For most people in relationships, a commitment means no playing around, ever. That doesn't mean there aren't plenty of love rats out there.
About one in five adults in monogamous relationships, or 22 percent, have cheated on their current partner. The rate is even higher among married men. And nearly half of people admit to being unfaithful at some point in their lives, according to the results of the MSNBC.com/iVillage Lust, Love & Loyalty survey.
More than 70,000 adults completed the online reader survey in February, answering about 30 questions that revealed their intimate feelings about adultery and what makes them stray or stay faithful.
About three-quarters of the survey takers say they've made a monogamous commitment, with a majority either married or remarried. But a significant portion found it easier to make that promise than keep it.
Spending years together, exchanging wedding rings, even having children doesn’t inoculate a couple against cheating. In fact, married folks with kids — including women with very young children — are nearly as likely to commit adultery as childless couples.
The bright side is, while many of us are tempted by the fruit of another, it seems we fear cheating more than we need.
We're bombarded with images of infidelity in popular culture and the news, so it's no surprise we think it's a world of callous cads and desperate housewives.
Survey takers guessed that twice as many people are having extramarital affairs as really are, estimating that 44 percent of married men and 36 percent of married women are unfaithful. The reality is it's not as rampant as we think, with 28 percent of married men and 18 percent of married women admitting to having a sexual liaison, the survey found.
"We think everybody is out there doing it," says Janet Lever, a sociologist at California State University, Los Angeles, and the study's lead researcher. "Well, they're not."