In our discussion yesterday, we mentioned that one source stated that the reason why men and women cheat boils down to two primary factors:  Because of problems in their relationship and for reasons that are deep within our human nature.

A recent study conducted by Robin Milhausen and Kristen Mark at the University of Guelph and Erick Janssen from The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University found that personality plays a major role in why men and women cheat.

Why Men and Women Cheat

People with sexual performance anxiety are more likely to cheat on their partners. That’s just one of the curious findings of a new study by a University of Guelph professor on the factors that predict infidelity.

Men who are risk-takers or easily sexually aroused are also more likely to wander; for women, relationship issues are stronger predictors of unfaithfulness. For both men and women, personality characteristics and interpersonal factors are more relevant predictors than are religion, marital status, education or gender.

The study, published recently in the journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour, is the first to look at how demographics, interpersonal factors and sexual personality affect infidelity.

“This research shows that demographic variables may not influence decision-making as much as previously thought — that personality matters more, especially for men.”

The study involved 506 men and 412 women who reported being in monogamous sexual relationships lasting from three months to 43 years. Participants were asked to report on demographic variables such as religion, education and income. They also completed scales that measured sexual personality variables and answered questions about their relationships.

The study found little difference in rates of infidelity reported by men and women (23 and 19 per cent, respectively). But different things predicted the behaviour for men and women. For men, significant predictors of infidelity are personality variables, including propensity for sexual excitation (becoming easily aroused by many triggers and situations) and concern about sexual performance failure.

The latter finding might seem counterintuitive, Milhausen said, but other studies have also found this connection. “People might seek out high-risk situations to help them become aroused, or they might choose to have sex with a partner outside of their regular relationship because they feel they have an ‘out’ if the encounter doesn’t go well — they don’t have to see them again.”

For women, relationship happiness is paramount. Women who are dissatisfied with their relationship are more than twice as likely to cheat; those who feel they are sexually incompatible with their partners are nearly three times as likely. “All kinds of things predict infidelity,” Milhausen said.

“What this study says is that when you put all of those things together, for men, personality characteristics are so strong, they bounce everything else out of the model. For women, in the face of all other variables, it’s still the relationship that is the most important predictor.”

Milhausen cautions against misinterpreting or overemphasizing the study’s findings. “Taken at face value, this research might seem to just support sexual stereotypes: Women are just concerned about the relationship, and, for men, once a cheater, always a cheater, regardless of their relationship. But the caveat is that there are a lot of variants and factors that are not explained here that might impact whether someone cheats.” Still, knowing that sexual personality characteristics — and, for women, relationship factors — are strong predictors suggests directions for therapeutic interventions.   Original article here.


It appears that one thing to keep in mind about why men and women cheat… According to one of the authors of the study, Erick Janssen,  “Men are slightly more likely to cheat than women, but both men and women engage in these types of behaviors. This type of woman or this type of man might be more likely to commit infidelity, and yes it can be because you’re unhappy in your relationship, but this research shows that it’s not necessarily due to how happy or unhappy you are.”

You could do a ton of research on this subject and find a thousand different reasons or excuses for why men and women cheat. So are all these just bull$#!+ and simply a way to try and justify it in one’s mind?  Thoughts? 


Additional Resources

Interesting article by Erica Goodstone, Ph.D., LMHC (download in Word)

The founder of affair site, Ashley Madison shares his views on why men and women cheat.

Various books on the subject.


    10 replies to "Why Men and Women Cheat – Sexual Anxiety and Personality"

    • Anita

      I guess I would ask myself the question of should I free myself from this marriage . Since adultery is grounds for divorce. Maththew 5:32
      The cheater can justify anything they want, but at least I wouldn’t have to be married to them.

      • Lori

        Legally, adultery is only grounds for divorce if there was a physical affair, and you can prove it -so keep that in mind. That’s what a divorce attorney told me anyway.

    • Kris

      Anita, we just did a study on the grounds of divorce at church recently. Actually adultery was NOT the reason Jesus gave an out, it was because of hardened hearts. Meaning if both hearts were hardened after the adultery He would give a certificate of divorce. *BUT* if the CS repents, God expects us to forgive. Pretty sobering huh? I won’t even get into what God will do if you stand for your marriage even if the other spouse isn’t trying to reconcile. That’s a totally different topic but another awesome one 😉

      • Holdingon

        Adultery is the reason given in the bible for divorce, never let anyone teach you the bible, read it yourself. It even says if you mess with a man’s wife he may come and kill you, and in the eyes of the Lord the man will be justified. But it seems to me that God should protect his faithful followers. But if you read close enough the Bible condones rape, or you could buy your wife by killing the enemy and giving the for skins to the father, sounds about right. God commanded the death of many, He even says to kill anyone who believes different then you, I’m not a fan of religion if you can’t tell, I’m spiritual but don’t believe in organized religion. It’s a money grubbing way to control the population.

    • Anita

      Kris, I tip my hat to you for staying with your marriage. My ex husband wanted the divorce. You can’t make someone stay in a marriage when they want out. You forgive them and let them go. Divorce can also bring a new life, to the person who was betrayed. God does forgive divorce, and since I wasn’t the one who wanted the divorce, I am freed from having to live in that kind of a marriage. So yes my heart does go out to you and all the others.

    • Anita

      I want to bring up a very serious subject matter, for those who spouses only had a emotional affair and you are sure thats all there was to it, your safe. However for the spouses who slept with their wayward spouse after a physical affair, did you go and get checked by the doctor or have them checked to make sure that they were cleared from STD’s, Hep’s and Hiv.

    • Paula

      Anita, of course we did! It isn’t as simple as not sleeping with them once you’ve found out, I didn’t find out about my OH’s 15 month affair until a month after he had ended it (she told me, delightful friedn that she was) so I had no protection for those 15 months, and he was so selfish, he didn’t use any with her, despite discussions between us over the years about if the worst should happen, and one of us stuffed up, it was imperative that you use protection, he. just. didn’t. NICE. Of course I got checked out immediately, and yes, she left a lovely parting gift! Bloody devastating, and he is so, so , so ashamed that he didn’t at least do me that courtesy.

    • Anita

      As I have mentioned before, a few days ago I stumble across this site. Since my marriaged ended in a Biblical divorce, and all the drama of it is long past and forgiven. There is no need post here. Doug and Linda this is an excellent site, I wish there could have been a site like this at that time. For the rest of you I wish you the best. God Bless all of you!

    • Alecia

      Kris – What study did your church do? I have never heard that about “hardened hearts” before but it makes sense. Is there a word translated in the original text that would give that meaning? I have studied scripture and come to realize that even though a couple scriptures indicate that divorce is acceptable in situations of adultery that you are absolutely right. God’s heart is for forgiveness and restoration. To Anita – I agree with you. If your spouse doesn’t want to stay you certainly can’t make them. But, you can forgive and continue to pray for the restoration of your marriage and your ex’s heart rather than just moving on.

      • Kristine

        Matthew 19:8 was the scripture used for the study. It was a great study! Opened my eyes up to a lot of things about God being a restorer and forgiveness.

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