The MLRA Therapy Blog

Insights and ideas from the therapist team at Meghan L. Reitz and Associates.

Infidelity: What now?

According to a very informative website called: I found the following statistics on relationships, marriage, and cheating quite interesting:

Percentage of marriages that end in divorce in America: 53%

Percentage of "arranged marriages" (where parents pick their sons or daughters spouses) that end in divorce: 3%

Medical field(s) with the highest divorce rate: psychiatrists and marriage counselors

Percentage of marriages where one or both spouses admit to infidelity, either physical or emotional: 41%

Percentage of men who admit to committing infidelity in any relationship they've had: 57%

Percentage of women who admit to committing infidelity in any relationship they've had: 54%

Percentage of men and women who admit to having an affair with a co-worker: 36%

Percentage of men and women who admit to infidelity on business trips: 36%

Percentage of men and women who admit to infidelity (emotional or physical) with a brother-in-law or sister-in-law: 17%

Average length of an affair: 2 years

Percentage of marriages that last after an affair has been admitted to or discovered: 31%

Percentage of men who say they would have an affair if they knew they would never get caught: 74%

Percentage of women who say they would have an affair if they knew they would never get caught: 68%

I bolded the last two statistics because it was surprising to me how high of a percentage of men and women would engage in cheating behavior if their significant other would never find out. It's somewhat staggering to see that maybe marriage with all its vows, promises, and feelings of a sacred union, that such a large number of people in relationships would have an affair. It kind of blows that "marriage is bliss" idea out of the water. This is particularly alarming as young people might see these statistics and avoid marriage all together. There is also a rise in more unconventional relationships such as open marriages, multiple partner relationships, etc.

Writing this blog today, I do not profess to say what is right and what is wrong with cheating, having affairs, and making choices to engage in relationships outside of a monogamous one. It is fair to say, however, that I increasingly have clients come to me for counseling who come from both the cheater and the cheated ends. Clients feel hurt, sad, guilty, disappointed, and the list goes on. So what happens if you are the one who has been cheated on?

  • Seek counseling, like in-person or online, for emotional support
  • Reach out to others who have gone through the same thing (divorce support groups, online support groups, friends, etc.)
  • Decide whether or not you want to move forward with the relationship (if the other person is wanting to reconcile)- is this a one-time thing? Or has it been a pattern over your relationship together? Statistics show that if there have been continuing behaviors of cheating, it is unlikely to stop. Also, ask yourself, what is in MY best interest. Seek couples counseling if you do stay together!
  • If the other person does not want to reconcile, then it is time to move on. It will be difficult, painful, and will take time to heal the wounds. That is why I recommend reaching out for support from mental health professionals, close family, close friends, and keeping busy with your hobbies, social life, work, etc.

So what happens if you are the one who has cheated?

  • Do you want to reconcile with your partner?
  • What led you to cheating in the first place?
  • Are you struggling with feelings of guilt and shame? Can your spouse forgive you, but you can't forgive yourself?
  • Have you had extra-marital relationships in the past?
  • Are you a serial cheater?
  • These are all questions to ask yourself- again, I recommend individual counseling/therapy to get to the root of your behavior AND couples counseling if you do intend to work it out with your significant other.

It is also important to note that men often cheat because of sex and women often cheat because they are looking for an emotional connection. Does this fit with you and your situation? Regardless, this blog article does not even touch the tip of the iceberg with all the in's and out's of cheating behaviors and the why's and why not's. I do recommend reading "Committed" by Elizabeth Gilbert to get a perspective on relationships, divorce, marriage, etc. You can always reach out to a therapist/counselor as well- like at or through your insurance company, etc.

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