You never thought it would happen to you, but it has. You’ve just found out that your boyfriend cheated on you. You think back to the times he confessed his undying love for you, talked about your future together, claimed you were the only woman he desired. But now, all of that means nothing. How can it, when his actions contradict those words? You feel betrayed, worthless, and broken. I know, because that was me.

Men certainly have a reputation for cheating, and for ripping out the hearts of women when they do. And while some claim this stigma is unfair or even sexist, it might not actually be a misconception: a late 2016 study suggests that men may be slightly more likely to cheat than women. The statistics that were found include:

  • 57% of men admit to committing infidelity at some point in their lives
  • 54% of women admit to committing infidelity at some point in their lives
  • 22% of married men have cheated on their significant other
  • 14% of married women have cheated on their significant other

The reason that men probably cheat more than women is likely due to genetics—they have more testosterone, which drives a stronger sexual desire to have sex. Hence, leading them to make the mistake of infidelity more often than women. However, that doesn’t mean women are all innocent: they cheat too. And there are factors other than gender—perhaps more important ones—that go into someone’s (man’s or woman’s) decision and likelihood to cheat. But whatever the case or cause, infidelity hurts and the effects taint lives for years and relationships to come.

Am I Not Enough?

You shouldn’t blame yourself when and if your significant other cheats on you—it’s their decision, their responsibility and their mistake to live with. However, the relationship that you are in with them may be a risk factor in itself. The following, including the status of relationships, are other risk factors for infidelity:

  • Personality: It’s no surprise that those who are less conscientious and more selfish are more likely to cheat on their significant others.
  • Morals: Our morals guide us through life. We base major decisions off of them, such as remaining faithful to our loved ones or quite oppositely, cheating on them.
  • Religion: Our religion can actually play a part in faithfulness and infidelity as well. Very religious individuals are less likely than others to cheat, which relates back to morals.
  • Relationship: Relationship status can be a risk factor in itself. If a relationship is going downhill or an individual simply isn’t satisfied or fulfilled sexually, then infidelity can certainly occur and ruin everything. However, people who cheat due to these circumstances aren’t typically cheaters and will be faithful in a healthy, happy relationship.
  • Circumstance: Others cheat because of the circumstances they find themselves in. For example, people may end up in tempting situations, such as when they’re drinking at the bar or chatting it up with an attractive person.
  • Employment: Even our jobs may play a part in our likelihood to cheat. Those with jobs that involve touching other people or having personal discussions or relationships are more likely to cheat or have an affair.
  • Environment: Unsurprisingly, people who live in urban areas versus rural ones are at a greater risk of cheating on on their significant other. This is due to a couple reasons: cities typically have greater populations as well as people with more liberal views, which means more relaxed attitudes about sex.

Shield of Protection

After discussing all of the risk factors that play into someone’s likelihood of cheating, it’s pretty safe to say that whether someone cheats is mainly up to the individual. However, you can do a couple things to try to prevent infidelity from breaching your relationship. First, you can talk to your partner about what infidelity means. Many people have different definitions of cheating. To some it’s having sex, to others it’s simply flirting with other people. Can I hang out with other females? Can I have friendly relationships with people online? Can I grab coffee with a friend? Establish a clear definition of infidelity and also establish clear boundaries for the overall relationship. This will prevent ambiguity in the future and won’t allow the excuse of: “I didn’t know that would make you uncomfortable.” Aside from having an open discussion about cheating, you can also consider going to therapy, especially in cases where infidelity is already an issue. Professionals can help you and your significant other work through the issue (if so desired) or prevent it in the future.

And When That’s Breached…

While therapy is an option, you do not have to choose to stay in and work on a relationship that has been ruptured by infidelity. It is up to you to decide if the relationship is worth salvaging and then you can act accordingly: either break things off and go your separate ways or decide to put your all into patching up this hole and moving forward, whether that means attending therapy or simply fostering a better relationship. Either way, it is completely up to you.