Why do people cheat? Studies vary, but research shows that 25% to 60% of men and up to 45% of women will cheat at some point in their marriage. Affairs affect almost one out of every three couples.
Who are these people? We Americans never think of ourselves as being the “type” of person to have an affair. In 1973 research showed that 70% of Americans said affairs were always wrong. In 2004, the numbers increased to show that 82 % said affairs were always wrong. The rest said affairs were almost always wrong. In 2006, Americans said that adultery was worse than polygamy and worse than human cloning.
Yet more women than ever before are now admitting to having an affair. One study shows that up to one-half of married women have at least one lover after they are married before the age of 40.
Women today have the same opportunities as men to find lovers and to cheat. There are more women working, driving and carrying cell phones than ever before. With the advent of the internet and hand held devices it is easy to connect in cyber relationships and to create intimacy online.
Another reason for the high rates of infidelity today may be the increasing availability of social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter. Social networking provides a platform for infidelity where none had previously existed. It’ easy now to meet people online and develop an intimate and sometimes sexual relationship with a stranger.
American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) says Facebook is to blame for one in five divorces in the US today. Divorce attorneys also say that there has been an 80% increase of Facebook evidence used in divorce court over the last five years alone . Facebook is used in 66% of court cases as a primary reason for divorce evidence.
Pornography on the internet may also play a part in the high rate of cheating. The porn online is accessible, affordable and feels anonymous. One couple recently came to my office for couples counseling, blaming pornography for the demise of their marriage.
Laura explained, “He expects me to have sex like the women in the porn films do. I told him that not all women are like that.”
He disagreed. “Yes they are,” he said.
She asked “What women are you talking about?”
He answered, “I see women all the time who are into it. They really seem to enjoy it. I actually think there is something wrong with you sexually that you don’t want to try it. It’s not normal.”
For some couples porn may open up new doors and opportunities to expand their sexual horizons, however, many people who seek therapy complain about their partner’s internet porn use. And for others, porn may be a gateway to real-time sex with an outside partner.
Whether it is cyber –sex or real time infidelity, the challenge for couples continues to be how to avoid breaking up over it. How do couples prevent infidelity and is it even possible?
Look for Part 2 of this series, “Can You Prevent an Affair?” coming tomorrow.
Tammy Nelson, PhD., is a sex and relationship expert and the author of Getting the Sex You Want; Shed Your Inhibitions and Reach New Heights of Passion Together, as well as the upcoming book The New Monogamy; Erotic Recovery After Infidelity