Radio, more than half of the respondents said that a midlife crisis is a "very real, gut-wrenchingly depressing experience." Some men hit middle age and have affairs. Others, however, start drinking too much or become clinically depressed. That's when it's time to seek counseling.

Cheaters don't want to get caught

Quite the contrary, notes Dr. Haltzman. "People may actually set it up so the spouse or partner find out. Whether it's lipstick on the collar or emails left open on the family computer, we leave our fingerprints everywhere. Oftentimes, "it's a cry to say 'I need to get help.' Some people make it obvious because they want to stop but don't know how."

Written by Vicky Salemi for AOL Health