Their needs aren’t being met. They’re lonely. The sex has fallen off a cliff. But some people cheat not out of lust or longing, but out of anger and sadness.
A third of people who have affairs are ‘revenge cheating’, says new research from Illicit Encounters.
A survey of 1,000 users of Illicit Encounters (a website specifically for affairs, so everyone involved has cheated or wants to cheat on a partner) found that many people cheat on their partners to get back at them for cheating first.
Revenge cheating is slightly more common in women than in men – 37% of women surveyed have revenge cheated versus 31% of men – but this may be because men are more likely to have an affair first in a failing relationship.
In more than half of cases (54%), the revenge cheater told their partner about their affair to fully enact their vengeance (because it won’t hurt them unless they know about it, right?).
About 81% of revenge cheaters felt they were justified in having an affair because their partner had one first. Fair enough.
Of course, it’s worth noting that these stats are among people on a dating website for having affairs, so they may not be representative of the general population.
It seems logical that if your partner were to cheat on you, you’d dump them rather than getting rage-y and cheating right back just to make them feel bad – but only 26% of the people surveyed ended their relationship immediately after discovering an affair.
Staying in an unhappy relationship just to make sure both parties are equally hurt doesn’t sound like the healthiest thing to us, but the research notes that this behaviour is likely down to finances – couples might stay together because they can’t afford to split up and set up two new homes.
Illicit Encounters spokesman Christian Grant said: ‘There has been a big rise in the number of women revenge cheating in the last year.
‘They are stuck in an unhappy relationship which they cannot afford to leave because of house prices and economic uncertainty.
‘They had not planned to cheat but feel justified in doing so because their partner has had an affair first. ‘Such tit-for-tat cheating can sometimes bring couples closer together because after both have an affair there is no sense of grievance on either side.
Many discover they are happier with what they’ve already got, realising the grass isn’t greener on the other side. ‘So if you discover that your partner has been unfaithful this Christmas the best advice might well be to have an affair, too.’
But someone promoting a website for having affairs would say that, wouldn’t they?
If you’ve been cheated on and are thinking of cheating in revenge, it’s worth having a sit-down and thinking about whether it’s worth the hassle.
Reconciliation after an affair is absolutely possible, but it takes time and works to build up that trust again – while cheating could ‘level the playing field’, it rarely works out so neatly.
The desire to hurt and upset the person you’re with may point to it being time to just break up, especially if they’ve already hurt you by straying outside the relationship.
Try not to make any rash decisions, and weigh up whether you’re ready to invest in the relationship. Is your partner making you so happy and fulfilled that you’d like to work through why they cheated and stay together?
Or are you really not too keen on them anymore and ready to break up? Staying in the relationship but cheating in revenge is a sort of half in, half out situation.
If that works for you, great. But just be warned that it could cause some serious upset longterm.