Why do people cheat and what does that affair look like? Scientific American reports a recent study came up with some pretty fascinating answers. Researchers turned to an unnamed US university and Reddit boards focused on relationships to recruit 495 people who copped to cheating. In a study published in December 2020 in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, participants were asked about what motivated them to engage in the affair and their experiences during and after it. "Meaningful associations emerged," write the researchers. Generally, they found that people who had "dyadic motivations" (meaning ones relating to the interaction between people, like being angry at your partner) were tied to longer affairs, more public outings with affair partners, and an increasing likelihood their primary relationship would end.
Those with non-dyadic motivations (such as someone feeling stressed or cheating when they were drunk) had shorter affairs and were less likely to reveal the affair or see their primary relationship end. Among the notable stats unearthed by the study: Though about 61% of people had sexually explicit conversations with their affair partners, only half of them had vaginal intercourse during the affair. They were far more likely to kiss (86.7%) or cuddle (72.9%), but rarely (11.1%) said "I love you" to their affair partner. About 1 in 3 people said they told their partners they had cheated, with women more likely to do so. Those who confessed were more likely to have cheated because of anger or neglect, indicating the confession was possibly "a way to exact revenge" rather than something done to clear the conscience, reports Scientific American. Only 11.1% of the affairs evolved into relationships; 20.4% of primary relationships ended because of the affair. (Read more scientific study stories.)