Who Your Spouse Is Most Likely To Have An Affair With — And Why

Photo: Nicoleta Ionescu / Shutterstock
man looking at his phone while woman looks over her shoulder to see what he is looking at

With so many cheating husbands and wives in marriages these days, scientific researchers are busy trying to figure out why married people feel drawn to having an affair with other women and men.

A report from the Institute for Family Studies estimates that about 13 percent of married women and 20 percent of married men admit to having cheated on their spouse at least once in their married lives.

But who is your spouse most likely to cheat with?

A study conducted by the people at Superdrug Online Doctor, a web-based pharmaceutical treatment and service provider in the UK, found one particularly startling statistic.

A whopping 40.6 percent of women and 32.9 percent of men in the group of 2,000 Europeans and Americans surveyed said they cheated with a friend.

Photo: Superdrug Online Doctor

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And it gets worse.

In another study, online jeweler Forktip surveyed 5,000 respondents in order to "understand how relationships and ‘mating rituals’ are evolving." In doing so they learned that 23.8 percent of the cheaters who responded said they had an affair with their partner's friend!

So wrong! But apparently, so exciting! Who knew?

Cheaters responding to that study also admit cheating with people they meet at work (22.4 percent), one of their partner's family members (3.9 percent) and generalized "others" (49.9 percent).

Another big secret among cheating husbands and wives is that they tend to cheat with other married people.

As most people are aware, Ashley Madison — the dating site for people who are “married but dating” — accidentally exposed its members’ emails and personal data after being hacked in 2015, yet years later, they are thriving with more members than ever before.

In the process of recovering from the bad press associated with the infamous hacking, Rob Segal, CEO of parent company Ruby, explained that the "new Ashley Madison is focused on facilitating 'open-minded' hookups, such as for polyamorous couples or singles looking for a BDSM partner — or all of the above."

“The fastest-growing category (in dating websites) is this open-minded one," Segal said, "as people really begin to question 20th-century values and apply a new 21st-century approach to human sexuality.”

The site also changed its original slogan, “Life is short. Have an affair,” to the more whimsical, "Find your moment."

While the move to welcome more people in polyamorous relationships makes sense, as polyamory is way more ethical than cheating, a quick browse through the married guys on the site reveals tons of married men saying things like, “I love my wife, but she doesn’t want to have sex with me anymore.” (That may be because she’s busy having sex with your best friend.)

RELATED: I Went Undercover On Ashley Madison To Find Out Why Women Cheat

What are the psychological reasons people cheat on their spouses?

Another study on cheating, called "The Brain Adapts to Dishonesty" and published in the scientific journal Nature Neuroscience, explains the psychological reasons people have affairs.

The study focused on an area of the brain called the amygdala, the location in which we form and store "memories associated with emotional events."

Researchers studied functional MRI images of participants given opportunities to lie or act dishonestly in order to achieve something in their own interests. Their findings indicate that humans have "a biological mechanism that supports a ‘slippery slope’: what begins as small acts of dishonesty can escalate into larger transgressions."

In other words, the more someone cheats, lies about it, and gets away with it, the more their degree of guilt lessens each time, and the more likely they are to repeat the dishonest behavior they got away with.

So what’s the good news here?

RELATED: What Women Should Know About How Men Choose Affair Partners — According To 400 Men

The Superdrug study referenced above found that the number one reason American and European women cheat is because their "partner stopped paying attention to me,” so they looked for that attention elsewhere.

So in the end, it's not really about the sex, it's about the compassion and intimacy. Well, for women, at least...

The number one reason American and European men cheat is because "the other person was really hot."

Photo credit: Superdrug Online Doctor

So there's that.

Oh, and whatever you do, don’t introduce your spouse to your best friend.

RELATED: Divorce Attorney Reveals The Professions Most (And Least) Likely To Cheat

Anka Radakovich is a sex columnist, certified sexologist, sex educator, screenwriter, and author. She is currently a columnist for British GQ and has written for Marie Claire, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Cosmopolitan, Men's Journal, Glamour, Maxim and more.

This article was originally published at Sexpert. Reprinted with permission from the author.