The Science Of Infidelity: 14 Reasons People Cheat

March 26, 2014  |  
1 of 14

A sad reality that many must face in relationships is that we can’t control what our mates do.  Even though you might do your best to fulfill their needs, ultimately it’s up to them if they’re going to be faithful.  But, if fidelity is simple as it seems?  Is it merely just a choice, or are some people more prone to infidelity?  Is there a science behind it?

Well, thanks to the study of many scientists, psychologists, and sociologist, I brought you all 14 studies that dissected fidelity and the myths along with it.  Remember, that with science all these things are theories, and it’s not indicative of every person that you date/marry.  But, the more you know…

"I didn't see it like that"

“I didn’t see it like that”

With the constant knowledge of things that are bad for us, do you ever wonder why some people still smoke, obsessively drink, or binge, knowing what the consequences are?  People are able to do these things due to something called “cognitive dissonance.”  This is the act of separating the wrong that you do, and either trivializing it, or justifying it so you don’t seem as bad.  This behavior is very prominent in cheaters.

An experiment was published in January 2013 that proved that when people were made to feel bad about their past cheating, they saw it as such.  Whereas, if their behavior was rationalized, they were able to separate themselves from their own bad behavior leading them with thoughts like:  cheating is bad, but I’m not, because I’m a good person… even though I cheated.

They have an addiction

They have an addiction

Within the last decade, people have been using the fact that they have a sex addiction to justify their infidelity.  While some have been skeptical, it actually is an issue for some.  Some people who have sex addictions allow themselves to do very unhealthy things for themselves and relationships, and there are recovery facilities for those who suffer.

People Find them Desirable (Depending on Gender)

People Find them Desirable (Depending on Gender)

An experiment was recently done by entitled “To Catch a Cheater.”  They set up a number of fake profiles on dating sites and created them with a certain level of fidelity.  Through that, they saw that their fake women profiles who were interested in cheating were hit up more by men.  Where as the fake male profiles of cheaters were more chastised.

This pointed to the fact that some men merely want just sex, rather than a relationship.  That’s why the men in the study sought out these “taken” women.



According to “dating” site, a site that helps married people to find people to cheat on their spouses with, found that their busiest days for signup were the day before Valentine’s Day (for men) and the day after for women.  According to the site:

“While February 13th — also known as Mistress Day — saw a 271% increase in signups, there was actually a 314% decrease in signups on Valentine’s Day itself. The most prolific traffic came the day after Valentine’s as 439% more people signed up to find what’s missing in their marriage.

The huge spike in signups on the 15th was mostly driven by married women: their membership increased by a whopping 977%. CEO and founder Noel Biderman says expectations around the holiday drive membership: “Mistress Day is all about avoidance. People sign up to avoid the stress they know they will have to face with their spouse the following day.” He continues, “The day after Valentine’s Day is one of our biggest days of the year. People are disappointed by their spouses’ lack of effort, and they feel especially undervalued when there is a societal expectation of romance. Certain days of the year act as litmus tests for many people in relationships.”




According to the same study on the controversial site, the increase of men signing up to find a mistress the day before Valentine’s day was due to the stress that they feel society puts on men to deliver on Valentine’s day.  These men get mistresses to help them cope with the stress that they know they will face the very next day.

It's in Your Genes

It’s in Your Genes

The good people at Scientific American tried to find a correlation between genetics and infidelity.  They found that men who had a variant of the chemical vassopressin (which is dominant in voles) have a tendency to have problems of fidelity and in relationships in general.

Further research from the Binghamton University, State University of New York also did a study and found that people who had a variation of the chemical DRD4 had a tendency to engage in activities of infidelity.  These people also tended to be more open to social situations and taking risks.

You Got it from your Mama/Dad

You Got it from your Mama/Dad

Does anyone else remember that PSA about a man who confronts his son about finding drugs in his closet, and when the father asks him:  “Where did you learn this stuff?”  the boy yells:  “I learned it from watching you, okay?!”

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!  Good memories!  ANYWHO…

That might be true for women.  Men cheating has been largely contributed to men’s evolutionary need to want to spread their seed.  Which always lead scientists to want to understand the rationale of women who have issues with fidelity.  A 17 year study was conducted to examine the reason why women cheat, and while the conclusion was that women also wanted to ensure a good genetic match for their children, some scientists aren’t convinced.

Some believe that women who are descendants of a cheating father might have inherited that behavior from said low-life.

They have a Need for Control

They have a Need for Control

When powerful people are caught cheating, the rationale that usually comes is the fact that the person’s ego was so big that they felt that they were untouchable.  While that’s probably true, another study brought in the idea of control.

If a person is powerful, that person has a tendency to be in control of certain aspects of their lives, namely the talent that got them their power.  Though the person might not actively sit down and plan to cheat, they might go through with it for the fact that they believe that they can control the situation.

Performance Anxiety

Performance Anxiety

In a study conducted by researchers at Indiana University,Bloomington and the University of Guelph in Ontario found that a reason why some people cheat is due to stress of dealing with the anticipation of having to perform for their mate sexually.  With a person that they’re not in a relationship with, they tended to not care as much about meeting that person’s needs, allowing them to be more open sexually:

“It may be that individuals with arousal difficulties feel less pressure to perform sexually with a partner to whom they are not emotionally committed or in a relationship context which is not long- term. In addition, it may be that some individuals want to evaluate if, or believe that, their arousal difficulty is specific to their primary relationship and engage in infidelity for that reason.”

To Fix their Marriage (?)

To Fix their Marriage (?)

The site decided to ask its users (which are married, by the way) what attempts they made to try to save their marriage, and apparently cheating on their mate was one of the last straws.  I guess, in some way it’s a cry for help/attention. (Shoulder shrug)?

“People don’t pursue an affair at the drop of a hat.  We always knew anecdotally that people used to stay in their marriage,” said Noel Biderman, CEO,  “Married people know that sex isn’t the most important thing in a marriage, and they aren’t going to simply or quickly leave. They also aren’t willing to settle for abstinence for the rest of their lives, so that’s when they look for an external solution.”

If the Man is Financially Dependent on the Woman

If the Man is Financially Dependent on the Woman

From 2001 to 2007, Christin Munsch, a sociology PhD candidate at Cornell University, studied behaviors in heterosexual relationships and the factors that affect fidelity.  Within that, she found that men who tended to depend on their female counterpart financially tended to be prone to stepping out on their mates.

Not all under-earning men tended to cheat.  Only those who weren’t on the same education, religious, and social status as their mates.

The correlation seemed that the men were more unhappy in a relationship where the women held the reigns, money-wise, sought to find happiness outside.  Their earning potential was directly correlated to their masculinity.  Where as…

More Money, More Opportunity

More Money, More Opportunity

The exact same study proved that men who made more money, regardless of whether or not they had the same level of education, religious beliefs and social status would cheat if the opportunity presented itself.

The more a man tended to make, coupled with increased   opportunity, and lastly an inflated sense of self, the more likely he would cheat.   But don’t feel defeated, ladies!  According to Stephanie Coontz, who also participated in the study, she had these words of encouragement:

“The take-home message for me out of this is more encouraging for women: Yes, there are guys who still take advantage. But if you are married to a guy who does work, shares your values and background, is close to the same age, and is a good partner, you should not worry at all if you make more than he does!” Coontz added.

Blinded by Beauty

Blinded by Beauty

When a person has a risk-taker personality, it seems to be heightened when they are around someone they find attractive.  

As it turns out, men may become blind to risk when an attractive woman enters the picture. One 2008 study found that men who played blackjack after seeing beautiful female faces took more risks than men who played the game after seeing unattractive faces.”  

But you outright hate other parts of him

Maya Angelou once said:  “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”  Sometimes in relationships people might be honest about who they are, but we’ll sometimes be blind to it, ignore red flags, or think that if they spend enough time with us that they’ll realize that we’re the one.

But, as DNLee wrote in her study Hip Hop Evolution Files:  Examining Infidelity from a Biological Prospective “monogamy is a myth.”

 “Why is monogamy a myth? Well for the most part, among people and the entire animal kingdom, it rarely exists in its pure form – a single mate for life. Love ain’t so simple [and] neither is monogamy… We’re just as carnal as our beastly cousins. The truth is, more often than not, like the man in the very beginning of [Naughty by Nature’s “O.P.P.“] music video – who hesitates, but eventually discards the token of his monogamous relationship – many people struggle to be faithful to their mates.”

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  • Truth

    Very obvious why the divorce rate is so high today.


  • BeingVeryHonest

    Well many of us men Can be very happy with just one woman, but so many women today just Can’t be very happy with just one man.

  • bubbles

    Something must be very wrong with the chemicals in my brain because I have never found anyone besides my partner sexually attractive or worth pursing when I am in a relationship. I just do not look at people that way. Perhaps if your “taken” you should look at people as if they were your relatives…

  • Lee

    Sometimes people are pushed into it by the person they are cheating on. Yes it can be their own fault? Why? Because the partner of the cheater distances themselves from the cheater in the first place. Strictly from a male point of view, guys like to be physical, if their partner withholds sex for vast durations; like 6 months at a time or longer, then the guy isn’t necessarily cheating out of an intention to hurt his partner, he just wants sex which is just natural to expect on a semi frequent level of at least once a month in an adult relationship. If his partner is denying sex for extended periods without any clear of honest reason then he will feel rejected and is less likely to feel guilty if he does cheat, maybe even justified in doing it, but probably satisfied. Don’t be dishonest with you partner or manipulative, he probably won’t be too worried about how you feel if you don’t care how he feels. Why wouldn’t a guy leave the relationship then? He may genuinely love his partner or their maybe kids involved. And it is better if parents can stay together for their children at least until they are mature, do the research.Sex is just sex and love is love, they are different things, that’s why there’s different words for them.

  • michael

    nine out of ten women are battered I eat mine plain

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  • Mr. Miz

    No, there are only two reasons why anybody cheats. First, whether they ever admit it or not, they value getting off with a piece of strange more than the emotional and mental well being of their partner. Two, they think they’ll get away with it.

  • alasia min

    I think it’s just because humans are greedy. It all goes back to the “7 sins”, all of them stemming from narcissism. Humans are animals and some aren’t as different from other animals as they like to believe. Humans are the only animals who don’t plan their own reproduction, so in fact, some are worse than animals.

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  • openyoureyesbeforeyoudie

    the very fact this site uses sources like ashleymadison and songs to make their points about how reality is should be a giant red flag to all its members and users who read these completely ridiculous articles

  • There is no real reason to commit adultery.
    Before marriage or after.

  • thecuckoldswife

    I cheat on my husband for 2 reasons: 1) he likes it (which I do believe is incredibly weird) and 2) because he is a lousy & pathetic as lover (possibly on purpose, just so I will find other men) and the men I sleep with are menfriends who share my appetite and enjoy having sex the way I do.

  • ♏ ®

    Well, the most common reason I’ve seen most of the men I know cheat is this: when they were young, women didn’t pay them any attention. They were awkward and geeky. Nobody wanted them. And then, that ONE woman showed interest. He married her. Now, all the women in the land seem to be attracted to him. He HAD to try because it was too good to pass up.
    I say this: a WEAK person will cheat when the opportunity arises. It takes a STRONG person to deny what people believe is nature (and I believe it’s a scapegoat) and be faithful. If you find yourself unable to be faithful in a committed relationship, then avoid them. There’s no requirement of ANYONE nowadays to be married or in a relationship. So if you cheat, just don’t be in one.

  • SamyyCiao

    With all the hate going around for Preisent Obama and former President George B who get the blame 6 years latter for all the ills of the US and the world — – amzaing some haters did not start rumors on them cheating – Clinton still cheating today and Hillary does not seem to mind and she looks like the next President – think she cheats also?



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  • kandai

    I want to say, a man cheats even if has a good relationship or not as long as he want to do it he can do it. a woman cheats if she don’t get enough, very time her man he is tired to touch him I want to sleep then what, you end up cheating.

    • Grim Reaper

      If a man is getting all he needs from a female he will never jeopardise that

  • kd nicky

    Sigh..There are not 14 reasons but 14 excuses. Ultimately a person cheats because they have decided that is what they are going to do. The reasons or motivations may be different but cheating will always be the act of a willing and able conscious person.

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  • toto

    you are telling the turth and malena

  • akbar

    Men i think cheat because of the fact that they dont get the response from their partner what they expect from her. If the female partner fulfils the desires of man,the man would never try to cheat her, look at any other girl,talk her and would not keep any kind of relationships except with her.

  • jeshes

    people cheat because of lack of honesty. if you are unhappy or feel you cant be faithful, get help, or get a divorce. dont stay for “the kids” they wont appreciate it. theyd rather have happy persons than two miserable people stuck together.

    • toto

      not true

      • Him

        I knew my parents had a dead marriage from early teens through mid 20s and looking back I wish they had split up. More work to see them seperately but living with the fights or apathy was awful. It subconsciously tainted my view of relationships for yrs growing up.

  • Thats true

    • toto

      what you mean thats true

  • Angel

    There are people out there who cheat for other reasons. I, for one, having been married for 26 years, was feeling very disillusioned, unloved, unwanted by my husband. Having an affair makes you feel desirable, wanted, needed, loved. My lover and I have fallen deeply in love, however, we both feel that too many people in our lives would be hurt if we were to divorce our partners. There are more things to consider…

    • jesles

      so you two selfishly decide for your partners what the outcome of your betrayal should be? if you cheat, the other person has the right to know if they want to invest more time in the relationship. the longer you wait, the more lies, the more pain you cost. by the way, if you and your lover were able to cheat on your respective spouses, i doubt either one of you will be faithful to each other. dont be surprised if your new perfect man doesnt do the same to you later on. what starts badly, ends badly.

      • Nandutu

        tell her. what goes round turns round. stolen water is sweet.

      • I disagree. It’s actually selfish to tell your partner about a brief infidelity, especially if you know it would devastate them and you’re only doing it to clear your own conscience.

    • Claire

      Its sad that you think trying to justify your cheating will make your relationship with your lover right, its embarrassing what people continue to accept……and maybe the people around you think you have a respectable marriage that has lasted this long, but if the knew the truth about your other relationship, everyone would look at you with different feelings

    • Sun

      My ex told me that she and her lover agreed they would never hurt their partners. That worked out really well then….

  • Dalma01

    This story line of why couples cheat is nothing’s been happening for yonks. Psychologists, psychiatrists , and sex therapists etc also cheat. In more ways then you or me because they are at the coal face, and patients who are vulnerable and easily manipulated. The other aspect is what becomes of the children, and the fall out for families ?
    Bottom line, if you are gonna cheat, why get hitched ? There are so many modern ‘ defacto ‘ relationships, and same sex couples with multiple partners. all sanctioned by the State and Governments, it becomes normal, to cheat, least of all,it’s epidemic and will implode until humanity faces the consequences of their sexuality and bring some sanity to life styles.
    Imagine..just wishful thinking . It wont happen this century. Betcha !

    • laney

      i agree. we need honestly. if you cant be faithful, you should not get married. have an open relationship, leave alone the people that want monogamous relationships. both lifestyles are not wrong, what matters is that people be honest, you know?

      • Nandutu

        Tell them out. if you want to cheat dont get married n if you are married n cheating then quit marriage n be single.

  • Pingback: 14 reasons why your man is cheating on you (READ) |()

  • Nicole

    14 Excuses why people cheat….see I fixed it for you. People cheat because their feelings for themselves are stronger than the feelings they have for their significant other [even if those feelings are fleeting and for a brief moment, that’s all it takes]

    • Alexis

      Yep. Bottom line…that’s it.

      • Horace in Ottawa

        Hi Nicole, I was just cruising on line Hope all is good. Cheers Horace

  • Diamond

    Just my opinion and I’m not saying this is always the case, but I think men tend to cheat just because they like to have multiple partners/feel desirable by multiple people. I then women tend to cheat when they are unhappy in their current relationship and they’re looking for what they’re missing in their relationship. So for men I think it’s often just physical. For women more emotional. Although I’ve definitely heard of women that cheated because their man couldn’t “satisfy” them in bed too.

    • Johnnie Q. X. Sturner

      This is true. I’m actually studying this in Sociology class.

      • Estafador

        it’s also opinion. Sociology is all matters of opinion not definete fact. I can easily make a detailed counter argument why diamond is entirely wrong but I don’t care enough to write 10 paragraphs on the subject

    • Malena

      So accurate comment, when I failed to my relationship I felt really desperate about the way I was feeling soooo empty emotionally speaking…. I think it goes beyond the physicality :S

    • kuwashiwa zion

      well said Diamond. i couldn’t agree more.

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    • Aj Adhami

      but both are cheater and both are wrong