Top 8 Reasons People Give for Infidelity

Infidelity in the United States may affect 20 to 40% of marriages, according to the American Psychological Association. Why is there so much infidelity, and what causes spouses to go outside their marriage for fulfillment?

Top 8 reasons people give for cheating

In a 2019 study that sought to further expand on previous infidelity research, researchers sent an internet-based questionnaire to 495 participants, most of whom were young adults. The respondents self-reported the reasons behind their own infidelity. 

This research found that people offer many explanations for their cheating. Often, the reasons had to do with their own needs and insecurities rather than aspects of the marriage or even their love for their spouse.

Sexual desire

Sometimes it happens: Thirty-two percent of respondents said the motivating factor in their affair was sexual desire. 

Lack of commitment

Forty-one percent said they no longer felt as committed to their marriage.


Forty-three percent of respondents said that revenge and anger toward their spouse played a part in their infidelity.

Ego boost

Fifty-seven percent said they embarked on an extramarital affair to boost their own ego.


Seventy percent of respondents said that their infidelity was a result of opportunity and circumstance. 

Feeling neglected

Seventy percent of respondents said they engaged in an extramarital affair because of their spouse’s inattentiveness.


Seventy-four percent of respondents said their extramarital affair was the result of boredom in their marriage.

Falling out of love 

Seventy-seven percent of respondents who cheated said that their existing relationship was missing something or that they found another partner for whom they felt more love.

What to do if your spouse cheats

Infidelity doesn’t always mean the end of a marriage. The reasons for a partner’s cheating are often complex, and it may have been a regrettable mistake. Some marriages can bounce back from a partner’s affair and even become stronger for it. 

Suggested reading: Marriage + Infidelity = Divorce? Not So Fast

After an affair, many spouses have no idea how to move forward. Some couples benefit from couples therapy and counseling, where they can get the insight of a neutral party. Some choose to take a breather, or separate, so both partners have the time and space they need to explore what led to the affair and if there are ways to mend the marriage. 

And, in some marriages, trust is broken and irreparable after an affair. In this case, spouses may decide that divorce is their only option. In fact, many people who divorce after an affair find their new life to be much happier than the one they were living during their marriage. 

Marriage and divorce are both big decisions not to be taken lightly. At Hello Divorce, our goal is to support you in your next step. If you are contemplating divorce, we have low-cost online divorce plans that take some of the burden off your shoulders so you can prioritize yourself and your emotional and physical well-being at this time. 

Want to know more? Schedule a free 15-minute call with one of our account coordinators to learn about your options.

Divorce Content Specialist
Mediation, Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Mental Health
Candice is a former paralegal and has spent the last 16 years in the digital landscape, writing website content, blog posts, and articles for the legal industry. Now, at Hello Divorce, she is helping demystify the complex legal and emotional world of divorce. Away from the keyboard, she’s a devoted wife, mom, and grandmother to two awesome granddaughters who are already forces to be reckoned with. Based in Florida, she’s an avid traveler, painter, ceramic artist, and self-avowed bookish nerd.