A recent study has concluded that most people who cheat on their significant other do not regret doing so, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University in collaboration with researchers at the University of Western Ontario.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Archives of Sexual Behavior earlier this month, looked at individuals who were using the online dating service Ashley Madison, which is geared primarily towards people who are married or in relationships and are looking for affairs.
The study had participants fill out questionnaires about their primary relationships. The questionnaires were there also to answer what motivated them to seek out affairs and what they hoped the outcomes would be. The majority of participants were middle-aged men who stated that they have high levels of love for their partner but low levels of sexual satisfaction. Half of the participants additionally stated that they are not sexually active with their partner.
Other reasons why they signed on to the dating service were a desire to be more independent and for more sexual variety.
“In popular media, television shows and movies and books, people who have affairs have this intense moral guilt and we don’t see that in this sample of participants,” said Dylan Selterman, lead author of the study and associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences.
Cheating did not hurt their relationship
The study concluded that participants were highly satisfied with their experiences using the dating service as well as their affairs and "expressed little moral regret." Additionally, the study found that participants did not sign up for online dating for any reason related to low relationship quality.
“Ratings for satisfaction with affairs were high – sexual satisfaction and emotional satisfaction. And feelings of regret were low. These findings paint a more complicated picture of infidelity compared to what we thought we knew," Selterman continued.
Participants also discussed having an open relationship with their significant other and even stating that their partner knew of their activity on Ashley Madison and that such activity did not make a negative impact on their relationship.
“Ratings for satisfaction with affairs were high – sexual satisfaction and emotional satisfaction. And feelings of regret were low. These findings paint a more complicated picture of infidelity compared to what we thought we knew."Dylan Selterman
Outside the Ashley Madison dating service, cheating is shown to be a common occurrence, the study says, with "estimates around 20–25% of married people and 33–50% of young adults in dating relationships" having cheated on their partner.