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Surprising Causes of Infidelity

Therapists shed a new light on what prompts cheating. Plus: how does porn, Facebook and Match.com influence infidelity?

| August 23rd, 2012
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A survey of counseling professionals from YourTango.com—the digital leader in love and relationships—sheds dramatic, new light on infidelity. Surprisingly, it's not about the sex. Instead, emotional dissatisfaction is the number-one reason both men and women cheat, according to these experts, while sexual dissatisfaction comes in second. Only 8% of respondents say men are "hard-wired" to "spread their seed."

About this statistic, YourTango Expert Lynn R. Zakeri has this to say: "It may sound surprising, but many men are really looking for someone to connect with, to be their best friend and their intimate partner, and when they lose that connection in their marriage, they may look elsewhere." Meanwhile, YourTango Expert Dr. Susan Heitler adds, "While there are many factors that can lead to an extramarital sexual encounter, emotional distance is one that couples can prevent. If there's been distress, dissension or too much distance, take a marriage ed class to learn how to stay more comfortably connected."

Members of YourTango Experts, an organization of 1,200 psychotherapists, counselors, coaches and other helping professionals, completed a survey that reveals numerous insights on infidelity, including culprits, preventative measures and counterintuitive advice for adulterers. 

MORE FROM YOURTANGO: 6 Surprising Myths About Infidelity

While nearly 50% agree that technology is a catalyst for cheating, only 7% indicate that Facebook has increased the number of affairs significantly. 90% say that dating sites like Match.com just provide the opportunity; if someone wants to cheat, he/she will find a way regardless of the sites or services available.

The top two measures to prevent cheating are: (1) for both partners to feel valued and important to each other and (2) to have good communication. Satisfying sex clocked in third.

"This data is consistent with our previous research that underscores the real problem for most couples is less about sex and more about feeling valued and communicating successfully," states Andrea Miller, CEO and Founder of YourTango. "And while 50% of affairs play out sexually, emotional affairs constitute the betrayal a whopping 40% of the time. It's the lack of closeness that overwhelmingly leads to cheating and discord."

MORE FROM YOURTANGO: How Popular Is Cheating?

Thankfully, there's hope for the unfaithful. 81% disagree with the adage "once a cheater, always a cheater." YourTango Expert Dr. Shoshanna Bennett explains this result saying, "Sometimes certain factors collide in one's life which may lead to cheating. Once those circumstances are handled or worked through (usually regarding the primary relationship), the temptation to cheat frequently disappears, never to return again."

Additional findings include:

  • 59% of experts agree that pornography influences infidelity.
  • 47% of experts say that celebrities do not cheat any more frequently than the rest of us. However, 76% of experts claim that celebrity cheating scandals affect how the rest of us view infidelity.
  • 57% say that if someone in a relationship has been unfaithful, it is not always best for him/her to tell his/her partner.

Complete survey details and additional insights are available through "The Truth About Infidelity" initiative on YourTango.com.

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