The low-down on cheating in a relationship

By Sophie Watson

If popular music is anything to go by, cheating in a relationship is an all-too-common event. As the songwriters tell it, Cecila is shaking your confidence daily, Jesse isn’t worth changing the sheets for, Ruby is taking her love to town and that Jolene has her emerald green eyes firmly fixed on your man.

But how do these tales of woe translate in the real world? Do regular people cheat the way that music’s muses do? And, if so, why? A recent ELITESINGLES member’s survey turned up a few answers; offering some insights into the lives of the unfaithful and of those they string along.

Love hurts: the realities of cheating in a relationship

Unfortunately for those who believe in everlasting love, the fact of cheating is only too real. In fact, 35 per cent of the 633 survey respondents admitted to being unfaithful in a past relationship. What’s more, nearly 30 per cent cited infidelity by one party or other as the reason why their last relationship ended. These were not overly gendered results: the unfaithful and the cuckolded were men and women alike.

There were some interesting gender disparities though, particularly when it came to deciding what was the most hurtful way a significant other could cheat in a relationship. Male participants, for instance, were more likely to think that sexual infidelity was the worst way someone could be unfaithful: 63 per cent of men thought this way, compared with only 46 per cent of women.

In comparison, women were more likely to be bothered by emotional infidelity than men. 54 per cent of female respondents indicated that they thought falling in love with someone else was the worst way to cheat, even if no sex was involved. In general, the guys were not as upset by this as they were about sexual cheating: only 37 per cent of men chose emotional cheating as the worst option.

The weakness in me: reasons for infidelity

These statistics are worth keeping in mind when exploring past infidelities. As it turns out, the results seem to suggest an age-old saying – people most dislike in others what they dislike about themselves.

Indeed, although men were the gender most bothered by sexual infidelity, they were also the ones most likely to commit such an act. 43 per cent of male participants admitted to cheating in a relationship and, of these, nearly 30 per cent did so because they ‘wanted to have sex with someone else.’ In comparison, 31 per cent of female participants self-identified as cheaters; of these, just 16 per cent did it for the sex.

This doesn’t mean, however, that the women in the survey were entirely free of hypocrisy. Women were most upset by the idea of their partner falling in love with someone else, yet 27 per cent of the self-declared unfaithful women said that falling in love with another was the reason why they cheated. Just 12 per cent of the unfaithful men admitted the same.

It’s too late, baby: what happens after someone cheats?

The cheating statistics show that some people are very good at living the mantra of do as I say, not as I do. It would be easy to take this as a reason to be particularly jaded about romance. Yet, those who still believe in the power of love shouldn’t go giving up just yet.

Indeed, while popular music may be full of unrepentant heart-breakers who leave behind a trail of cheated hearts, in real life it is a very different story. It turns out that most of those who admitted to cheating in a relationship realised that they had done wrong. A whopping 89 per cent of cheaters admitted regret and ‘would never make the mistake again.’

What’s more, although these cheats do exist, it doesn’t mean that they are widely tolerated. 79 per cent of survey participants would ditch a cheating partner, a figure that perhaps stems from the fact that those who responded want someone who will care for them and them alone. Indeed, 77 per cent agreed that ‘an open relationship without a commitment isn’t for me; I’m waiting for true love.’

In other words, although some people would prefer a life without commitment, the majority still have hope that real, dedicated love still exists. And, where there is hope, it means the cheaters haven’t triumphed like they do in the songs. If the opinions of ELITESINGLES members are anything to go by, Jolene and friends may as well sling their hooks – they might make good lyric fodder but, in reality, the world has not yet had enough of silly love songs.

Sophie Watson is an author for ELITESINGLES UK, IE, AU, NZ & CA. You can follow her on Google Plus

For more relationship advice, online dating tips and insights into the thoughts of UK singles, please visit ELITESINGLES UK

Data based on an ELITESINGLES members survey, May/June 2014. Sample size: 633 ELITESINGLES members from the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa. Average age: 48. 67 per cent female. Some statistics may not total 100 per cent due to rounding.

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