Unfaithful Partners – A Snapshot
Infidelity: When, Where Why (2010), the Demographic Yearbook of the United Nations, reported that in the 1990’s 93% of women and 92% of men married by age forty-nine. In the United States today experts project that 85% to 90% of women and men will marry. Monogamy is the norm for most cultures. But infidelity is widespread. Twenty percent to 40% of married men and 20% to 25% of married women will have an extramarital affair during their lifetime. A poll concluded that 2% to 4% of American women and men had had extramarital sex in the past year. A survey of over three thousand Americans found that 77% believed that extramarital sex was always wrong.
Researchers now define sexual infidelity, unfaithful partners, as sexual exchange with no romantic involvement, romantic exchanges with no sexual involvement, and sexual and romantic involvement. Partners identify the last category, sexual and romantic involvement as the most threatening to their relationship.
The following describe some of the psychological and relationship factors that contribute to infidelity:
- The degree of satisfaction in one’s committed relationship in such areas as personal needs, degree of love and quality of sex
- Boredom and lack of emotional support
- Poor communication
- Fewer positive and more negative interactions
Some of the specific factors that contribute to infidelity include the following:
- Attachment style, whether secure attachment or insecure attachment, becomes the foundation for a stable or less stable attachment to a partner
- The self-expansion model contributes to infidelity when the self-expansion with the partner begins to decline or stop or becomes overwhelming
- The partners’ differences with the “Big Five” personality traits (openness to new experiences, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism) contribute to infidelity in various ways
- Psychological disorders such as alcohol abuse and high narcissism contribute to infidelity
- Family history such as childhood knowledge of a parent’s infidelity or child abuse contributes to infidelity
- Sociological factors such as an imbalance of power in the relationship and one partner’s belief of greater social desirability contribute to infidelity
Women and men commit and/or react to infidelity in different ways.
Women tend to have greater emotional connection to the outside-of-the-relationship partner. Intimacy and self-esteem motivations contribute to their infidelity. The degree of dissatisfaction with the partnership helps determine the strength and frequency of affairs. Women experience more distress with their own infidelity, but are less concerned with hurting their partner.
Men engage in infidelity more often and have more partners and are less likely to fall in love with their outside-of-the-relationship person than women. Husbands harbor more suspicion of a partner’s infidelity and discover their partner’s infidelity more often.
Religion, race, culture, education level, income level, workplace differences, duration of partnership and age play roles in infidelity.
Advice from a Miami Marriage Counselor: Infidelity threatens a relationship, the family and self-esteem. Before, during or after infidelity see a professional counselor. You still have free will to decide to act or decide not to act. Take the first step toward a healthy positive relationship with your partner, with your family and with yourself. Make the appointment.