A couple of weeks ago we conducted an affair survey of our readers. We always like to share the results when we do these as we feel it can provide some interesting takeaways. It’s also a good thing to see how you might fit in compared to the masses, so to speak.
Though the survey was anything but scientific, there were many questions included that were also a part of Peggy Vaughan’s (Monogamy Myth) Survey on Extramarital Affairs that she conducted several years ago. She has made available a free report that provides the results and her conclusions which you can get by clicking here.
I’ve listed each question with the response percentages. There were instances where the percentages added up to be more than 100% , which can only lead me to assume that in some cases, people checked more than one answer to a question – no big deal.
If for some reason, you have no desire to review the results, you can scroll on down towards the end of the post for a bullet list of the takeaways that we got from the survey.
Okay, here we go…
Affair Survey Results
Not a real surprise that the overwhelming majority of respondents were women…
Male or Female?
Male – 11.9%
Female – 88.1%
What is your age?
18-24 – 0.0%
25-34 – 4.8%
35-49 – 53.6%
50-62 – 38.4%
63 and over – 3.2%
How long have you been married or in a relationship?
0-5 years – 4.1%
6-10 years – 6.5%
11-15 years – 17.1%
16-20 years – 32.5%
21-25 years – 14.6%
25+ years – 25.2%
Current Relationship status:
Not married – 4.8%
Still married – 86.3%
Separated – 7.3%
Divorced (or filed for divorce) – 1.6%
Length of time dated before marrying?
Less than a year – 16.9%
One to 5 years – 68.5%
More than 5 years – 14.5%
Are you the cheater or the betrayed?
Cheater – 7.3%
Betrayed – 93.5%
Was the affair emotional, physical or both?
Emotional affair – 52.0%
Physical affair – 1.6%
Both – 40.0%
Not really sure – 8.8%
Is the affair over?
Yes – 80.8%
No – 5.6%
Not sure – 13.6%
In general, why do you think the affair happened?
Needs not being met within your relationship – 42.7%
The opportunity presented itself – 41.9%
Lack of boundaries within the relationship – 33.1%
Character flaw of the cheater – 41.9%
Mid-life crisis – 40.3%
Other – 17.7%
Some of the other responses (I basically summarized all the responses as best I could):
- PTSD- Depression
- Reaching out too past flame (rekindling)
- Fighting and arguing in relationship
- No intimacy between husband and wife (no sex)
- Job issues
- Extreme stress
- Extreme selfishness
- Boundary issues
- “Perfect storm” of things
- Flattery and ego stroking
- Poor communication
- All of the above
- “My husband was an immature, selfish a-hole.” (Linda, did you write this one?)
How much was the situation discussed?
Very little – 18.5%
A good bit, but not as much as I wanted – 41.9%
A lot – 40.3%
How long did the discussions last?
Less than 6 months – 31.5%
Six months to 2 years – 52.4%
More than 2 years – 16.9%
Was the talking helpful?
No, we just went over and over the same things – 24.2%
Yes, but didn’t resolve as much as I would like – 50.8%
Yes, it was essential to my getting beyond this – 26.6%
As a betrayed, did you want to know the details?
No, I didn’t want to know details – 0.9%
Yes, but I wanted only general information (who, when, why) – 25.9%
Yes, I wanted to know everything, including details – 73.3%
Did your spouse (the cheater) answer your questions?
No, refused to talk beyond basics – 20.7%
Yes, but only told some of the information after much pressure – 58.6%
Yes, told me everything I wanted to know – 21.6%
How much did you talk to friends and family?
Not at all – 16.5%
Very limited – 56.2%
A LOT – 28.1%
Was it helpful to talk to friends/family/others?
Didn’t talk or not useful – 21.5%
Helped some, but not as much as I’d like – 49.6%
Extremely helpful – 30.6%
Have you seen or spoken to a counselor?
Yes – 76.9%
No – 23.1%
If so…How many counselors have you seen?
One – 52.7%
Two – 32.3%
Three or more – 15.1%
If you have seen (talked to) a counselor, are you still in counseling?
Yes – 45.3%
No – 55.8%
If you are (were) in counseling, is (was) it as a couple or alone?
Alone – 61.3%
As a couple – 69.9%
(Obviously many folks saw a therapist both alone and as a couple)
Based on your experience with just the first (or only) counselor…Was the counselor helpful?
No, mostly frustrating – 29.5%
Yes, but not as much as I’d like – 40.0%
Yes, very helpful – 31.6%
Based on your experience with just the first (or only) counselor…Did the counselor encourage honest communication about the affair(s)?
No, encouraged us to quickly cover highlights, then move on – 25.3%
Yes, but on a limited time frame and to a limited degree – 33.0%
Yes, very supportive of ongoing honest discussions – 42.9%
Based on your experience with just the first (or only) counselor…Did the counselor focus directly on the issue of affairs?
No, mainly focused on general marital problems – 46.7%
Yes, but not as strongly or clearly as I’d like – 29.3%
Yes, very directly dealt with this issue – 23.9%
If you have not seen or talked to a counselor, why not?
My spouse/partner refuses to go – 23.8%
I (we) don’t feel the need to or are not ready yet – 21.4%
Lack of money to pay for it – 40.5%
Other – 28.6%
To summarize the “other” responses:
- Privacy issues
- Unsure of value or benefits of therapy/counselors
- A therapist might make the issues worse
- Self counseling: Working on things by reading books, articles, websites and/or other formal program
- Feeling that problems could be worked out without the help of a therapist
- Not interested – didn’t pursue it.
- Hard to find therapist who shares same philosophies
- Prior bad experiences with counselor
- No counselors available
- Not ready – Want to deal with issues alone first
How long after discovery was there a decision as to whether to stay married or get a divorce?
Less than 3 months – 42.7%
Three months to a year – 37.6%
More than a year – 19.7%
What was the decision?
To stay married – 74.4%
To get a divorce – 4.1%
Still undecided – 21.5%
Whether still married or divorced…Do you still dwell on the affair(s)?
Yes, it’s still a pain I carry every day – 69.4%
While I still think about it from time to time, it’s not a constant focus – 27.3%
No, I’ve pretty much put it in perspective in my life and moved on – 3.3%
Do you feel a sense of forgiveness/resolution?
No, I still have lots of anger and resentment toward my spouse (or ex-spouse) – 41.0%
I think I’ve “forgiven,” but I don’t feel it will ever be completely resolved – 52.1%
Yes, my spouse’s behavior since ending the affair has allowed me to let it go – 8.5%
Have you healed?
No, I’m still in great pain – 24.2%
I’ve healed somewhat but feel I will always carry a scar – 70.8%
I’ve mostly healed and actually grown in many ways – 9.2%
If you stayed married…Has trust been rebuilt?
No, still very guarded – 45.6%
Yes, but still somewhat cautious – 49.1%
Yes, secure in trustworthiness at this point – 6.1%
If you stayed married…Has the relationship “improved” compared to pre-affair days?
No, the relationship is more distant and strained – 18.4%
Not actual improvement, but about the same as before – 32.5%
Yes, it’s better than before the affair(s) – 50.0%
If you got a divorce…Who initiated the divorce?
I did – 33.3%
My spouse did – 66.7%
It was a mutual decision – 0.0%
If you got a divorce…Have you been able to trust enough to develop another intimate relationship?
No, I’m very anxious about ever being vulnerable to being hurt again – 80.0%
I’ve developed another relationship, but “hold back” somewhat – 20.0%
I’ve developed a new “trusting” intimate relationship – 0.0%
If you got a divorce…What is the quality of any new relationship?
No new relationship – 100.0%
Not as good as the early days of my previous marriage – 0.0%
Better than any period of my previous marriage – 0.0%
Affair Survey Takeaways
Some of the takeaways that we got out of this are really nothing that Earth shattering considering our past experiences and those communicated previously by readers in the comments. Here are a few though:
- An affair can happen at any time in a marriage
- An affair does not necessarily mean the end of a marriage – not by any means
- Seemingly, anything can be construed as a reason for an affair
- A lot of discussion for a long period of time is wanted and needed by the betrayed spouse when trying to deal with an affair
- Details are very important
- The cheater needs to step up their game when it comes to talking about the affair
- Overall, talking with friends, family and therapists seems to only be marginally beneficial
- Most couples decide rather quickly to remain married after an affair
- Affairs create long lasting pain and anguish that is very tough to overcome
- Rebuilding trust is difficult and tenuous at best
- Marriages can – and do – get better after an affair
We’d be curious to hear about any takeaways that you came up with as a result of the survey. If you have any, just comment below.