Who Is More Likely To Cheat
It’s a question that has long plagued people who are in relationships or considering one. It is often asked in bars, at parties, even on Tinder. But no matter where you go to get an answer, there seems to be no consensus.
In fact, according to information gathered by the 2018 General Social Survey (GSS), 20 percent of married men and 13 percent of married women have slept with someone other than their partner. So what does this mean? Are men inherently more likely to stray? Or do we just not know how to deal with our emotions better?
“There is some evidence that women may be more prone to cheating,” says Dr. Michael J. Ross, Ph.D., licensed psychologist and author of The Intimacy Myth. “Men might seem less emotionally aware but studies show they still struggle with intimacy.”
Dr. Ross notes that research shows men and women both experience the same amount of stress from work, family responsibilities and daily life. However, when it comes to emotional intelligence, men generally outperform women. Women are typically more comfortable expressing themselves through conversation, while men are more comfortable expressing themselves through action. This means that if a man feels overwhelmed by his day-to-day responsibilities, he will feel stressed and use sex as a way to cope. If a woman feels overwhelmed by her day-to-day responsibilities, she may talk herself out of feeling upset and opt for comfort food instead. Her partner, however, may be able to relieve himself of these feelings through exercise or physical activity.
It should also be noted that many women don’t want to admit that they’re having problems because they feel like admitting weakness. They may believe that they need to appear strong and independent. And since men are often viewed as being stronger, it makes sense why so many women would rather not discuss their relationship issues with their partners.
So is there any truth to the stereotype that men are more likely to cheat on their wives? Let’s take a look at the numbers.
According to data published by the Journal of Family Issues, in 2009, 21.7 percent of husbands admitted to infidelity during marriage, compared with 12.8 percent of wives. In 2014, those numbers had flipped; 19.5 percent of men cheated, compared with 26.6 percent of women. While the rate of husband’s infidelities had decreased slightly, wife’s infidelities had increased significantly. The reason experts cite could be due to the increase in single mothers, which increases the likelihood of divorce.
Also consider the following statistics:
The percentage of marriages ending in divorce reached its highest point in 2002 at 44.9 percent. From 2005 to 2007, divorces dropped dramatically, down to 32.3 percent.
During the same period, the number of extramarital affairs rose from 3.2 percent to 5.1 percent.
If you’re a man, your odds of cheating are higher if you’re younger than 35 years old. Older men under age 25 were twice as likely to cheat than older men over 50.
For women, your chances of cheating rise if you’re between ages 18 and 24 years old, regardless of marital status. After age 30, your odds of infidelity decrease.
While researchers can’t say definitively whether men are more likely to cheat, there are definitely certain factors that put them at greater risk. For example, men who have low levels of conscientiousness — meaning they are organized, hardworking and reliable — are more likely to engage in extra-marital sexual behavior. Men who score high on agreeableness, openness to new experiences and extraversion are also more likely to cheat.
On the flip side, women who are more outgoing, open to trying new things and adventurous are more likely to experiment sexually outside of their committed relationships.
What can you do to lower your chance of cheating, especially if you’re a guy? Experts suggest taking care of yourself mentally and physically.
“I tell my clients all the time that self-care isn’t selfish. Self-care is about caring for yourself so that you can be present for others,” says Dr. Ross. “You have to take care of yourself first before you can take care of anyone else.”
If you start small, you’ll see positive changes almost immediately. Start each morning off right with a healthy breakfast and exercise routine. Take time to unwind after work with friends and family. Go shopping alone once a week without distractions. You’ll find that you become happier overall.
And remember the key takeaway from all of this: Don’t compare yourself to others.
“People often measure their success against someone else, and that can lead to envy and resentment,” Dr. Ross says. “Your own happiness is completely up to you.”
Some people cheat because they are unhappy with their current situation. Others aren’t happy until they’ve found someone “better.” Either way, it takes two to tango.
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