What Percentage Of Couples Stay Together After One Cheats?

by Alexandra CraciunJuly 20, 2021

How many relationships have you seen end due to infidelity? You probably heard a few stories or may have dealt with this yourself. However, the percentage of couples that stay together after someone cheats can be surprising.

 It’s a question many people have thought about many times. But, to understand what happens after infidelity, we must look at the numbers.

 Infidelity is widespread nowadays, and it’s an experience hard to recover from because of its long-term effect on one’s self-esteem and mental health.

Anger or spite isn’t the primary motivating factor behind cheating. 

It’s more likely to be a slow process resulting from disconnection and disengagement, alongside other internal and external factors. 

The causes are various, and adultery often conceals other marital issues. 

Infidelity itself doesn’t cause divorce – at least not directly. Instead, it is relationship breakdown that makes couples cheat.

In conclusion, cheating itself is a symptom of a much larger issue, so we must consider that when dealing with it.

The percentage of couples stay together after a partner cheats

Several studies have tested the rate of separation after infidelity, and the data varies from one research to another. 

Let’s break down the statistics and realities of how many couples stay together after cheating.

More than half of couples who experienced infidelity broke up, 30% tried to work things out but eventually separated, and 15,6% survived. Those aren’t hopeful numbers.

However, some couples stay together in a relationship after one party has cheated, at least more than you would expect. 

But the percentage also varies based on the couple’s status.

Married couples are more likely to stay together after one of the partners cheats since divorce is hard to go through and follow, and there may be children involved as well.

When it comes to this, it seems that there is an obvious contrast.

23.6 % of married couples stayed together after one partner cheated. In comparison, only 13.6 % of unmarried couples decided to work things out.

Another study highlights the fact that infidelity is a common reason why married people divorce.  

40% of marriages end after experiencing infidelity. In contrast, 17% of married couples that don’t experience infidelity end up divorcing. 

Four out of ten marriages end in divorce because of infidelity. In a nutshell, 20-40% of couples that experienced infidelity divorce in the US alone.

According to an American Psychological Association study, 53% of the adulterous couples that went to therapy divorced after five years, compared to 23% of faithful couples. 

According to another source, 61% of men who have cheated will get away scot-free, while only 44% of women can do the same.  

Therefore, if you’re a man, the chances of separating from your partner are slimmer

Even if people stay together after an affair, it doesn’t mean that the quality of their relationship is good. 

Staying together doesn’t equal success. But, unfortunately, many just let the issues linger and remain in the relationship because they think that’s what they have to do.

6 Factors that make separation or divorce more likely

1. The longer the marriage, the more likely it is that one of you will cheat.

If two people have been married for decades or tied knots early on, infidelity is more likely to happen.

2. Your age is above 55 years

It seems that a person is more likely to cheat if they are older.

3. Relationships are more likely to crumble to the ground if men have emotional affairs and if women have physical affairs. 

4. A partner is more likely to engage in adulterous relationships if they have a personality disorder or an insecure attachment style. 

5. Having a long term-affair reduces the chances that you stay together. 

           It seems that couples tend to stay together if their partner has cheated only once instead of cheating multiple times over a more extended period of time.

6. Outside factors and life situations 

         People are more prone to cheating if they deal with financial issues, a death in the family, a mid-life crisis, general stress, or other life circumstances that might make them unhappy.

How many people admit to cheating?

The percentage of couples who stay together after one cheats is a matter of debate because not all people who cheat in a relationship report their infidelity. 

Therefore, the actual number is unknown. 

In a Truth about deception Survey, it seems that more than 50% of married people admitted to having cheated on their partner. 

But that means that there are also plenty of couples that don’t confess. 

If you keep your affair a secret, the chances that your partner will separate if they find out are significantly higher than if you were to confess. 

It just goes to show you that coming clean about your transgression is always the better option.

Even when people admit to having cheated, it can be challenging to sort out the truth because there are so many ways people can cheat. 

So we must first establish what cheating even means.

What constitutes cheating

Infidelity is an act of betrayal carried through behind the curtains while being in a previously established committed monogamous relationship.

You can cheat physically or emotionally; you can cheat with somebody close to you or long distance (online). 

One-night stands, an emotional connection, a full-blown affair, serial or compulsive cheating, and online cheating are all different types of cheating.

No matter what the “modus operandi” is, all cheating ways have the same effect on the victim. 

Some people might consider groping or just touching somebody else, exchanging phone numbers, porn addiction, flirting, going out with people of the opposite sex frequently, or spending money on others as cheating.  

The lines are not always so clear. 

Therefore, your attachment style may influence how you see cheating, with anxiously attached people seeing more behaviors as fitting the description.

Although there isn’t a precise definition, infidelity needs to have these 4 main characteristics.

These are as follows: 

1. The cheating is done in secrecy.

          The partner tries to conceal the affair and hides it behind other behaviors – staying at work late, going for random walks, talking and texting frequently, distancing themselves from their partner or spouse, etc.

2. The cheater knows that the conduct would hurt the partner if they were ever to find out about it. 

          The partner is aware that the action will cause harm if it were to be discovered, but they disregard this. 

3. Physical or emotional closeness is more significant with the other person.

The cheater spends more time, effort, or resources with the other person than with their partner.

4. The cheater is aware of what they’re doing.

Your partner knows that what they’re doing is cheating, albeit they’re not necessarily admitting that to themselves.

How common is cheating?

Understanding the statistics will help you see the big picture.

First, however, we have to consider the number of people willing to admit that they cheated or to be polled about their infidelity.

So what’s the estimated percentage of relationships that experience infidelity?

The Relish Relationship Report showed that 26% of married people cheated. 

It also found that 23% were engaged in an emotional affair, 23% in a physical relationship and 55% have gone through both.

The results also vary by gender. 

It seems that 21% of men and 13% of women reported infidelity at some point in their lifetime!

Final thoughts

Infidelity and love are always tricky issues to talk about. However, it is not unusual that relationships fall apart after one of the partners cheats. 

Yet, infidelity is still highly prevalent everywhere, even if most people would agree that it is immoral behavior.

Other than its effects on the individuals who are the victims of it, it is still one of the main reasons people separate or divorce.

Some relationships end without any communication, and others end with a messy break-up. 

And then there are those couples that grow from the hardship and reach forgiveness and reconciliation.

But for that to be the case, both partners must see their relationship as worth saving and put a considerable amount of effort into repairing it.

Many married couples never discuss the topic of infidelity after it happens to them. 

Before you know it, they forget about it for years, resentment builds up, and then they divorce years later because of their lingering problems. 

That’s why therapy can help them, as it’s such a healing experience that pushes partners to explore the hidden reasons behind the infidelity and foster empathy and compassion towards each other. 

You can read more about it here.

Pretending that everything is rosy is never a viable option – not for your relationship health, nor your own.

The statistics are foggy, but I think we can safely assume that the percentage of married couples who stay together after someone cheats is higher than those who don’t.

If that is the case, it will serve us well to understand infidelity better and find ways to handle it with emotional intelligence and kindness.

However, I’m not minimizing the suffering and the struggles that infidelity brings in a relationship, and it’s nothing to take lightly. 

Therefore, if you want to fight the good fight, come prepared and give it your best. After all, that’s the only thing you can do.

Recommended: 9 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Filing For Divorce

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