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If you’ve ever been cheated on, then you know that the pain can feel more excruciating than any physical pain imaginable. And it’s not just in your head. Psychologists at PsychCentral have even confirmed that the pain of infidelity can feel as bad as grieving the loss of a loved one. Experts also state that the psychological damage of being cheated on can have long-lasting effects, triggering a form of PTSD not previously experienced by the victim. The bottom line: being cheated on is something best avoided. Of course you can’t control or predict the behaviors of others. But you can come to understand some facts about cheating, what it looks like, why people cheat, and even where it happens the most. We did some digging and found the intel on all of the above.

What Is Cheating?

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According to a report from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy published in The New York Times, 15 percent of married women and 25 percent of married men have had affairs. However, the report noted that when non-physical emotional affairs were counted, the incidents of cheating rose by 20 percent. This raises the question: what counts as cheating? The feeling of betrayal is subjective. But if someone feels they’ve been cheated on, is that enough to accuse someone of infidelity?

Legally speaking, cheating occurs when a married person voluntarily engages in sexual activity with someone who is not their spouse. In states with anti-cheating laws, an affair that meets that description can be punishable as a crime, says Infidelity Recovery Institute. Anecdotally speaking, there are many other actions that can leave a partner feeling betrayed. Here are common types of cheating:

·       Financial cheating. Financial cheating occurs when one partner takes financial actions that impact both parties and either does not tell their partner about these actions or lies about them. These can include lying about purchases or income, hiding debt and similar activities.

·       Emotional cheating. Emotional cheating can mean sharing deeply personal information with someone other than your partner, which can create a sense of intimacy usually reserved for a romantic relationship.

·       Cyber cheating. Cyber cheating takes on a number of forms. It can involve having video sex with another individual or simply exchanging X-rated messages with someone who is not your partner. Sometimes cyber cheating is a means for emotional cheating especially if a person is sending deeply personal messages or emails to someone who is not their partner.

·       Physical cheating without sex. It involves physical activities typically reserved for one’s romantic relationship with someone who is not their partner. This can include anything from a kiss to oral sex or even cuddling with another individual.

Why Do People Cheat?

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So what leads people to cheat? Given the many ways infidelity presents itself, cheating does not boil down to something as simple as sex drive. A romantic relationship usually involves intimacy on many levels. It’s a friendship, a sexual relationship, a partnership and even a form of family. So when any of those areas aren’t being fulfilled in a relationship, a person might step out to get the satisfaction they need elsewhere. That’s why there are so many reasons cheating occurs.

A study published in Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy looked at nearly 500 people who admitted to cheating and discovered the root causes of infidelity. They are:

  • Anger
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Lack of love
  • Low commitment
  • Need for variety
  • Neglect
  • Sexual desire
  • Situation or circumstance

The study found one major commonality between all cheaters: a lack of love or feeling of neglect in the primary relationship, correlated with a higher emotional attachment to the outside partner. The study also found that this is a common dynamic in affairs.

Where Do People Cheat?

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Now that we know what cheating looks like and why it happens, inquiring minds want to know: where do the cheaters live? The experts behind the matchmaking site MyDatingAdviser.com used data from the U.S. Census Bureau to determine the top cities for infidelity. They determined this based on information surrounding emotional wellbeing, life satisfaction and the number of places to have an affair. Experts also took into account the number of Google searches revealing an interest in or intention to cheat. If you’re looking for monogamy and a committed relationship, these might not be the best places to live.

1)      Dallas, TX. Residents of Dallas show a 32.85% Google search interest in hookup sites and see a 12% divorce rate.

2)      Fort Worth, TX. Fort Worth residents show a 30.96% Google search interest in cheating and also see a 12% divorce rate.

3)      Houston, TX. Houston residents show a 32.67% Google search interest in cheating and face a 12% divorce rate.

4)      St. Louis, MO. Missouri residents show a 32.04% Google search interest in cheating and face a 9% divorce rate.

5)      Nashville, TN. Just over 32% of Nashville residents are interested in cheating, as shown by their Google search results, and face a 12% divorce rate.

6)      Philadelphia, PA. A total of 31.59% of Philadelphia residents are interested in cheating and face a 13% divorce rate.

7)      New York, NY. New Yorkers take a 31.77% interest in cheating according to their Google search results and face a 9% divorce rate.

8)      Knoxville, TN. Tennessee shows up again with 30.69% of Knoxville residents interested in cheating and an 11% divorce rate.

9)      Atlanta, GA. In Atlanta, 33.66% of residents are looking for chances to cheat online and 9% get a divorce.

10)   Washington, D.C. There are cheaters just steps from the White House. A total of 30.78% of Washington, D.C. residents are interested in cheating and 9% get a divorce.

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