17 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About Cheating in Relationships

Have you ever sat around, sipping a cup of coffee, letting your mind wander into the enigmatic labyrinth of relationships?

Written by Kate Holmsy. Updated on 17 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About Cheating in Relationships

Have you ever sat around, sipping a cup of coffee, letting your mind wander into the enigmatic labyrinth of relationships? If yes, you are not alone. It’s a complex world full of emotional intricacies, unspoken promises, and the most controversial aspect of all: cheating.

It’s a subject that fascinates us as much as it disturbs us, intriguing us with its complexity and the ambiguity surrounding its motives, impacts, and effects.

This article will present you with seventeen surprising facts about cheating. Each of these facts is backed by credible research, so you’ll be able to trust the authenticity of what you read. The objective here is not to justify or demonize cheating but to illuminate some hidden aspects of this widespread phenomenon. Ready to uncover some unexpected truths? Let’s get started.

1. Cheating is Not Always About Sex

Cheating doesn’t always have to involve a sexual encounter. In a study published in the Journal of Sex Research, around 45% of participants confessed to emotional cheating, where no physical intimacy was involved.

Emotional cheating refers to developing a deep, emotional connection with someone other than your partner. It could be through online chats, frequent phone calls, or shared activities. Emotional infidelity can cause as much pain, if not more, as physical cheating.

1. Cheating is Not Always About Sex
AndrewLozovyi via vistacreate


2. Social Media Fuels Cheating

Social media platforms have made it easier to connect with people, paving the way for virtual infidelity. According to a study by the University of Missouri, excessive use of social media, especially Facebook, has been associated with higher instances of cheating and breakups. These platforms offer increased accessibility to old flames and potential new partners, enabling covert communications and emotional connections that can gradually become cheating.

The issue with social media is not just its capacity to connect people but also the illusion of anonymity it provides. People feel they can carry out their activities secretly, leading to increased unfaithful behavior.

The constant exposure to curated lives can also lead to dissatisfaction with one’s own relationships, driving some individuals to seek validation or excitement elsewhere. In essence, while social media doesn’t cause cheating, it provides an environment that can facilitate and exacerbate it.

3. People Cheat Even in Happy Relationships

It’s a common belief that people cheat only when they’re unhappy in their relationships. However, research from Rutgers University reveals that even individuals in happy relationships may engage in infidelity.

The reasons vary, including seeking novelty or coping with a crisis. These findings challenge the widely held assumption that infidelity is a symptom of an unhappy relationship.

Comparison Table: Cheating Reasons in Happy vs. Unhappy Relationships

Reasons in Happy Relationships Reasons in Unhappy Relationships
Seeking novelty Lack of love
Ego boost Neglect or indifference
Coping with a crisis Dissatisfaction with sex life
Boredom Desire for variety

4. Cheating Might Have a Genetic Component

Research suggests that certain individuals might have a genetic predisposition to cheat. In a study by Justin Garcia at Binghamton University, those who possessed the “DRD4 gene,” also known as the “thrill-seeking” gene, were more likely to cheat.

So yes, cheating might have a genetic component because certain genes can influence behaviors associated with infidelity. A notable example is the “DRD4 gene,” which is involved in the brain’s dopamine reward system.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter linked to pleasure, and the reward system encourages us to seek out behaviors that produce this pleasurable response.

This gene variant results in a lower sensitivity to dopamine, leading these individuals to seek out new, thrilling experiences – like infidelity – to stimulate their reward system. However, it’s crucial to understand that genetics only increases the propensity towards behavior and doesn’t dictate it.

The REAL Reason Men Cheat On Their Partners - Jordan Peterson Explains Why Men CheatThe REAL Reason Men Cheat On Their Partners – Jordan Peterson Explains Why Men Cheat

Personal choices, relationship dynamics, and environmental factors also play significant roles in whether someone will engage in infidelity.

5. Men and Women Cheat for Different Reasons

Men and women generally cheat for different reasons. A study published in JAMA Network Open highlights that men are more likely to cheat due to sexual dissatisfaction, whereas women are more likely to cheat if they feel emotionally dissatisfied.

However, it’s essential to recognize the fluidity of gender and the diversity of experiences. Not every man or woman will cheat for these reasons; they’re just overall trends observed in the study.

5. Men and Women Cheat for Different Reasons
Elnur_ via vistacreate

Comparison Table: Cheating Reasons by Gender

Men Women
Sexual dissatisfaction Emotional dissatisfaction
Desire for variety Feeling unappreciated
Opportunity Neglect or indifference

6. Cheating Can Be Addictive

Cheating can be addictive, just like any other form of thrill-seeking behavior. A study by Eric Anderson suggests that the adrenaline rush associated with infidelity can lead individuals to repeat the behavior. The secrecy and danger involved can create an intoxicating cocktail of excitement and fear, which can be habit-forming.

However, it’s important to remember that not everyone who cheats will become ‘addicted’. It’s a complex issue intertwined with individual personality traits, relationship dynamics, and societal expectations.

6. Cheating Can Be Addictive
AndrewLozovyi via vistacreate

7. Society Influences Cheating Behaviors

Cheating is a socially constructed concept, and therefore, societal norms influence its prevalence and acceptance. According to a study published in the Cross-Cultural Research Journal, societies with strict sexual norms and gender roles tend to experience higher rates of infidelity.

On the flip side, societies that encourage open communication about sexual desires and relationship expectations tend to have lower instances of cheating. This suggests that societal norms and expectations play a significant role in shaping cheating behaviors.

8. Cheating Doesn’t Always Lead to Breakups

A common belief is that cheating invariably leads to the end of a relationship. However, according to a study by the American Psychological Association, nearly 50% of relationships where infidelity occurred survived.

Survival often depends on factors like the severity of the cheating, the relationship’s initial strength, and the willingness of both parties to work through the aftermath. For some couples, infidelity can serve as a wake-up call, leading to a stronger, more communicative partnership.

8. Cheating Doesn’t Always Lead to Breakups
AndrewLozovyi via vistacreate

Comparison Table: Factors Influencing Relationship Survival Post-Cheating

Factors Supporting Survival Factors Against Survival
Strong initial relationship Severe cheating
Willingness to communicate Lack of trust
Professional counseling Multiple instances of cheating

9. People are Generally Bad at Spotting Cheating

Despite what movies and TV shows suggest, most people are not good at detecting infidelity. A study from Brigham Young University found that people only accurately identified infidelity 50% of the time, which is the same rate as pure chance.

This inability to recognize cheating stems from various factors, including the cheater’s skill at deception, the deceived person’s level of trust, and cognitive biases that make us ignore negative information about our partners.

10. Cheating Can Have a Negative Impact on the Cheater’s Mental Health

Cheating doesn’t just affect the person who is cheated on; it can also have a significant impact on the cheater’s mental health. Research from the American Psychological Association has shown that individuals who cheat often suffer from guilt, anxiety, and depression.

These feelings can arise from the act of cheating itself, the burden of keeping the affair secret, or the aftermath if the infidelity is discovered. It emphasizes that cheating can be a source of emotional distress for all parties involved.

The Consequences of Cheating: 10 Things That Cheaters Forget To Think AboutThe Consequences of Cheating: 10 Things That Cheaters Forget To Think About

The final seven facts will cover more about the psychology behind cheating, its impact on the future relationships of the cheater, and some debunked myths surrounding infidelity. Let’s continue unraveling the complex tapestry of infidelity.

11. Once a Cheater, Not Always a Cheater

The saying “once a cheater, always a cheater” is not entirely accurate. According to a study by Kayla Knopp, individuals who cheated in their first relationship were three times more likely to cheat in their next relationship. However, that doesn’t mean all cheaters are repeat offenders.

Many factors influence whether a person will cheat again, including the consequences of their actions, their willingness to change, and the dynamics of their new relationship. People can and do change their behaviors, so it’s important not to stigmatize individuals based on past actions.

While past behavior can indicate future actions, this isn’t always the case with infidelity.

Cheating is often a complex behavior influenced by numerous factors such as relationship satisfaction, personal growth, moral perspectives, and consequences faced from previous cheating incidents.

Someone who has cheated in the past might experience negative fallout, such as the guilt of hurting a loved one, the stress of leading a double life, or the loss of a valued relationship, which could deter them from cheating again.

Moreover, they may also undergo personal growth and develop better-coping mechanisms, leading to a more mature handling of relationship dissatisfaction or other issues that led to their infidelity in the first place. Thus, it’s overly simplistic to believe that once a person cheats, they will always cheat again.

12. Cheating Can Be Influenced by Peer Behavior

Believe it or not, a person’s likelihood to cheat can be influenced by their social circle. According to a study in the journal of Personal Relationships, if a person’s friends cheat and get away with it, they are more likely to cheat, considering it as more socially acceptable.

This highlights the importance of the company we keep and how it can indirectly shape our moral boundaries and decisions within our relationships.

12. Cheating Can Be Influenced by Peer Behavior
VitalikRadko via vistacreate

13. Financial Dependence Can Lead to Cheating

Financial dependence in a relationship can increase the likelihood of cheating. According to a study by Christin Munsch, the partner who is less financially independent is more likely to cheat. This behavior could be seen as a way of seeking self-esteem outside the relationship.

However, it’s important to clarify that financial dependence doesn’t automatically result in infidelity. Many other factors come into play, such as communication within the relationship, satisfaction levels, and individual values.

14. Cheating is More Common Than You Might Think

Infidelity is more widespread than many people realize. According to the Institute for Family Studies, about 16% of individuals admit to having cheated on their partner at least once. The actual numbers might be even higher, given the social stigma associated with cheating that could lead to underreporting.

The fact that infidelity is relatively common doesn’t make it right, but it helps to underscore that it is a widespread issue that affects many relationships.

15. Cheating Can Have Long-Term Effects on Future Relationships

The aftermath of infidelity can extend beyond the immediate relationship. A study by the University of Nevada showed that individuals who were cheated on in the past often carried trust issues into their future relationships.

Interestingly, the research also showed that those who had cheated in the past were more likely to suspect their future partners of cheating. This illustrates how the implications of infidelity can echo into the future, shaping how individuals approach new relationships.

15. Cheating Can Have Long Term Effects on Future Relationships
AndrewLozovyi via vistacreate

16. Some People Cheat to End Their Relationship

Some individuals use cheating as a method to end their current relationship, according to a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Instead of confronting their partner and initiating a breakup, they cheat to push their partner away.

While it’s not a healthy or respectful strategy, it’s a reality that illustrates the complexity of human behavior and the myriad reasons behind why people cheat.

In particular, cheating as a way of ending relationships can stem from a fear of conflict, guilt about hurting the other person, or an avoidance of responsibility for ending the relationship.

In these instances, the act of cheating creates a crisis point that forces the relationship to end, often shifting the blame for the breakup onto the act of infidelity. While this is not a healthy or respectful way to end a relationship, it underlines the fact that people have varied reasons for cheating, often intertwined with their emotional coping mechanisms and communication skills.

17. Not All Cheating is Equal

Not all acts of infidelity carry the same weight. According to a study by the Kinsey Institute, people differentiate between various types of infidelity. For instance, physical cheating was often viewed as more severe than emotional cheating, though both can be equally damaging.

The most common types of cheating in relationships include:

  • physical cheating
  • emotional cheating
  • digital infidelity

Physical cheating involves engaging in sexual activities with someone other than your partner, while emotional cheating involves forming an intimate emotional bond with someone outside of your primary relationship, which can often feel as detrimental as physical infidelity.

Digital infidelity, an increasingly common form in the age of technology, involves engaging in flirtatious or sexual interactions online, often through social media, dating apps, or text messaging.

It’s important to note that what constitutes cheating can vary significantly between different relationships, depending on the boundaries and expectations established by the individuals involved.

17. Not All Cheating is Equal
AndrewLozovyi via vistacreate


Infidelity is a complex phenomenon that is far more nuanced than simply labeling it as right or wrong. From the potential genetic components to the influence of societal norms, peer behaviors, and even the advent of social media, numerous elements factor into why people cheat. Moreover, the perception and repercussions of cheating are equally diverse, challenging us to approach this issue with empathy and understanding.

It’s important to remember that communication and mutual respect lie at the heart of any healthy relationship.

So, whether it’s setting clear boundaries or addressing relationship dissatisfaction, open dialogue can often be a powerful tool to prevent infidelity.

Despite the surprising facts and complexities surrounding cheating, at the end of the day, every relationship thrives on trust, respect, and honesty.

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐Why do people cheat in relationships?

People cheat in relationships for various reasons, such as dissatisfaction (either sexual or emotional), a desire for variety, lack of appreciation, or neglect.

⭐Can someone who cheated in the past change?

Absolutely. Although past behavior can indicate future actions, it doesn't determine it. Personal growth, the consequences of past actions, and new relationship dynamics can influence a person not to cheat again.

⭐Is cheating more prevalent in certain societies?

Yes, societies with strict sexual norms and defined gender roles tend to experience higher rates of infidelity. Conversely, societies promoting open communication about sexual desires have lower instances of cheating.

⭐Does social media increase the chances of cheating?

While social media doesn't cause cheating, it can facilitate it by providing more opportunities to connect with others and creating a sense of security and anonymity that may encourage risk-taking behaviors.

Written by
Kate worked in "The Fashion Magazine" for four years as a freelance writer and loved to consult and help people with their style. How to create your own style, how to look beautiful, and select trendy colors for your hair - these are just a few of many issues Kate will happily explain in Beezzly Beauty blogs!
Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here.
7 Signs Men Give Before They Cheat (& Most Women Miss) | Relationship Advice for Women by Mat Boggs7 Signs Men Give Before They Cheat (& Most Women Miss) | Relationship Advice for Women by Mat Boggs