It's more likely than not, that at some point in your dating career or your marriage (but hopefully not!) you have either cheated on your partner or been cheated on. Ce'st la vie, right? But people have a tendency to universalize their own experiences -- especially those as jarring as finding out the person you loved strayed.
Now, however, we have research, facts!, about who, what, when and where vis-a-vis cheating. In a new paper (gated), a researcher using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health looked at the cheating habits of those 18-26 year olds (data from 2001) and 24--32 year olds (data from 2008) participating in the study. (Note: the study included both people in relationships and married folks).
What did we learn? First -- and keep in mind these were self-reported answers, so even though anonymous, take it with a grain of salt -- married people cheated less often (12.9 percent) than those simply in a "committed" relationship (21.5 percent). However, when married people do cheat, they do so most often during the summer. Go figure.
What else? Religious people are less likely to cheat than non-religious folks (shocking!) and Blacks cheated more often than Whites. The 2008 data reflected that men cheated more often women, but the 2001 data showed that woman cheated more often than men. Gender equality!
Seriously, though, as we move closer and closer to a society where there no formal legal barriers to gender equality -- while substantive equality is a different story -- this is to be expected as more women are in the work force and are financially independent.
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Finally, there are no differences between the rich and poor, ill-educated and highly educated in rates of cheating. We all love sex...sometimes a bit too much.