Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

affairJustin Lehmiller at Purdue University is the author of The Psychology of Human Sexuality and studies sex and relationships. He has found that about 1 in 4  or 1 in 5 married people admit to sexual infidelity.

So what puts a person at risk for having an affair? Here are 5 factors that play a role in why some people cheat.

1) Being male. This is not gender discrimination, but a reality when it comes to cheating. Males cheat more than females, although the gap between males and females has lessened over the years. In part, because women have more access to cheating than they used to–the Internet, more power and income, more options, etc. But the reasons men cheat do differ from women. A study at Chapman University and California State University found that men’s cheating is motivated more by sexual dissatisfaction (see #4) and wanting more variety and excitement (see #5). Women tend to cheat because of emotional dissatisfaction, looking to men to reinforce that they are still desirable.

2) Age: It appears that cheating is higher among people who are younger or older. The “safest” time in marriage seems to be between ages 35-50 when family and careers are building. Basically, time is a factor. When your day is composed of going to work, soccer games and doing homework at night, there isn’t as much time or energy to cheat!

3) Opportunity: The more opportunity, the greater the chances. Spending time with people in the workplace, traveling, being promoted, etc. all lend to more opportunities for closeness and attraction.

4) Feeling dissatisfied with your relationship: Yes,this is the most obvious because it lends to looking outside the relationship for satisfaction if you don’t work on problems in the relationship.

5) Personality traits: If you are low on “agreeableness” and “conscientiousness”, narcissistic and avoidant in your attachment style, you are more at risk. And if you are a thrill seeker who doesn’t mind taking risks, this is a factor as well. In contrast, people who are kind and caring, dependable, humble, and more secure in attachments do better with fidelity.

No matter how many of these factors relate to you, infidelity is still a choice, a choice you can avoid. Tempted or not, vow to work through your problems, talk about issues and dissatisfaction, and commit to being faithful.

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