Your friend just confided to you that she is having an affair.
Before jumping to conclusions, let's look at some infidelity statistics to see how much cheating is going on. An estimate from the journal of Marriage and Divorce concludes that 70% of married Americans cheat at least once in their marriage. That sounds awfully high. Most other resources estimate that 30 to 60% of married couples will cheat at least once in the marriage. A 2021 survey by Health Testing Centers polled 441 people and reported: a little over 46% of respondents in a monogamous relationship said they had affairs.
97% of American adults believe it is wrong to engage in extramarital sex.
And over 90% of Americans consider infidelity immoral.
But around 30% to 40% of Americans cheat on their partners.
So, despite that, almost all of us believe it’s immoral and wrong, cheating happens often. Nobody wants to get cheated on, but many of us will.
There are three basic personal belief systems regarding affairs.
1/ affairs are not talked about but are generally accepted as a part of life without a lot of moral judgment
2/ affairs are considered as an act of ultimate betrayal and, as such, are morally unacceptable and never forgivable
3/or somewhere in between the 1/ and 2/, where affairs are painful, but couples try to forgive and move forward
Let’s be realistic. Someone is going to get hurt. Betrayal by an intimate partner comes with immense pain and trauma. All the parties involved will experience loss, pain, and regret in some form.
Now try to understand your friend’s situation.
Is she having an affair because she is dissatisfied with her current relationship and feels unloved, unhappy, not understood, and not appreciated? Did she try over and over in the past to communicate this to her partner, but things never changed?
Or does she feel ok in her current relationship but looks for novelty and excitement because her intimate needs are not well addressed? In other words, did the lust for immediate satisfaction temporarily outpace her willingness to be respectful and loyal to the love and relationship she has waiting at home?
Affair is obviously not a good solution to either of the above situations. It's a symptom that something went wrong; something is missing.
In the first scenario, the affair might reflect the irreparable damage already done. I think temporary separation and honest discussion could clarify the relationship.
The second scenario could reflect a temporary glitch in the relationship; honest communication could help to forgive and move forward.
Easily said than done.
Should your friend admit to infidelity or continue to hide it?
The statistics say that roughly half of the cheaters either get caught or admit to infidelity for other reasons, like STD or fear of one, or just plain guilt.
Outcomes of admitting to infidelity:
· 54.5% The relationship/marriage was broken up immediately.
· 30% The couples tried to stay together but eventually broke up.
· 15.6% The couples are still together.
Source: Health Testing Centers
Chances are roughly 50% that your friend will get caught, and if she gets caught, the chances of a breakup are about 85%. Looks like she should brace herself for a rough year. But hopefully, she will have you standing by her side.
Given that infidelity produces such adverse personal and relational consequences, yet people are known to cheat, the question becomes:
Why risk it? Why Do People Cheat?
· Falling out of love.
· For variety.
· Feeling neglected.
· Situational forces.
· To boost self-esteem.
· Out of anger.
· Not feeling committed.
Source: Psychology Today
And how about the rest of us? How could we decrease our chances of being cheated on?
This might seem obvious:
The #1 defense against cheating is a great relationship.
That means understanding your partner, encouraging honest communication with a lot of compassion and no judgment, be the go-to person for them. Anything you don't provide regarding emotional, intellectual, and physical needs opens a gap for someone else to fill.
Talk frequently and openly about sex and desires. Keep things fun and laugh together. Be attractive to your partner and try to make the relationship so terrific that your partner would never want to mess around and risk losing it. Share the deepest secrets within emotional and physical intimacy and be their best friend. Know things about them that their mom or friends don’t even know. Keep giving them reasons to love and value you. Embrace forgiveness. It will make you valuable in a way few others can replicate.
However, people occasionally cheat for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the relationship and, sometimes, despite being very sexually satisfied. My only advice there is: Run!
Join our discussion in the Forum and share your best defenses against cheating!