What counts as infidelity?

Relationships|June 27th 2017

Men and women have different views on what exactly constitutes infidelity, according to a new survey.

While 91 per cent of women believe that a passionate kiss with someone other than a partner counts as being unfaithful, as many as one in five men do not share this opinion. This disparity was identified by relationship support charities Relate and Relationships Scotland.

The survey also revealed that men and women think differently about other behaviours which may be classed as infidelity. Eighty-nine per cent of women believe that the exchange of sexually explicit messages through text, email or video chats fell into this category. By contrast, only 78 per cent of male respondents agreed.

Attitudes towards infidelity also varied by age, the charities found. Among men and women between 16 and 24 years old, 41 per cent believed that simply flirting with someone else counted as being unfaithful. However, only 30 per cent of older people considered this a betrayal of a romantic partner.

These figures were gathered by polling organisation YouGov on behalf of the charities. The group surveyed 5,071 people over the age of 16 in a way that weighted the responses to be representative of the UK population as a whole.

Relate counsellor Gurpreet Singh said these findings suggest that “gender does sometimes play a part in what people find acceptable and what they don’t”. Women can be upset by their partner kissing someone else “because of the perceived emotional connection” while men “may see it as relatively insignificant because they are sometimes less concerned with the emotional than the physical” he explained.

Different attitudes were also found towards matters other than infidelity. In general, men were more likely to exaggerate the number of people they had slept with while women tended to undersell how many partners they had had. When it came to one night stands, women usually regretted having them but men expressed disappointment they had not had more.

Last year, researchers in Canada suggested that people may actually underestimate the likelihood that their partner will be unfaithful. In a survey of around 200 people, only five per cent believed there was a chance infidelity had occurred in their relationship whereas nine per cent admitted they had strayed themselves.


The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. Guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Paul says:

    No new information here. Only wonder is its taken from now since Henry the IIIV to construct a study and understand our differnt outlooks. LoL Women have an outlook like swans. Men have an outlook more like lions. Men (if they are honest) would probably favour poligamy where women would be happier with Monogamy. Basis of human conflict for generations. Our history and social structure is now a mongamistic construct. Life is constructed around a females perspective. Infidelity and lust are biologically essential to ensure a rich and diverse gene pool. As much as we some times don’t like it. We forget things in nature are the way they are for a reason. Its worth mentioning that its never been safer to have multiple partners or easier to avoid unwanted pregnancy. The only thing which seems to keep us compeled to couple up are our old fassioned ideals and values and of course the old virtues of ‘envy’ and ‘jelously’.
    Well it certainly keeps you legals and of course prostitues busy and affluant lol.

  2. D says:

    Generalisations.. genuinely useful for people who understand that and want to help understand, improve relationships generally. Also useful for trash media and those with crude political agendas .. who want us all with a pig head on a stick, divided up into easily to identify groups, fighting with each other.

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