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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Infidelity is a violation of the mutually agreed-upon rules or boundaries of an intimate relationship, which constitutes a significant breach of faith or a betrayal of core shared values with which the integrity of the relationship is defined. In common use, it describes an act of unfaithfulness to one’s husband, wife, or lover, whether sexual or non-sexual in nature.

There are two areas in a close relationship where infidelity mostly occurs: physical intimacy and emotional intimacy. Infidelity is not just about sex outside the relationship, but about trust, betrayal, lying and disloyalty.[1] What makes infidelity so painful is the fact that it involves someone deliberately using deception to violate established expectations within a relationship.

Sexual infidelity refers to sexual activity with someone other than the partner one is committed to. Sexual infidelity in marriage is called adultery, philandery or an affair and in other interpersonal relationships it may be called cheating. A man whose wife has committed adultery is referred to as a cuckold, while a woman whose husband has cheated on her is known as a cuckquean.

What constitutes an act of infidelity varies between and within cultures and depends also on the type of relationship that exists between people. Even within an open relationship, infidelity may arise if a partner to the relationship acts outside of the understood boundaries of the relationship.

Emotional Infidelity refers to emotional involvement with another person, which leads one’s partner to channel emotional resources such as romantic love, time, and attention to someone else.[2]. With the association of multi-user dimensions the level of intimate involvement has extended from in-person involvement to online affairs.


Incidence of infidelity

Some researchers say there's a 50–50 chance today that one partner will have an affair during a marriage; that includes non-physical relationships.[1] Some authorities (for example Frank Pittman in 'Grow Up' Golden Books) observe infidelity is involved in 90% of first time divorces. A 1997 study with Kristina Gordon found “more than half of the marriages that experience infidelity ended in divorce”.

27% of people who reported being happy in marriage admitted to having an affair.[3]

In a recent survey of 16,000 university students in 53 countries, 20% of long term relationships began when one or both partners were involved with someone else.[4] Studies suggest that around 30–40% of dating relationships and 18–20% of marriages are marked by at least one incident of sexual infidelity. Men are more likely than women to have a sexual affair, regardless of whether or not they are in a married or dating relationship.[5]

By contrast John Gottman with his 35 years of research into marriage,[6] is reported as saying "Only 20 percent of divorces are caused by an affair.[7] Most marriages die with a whimper, as people turn away from one another, slowly growing apart." [8]

Fifty United Kingdom divorce lawyers were asked to name the most common causes of their cases in 2003. Of those who cited extramarital affairs, 55% said it was usually the husbands and 45% said that it was the wives who cheated.[9]

Gay men are more likely than lesbians to commit sexual infidelity. Study by Blumstein and Schwartz (1983) showed that 82% of gay male couples reported having nonmonogamous relationships, while lesbian couples reported 28%.

Rates among older women tripled from 5% in 1991 to 15% in 2006; rates among men rose from 20–28%. About 20% of younger men and 15% of younger women say they cheated, up from about 15% and 12%, respectively.[1] Infidelity studies show that extramarital sex occurs in up to 25% of heterosexual marriages in the USA, according to Adrian low, a Michigan State University professor who is a marriage and family therapist. [10]

Children can be witnesses to an affair and outcomes of an affair. Between 10–15% of children are conceived as a result of an affair.[citation needed] In 2003 more than 3,000 DNA paternity tests were commissioned by Australian men. In almost a quarter of those cases, the test revealed that 'their' child had been fathered by someone else. In 30% of paternity tests commissioned by suspecting fathers and performed at the American Association of Blood Banks in the year 2000, the father was not the true biological parent. [11]

Infidelity that does not involve sex or conception may be referred to as a romantic friendship or an emotional affair. Some people consider virtual sex, which is an on-line relationship, as infidelity.

In some jurisdictions an extramarital affair may incur unexpected financial costs. In Australia, for example, affairs of two or more years duration can be deemed a de-facto relationship, exposing the married cheater to financial claims in the Family Court on their superannuation savings, income and property. A de-facto relationship may exist even when the partners do not think so. It is the Court that will define when it began and ended, based on the evidence. [12]

Problems with Infidelity Research

David Atkins, a research associate professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, outlined the problems researchers face in getting accurate information on the subject. Responses to the survey question "Have you ever had sex with someone other than your spouse while you were married?" aren't clear-cut, he said. "The first thing we have to grapple with is honesty. We know that is a significant issue," he said, explaining that research published last year found that some won't admit infidelity in person but will anonymously. Also, some people interpret sex as intercourse and others don't, he said. The most reliable data, researchers say, comes from that question posed in the nationally representative General Social Survey, a face-to-face interview. Atkins' new study of trends over a 15-year period (1991–2006) in which 19,065 people participated found that infidelity rates were climbing among certain age groups: those 60 and older and those 35 and younger.[1]

Infidelity at work

An office romance, work romance, or corporate affair is a romance that occurs between two people who work together in the same office, work location, or business.

Adulterous office romances are widely considered to be unhelpful to business and work relationships, but while superior-subordinate relationships are banned in 90% of companies with written policies regarding office romance, companies cannot ban adultery, as, in all but a handful of states, such regulations would run afoul of laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of marital status. Firings nonetheless often occur on the basis of charges of inappropriate office conduct.[13]

"Business travel creates an opportunity to cheat away from prying eyes," says infidelity expert Ruth Houston, author of Is he Cheating on You? 829 Telltale Signs. Academics and therapists say cheating is probably more prevalent on the road than close to home. The protection of the road offers a secret life of romance, far from spouses or partners. Affairs range from one-night stands to relationships that last for years. They are usually with a co-worker, a business associate or someone they repeatedly encounter.[10]

According to Dr. Debra Laino in an article for Shave Magazine, some of the reasons women cheat at the workplace are because "women are disproportionately exposed to men in the workplace, and, as a direct consequence, many have more options and chances to cheat."[14]

Different Types of Infidelity

Each case of infidelity serves a different purpose. Being able to justify the behavior of a spouse and define it will lessen some of the confusion. There are five categories of infidelity:

  1. opportunistic infidelity
  2. obligatory infidelity
  3. romantic infidelity
  4. conflicted romantic infidelity, and
  5. commemorative infidelity

Opportunistic infidelity occurs when a partner is in love and attached to a spouse, but surrenders to their sexual desire for someone else. This is driven by situational circumstances or opportunity and risk-taking behavior.

Obligatory infidelity is based on fear that refraining from someone’s sexual advances will result in rejection. Some people end up cheating solely on the need for approval, even though they may still hold a strong attraction to their spouse.

Romantic infidelity occurs when the cheater is, so to speak, falling out of love with his/her spouse. Their commitment to the marriage is what is most likely keeping them with their spouse.

Conflicted romantic infidelity takes place when a person falls in love and has a strong sexual desire for multiple people at one time. Although the notion of 'one true love' is prevalent amongst many, it is possible to have a strong love attraction to more than one person at the same time.

Commemorative infidelity occurs when a person has completely fallen out of love with their spouse, but is still in a committed relationship with them. These are all categories and reason to which a spouse would cheat or have the notion to do so. [15]

Make up or Breakup

Divorce is one response to marital infidelity. Another would be to seek couple's therapy or counseling. With time to heal and the mutual goal of rebuilding the relationship, some couples emerge from infidelity with a stronger and more honest relationship than before. Relationship counseling can help put an affair into perspective, explore underlying relationship problems, learn how to rebuild and strengthen a relationship, and avoid divorce — if that is the mutual goal.

Marriage counseling is generally provided by licensed therapists or clinical psychologists known as couple, marriage or family therapists (see family therapy and emotionally focused therapy). These therapists provide the same mental health services as other therapists, but with a specific focus — a couple's relationship. [16]

Relationship counseling typically brings partners together for joint sessions. The counselor or therapist helps couples pinpoint and understand the sources of their conflicts and try to resolve them. Partners evaluate both the good and bad parts of their relationship.

Intimate betrayal inflicts an attachment wound and this is sometimes irreparable, particularly when both partners are not committed to repair.

Sometimes a partner may choose to accept the infidelity of the other without repair of the relationship. This may be out of love or commitment for each other, commitment to their children, or financial stability.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Jayson, Sharon (2008-11-17). "Getting reliable data on infidelity isn't easy". USA Today. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  2. ^ Close encounters: Communication in relationships.Guerrero , L.K. , Anderson, P.A. , & Afifi, W.A. (2007).Sage Publications.
  3. ^ Clinical Psychology resources on infidelity [1]
  4. ^ Willow Lawson - Stolen Kisses
  5. ^ Close encounters: Communication in relationships.Guerrero , L.K. , Anderson, P.A. , & Afifi, W.A. (2007).Sage Publications.
  6. ^ Gottman's Sound Marital House Model
  7. ^ Rescuing Marriages Before They Begin
  8. ^ Women's Infidelity by Michelle Langley (ISBN 0-9767726-0-4) Straight talk about why women have affairs, 2005 [2]
  9. ^ John Elliott and Rachel Dobson Straying wives match men as marital cheats The Times October 26, 2003.
  10. ^ a b Stoller, Gary (2007-04-23). "Infidelity is in the air for road warriors". USA Today. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  11. ^ If how and when to tell children conceived or witnesses in an affair by Clinical Psychologist
  12. ^ Clinical Psychology summary [3]
  13. ^ Office Mate: The Employee Handbook for Finding--and Managing--Romance on the Job by Stephanie Losee and Helaine Olen.
  14. ^ Dr. Debra Laino Phd. "Why Women Cheat". Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  15. ^ Meyer, Cathy - Types of Infidelity
  16. ^ Mayo Clinic - Marriage counseling: Working through relationship problems




Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Religious infidelity article)

From Wikiquote



  • There is but one thing without honour; smitten with eternal barrenness, inability to do or to be: Insincerity, Unbelief.
  • He ridiculed the absurdity of refusing to believe every thing that you could not understand; and mentioned a rebuke of Dr. Parr's to a man of the name of Frith, and that of another clergyman to a young man, who said he would believe nothing which he could not understand:--'Then, young man, your creed will be the shortest of any man's I know.'
  • Infidelity and faith look both through the perspective glass, but at contrary ends. Infidelity looks through the wrong end of the glass; and, therefore, sees those objects near which are afar off, and makes great things little,—diminishing the greatest spiritual blessings, and removing far from us threatened evils. Faith looks at the right end, and brings the blessings that are far off in time close to our eye, and multiplies God's mercies, which, in a distance, lost their greatness.
    • Bishop Hall Select Thoughts, or Choice Helps for Pious Spirits
  • No one is so much alone in the universe as a denier of God.
    • Johann Paul Friedrich Richter Flower, Fruit and Thorn Pieces; or, the Married Life, Death and Wedding of Siebenkäs, Poor Man's Lawyer 1796-97 First Flower-Piece
  • Mere negation, mere Epicurean infidelity, as Lord Bacon most justly observes, has never disturbed the peace of the world. It furnishes no motive for action; it inspires no enthusiasm; it has no missionaries, no crusades, no martyrs.

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)

Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • No matter where the skeptical thought originates, or how it gets access to our minds, we see at once that it flattens the level of life and every aspiration. It makes our character less vigorous. The gospel is not simply a philosophy of religion or law of life, but it is an apocalypse, showing the heavens to our thought, and so bringing its spiritual benedictions to every heart and life.
    • R. S. Storrs, p. 347.
  • Admit their maxims, and the universe returns to a frightful chaos; all things are thrown into disorder upon the earth; all the notions of virtue and vice are overthrown; the most inviolable laws of society are abolished: the discipline of morality is swept away; the government of states and empires ceases to be subject to any rule; the whole harmony of political institutions is dissolved; and the human race becomes an assemblage of madmen, barbarians, cheats, unnatural wretches who have no other laws but force, no other curb than their passions and the dread of authority, no other tie than irreligion and independence, no other gods than themselves.
    • Massillon, p. 348.
  • The nurse of infidelity is sensuality. Youth are sensual. The Bible stands in their way. It prohibits the indulgence of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life.
  • What ardently we wish, we soon believe.
  • There is not a single spot between Christianity and atheism, upon which a man can firmly fix his foot.
    • Emmons, p. 348.
  • There is one single fact that one may oppose to all the wit and argument of infidelity; namely, that no man ever repented of being a Christian on his death-bed.
  • The infidelity that springs from the heart is not to be reached by a course of lectures on the evidences of Christianity; argument did not cause, and argument will not remove it.
    • Mark Hopkins, p. 348.
  • There never yet was a mother who taught her child to be an infidel.
    • Henry W. Shaw, p. 349.
  • Is it for the cultivated man, the man of broad and general views, to throw himself without reserve and with all his weight, into what, for aught he yet knows, may be only a cross-current and eddy, instead of the main stream of truth?
    • Prof. Shedd, p. 349.
  • I know not any crime so great that a man could contrive to commit as poisoning the sources of eternal truth.
  • Freethinkers are generally those that never think at all.
  • Reason is the test of ridicule, not ridicule the test of truth.
    • Warburton, p. 349.
  • When you see a mad dog, don't argue with him unless you are sure of your logic.
  • In my judgment, a great mistake has been made by well- meaning and zealous men, through treating error and infidelity with altogether too much respect. I believe that it is safe to say that Christianity is indebted for none of its progress in the world to rational conflicts with infidelity. I do not believe that a single great wrong has ever been overthrown by meeting the advocates of wrong in argument.


  • Infidelity is one of those coinages,—a mass of base money that won't pass current with any heart that loves truly, or any head that thinks correctly. And infidels are poor sad creatures; they carry about them a load of dejection and desolation, not the less heavy that it is invisible. It is the fearful blindness of the soul.
    • Chalmers
  • When once infidelity can persuade men that they shall die like beasts, they will soon be brought to live like beasts also.
    • South

See also

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