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Last week, research body YouGov released the results of a survey asking 1660 British adults a bunch of questions relating to affairs. Of the 1660 questioned, 314 said they had engaged in an affair.
The press release only skims the surface, so if you’d like to see the ACTUAL poll results, scroll to the bottom of the page for the link to the PDF file.
Keeping in mind this sample is quite small, there were nonetheless some fascinating insights.
Much has been made of the result showing most men have affairs with work colleagues (44%), while women are more likely to have affairs with a friend (53%).
Digging deeper, I found far more remarkable stats.
This one really surprised me:
Have you ever taken a partner back after an affair?
Yes, I have 14%
No, I have not 75%
Fellow betrayed spouses reading this, we are in the minority. Three quarters of betrayed spouses said NO WAY, FUCK OFF. That is a surprisingly high figure.
Q. Why did you have an affair?
There were three stand-out answers here:
I felt flattered by the attention (men 35%, women 44%)
I felt emotionally deprived in my relationship (men 29%, women 43%)
I was dissatisfied with my sex life (men 32%, women 15%)
Wow, what a huge disparity in the sex life numbers! If you ever wanted more proof men want more sex than you think, there it is.
Q. Was the person you were having an affair with also cheating on someone else?
Yes, they were 55%
No, they were not 39%
Proof everyone is cheating on everyone else! OK, maybe not. But sometimes, it sure seems that way.
Q. Which, if any, of the following do you consider as cheating? Please tick all that apply.
Having sex with someone who isn’t my partner 92%
Oral sex 84%
Using a prostitute 82%
Romantically kissing someone else 75%
Having webcam sex with a stranger 73%
Sexting someone else 67%
Forming an emotional relationship with someone who isn’t my partner 44%
This question was asked of everyone, whether they’d actually had an affair or not. What disturbs me is the level of ignorance concerning emotional affairs. Let’s admit it, many of us didn’t know we’d be so affected by an emotional affair, mere WORDS on a screen.
MOST of us thought our partners having actual sex with someone else would devastate us the most, but here’s the truth of it. Hurt is hurt. Let that sink in for a bit. Hurt is hurt. The way you were hurt is different to the way someone else was hurt, but the affects are the same: devastation, sadness, mourning, realising your relationship was a sham, anger. Someone else’s hurt is not your hurt. Your hurt is your own hurt, your pain is your own pain. They way you feel it is REAL.
A few other curious findings:
- One affair was not enough. Almost 50% of respondents had engaged in two or more affairs. Sobering thought.
- Most affairs ended because the cheater decided to end it (men 38%, women 49%).
- 41% of cheaters said they had children with the partner they were cheating on.
- 67% of men said an affair improved the relationship with their partner because “it made me appreciate what I had” (yeah, right). Only 44% of women gave this answer.
- Most affairs lasted less than 6 months.
- Most affairs happened when the couple had been married more than 10 years.
While we’re on the topic of affairs (this IS an affair blog!), if you haven’t already watched the Esther Perel TED talk ‘Rethinking Infidelity’, GO NOW. Set aside 22 minutes of your time, and watch this expert psychologist detangle the reasons why people cheat and the psychology behind it. It’s a fascinating insight. I’ve watched it 4 times now and discover something new with every listen. I’ve also sent it to my husband.
Consider her hypothesis that having an affair is not about you, the betrayed spouse, but about a cheater trying to find another sense of themselves. It’s a fascinating concept. Have a listen.
In her presentation, Perel also makes the observation that once upon a time, divorce was likely to be a great source of shame.
Today, she says, “choosing to stay WHEN YOU CAN LEAVE is the new shame”. I agree wholeheartedly. It angers me that this shame is not ours to wear, yet we do. But why? Why do we feel ashamed? Our husbands were the ones who cheated, yet we’re the ones staying to wade through all the shit, AND have the added burden of shame? It’s a slap in the face.
What a stinging observation.
I do admire Perel’s belief that a marriage can be better after an affair. But, she says, you must first acknowledge your first marriage is over. Most of us, she says, are destined to have two or three big relationships/marriages in our lifetime, “and some of us are going to do it with the same person”.
It’s an optimistic outlook. Hopeful.
Something to think about.