How Many People Cheat? Infidelity Facts And Statistics In The US

Updated August 17, 2023by Regain Editorial Team

Although many people know someone who has cheated or been cheated on, infidelity remains a somewhat taboo topic among many. Cheating is often considered a sticking point in a relationship—a boundary that can’t be crossed—so it is understandable that many people who have experienced infidelity are uncomfortable discussing it. This sensitivity surrounding the topic of infidelity, and the fact that there are so many different definitions of cheating, can make it hard to know exactly how prevalent unfaithful behavior is. To help paint a clearer picture, we’re going to discuss facts and statistics that elucidate who cheats, how often unfaithfulness occurs, and common reasons for infidelity. 

Infidelity Can Seriously Affect A Relationship

What Is Considered Cheating?

Though there are many different definitions of infidelity, it may be best described as a physical or emotional affair entered into without the express consent of one’s partner. Infidelity can be wholly emotional, wherein you experience romantic attraction toward someone who is not your partner without a sexual component. Or it can be purely physical in nature, devoid of an emotional connection. In many situations, though, it is both. 

Cheating can run the gamut in terms of how it plays out and what causes it. While some people consider a kiss cheating, others might be okay with this kind of behavior. Infidelity typically depends on the specifics of a relationship, each partner’s values, and the action the individual engaged in. 

Infidelity Facts And Figures

Because infidelity can occur in so many different situations, and in such a variety of ways, it isn’t always easy to get a clear picture of its prevalence. For example, the percentage of infidelity among married couples will be different than that of unmarried partners. Still, some trends emerge from the research, including the backgrounds of people who cheat, the motivations behind infidelity, and even the duration of different types of affairs. Below are several facts and figures that help illustrate who cheats and why. 

Who Cheats?

Virtually anyone can be unfaithful in a relationship. Although cheating was once considered a primarily male vice, that dynamic is shifting. In fact, some studies show that women now cheat at a slightly higher rate, though most suggest that men still cheat more often. The rates of cheating differ based on various factors, which include:

  • Age – Research suggests that rates of cheating actually go up with age. The results of one study show that married individuals over 55 reported infidelity at a rate of 20%, compared to a rate of 14% for those under 55.  

  • Gender – Despite a closing gap in many age groups, it is still thought that men are more likely to cheat than women. 

  • Education – People who possess a college education are considered equally as likely to cheat as those who do not.

  • Religious Preferences – One study found that people who identify as religious are less likely to cheat on their partner.  

Getty/Vadym Pastukh

How Prevalent Is Infidelity?

Infidelity rates vary widely based on the demographic being surveyed. According to estimates based on married couples, approximately 25% of men admit to cheating on their spouse at some point, while around 15% of women admit to the same. Another study found that up to 4% of married individuals had cheated on their spouse in the past year. Cheating statistics generally increase when marriage is taken out of the equation, though. According to a study published in 1999, researchers found that 75% of male and 68% of female college students admitted to cheating. 

Common Reasons For Cheating

Infidelity can arise out of a variety of situations and for several different reasons. While many people cheat as a response to feeling unfulfilled in a certain aspect of their relationship, infidelity is often related to personality, situational factors, and even mental health struggles. The following are several common reasons for infidelity. 

Emotional Neglect

Those who feel that their partner does not validate their feelings or say their own emotions may seek that level of connection elsewhere. Emotional neglect is the most common reason for cheating among women. Women may engage in infidelity if they feel that their partner is not emotionally invested and may seek validation and support from someone outside of their marriage. This search can result in an emotional affair but may also lead to sexual infidelity.

Sexual Dissatisfaction

Men are most likely to cite sexual dissatisfaction as the primary reason for having an affair. Research shows that over 42% of Tinder users are in a relationship, with 30% being married, indicating that many people use dating apps to fulfill their sexual desires.

Low Self-Esteem

Many people experience more or less confidence based on how attractive they are to other people. This can cause some to seek out a sexual relationship that will help improve their self-esteem. In one study, researchers found that neuroticism—a personality type characterized in part by low self-esteem—was positively correlated with infidelity. This link can be especially strong if the individual’s low self-esteem is related to the belief that their partner is cheating. The same study found that suspicion of infidelity is itself a cause of unfaithful behavior. 

Sex Addiction

Up to 10% of people in the US live with hypersexuality, or sex addiction. Hypersexuality is characterized by a fixation on sexual activity, and its effects can be similar to those of other addictions. Hypersexuality is a symptom of many common mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder, personality disorders, and anxiety disorders. It can cause an individual to take risks in order to engage in sexual activity—risks that often include infidelity.   

How Does Cheating Affect Relationships?

Cheating is considered one of the leading reasons for the end of relationships. According to the American Psychological Association, infidelity in the United States is responsible for 20% to 40% of divorces. Most affairs last approximately six months, which can be enough time to severely impact a committed relationship.

However, cheating does not have to lead to a breakup or divorce. According to one study, approximately 80% of couples who had experienced infidelity stayed in their relationship. One common method for overcoming infidelity is couples therapy, during which partners can work on trust, communication, and a renewed commitment. In a study published in the journal Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, researchers examined the effects of therapy on couples who had experienced infidelity. They concluded that therapy can help couples “work through an infidelity, restore their relationship, and enjoy a stable and satisfying marital relationship”. 

Infidelity Can Seriously Affect A Relationship

Confronting Infidelity With Online Therapy

Studies show that online therapy can help couples work through relationship conflict that may arise out of cheating. For example, in one study, researchers found that online therapy helped participants address challenges related to infidelity and trust. Specifically, they concluded that online therapy can help couples “communicate more effectively . . . cope with infidelity, and improve sexual satisfaction within the relationship”. 

Online therapy can provide you and your partner with emotional support and guidance if infidelity has damaged your relationship. With an online therapy platform like Regain, you can participate in therapy remotely, which may be helpful if you’re not comfortable discussing topics like cheating and trust in person. To further provide you with privacy, Regain allows you to remain inomminate—you can simply select a “nickname” when you sign up, and your identity will remain hidden. A qualified counselor can help you and your partner move forward after infidelity and continue to grow in your relationship. Continue reading for reviews of Regain therapists from those who have experienced similar concerns. 

“Jeff has been valuable to our relationship recovery from infidelity and rebuilding a new relationship. His experience and confidence in our recovery were important.”

“Stephen Witte is a fantastic listener! Stephen's guidance and experience with couples helped me and my partner through a time of infidelity and deception. Our sessions with Stephen helped guide us to healthier communication and the road to forgiveness. We used video chats. But I chatted Stephen with messages a few times throughout the week, and his responses helped me through tough/anxious moments with his perspective and encouragement. He was truthful about the tragedy that had occurred in our relationship, yet offered supportive strategies and guidance for us to help us get through. I felt like I could speak at him for minutes and throw a bunch out there, but he had a great way of picking out the most important part of what I was trying to say. He did a great job facilitating the discussion that helped me clarify my thoughts and communicate with my partner. My partner and I had multiple sessions with Stephen and both felt very comfortable speaking to him. Thank you very much, Stephen, for being here for us.”


Although it isn’t always openly discussed—and despite its often-damaging effects—infidelity is a fairly common occurrence in the US. If you’d like insights into how cheating could impact you and your partner, consider working with a mental health professional online. With the help of a licensed therapist, you may be able to decrease the odds of your relationship showing up in one of the above statistics. 

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