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Could infidelity be normal?

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Hephaestus2 posted 6/19/2019 06:51 AM

Rideitout wrote >>>>Infidelity is quite typical and usual. Statistics tell us this, it's a part of a lot of marriages. The numbers vary depending on the study, but, it's "a lot" of marriages that will see infidelity, that much is certain.<<<<

Rideitout wrote >>>> Are there even studies to cite here? I've not seen one in any journal I've ever read with the exception of those talking about the spread of STD's <<<<

You were right the first time. There are many studies on the prevalence of infidelity.

One of the most frequently cited studies is the one by Michael Wiederman (Extramarital sex: prevalence and correlates in a national survey) which was published in 1997 in The Journal of Sex Research. He reported that the 12-month prevalence of infidelity was about 4% for men and 2% for women.

The 12-month prevalence of infidelity for married American women was about 6% in a more recent survey [Sexual infidelity in a national survey of American women: differences in prevalence and correlates as a function of method of assessment is the title of a more recent (2007) article by Whisman and Snyder in the Journal of Family Psychology.]

The 12-month prevalence of infidelity for married Chinese couples was about 11% for men and 5% for women (Zhang et al., 2012, Sexual infidelity in China: prevalence and gender-specific correlates, Archives of Sexual Behavior).

The 12-month prevalence of infidelity was between 2% and 4% (for both men and women) in a recent survey (February 2017, "Infidelity in romantic relationships" by Frank D Finchan and Ross W May in the journal Current Opinion in Psychology).

And so on.

Hephaestus2 posted 6/19/2019 06:58 AM

Ephimera wrote >>>>Hephaestus2, that is the problem though, right? It doesn't matter whether cheating is normal or common. Because values should not depend on how others behave.<<<<

Agreed. Whether cheating is "normal" or "common" really isn't the issue. It is another distraction. Almost everyone agrees that cheating is unacceptable to them regardless how common it is with everyone else.

Jimmy1962 posted 6/19/2019 07:35 AM

Wow! Thanks everyone for so many good responses.
My wifes affair did not seem normal to me, it almost killed me. But no one else other than me gives a shit. I thought that I should be able to sue the POSOM in court. After all because of them I go to therapy at $140 per hour every week for the last 23 months and I now take a handful of pills every morning thanks to them. If someone had ran over me with their car and caused me these issues I could get some compensation, there would be consequences. I think that society as a rule does not care who you are screwing or cheating on. At worst it is just a little gossip for a brief time.
Maybe "normal" was not the correct word. I should have said common and acceptable. It seems to be acceptable to everyone except the person that gets cheated on. I know it is not acceptable, but everyone accepts it except the betrayed spouse.

Rideitout posted 6/19/2019 07:51 AM

The 12-month prevalence of infidelity for married American women was about 6% in a more recent survey [Sexual infidelity in a national survey of American women: differences in prevalence and correlates as a function of method of assessment is the title of a more recent (2007) article by Whisman and Snyder in the Journal of Family Psychology.]

These are all 12 month studies. How likely something is to happen over a 1 year period, not over the course of a marriage. And this number is SHOCKING! 6% of married women cheat every year? I hope that's wrong, because that's wildly high.

I should have said common and acceptable.

Common, yes. Acceptable? To some, yes, it is. I think as a society we've kind of "thrown up our hands". It's going to happen so we've just kind of made it defacto "acceptable". Again, obesity is a good analogy here, 75 years ago, it was totally unacceptable. Now, it's common, and, while we all know it's bad for us and bad for society, we just turn a blind eye because it's so common. The commonality of it has made the unacceptable acceptable. It also depends heavily on the circles and company you keep. My co-workers? Totally acceptable to them, in fact, I'm shunned in some respects because I don't partake in the festivities. My wife's family? Totally unacceptable to them, they'd die if they knew about my WW. My family? Kind of in the middle, not a good thing, but more a "it happens", don't let it be you.

One of the most frequently cited studies is the one by Michael Wiederman (Extramarital sex: prevalence and correlates in a national survey) which was published in 1997 in The Journal of Sex Research. He reported that the 12-month prevalence of infidelity was about 4% for men and 2% for women.

That seems a little more believable to me. I'm aware the numbers don't work this way, but if you extrapolate 4%/yr as the likelyhood over a 30 year marriage.. Well, it goes up, no doubt. A 360 month prevalence study certainly wouldn't report 4% as the number, I can promise you that.

It doesn't matter whether cheating is normal or common.

Well, we can agree on this point, however, that is, in fact, the topic of this thread. Is it "normal". Should it be normal? Absolutely not. Neither should obesity, smoking, or lots of other vices. But they are normal, or at least "common" depending on how you define terms.

I thought that I should be able to sue the POSOM in court.

Yes, you should.

[This message edited by Rideitout at 7:52 AM, June 19th (Wednesday)]

WornDown posted 6/19/2019 07:56 AM

Yes, I agree, however, the definition of that word doesn't provide enough specificity to really have this discussion.

Good grief.

Normal, in this usages, means accepted. To "normalize" something means it becomes accepted behavior.

It is not normal for thousands of people to develop thyroid cancer.

Ashley Madison, et al. don't make adultry "normalized" they just make it easier. For crying out loud, the home page of AM shows a woman making the "be quiet" sign. Why? Because affairs are not ACCEPTED in modern society on the whole, so do it on the sly.

If they were "normal" why would anyone hide it? They wouldn't.

Again, it may be COMMON, but it is not NORMAL.

This whole discussion shows why conflating the two meanings (wrongly) is a problem. Stating that something is normal implies that it is acceptable. It is not. Are you an Ester Pearl fan?

Rideitout posted 6/19/2019 08:04 AM

Normal, in this usages, means accepted. To "normalize" something means it becomes accepted behavior.

Using that definition, no, I think that in most circles, affairs aren't accepted behavior. There are some circles (my work, for example) where it's accepted, but I'd say that, in general, most people would say that having affairs is not "acceptable" behavior.

Stating that something is normal implies that it is acceptable.

If that's your definition, see above. But that's not my definition of it at all. It's "normal" for our parents to get old, get sick, and then die. In no way do I think it's acceptable, but it's entirely normal (and heartbreaking). There are a million "normal" things that I find totally unacceptable about our lives. So I don't equate normal with "OK" at all.

Are you an Ester Pearl fan?

That's totally unfair. No, I'm not a fan of affair apologists AT ALL. I am a fan of statistics, numbers and predicting the future by looking at the data from the past.

[This message edited by Rideitout at 8:10 AM, June 19th (Wednesday)]

Hephaestus2 posted 6/19/2019 08:43 AM

Rideitout wrote >>>>if you extrapolate 4%/yr as the likelyhood over a 30 year marriage.. Well, it goes up, no doubt. A 360 month prevalence study certainly wouldn't report 4% as the number, I can promise you that.<<<<

No need to guess. Lots of studies report the lifetime prevalence of infidelity. As "a fan of statistics, numbers, and predicting the future by looking at data from the past" you will surely want to look them up.

Rideitout posted 6/19/2019 09:01 AM

No need to guess. Lots of studies report the lifetime prevalence of infidelity. As "a fan of statistics, numbers, and predicting the future by looking at data from the past" you will surely want to look them up.

Oh, I have. I've just not ever hit on a study that would meet your criteria (peer reviewed and published) for a 30 year prevalence of infidelity. But, for those who are curious:

According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, national surveys indicate that 15 percent of married women and 25 percent of married men have had extramarital affairs. The incidence is about 20 percent higher when emotional and sexual relationships without intercourse are included.

Again, that's not peer reviewed, so, take it for what it's worth. But, looking at those numbers, that's close to 40% of marriages (if we assume no mad hatters) or 25% of marriages (if we assume that women only cheat when cheated on, a totally incorrect basis, but hey, best case). And that's only PA's, add in the EA's and now your closing in on 50%. Which is more in line with what I've seen first hand (lot's of A's).

Bobbi_sue posted 6/19/2019 09:35 AM

Regardless of whether one believes in God, there is at least some expectation for the continuation of our species that we use our brains and some form of socialization/civilization to treat each other well to get along and continue our species not just make babies and then not really care about our babies, not teach them any morals or values, but only teach them by our own examples of doing what feels good for ourselves only.

I have come to the conclusion that even atheists need to have some sort of belief system that there is a purpose to having morals, values, and consideration of others.


When most people get married (and I'd like to think this includes even those who end up being cheaters) at the time they marry, they make a promise they intend to keep regarding being faithful to their spouse. While I'm sure it is very "normal" to break promises about anything and everything, it is not good to just accept that and regard one's own promises as nothing or not normal.


So at the very least, I think it is "normal" to attempt to keep promises, including promises to be faithful to the one you marry. The cheaters that bother me the most are those who are already cheating even through their engagement, wedding and every day after that. If you don't believe in being faithful, that it is normal or even possible, then don't make a promise to someone that you will be faithful. That's my take on it.

truthsetmefree posted 6/19/2019 09:46 AM

Jimmy - there was so much ďmeatĒ in your original post. While I donít dismiss the value of the discussion this thread seems to have moved to...I do hate that what *I* feel was the really good stuff was left on the table. Iím not necessarily trying to direct this thread - obviously the direction it has taken is one of interest - but I would still love to discuss the other points/questions that were present in your original comments.

Do you regret having stayed faithful? I think itís fair to assume that you wish your WW had not cheated. I think itís also to fair to assume that had you been able to predict that outcome, you might have chosen differently in marrying her. Please correct me if I am wrong in those assumptions. So if those assumptions are indeed the case, has this experience really changed your values? Do you no longer desire monogamy as a basis of a marital relationship? Do you just now not believe it to be a realistic expectation/outcome? Who/what is guiding your own values? I totally get that you are questioning your values - so you may not really know those answers. But I sense this is what you are really questioning....and I would be SO interested in having that discussion. Iím not trying to guide you toward any certain outcome...Iím way more interested in joining you in exploring this process of questioning.

And as an aside, I also totally get the sense of injustice (as youíve broached in your most recent post). I think thatís also very relevant as it goes back to that idea that what we think are our values, we may discover to be less about actual values and more about how we have learned to navigate getting our needs/wants met in this world.

Unhinged posted 6/19/2019 09:49 AM

Hey Jimmy. I haven't read through the entire thread (either I'm getting too lazy or just feel likes it's deja vu all over again) so forgive me if much of this has been covered.

First off, infidelity is not normal and, as far as I know, it's not all that common, either. The root of the word is "norm," which is basically defined as a commonly accepted social practice. The Cardinals winning the World Series, for instance, would be accepted as a norm. Faithful spouses are considered the norm. Unfaithful spouses are abnormal, as is the Cubs winning the World Series.

Finding out about my wifes affair was a big hit to my ego. I thought that I was the MAN of the house. Upon finding that she had a stud on the side was devastating to me. I now even feel worse about myself.
Every once in a while, someone starts a thread about why infidelity hits so hard and so deeply. Even after all of these years, I'm not quite sure I could explain it. What I do know, however, is that the betrayal of infidelity is a severe emotional and psychological trauma with profound consequences. It changes us and it challenges us in ways that are often difficult to comprehend.

One of the most difficult truths to accept as a BS is that "it" had nothing to do with us at all. It's extremely difficult not to take it personally. I think that's just a part of being human. We're programmed to learn from traumas. For instance, if you ever burn yourself with a high pressure steamer in a restaurant's kitchen, you quickly learn to be very, very careful around such things. In many ways, the same thing happens to a BS. We wonder what we could have done differently to avoid being betrayed again in the future. Which is why "[t]his shit is a real mind bender for me1" (or at least part of the reason).

Nothing you said or didn't say, nothing you did or didn't do, would have made the slightest difference in the world. People cheat because of their own issues. It's that simple. Your WW did whatever it was that she did because of HER issues, HER poor coping mechanisms, HER selfishness and exaggerated sense of entitlement. People cheat in all sorts of marriage, from good marriages to shitty ones, rich or poor, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation... people cheat because of their own fucked-up shit.

I always thought that I was a alpha male. I feel like a slacker because I am not chasing women looking for some strange on the side.
Don't even get me started on the commonly held misconceptions regarding "alpha" males. How much pussy a man gets isn't a part of being an alpha male. This popularly held misconception is based upon popularly held misconceptions about other intelligent species. More so, alpha males, in my humble opinion, don't go around fucking other men's wives. There are more apt terms for men like these.

All of that aside, I'm sure that a few of history true alpha males may have had wayward wives for the simple reason that it had nothing at all to do with them.

Maybe there is no God, maybe there are no sins, maybe we are just passing thru and we should go for it. Do whatever we want to do when we want to do it.
I am not a religious man, so my faith was never tested. However, I've seen quite a lot of BS question their faith while surviving infidelity. If I understand Judeo-Christian views regarding God's Will, we all have free will. We can choose to live a righteous life or choose to live in sin.

Don't let this shit shake your faith, brother, particularly in yourself.

Are there really consequences? So what, you cheat, your spouse gets upset but they will get over it. If they don't get over it and they give you too much grief just leave them and go on. (I had to back off of my wife or I was going to run her off. Several times she told me that she did not think we were going to make it because I was not getting over it. I had to work hard to put it behind me and I had to keep some of my anger and sadness to myself or I would have lost her.)
This, right here, is by far that one part of your post that worries me the most. Your fear of losing your wife seems to be greater than your fear of losing yourself. Is this why you're wondering if infidelity is normal?

deephurt posted 6/19/2019 13:03 PM

Jimmy. Replying to your most recent post in this thread. I couldnít agree more with your assessment of unfair.

Yes if you were in a car accident, you could sue someone for your out of pocket expenses as a result of their fault. If your spouse beat you physically, they would be arrested and prosecuted. In my area, there was a hiv positive person who was sentenced for having u protected sex with unsuspecting people. Yet, we, as bsís are emotionally abused, often causing ptsd and exposed, without our consent or knowledge to stdís. And no one cares. There is no justice for that wrong that we were subjected to that has caused us extreme emotional distress. We go to therapy and have to pay for it, we are diagnosed with diseases, our kids are traumatized. We are traumatized. The only ones that understand are our therapists-but they are paid to care and other bsís.

I understand what you are saying and I wish it was illegal. If infidelity was taken more seriously as abuse, it would be frowned upon just like we frown upon spouses who physically abuse their spouse. There are shelters for spouses who have been physically abused. There is nothing for the emotionally abused from infidelity. Society looks at spouse beaters as scum yet cheaters may not be considered great people but itís shrugged off and people who havenít been cheated on think that the bs must have been a shot spouse. Itís our fault in some way. We donít look at victims of physical abuse as though they must have done something wrong.

Of course society used to believe that rape victims were at fault in some way. The way they dressed or talked, they were drunk etc. Society has come a long way in changing that attitude, at least are trying-still a long way to go.aybe there will come a time when society will understand how devastating infidelity is at some point. I doubt it though as the media has romanticized it and the politicians and celebrities are known to be unfaithful. Until it is recognized as abuse, I doubt anything will ever change.

The1stWife posted 6/19/2019 13:12 PM

RideItOut

I know many people who cheated to get into college. In fact the valedictorian of my child's class a few years ago cheated from middle school to HS to get to be #1 in her class. Everyone knew it was going on. No one stopped it.

The point is if you are of the mindset that cheating is okay because it has become normalized, then what next? Itís okay to steal money or commit crimes because ďeveryone is doing it?Ē

I also dislike when people cheat you and say ďitís not personal itís businessĒ. As if that phrase makes it okay. It doesnít.

Rideitout posted 6/19/2019 13:49 PM

I doubt it though as the media has romanticized it and the politicians and celebrities are known to be unfaithful. Until it is recognized as abuse, I doubt anything will ever change.

I think you're right. And the reason is because of the prevalence. If it comes to be regarded as abuse (which it is), that makes some huge proportion of the population "spouse abusers". It loses it meaning when it's so prevalent. Maybe I'm wrong, we certainly COULD change it if we wanted to, but I just don't see the drive in our society today, in fact, I see the opposite drive (making it more accepted and more "OK" to have an A). No fault D is probably the best example of this, but there are lots of others (Ashley Madison being exhibit number 2 in that list). But you'll not get much interest from politicians and celebs to change this because many of them are actually committing this "crime" or offense themselves.

The point is if you are of the mindset that cheating is okay because it has become normalized, then what next? Itís okay to steal money or commit crimes because ďeveryone is doing it?Ē

I'm NOT of that mindset, not at all. But I do think that our society is more of that mindset than it used to be (as I said above). And the big shift has been in female infidelity, it was always kind of "OK" for a man to have a woman on the side (note, I DO NOT think this is or was right either, just stating what I remember as a young man and have read in books). Now it's become "OK" for women to do the same. In fact, in a lot of circles, it's become more than OK, it's become "you go girl". Which is much more like my band of guys from work, it's not "OK to cheat" it's celebrated. Totally unhealthy for both sexes.

Everyone isn't stealing money. But a different example might work here better for me. The speed limit is 65 on the highway near me. Everyone is going 80. "Crime" has become normalized and accepted and, because of that, yes, in some ways, it has become "OK" to go 80, even though it's clearly illegal, dangerous and people die every single day as a result of it (speeding).

I also dislike when people cheat you and say ďitís not personal itís businessĒ. As if that phrase makes it okay. It doesnít.

I hate this phrase too, but, it certainly applies to A's as well. Do "whatever it takes" to get what you want from the A without any regard to the people you're hurting. And this attitude becomes more pervasive in our society as time passes, the "collective" that we used to have isn't there anymore, at least not in most interactions with other people. There's very little "do the right thing" and a whole lot of "do the thing that's legal and I most benefit from" in the business world. And it's totally foreseeable, if you setup incentives to focus entirely on P/L and growth, well.. You get a lot of P, a lot of growth and absolutely 0 corporate responsibility. That's what the incentives are, what do you (not you personally) expect people are going to do. And I'd say the same thing for affairs, the incentives are setup now in such a way that having an affair isn't nearly as costly as it used to be (no fault divorce), it more socially accepted, and less likely to be discovered because of technology. What do you think is gonna happen when you do that? Well, the answer is obvious, incentives (and punishments) matter people! Change the law so a cheating spouse gets 25% of the combined assets, 0 alimony, and the cheated on spouse always keeps the marital home, guess what? Behavior will change. But that's not what we (as a society) want, we want "freedom" and "unfetter access" so, instead of that, we have a system where my WW's A wouldn't even factor into a D settlement. And we wonder why...

marji posted 6/19/2019 17:58 PM

Ripped You always set forth your ideas and impressions so clearly and simply and insightfully. Thank you.

OwningItNow posted 6/19/2019 19:48 PM

I am not saying that my choice of partner or relationship history has not been problematic; it has been. But there is no history of cheating with my parents or with my H's parents, with any of my grandparents or with any of my H's grandparents. All long marriages. Still, I did not count on fidelity in my M, I just hoped for it. I have never counted on human beings--in all their child abusing, drug doing, alcoholic, gambling, back stabbing, overspending brokenness--to simply live a 50 year marriage without f-cking up. I hoped it wouldn't happen, but I guess I entered marriage with the thought of, "God, let us survive whatever is thrown our way." Disappointed? Sure. Hurt? Yep. Surprised? Not really.

Human beings are not perfect. And no, they don't realize it to give you a heads up. They lie to themselves and others. My H's IC had to explain to him that he is not defined by who he intends to be but instead by who he actually is. My H was confused by this. He believed his good intentions mattered more than his "couldn't help it" actions. So there ya go. I didn't think anyone could believe something dumb like intentions mattering more, but my H did.

[This message edited by OwningItNow at 7:50 PM, June 19th (Wednesday)]

Rideitout posted 6/19/2019 20:06 PM

My H's IC had to explain to him that he is not defined by who he intends to be but instead by who he actually is.

Wow, that's a powerful statement I've never heard before. Actions are really all that matters. Thoughts, intentions, justifications.. None of it makes a hoot of difference, it's all "what did you do" that defines good from bad. I struggle with this all the time because I have a lot of really bad thoughts, thoughts that just about everyone claims to never have (but I think they're lying). The only thing I can actually control are my actions and those, while I'm not proud of them all, in aggregate, I'm satisfied.

It's why, not to get too off topic, and no offense intended, when I see threads about did he/she really love the AP, all I can think is "who gives a sh*t". Look at their actions after the affair (or even during, in a lot of cases). Is that what love looks like to you? The actions tell the story in an A dramatically better than the drivel that AP's spew to one another. And if that's how you treat people you "love", my god, I'd hate to be my W's AP's enemy. Because that's not at all what love looks like, or what "loving actions" are, at least not to me.

staystrong101 posted 6/19/2019 20:26 PM

I too, wonder if it's normal. I was with Ex WH for 26 years, and although I had opportunities to cheat, I never did. I would've felt so guilty to betray my H like that. But WH told me after he got caught, that all men cheat. It's natural and biological for men (not women of course ), but he said all men will cheat when given the chance. He said any man who doesn't cheat is either lying, or he just can't get a woman (in addition to his wife that is). He said it's like porn. It means nothing and is completely separate from our M, our family, and our life together. He said he loves me and the OW meant nothing. I do know of 4 of his good friends who have cheated on their wives, and all 4 of their wives accepted it and they stayed together. WH was shocked when I kicked him out and filed for D.

I wonder if it's so common because so many WS get away with it?? Maybe if they really thought they could lose everything, they'd think twice before having sex with some slut in the backseat of the car.. ? But seriously, he said he did it because he thought if he got caught that I'd be mad for awhile but then I'd eventually get over it. Isn't this true for many BS?

Rideitout posted 6/19/2019 20:38 PM

But WH told me after he got caught, that all men cheat. It's natural and biological for men (not women of course ), but he said all men will cheat when given the chance. He said any man who doesn't cheat is either lying, or he just can't get a woman (in addition to his wife that is).

It is natural and biological (for both men and women). So is murder, rape, and a ton of other wholly unacceptable things. So, what exactly was his point with this?

I will say, there's a skit out there (I think Chris Rock) that goes along the lines that "Men are as faithful as their options". Now, I'll start with "This isn't really true", but, like all comedy, it has enough truth in it to be "funny" (or used to be, pre-A).

Does that mean I don't have options? Well, in a sense, I guess it does, but it's because I don't create options/opportunities for myself. No, I don't trust myself to have those "options" at the ready and always say no. Call me weak, call me a pig, or call me a realist, all are probably true to some extent, but I don't want "options" and I make sure I don't have any other than my W. It works for me.

He said he loves me and the OW meant nothing.

Now this, I do believe. Because I've heard it from nearly every cheating man I know. "Love's got nothing to do with it" applies in both directions. Got nothing to do with why they are sleeping with the AP, and sadly, got nothing to do with the pain they are causing you by their actions. I know quite a few men who've had A's, not a single one was about "love", at least not in their telling of it. And I do believe them, if you want "love" you're looking in the wrong place having an affair. If you want kinky sex with someone new, well.. You're in the right place, but, is it really worth it?

[This message edited by Rideitout at 8:41 PM, June 19th (Wednesday)]

deena04 posted 6/19/2019 20:41 PM

^^^the above statement is what I think of. The being as faithful as options one rings true to some extent, but some men/women know options also include remaining faithful and those are the ones I like. The ones that choose to hide, sneak around, and cheat don't register high on my likable list.

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