Cheating: Who's doing it and why

MSNBC.com/iVillage survey finds it's easier to promise fidelity than keep it

"People who engage in marital infidelity think they have a good reason, but this is an area where our behavior doesn’t fit our attitudes in a very large way," says Howard Markman, a professor of psychology and co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver. "People are amazingly adept at justifying their negative behavior; it's one of the biggest problems in marriages."

About two-thirds of cheaters say they don’t regret their actions, and 12 percent of men and 13 percent of women say they’re glad they cheated.

For many "it was a life experience, or a daring adventure," says Lever, the survey's lead researcher. "They had some fabulous sex for a week and they didn't regret it."

But many did face lingering feelings of sadness (25 percent), stress (32 percent) and guilt (49 percent).

"The only thing that turned out from cheating was feelings of guilt and shame," writes a 31-year-old woman who is currently single. "It most definitely made me realize how much I loved my primary partner and that anyone else was not worth it!"

No doubt infidelity is a serious problem that often leads to divorce or damaged relationships 19 percent of people who were cheated on ended the relationship right away and 22 percent eventually broke up because they couldn’t get over the betrayal. Sexual infidelity played a role in just over half of divorces, the survey found.

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