14 Most Common Causes of Infidelity in a Marriage

By: Henry Gornbein
Last Update: October 31, 2016

I have been practicing family law for over 45 years, and I have seen and heard almost everything and every reason why a party wishes to begin a divorce. More and more, I am seeing situations where people meet online but never truly and authentically get to know each other.

Good or bad, we live in an age where people want instant gratification and where they are not willing to really communicate and work on their problems without turning for answers in the arms of another man or woman.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Infidelity in a Marriage? 

Is infidelity the chicken or the egg? Is it caused by a loveless marriage or rather by a marriage partner who is unwilling to commit and work through problems? The following are some of my thoughts on this important question: 

1. The Internet 

The Internet is a major facilitator of infidelity. It is much easier to find forbidden fruit online than it is in person.  There are so many websites where people can meet with no questions asked. Think of the tag line of Ashley Madison – “Life is Short. Have an Affair®.” 

2. Running Away from Problems 

Running away from problems is a major contributor toward infidelity. Making excuses rather than facing the music with your spouse opens the door to infidelity, especially emotional affairs. I have heard many examples where a spouse would tell me that he or she has found a coworker with a shoulder to lean on. It should be no surprise that sympathetic coworkers regularly become participants in illicit affairs.

3. Pornography 

Pornography is rampant on the Internet – but does this lead to affairs? Does it lead to emotional affairs and the death of love and trust? Absolutely! Internet and “porn addiction” are significant factors causing the breakdown of marriages today. And you might be surprised to know that this problem is not discriminatory toward men. More and more women suffer with Internet and porn addiction today just as much as men.   

4. Escort Services 

Escort services and the like, including “online massages,” etc., are much more attainable in our age of social media then it ever was before. Scrutinizing credit card charges is but one of the contributing factors as to why divorces are expensive. 

5. Facebook 

Facebook® is now a contributing factor to about a third of all divorces. A couple of years ago, that number was 25%. You can meet anyone online. I have had cases where someone reconnected with a high school sweetheart and ran off during the divorce even though the sweetheart lived over 3,000 miles away. Online fantasy that the “grass is greener on the other side” is a significant cause in the breakdown of marriages today.   

6. Boredom 

Boredom can lead to an affair. Many people fall into routines, including tired routines in the bedroom. What do you do to keep your marriage fresh? Many divorces could be possibly avoided if people took the time and commitment to communicate verbally and physically and keep things exciting. Some people look for excitement to escape boredom. It can be by experimenting with other relationships, trying drugs, fast cars, or hanging out with different people. I once had a case where a husband wanted a ménage à trois for his milestone birthday. His wife agreed to the gift.  Overtime, the couple experimented with wife-swapping and ultimately his wife ran off with someone else.

7. Growing Apart with Your Partner 

People grow apart. Do you and your spouse have the same goals anymore? Do you want to ride off into the sunset together after the children are grown? Is your spouse your best friend?

8. Addiction

Alcohol and drugs often go hand in hand with affairs. I have seen many cases where a spouse will trade one addiction for another. A person’s addiction to drugs or alcohol is chemically no different than an addiction to the Internet, porn, food, or any other unhealthy excess.    

9. Not Married for the Right Reasons 

Did you marry for the right reason? Or better yet, did you become the “right” person for your spouse? Do you both have enough in common? If not, you will often look for that commonality in the arms of someone else.

10. Lack of Respect at Home 

Does your spouse treat you well? Do you treat your spouse well in return? Over the years I have seen many doctors, for example, run off with their nurse or other medical support staff. It’s really not surprising that doctors in general are often worshipped by their staff at work, but in contrast at home, they are treated with a lack of respect. Does ego stroking lead to affairs? Absolutely. Everyone enjoys a compliment; it would go a long way if spouses found ways to compliment each other regularly. 

11. Feeling Unappreciated

Some people fall into having an affair simply because they feel that they are not appreciated at home or that they are “doing all of the work” in keeping a marriage and home together. Again, questions to ask are these: Am I appreciative of my spouse? Am I being the “right person” for my spouse? If more people harbored a “servant’s” mindset for their spouse, more and more affairs and divorces could be avoided.

12. Issues Involving Body Image and Aging

Issues involving body image and weight gain as well as aging can, unfortunately, lead to an affair and or divorce. Some people will “trade in” an aging spouse for a “younger” model. Of course, the point of this paragraph has nothing to do with unavoidable medical issues. But let’s face it. Many spouses tend to “let themselves go” over time. During the “romance” period, both spouses typically try to present themselves in the best possible light to “win” the affections and marriage commitment of the other. Once the prize (marriage) is won, many people think that “the chase is over.” Not so. Marriage is only the beginning. If people continued to consciously keep “chasing” their spouse, affairs and divorces could be avoided. 

13. Insecurity

At the same time, too much insecurity can lead to an affair. The need for constant reaffirmation can lead to an affair, especially if one spouse becomes “too needy” or “too clingy.” It’s a delicate balance to find, but marriage requires nothing less than true and dedicated commitment.

14. Living Apart for Extended Periods of Time

Travel for work and living apart for extended periods of time invariably lead to affairs. Think of the movie Up in the Air with George Clooney. There, the female character carried on an affair with George Clooney’s character. George fell in love with her only to discover later that she was married and cheating on her husband with him.

Excitement, forbidden fruit, boredom, opportunity, enticement, retaliation – as you can see, the reasons why people have affairs are endless.

I have shared a list of reasons with you in this blog. I am sure that there are many more reasons that you can think of. Please share them with us.


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