Married individuals who engage in extramarital affairs experience a sense of satisfaction, display limited remorse, and believe cheating doesn’t hurt their marriage, a new study has shown.
According to the study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, a sizeable number of people choose to cheat on their romantic partners, with estimates around 20-25 per cent of married people and 33-50 per cent of young adults in dating relationships.
In the study, researchers from the US-based Johns Hopkins University surveyed people using Ashley Madison — a website for extramarital affairs — about their views on cheating.
“In popular media, television shows and movies and books, people who have affairs have this intense moral guilt and we don’t see that in this sample of participants,” said Dr Dylan Selterman, who led the study.
The researchers’ goal in the study was to better understand the psychology of people who actively seek out and engage in extramarital affairs.
They turned to Ashey Madison, where they surveyed 2,000 users, both before and after they had affairs.
The participants were questioned about the state of their marriage, the reason for their desire to have an affair, and their general well-being.
The findings revealed that participants generally reported high levels of love for their spouses.
They did, however, report low levels of sexual satisfaction, which was cited as the primary motivator for having an affair.
Other motivators included the desire for independence and sexual variety, the study mentioned.
Moreover, the study said that fundamental relationship problems, such as a lack of love or anger towards a spouse, were the least-mentioned reasons for having an affair.
“Ratings for satisfaction with affairs was high sexual satisfaction and emotional satisfaction. And feelings of regret were low. These findings paint a more complicated picture of infidelity compared to what we thought we knew,” Dr Selterman said.
The findings suggested that infidelity is not always the result of deeper relationship issues.
“People have a diversity of motivations to cheat. Sometimes they’ll cheat even if their relationships are pretty good. We don’t see solid evidence here that people’s affairs are associated with lower relationship quality or lower life satisfaction,” Dr Selterman said.
“People just assume that their partners are going to be totally satisfied having sex with one person for the next 50 years of their lives but a lot of people fail at it,” he added.