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New Survey Finds Only 16 Percent of Couples Survive an Affair

Whether you stay or go has a lot to do with your gender and relationship status.

While why men cheat and why women cheat tend to differ, there's no denying that infidelity is not uncommon for both sexes. We often talk about why and how many people cheat—the most recent General Social Survey found that 20 percent of married men and 13 percent of married women had admitted to cheating. But how many survive the affair is a less often discussed. Now, a new survey by the healthcare company Health Testing Centers may just have an answer.

The survey polled 441 people who admitted to cheating while in a committed relationship, and found that more than half (54.5 percent) broke up immediately after the truth came out. Another 30 percent tried to stay together but broke up eventually, and only 15.6 percent survived this break of trust.

Interestingly enough, the statistics surrounding whether or not people decided to stay together varied significantly based on their relationship status. Almost a quarter (23.6 percent) of married couples decided to try to work things out, versus only 13.6 percent of people who were in a committed partnership.

There are also gender disparities, as women were almost twice as likely to say they were still with their partner following a confession of infidelity. And the nature of the affair also played a role, considering that 19.7 percent of couples chose to stay together after a one-night stand, versus only 12.7 percent of couples who found out their partner had engaged in a longterm affair.

The biggest reasons for confessing to an affair were guilt (47 percent), followed by wanting to let their partner know they were unhappy (39.8 percent), and feeling like their partner had the right to know (38.6 percent). But, worryingly, only one in four people who cheated said they admitted it to their partner, and roughly the same amount said they got caught, pointing to the fact that signs of infidelity are often easier to miss than we might want to believe.

People who were married were also more likely to wait longer to confess than those in committed relationships—52.4 percent of non-married cheaters admitted to the deed within the first week, whereas 47.9 percent of married cheaters waited six months or longer.

Among those who decided to not break up immediately, 61 percent of cheaters said their partner implemented rules and consequences as a result of the affair. The majority (55.7 percent) said that they allowed their partner to look through their phone. Other common regulations included avoiding certain friends, limitations on going out, letting their partner access their social media, and withholding sex.

Interestingly enough, only roughly 30 percent of cheaters said their partner demanded that they end the affair, and 27.8 percent of them said their partner told them they couldn't even communicate with the opposite sex without their explicit permission. Once again, there was a gender disparity when it came to post-affair life: Male cheaters were more likely to be asked to go out less and have sex withheld from them, whereas female cheaters were more likely to have their phones monitored and not be allowed to see certain friends.

One way or another, it's clear that infidelity can get messy, and the decision on whether to stay or go is not an easy one to make. For a personal testimony on this, read My Spouse Cheated. Here's Why I Didn't Leave.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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