We tend to think cheating is something that happens to other people and not in our own relationships.
That’s according to a new study, which suggests we may view infidelity with rose-tinted glasses close to home.
The study found that people in relationships tend to think their own partner has a much lower chance of cheating than the average person of the opposite sex.
In other words, feeling loved-up can make us all a bit deluded.
During the study researchers from the University of Calgary and McMaster Children’s Hospital spoke to 200 individuals who had been in a relationship for an average of 22 months.
The participants were all in heterosexual relationships and were aged between 17 and 32 years old. The majority indicated that they classed their relationship as “exclusive”.
Using an online questionnaire, the researchers were able to compare the average person’s attitudes and experiences of cheating in their own relationship to how they viewed cheating outside of their relationship.
When talking about other people in similar relationships to their own, the average participant estimated there was a 42% a person of the opposite sex had cheated on their partner or would do so at some point in the future.
In comparison, just 5% of those questioned believed there was a chance their own partner had cheated in the past, while 8% feared they may do so in the future.
In reality, around 9% of the study participants reported having actually cheated on their own partner at some point in the past.
“They reported actually cheating at twice the rate than they thought their own partners would cheat,” a summary of the study concludes.
“Add this pattern of results to the lowest published rate of infidelity in dating relationships ― 14% ― and it becomes pretty clear that folks are engaging in some fairly (risky) wishful thinking.”
The study also revealed that fidelity and trust is something most people think is vital to a happy relationship.
Almost all daters in the study said it’s “very important” that their partners don’t cheat on them and more than nine out of 10 said they’d want to know if their partner had cheated.
Despite this, the majority (seven out of 10) of those surveyed said they had not spoken to their partner about fidelity and not discussed what “counts” as cheating.
Previous research published in the journal Sexual & Relationship Therapy indicated that men and women have different views when it comes to cheating.
The study found that almost half of women (49%) considered sexting to be a form of cheating compared with just over one third (34%) of men.
The latest research, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships did not ask participants to define what they count as cheating.