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Infidelity in Sexual Relationships and Marriage Essay

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Updated: Aug 17th, 2020


Infidelity, which is colloquially referred to as cheating entails breaching a contract in terms of sexual exclusivity. It is unfaithfulness by being unreliable and cheating on a partner despite having a relationship of exclusiveness. When a sexual partner cheats, it is referred to as an affair, adultery, or philander. There are different reasons why partners engage in infidelity and they vary between cultures and the kind of relationship between two people. Infidelity also exists in an open relationship if the partners in the relationship misbehave outside of that commitment (Prins, et al., 2003).

Currently, infidelity ranks highest when considering reasons for divorce. According to studies conducted, almost 50% of the married engage in infidelity at some time during their marriage. Many researchers have decided to study the relationship transgression to understand the main causes of infidelity. Infidelity varies between men and women. Infidelity is traumatic as it causes turmoil, termination, and distress in relationships. In this paper, infidelity will refer to the violation of trust in a sexual relationship.

Literature Review

According to studies conducted, there lie definite similarities and differences between men and women concerning the causes of infidelity. There exist a few cases of infidelity with fewer alternatives, investment, and commitment. According to the studies, men are mostly upset by sexual infidelity while emotional infidelity upsets most women. Some studies reveal that causes for infidelity can vary between the genders.

Seduction, legitimacy, sexuality, social background, normalization, and sensation seeking are among the models used in measuring infidelity (Prins, et al., 2003). Seduction was found to be the main cause of infidelity in men whereas, in women, social background made them betray their partners.

When forecasting infidelity behaviors, they are divided into physical, emotional, and composite infidelity. According to the research, women have a high possibility of engaging in infidelity under such circumstances. Most of the individuals engaging in infidelity were found to be less committed and satisfied.

When we consider cases of infidelity in relationships, jealousy is one of the results of behaviors of infidelity. Harris (2003) studied gender variations in jealousy due to infidelity. According to the study, emotional infidelity is the worst form of infidelity to women. Women believe that when men are emotionally engaged with other partners, there must be acts of sex. In this study, jealousy was found to be a significant contributor to the results and causes of infidelity.

According to a study conducted by Yeniceri and Kokdemir (2006), investigating the main reasons and causes of infidelity, men rated seduction to be the main cause of infidelity when compared to women. Women felt that social background was the main contributor to infidelity behaviors. When men were involved in the behavior, they claimed seduction was the main contributor. Legitimacy is the main cause of infidelity in women where they are to blame.

Both genders become susceptible to infidelity when there is a lack of self-expansion and need fulfillment. College students were used in this research where kinds of need-fulfillment were studied. According to the study, relationship length, need fulfillment, and sexuality adds to the inconsistency of why people are susceptible to infidelity. The study concluded that reduced levels of self-expansion and need fulfillment make all genders susceptible to infidelity.

Men were found to be more prone to infidelity than women. Men are also more upset by their partner’s sexual infidelity than women. Women are more disturbed by emotional infidelity. The study also identified that men engage more in infidelity behaviors than women and have more sexual partners as well as the desire to join in behaviors of infidelity. According to Prins et al. (2003), the rate of infidelity among men and women are becoming similar in terms of behavior.

The level of education is also a defining factor when it comes to the issue of infidelity. According to Atkins et al. (2005), people who are highly educated engage more in extramarital affairs. There is a noteworthy connection between education levels and divorce as well as a connection between infidelity and education. According to a study by Forste and Tanfer (2006), women who are more educated than their partners are more likely to engage in behaviors of infidelity.

Genetics has also been connected to infidelity though this issue remains unclear. According to Forste and Tanfer (2006), sexual partners and infidelity can be connected to genetics. The attitudes that people have concerning infidelity can be influenced by the environment and not by genetics.

According to the literature on infidelity, there are different reasons as to why sexual partners engage in behaviors of infidelity. Some of these reasons include personality, educational level, attachment level, income level, race, employment, marital satisfaction, religion, and culture. According to Drigotas et al. (2009), these reasons can be classified into a social context, revenge-hostility, attitudes-norms, and sexual-emotional satisfaction. Studies on emotional satisfaction focus on sexual satisfaction.

Infidelity has its consequences and according to studies, very few couples can save their relationship after a case of infidelity, and not all marriages that face infidelity end up with divorce. Infidelity has negative consequences such as decreased sexual and personal confidence, low self-esteem, lost trust, rage, and justification to end the marriage. In case infidelity leads to divorce in marriage, the most affected spouse is the faithful one and may undergo depression (Yeneceri & Kokdemir, 2006). Men are more difficult to forgive infidelity and they mostly end relationships where there are cases of sexual infidelity.


The issue of infidelity needs to be studied further when dealing with relationships. Infidelity has become a huge problem in society. Infidelity is caused by seduction, legitimacy, sexuality, social background, normalization, and sensation seeking. According to different studies conducted, men are seduced easily whereas, most women engage in infidelity because of the social background. The issue of infidelity and its causes has not been fully researched.

It is high time people understood that infidelity is very problematic in society and it is messing up families and marriages. Both emotional infidelity and sexual infidelity have their consequences (Yeneceri & Kokdemir, 2006). No matter the type of infidelity, they all entail cheating on a spouse and they demonstrate laxity of one’s emotions. Sexual partners should demonstrate their trust in each other by being faithful.


Atkins, D. C., Eldridg, K. A., Bauco, D. H. & Christense, A. (2005). Infidelity and Behavioral Couple Therapy: Optimism in the Face of Betrayal. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73.

Drigotas, S. M. S., Annette, C, & Tiffany, G. (2009). An investment model prediction of dating infidelity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 77 (3):15.

Forste, R., & Tanfer, K. (2006). Sexual exclusivity among dating, cohabiting, and married women. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 58:15.

Harris, C. R. (2003). Factors associated with jealousy over real and imagined infidelity: An examination of the social-cognitive and evolutionary psychology perspectives. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 24(4),319-330.

Prins, K. S., Buunk, B. P., & VanYperen, N. W. (1993). Equity, normative disapproval and extramarital relationships.. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 10 (12) 38-60.

Yeneceri, Z., & Kokdemir, D. (2006). University students’ perceptions of, and explanations for, infidelity: The development of the infidelity questionnaire (INFQ). Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 34(6),639-650.

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