Survey Results: 6 Surprising Myths About Infidelity

If you think the adage "once a cheater, always a cheater" is true, think again.

Survey Results: 6 Surprising Myths About Infidelity [EXPERT]

A recent survey of over 100 mental health professionals puts to rest some longstanding myths about infidelity. YourTango Experts posed 23 probing questions to its members in an attempt to understand the apparent epidemic that plagues so many American couples today. Namely, the survey sought to uncover who cheats most (men or women), why they cheat, the impact of infidelity on relationships and how couples fare after one or both parties has cheated.


The results were astounding. Below is a list of the top six myths debunked by our experts:

Myth #1: Men cheat more than women. While 49% of experts say that men cheat more than women, a whopping 47% agree that women are just as likely to be unfaithful to their partners as their male counterparts. 

Myth #2: Men cheat because of sexual dissatisfaction. Rather, 34% of experts (a plurality) polled agree that men stray when they are unsatisfied emotionally in their relationships.

About this statistic, YourTango Expert Lynn R. Zakeri has this to say: "It may sound surprising, but many men are really looking for someone to connect with, to be their best friend and their intimate partner, and when they lose that connection in their marriage, they may look elsewhere." Meanwhile, YourTango Expert Dr. Susan Heitler adds, "While there [are] many factors that can lead to an extramarital sexual encounter, emotional distance is one that couples can prevent. If there's been distress, dissension or too much distance, take a marriage ed class to learn how to stay more comfortably connected."


Myth #3: When it comes to infidelity, honesty is the best policy. 57% of experts polled say that when someone in a relationship has been unfaithful, it isn't always best for him/her to tell his/her partner. Among the reasons offered for this counterintuitive response was this: "If the person realizes that the event was wrong and inexcusable and wants to devote him/herself to the partner, telling the partner about the unfaithfulness may unnecessarily devastate the partner."

YourTango Expert David Di Francesco adds, "If, before the infidelity, the lines of communication between partners was not sufficient to allow heartfelt discussion of where the relationship was and wasn't working, then it's unlikely that a discussion of the occurance of infidelity is going to be anything more than a further expansion of emotional emptiness, betrayal, hurt and anger."

More advice about infidelity from YourTango:

YourTango Expert Lori Edelson says, "When a person cheats, feels remorseful and is determined to remain faithful going forward in the relationship, [his/her] betrayal remains [his/her] private pain and [he/she] must learn to live with [his/her] guilt. To share [his/her] betrayal with [his/her] partner may ease [his/her] guilt and pain, but it causes tremendous pain and mistrust for the person betrayed. If there is no more cheating, there is no reason to torture the unsuspecting partner and risk the end of the relationship."


Myth #4: Pornography and infidelity are unrelated. Not so. In fact, 59% of experts say that pornography influences infidelity. 

Myth #5: Celebrities and politicians are more unfaithful than everyone else. Nearly 47% of experts say that celebrities do not cheat any more frequently than the rest of us. However, celebrity infidelity does affect how the rest of the world views infidelity.

Myth #6: Once a cheater, always a cheater. 81% percent of experts say that the adage "once a cheater, always a cheater" is absolutely untrue. 

YourTango Expert Dr. Margaret Paul notes, "You cannot generalize because people cheat for different reasons. If they are sexually addicted and don't heal this, they will likely continue cheating. If they cheat due to being very unhappy with their partner and they heal the relationship, or leave and create a new loving relationship, they will likely not cheat [again]."


Want to learn more about infidelity? Tune in now through June 29 for the YourTango Experts intensive event, The Truth About Infidelity, featuring all kinds of advice and insights from our experts about cheating.