The surprising age when you are more likely to cheat on your partner

Photo: Alexander Baxevanis via Flickr

The state of infidelity in the US remains the same: Men are more likely to admit to cheating on their partner than women, according to a new analysis.

Following their breakthrough study on the science behind infidelity in America in 2018, the Institute for Family Studies recently followed up to give an updated look on who is most likely to cheat here in the states.

Using data from a YouGov survey — the iFidelity Survey in 2019 — to complement its previous findings, which found that 20% of ever-married men reported cheating on their spouse in the past. That number is doubled compared to ever-married women, where 10% admitted committing infidelity.

The iFidelity Survey examined 1,282 ever-married individuals.
One of the ways to predict possible patterns of cheating comes from the report’s demographic breakdown. Hispanic participants were the most likely to cheat compared to black and white individuals, while people over the age of 65 reported more extramarital affairs compared to people in the 35-64 age bracket.

From an educational background, people with some college experience reported more affairs compared to those with high school or less schooling and those with graduate degrees.

In terms of political background, the report found that party affiliation didn’t really have a major difference in extra circular activities. Those who identified as independent had a slight advantage on reported affairs, but democrats and republicans were even. Family background and income status also showed little to no difference in cheating patterns.

The Institute for Family Studies said it went a bit deeper than the iFidelity study in its report in terms of how “attitudes and relationship quality are associated with having an extramarital affair.”

Here’s a snippet from the report:

“If a participant in the iFidelity survey reported having been cheated on by a spouse in the past, they were also more likely to self-report an extramarital affair. When we asked participants what behaviors they felt represented cheating, 70% labeled six behaviors of the nine behaviors presented as “cheating,” and 30% rated seven or more of the behaviors as cheating. Participants who labeled more than six behaviors as cheating were less likely to report extramarital affairs, relative to their more lenient counterparts. Reporting being “very satisfied” in the relationship and perceiving a relationship as “very stable” were also both associated with lower levels of extramarital affairs.”

Reasons for cheating included being a victim of past cheating, lower level of perceived marital stability, and lower marital satisfaction.

Other factors such as religion also were predictors, too. Participants who considered religion not “very important” were more than twice as likely to report an extramarital affair compared to those who viewed religion as “very important.”

Similarly, participants who never attended church reported a higher percentage of affairs compared to those who attended mass less than once a week and others who attended church at least once a week.

“These findings suggest that both demographic, attitudinal, and relational variables are associated with extramarital affairs. Among the variables that individuals can control, adopting a stricter than average definition of cheating, being in a stable relationship, and the personal importance of religion are all related to lower likelihoods of cheating on one’s spouse,” the author of the report said.