Surprising Findings on Infidelity: Satisfaction Prevails, Guilt Diminishes

by Klaus Müller
infidelity study

A recent study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior challenges common assumptions about infidelity, shedding light on the psychology behind extramarital affairs. Contrary to popular belief, participants engaging in these affairs reported high levels of satisfaction and minimal guilt, suggesting that perceived marital happiness remains unaffected.

The survey, conducted among active users of Ashley Madison—an online platform facilitating extramarital encounters—has uncovered intriguing insights into the motivations and experiences of those involved in infidelity.

Lead author Dylan Selterman, an associate teaching professor at Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences specializing in relationships and attraction, expressed surprise at the results. He explained that the prevalent portrayal of affairs in popular media, rife with intense moral guilt, contradicted the findings of this sample of participants.

The study aimed to gain a deeper understanding of the psychological dynamics underlying extramarital affairs. Collaborating with researchers from the University of Western Ontario, Selterman surveyed nearly 2,000 individuals before and after they had engaged in affairs.

Participants were asked about their marital status, reasons for seeking an affair, and overall well-being. Although respondents were generally middle-aged males who professed love for their partners, they reported lower levels of sexual satisfaction within their relationships.

Approximately half of the participants admitted to being sexually inactive with their spouses, with sexual dissatisfaction ranking as the primary motivation for seeking extramarital connections. Other factors included a desire for independence and sexual variety. Surprisingly, fundamental issues like lack of love or anger toward a spouse ranked among the least-cited reasons for infidelity.

Contrary to expectations, the study found that individuals with seemingly strong marriages were just as likely to engage in affairs as those in troubled relationships. Participants expressed high levels of sexual and emotional satisfaction from their affairs and reported no regrets.

These findings challenge the notion that infidelity stems from underlying relationship problems, as participants sought extramarital connections for novel and thrilling sexual experiences or due to a lack of strong commitment to their partners. Emotional fulfillment played a lesser role in their motivations.

Selterman emphasizes the importance of understanding the diversity of motivations behind cheating, stating that even individuals in seemingly good relationships may choose to engage in affairs. The study indicates no conclusive evidence linking affairs to lower relationship quality or decreased life satisfaction.

Continuing this line of research, Selterman aims to explore how other groups of individuals engaging in infidelity compare to the Ashley Madison population.

In conclusion, the study’s findings serve as a reminder that maintaining monogamy and sexual exclusivity can be challenging, often leading to people taking these commitments for granted. Selterman suggests that while cheating may be a common occurrence in relationships, it does not necessarily spell doom for every partnership.

Title: “No Remorse: Sexual Infidelity Is Not Clearly Linked with Relationship Satisfaction or Well-Being in Ashley Madison Users”
Authors: Dylan Selterman, Samantha Joel, and Victoria Dale
Published: 3 April 2023
Journal: Archives of Sexual Behavior
DOI: 10.1007/s10508-023-02573-y

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about infidelity study

What did the study on infidelity reveal?

The study revealed that individuals engaging in extramarital affairs reported high levels of satisfaction and minimal guilt. Contrary to common beliefs, their perceived marital happiness was not significantly harmed.

What motivated people to have extramarital affairs?

The primary motivation for engaging in extramarital affairs was sexual dissatisfaction. Other motivations included a desire for independence and sexual variety. Lack of love or anger toward a spouse ranked among the least-cited reasons for infidelity.

Did participants regret having the affairs?

No, participants generally reported high levels of satisfaction, both sexually and emotionally, from their affairs. They did not express regrets about their decision to engage in extramarital relationships.

Are infidelity and lower relationship quality linked?

The study found no solid evidence linking infidelity to lower relationship quality or reduced life satisfaction. Even individuals in seemingly good relationships were found to be equally likely to engage in extramarital affairs.

How were the participants in the study selected?

The study surveyed nearly 2,000 active users of Ashley Madison, an online platform facilitating extramarital affairs. The participants were primarily middle-aged and male, providing insights into their experiences and motivations for infidelity.

More about infidelity study

  • Study: “No Remorse: Sexual Infidelity Is Not Clearly Linked with Relationship Satisfaction or Well-Being in Ashley Madison Users” (Archives of Sexual Behavior)

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SkepticalMind July 17, 2023 - 10:36 pm

I don’t know, this study seems a bit biased. It only surveyed users of Ashley Madison, which might not represent the whole population. I’d take these findings with a grain of salt.

AdventurousSoul July 18, 2023 - 10:29 am

Well, well, well… the truth about infidelity is out! Who knew people could be so satisfied and guilt-free after cheating? This study definitely challenges societal norms and perceptions.

CuriousCat July 18, 2023 - 5:05 pm

wait, so people actually use a website to find affairs? That’s wild! I wonder how these findings compare to those who cheat in other ways. I’m curious to see what future research will reveal.

Luv2Chat July 18, 2023 - 6:32 pm

hmmm, interesting findings. seems like people cheat for a variety of reasons, not just because they’re unhappy. maybe monogamy is overrated? this study raises some thought-provoking questions.

JohnSmith July 18, 2023 - 7:54 pm

wow this study is so cool it like shows that cheating ain’t that bad ya know? people still happy and stuff even after affairs! who would’ve thought?

JaneDoe July 18, 2023 - 8:05 pm

omg, this is so surprising! I always thought that cheating would ruin a relationship, but this study says the opposite. It’s like, they’re satisfied and don’t even feel guilt! Crazy!


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