Is Infidelity On The Rise?  Is There An Epidemic?  If So, Why?

I sometimes hear from women who are reeling from their spouse’s affair, but who are not alone. Many know other wives, friends, or family members who are also going through this.  Another generation ago, it might be rare to hear about infidelity, but today, it seems that we all know several folks who have dealt with it.  Frankly, it is not at all rare.  It sometimes seems that it is more rare to know someone who hasn’t gone through infidelity than someone who has.  That is why it can start to feel as if infidelity is on the rise or at epidemic levels.  Someone might say, “I feel horrible that my husband cheated on me, but when I confide to friends about it, their response is that this is just all par for the course.  Most of them have dealt with this themselves. I guess that it is now socially acceptable to cheat and I think that this is awful.  It’s not as if I want to go back to the old days or something, but I feel that our society is deteriorating.  Is it just my imagination, or is literally almost everyone cheating?  Are we as a society going through an infidelity epidemic?”

Statistics vary, but if you look, you’ll see figures that say that anywhere from 40 to 70 percent of married men will have at least one affair in their lifetime.  The numbers certainly were not this high several decades ago.  The reason for the increases are debatable, but experts have noted some disturbing trends.

Some Reasons That Infidelity Is On The Rise: Experts say that today, we expect much more out of our partners.  Our society in general has a “more is better” mentality.  It is why we supersize our food and want unlimited data on our phone and cable plans. Today, we expect our partner to be our best friend, soul mate, support system, and sexual powerhouse. If our spouse disappoints us on any of these fronts, it is almost socially acceptable to get our needs met elsewhere.  Celebrities, politicians, and people who we are supposed to admire make headlines for cheating.   Ours has become a throw away society.  If something no longer works as it should, it’s acceptable to replace it with something new or better.

Another problem that experts warn about is pornography.  Because of our smart phones and tablets, pornography is more readily available and it gives people an unrealistic notion of what a healthy sex life should look like.  Therefore, people can begin to think that they are sexually bored at home and they find this to be unacceptable.   Ironically, studies show that watching porn actually makes people LESS SATISFIED with their sex lives, so it is a vicious cycle.  The spouse watches porn as a replacement for sex and then once he gets the real sex, he is less satisfied with it.

All of these factors have sort of set up a perfect storm for infidelity.  Our society has conditioned us to expect instant gratification and we don’t have the attention spans to hang in there when things get tough.  Our throw away society encourages us to just toss away what doesn’t work instead.  Because of this, infidelity is most definitely on the rise, but I’m not sure I’d call it an epidemic quite yet.

Sure, it can feel like everyone is cheating, but even the highest statistics negate this.  Even if you took the highest statistic that you could find (70% of married men) that isn’t every married man.  There are still 30 percent who do not cheat (and this statistic of 70% seems very high to me.)  The faithful marriages that I see include two people who are extremely committed to one another and who have developed very strong communication skills. They actually TALK to their spouse when issues come up rather than having their needs met elsewhere.   They don’t put themselves in risky situations because they have committed not to jeopardize their marriages.  Society does not make life easy for them, but they see their marriages as more important than following societal norms.  They worry about one another and their family – and not what everyone else thinks of them.  They develop a “we” vs “everyone else” mentality.  And yes, they are out there.  There are plenty of them.

So yes, infidelity is on the rise, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to accept it in your own marriage.  You do not have to do what everyone else is doing.  Ask yourself what is important to you and to your spouse – no matter what society thinks.  There are still couples who think that fidelity and commitment is more important than instant gratification with someone else.  Those people aren’t necessarily celebrated in society, but who cares? I’d rather be happy and secure in my marriage than to be like everyone else.  Because statistically speaking, affairs do not make people happy.  The overwhelming majority of people regret having an affair.  Many regret breaking up their marriages.  Most people do realize that ultimately, an affair hurts everyone, even if technically, everyone is not having one.

I know that it feels as if everyone is cheating.  But try not to worry about everyone else right now.  Just worry about yourself.  In my experience, it helps to gather those people who are most important to you and forget about the rest of the life for awhile.  It will be there when you get back.  In my experience, it is possible to recover from an affair, but it’s equally as important to safeguard your marriage afterward so that you never have to do this again.  There’s more about that on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com.

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