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Adultery rates by country: what nationality cheats the most?

Adultery rates by country

Based on our own research and widely regarded statistics from various sources, we want to reveal the truth about which nations are the most unfaithful, who cheats the most around the world and whether men or women are the more adulterous. We also take a closer look at why people cheat including any cultural or historical contributing factors. Why is it OK for some nations to be polygamous while others exercise strict monogamy? All of these things and more will be revealed in our article.

Why do people cheat?

Why do people cheat

There are many reasons why people cheat, some of which can actually be explained by science and some which we have to draw our own conclusions to. Some reasons are perhaps more socially acceptable than others. In any case according to Kevin Darne, “Cheating whether it is in relationships, board games, cards, or on taxes is selfish attempt to have it all or as much as possible.” But is all cheating bad and are there circumstances where it is considered OK? What are the main reasons that people cheat on their husband, wife or partner? The dating expert Dona Murphy defines three main reasons for cheating. These are sex, emotional gratification and love.

  • Sex – people often cheat because the quality or quantity of sexual intimacy in their relationship isn’t satisfying for them.
  • Emotional gratification – often people will cheat because they get attention from their lover. They feel special, appreciated, desirable and are the object of that person’s attention and affection in ways that may be lacking in their marriage/primary relationship.
  • Love – Sometimes an extension of emotional gratification. The feeling of falling in love with someone new, the excitement of exploring the emotional and physical novelty of getting to know a new partner can lead to love and feeling validated by the affair

There are other contributing factors. Some people blame their cheating on drugs and alcohol or boredom at a younger age. It is no surprise that studies reveal that younger people are far more likely to cheat and that cheating seems to be much more prevalent now. Is that because there is now a far greater acceptance at it, that people are more blaze about the fact or that they are just not as discreet as they used to be? Have we always been largely monogamous with a penchant for extra martial activities?

Do Dating Sites Encourage People to Cheat?

This is a bit of an ambiguous question. Modern technology has given rise to far greater access to online dating, meeting the ideal date online, arranging a hookup and finding what you are looking for. “A cheater will find ways to cheat and there’s no one platform that provoke or encourage it” - Andi Lew. However surely if you are looking to cheat, you are going to cheat be it the girl or guy in the office or someone you happen to meet in a bar. Does a dating site facilitate cheating and make it easier and are you more likely to cheat if it is more accessible online? It certainly makes it easier to chat, flirt, enjoy sexting and meet people that you wouldn’t ordinarily meet.

What is Polygamy and How Does It Work?

What is Polygamy

Being polygamous is in stark contrast to monogamy and means that a husband may have more than one wife or partner or indeed a woman may have more than one partner (polyandry). It is far more common in some cultures for the husband to take a number of wives. In fact, there are 58 out of 200 sovereign states where polygamy is actually legal.

The Pros and Cons of Polygamous Lifestyle

For many cultures, a belief in a monogamous relationship is instilled from an early age which in fact makes cheating what it is. It’s not viewed this way in countries where it is widely practised and is, in fact, the norm. Polygamy offers a husband a level of kudos and freedom of choice providing a support system for the wives and greater financial stability while preventing adultery however it does have its drawbacks. It can lead to abuse of younger and newer wives, instil jealousy and the pitfalls of that and can have a negative impact on children who may wonder why their family is this way.

Monogamous vs Polygamous Relationships

Monogamous vs Polygamous Relationships

While polygamy may well prevent adultery and cheating and give a more stable family life to some, how does it compare to monogamous relationships? What is the norm? With only 58 out of 200 Sovereign states supporting or allowing polygamy while the other 142 are obviously favour a monogamous society. In fact, even within the 58 states where it is allowed, it is not always a common practice. Religion plays a large part of attitudes to relationships with Christians and Catholics being very much a ‘one union’ mindset and adultery being frowned upon. A modern family with 2.4 children is very much the ideal for many people who want to be in a stable and loving relationship with one person achieving their dreams and goals together over the course of a long and happy life. Of course, the dream is not always reality but despite this, one monogamous relationship will usually be succeeded by another.


On the other hand here are the main pros and cons of polygamous relationships defined by Dr. R.Y. Langham from BetweenUsClinic.com.

Science Suggests That We Prefer Monogamy

As humans, we are mostly programmed for monogamous relationships and for the most part we prefer this, however we like the right to have freedom of choice and ‘sleep around’ if we wish too. While we may have grown up wanting our own version of the modern fairy tale, the difficulties that life throws our way and circumstance often leads us to stray from the path of monogamy. That said, even when in a monogamous relationship and cheating, we like the right to choose a new partner to be monogamous with.

Top Nations Who Cheat and Which Nationality Cheats the Most?

Top Nations Who Cheat

While we discount the polygamous states for now and take a look at modern society, we take a look at the nations who cheat and who steals the crown as the nation with the biggest volume of men and women that cheat the most. This data is widely trusted and shared and reported from reliable sources and has come from various studies by Durex with Forbes magazine compiling their own list of the top 10 most unfaithful countries in the world. But who tops the ranking, where does your own country rank and which are the big surprises?

  • Number 1 – Thailand 56%
  • In Thailand, with a massive 56% of the population admitting to cheating, they certainly take the crown. As well as the traditional ‘mia noi’ (minor wife), there exists a cultural trend among the younger people who have “extra friends” that they spend time with outside of their relationships.

  • Number 2 – Denmark
  • In a land of beautiful and happy people, according to other surveys, the Danes may come as a surprise to some of you for being second in the list of most adulterous nations in the world. Who knew that approximately half of all Danish people would admit to having an affair?

  • Number 3 – Italy
  • The land of Amore and the birthplace of Casanova, is it any surprise that the Italians come in as number 3 in the nations who cheat. 45% of Italians have admitted to cheating on their partner. Surprisingly though Italy has one of the lowest divorce rates so either they are very discreet or it is a widely accepted part of Italian life. The home of the Roman Catholic church does make it a nation that would frown on divorce however so perhaps this plays a large part in that fact.

  • Number 4 - Germany
  • Who would have thought that the Germans would be more adulterous than the French? Sharing the spot with Italy with 45%, it would seem that Germany is a relationship that likes to play away too. Sharing its borders with Italy, France, Belgium and Denmark though with Spain, UK, Norway and Finland also on the list can we assume that cheating is very much a European thing?

  • Number 5 – France
  • The French believe that there is nothing wrong with adultery and that men having a mistress for example is perfectly acceptable. In fact, it is a tradition that in the hours after work, a man would go and visit his mistress before going home to his wife. Not only do 43% of people agree to having affairs, but a large number have no regrets. When you grow up in a culture where it is an acceptable way of life, why would you have cause to think anything different?

  • Number 6 – Norway
  • Is it something about the Scandinavian countries that brings out the passion in people? While Sweden may not be on this top ten list, Norway and Denmark certainly are with 41% of Norwegians being adulterous. In fact here is evidence to support that the cold winters do nothing to increase the libido and it‘s actually the warmer months that bring out the cheaters.

  • Number 7 – Belgium
  • In Belgium, it seems that the stigma around cheating has disappeared and now it is no longer regarded as such a big deal. The attitude seems to be to get rid or get even. 40% of Belgians have admitted to cheating. While in the UK you can use adultery as grounds for divorce, this is not so in Belgium.

  • Number 8 – Spain
  • Those hot-blooded Mediterranean’s certainly live up to their hot and fiery, passionate nature with 39% of people admitting to having an affair while married. With religion playing a huge part in the life of a Spaniard, their catholic roots mean that infidelity is not accepted though so you won’t find any liberal, open relationship agreements, just men and women who are full of passion.

  • Number 9 – UK
  • So, the UK may have the whole ‘stiff upper lip’ thing going on and not be known for their passion but they still come in the top ten of unfaithful nations with 36% of people admitting to having an affair. Maybe the difference is that they know it’s wrong, it is frowned upon by society, unlike Finland, and Brits do carry guilt for cheating on their spouses even if this doesn’t stop them.

  • Number 10 – Finland
  • 36% of people admitting to an affair means that Finland just comes into the top ten. In Finland, they have what is called ‘parallel relationships’ which are perfectly accepted by society. In fact, it is not uncommon for a man to have at least ten different affairs which is much higher than many other nations.

Europe - The Common Denominator

When you plot all of the above countries on a map, barring Thailand and Finland, it may come as a surprise as to how many actually share a border. Perhaps it is a European trend to cheat and maybe Europeans are not as monogamous as we would like to think.

Who Cheats More – Men or Women?

Who Cheats More – Men or Women

While we have examined which nations cheat the most, let’s take a look at how that is split between men and women. The immediate response to this may be that it is actually men that cheat more and for the large part this is certainly the truth however in this modern age of sexual equality and women having more rights over their own destiny, there are some interesting statistics about women who cheat. In the United States, a U.S. General Social Survey found that 20% of men had admitted to infidelity vs 13% of women.

How Long Before a Woman Cheats?

Regardless of how many women cheat and how that compares to men, there are some interesting statistics about how soon a woman will cheat after marriage. According to a survey by Victoria Milan, it was Irish women who cheated the soonest taking just 3.6 years to go from married to having an affair. But who are the soonest, globally, to go from happily married to cheating on their husband?


  • Ireland – 3.6 years with the average age of women cheating being 35.2 years
  • Sweden – 4.1 years – average age of women cheating – 37.4 years
  • UK – 4.4 years, average age of women cheating 34.4
  • Norway - 5.5 years from marriage to cheating with an average cheating age of 37.1
  • France – 5.7 years, average of woman cheating 36.5

Again, it may come as a surprise to see that all of these countries are European once more re-enforcing the fact that Europe is perhaps a little less into monogamy or the sanctity of marriage as other nations around the world.

But What Percentage of Married Women Cheat?

There are many cheating statistics and scientific studies and while nothing is conclusive, there are some evidence that points to the closing gap between men and women when it comes to infidelity. So how common is cheating and who cheats more – men or women? It will also seem that as they age, the gap becomes wider with considerably less women than men cheating as they approach their 70s and 80s. For those US citizens between the ages of 18 and 29 having a much smaller gap – 10% women, 11% men. 13% women, 16% men in their 40s. The statistics also vary greatly throughout the decades of the 20th century with women born in the 40s and 50s more likely to be unfaithful.

Why do Women Cheat?

Why does anyone cheat? With the rise of the millennial woman, attitudes are changing and women are increasingly cheating on their spouse. According to a survey by the US General Social Survey shows that younger US women have taken on the ‘equal opportunity’ stance of becoming equally likely to cheat. The survey also found that drugs were a large part of the reason with drugs and alcohol making it easier to cheat. Women are bored, looking for something they are not getting from their partner and getting what they need elsewhere. The traditional attitudes and views of a housewife are changing and women are far more independent and successful than ever before enjoying their increasing presence in what was once a ‘man’s world’.

When Adultery is Illegal

Culture, religion and beliefs will have a lot to do with whether a woman, or even a man, will cheat or not. In fact, in some cultures and societies, adultery is illegal and can carry terrible consequences. In some states of America including Idaho, Massachusetts, Michigan and Oklahoma, adultery is considered a felony and is punishable by prison. That said in these particular states, enforcing these rules is very difficult and it is very rare for them to be enforced. Up UNTIL 2015 IN Korea, many people were imprisoned for adultery. Islamic law in countries including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Somalia can carry the death penalty with women being especially subjected to the cruel punishments.

Who are the Most Faithful Women in the World?

The Most Faithful Women

It would have to said that given the extreme punishments in Islamic countries in particular, it is highly likely that these countries have the most faithful women. You would not expect women from the Middle Eastern countries such as Iran and Saudi to cheat. They have strong moral values and there is too much at stake for these women to stray. Korean women are reported to be very obedient and loyal, as are Russian women and Ukrainian women. Turkey and the Palestinian territories also produce faithful partners.

And Where are Women Unfaithful?

French women are reported to have become increasingly unfaithful with many admitting to using a dating website to find a partner. Physical attraction is cited as the major contributing factor but over half of women who admitted to cheating on their partner said that feelings were important too. While France may be more liberal in its views of women, or men, cheating, there are some countries where a woman can actually have more than one husband or partner…

Polyandry and its Modern Existence

Polyandry, the practise of a woman having more than one husband or partner, is a much rarer occurrence. Fraternal polyandry is practised among Tibetans in Nepal where a woman can be married to two or more brothers. It is also recognised in other societies in the Himalayas. It is regarded as limiting population growth and is practised among both peasants and the elite.


Despite all of the evidence above, the studies that have been carried out and the reported cases of countries that have a high rate of adultery, there is no concrete evidence as to how many people do actually cheat. We never know what goes on behind closed doors, how many people will actually admit to cheating and whether there are a sneaky, hidden society of cheaters that are just really good at not getting caught. The fact remains though that there are many men and women out there who have cheated whether we know about it or not with a large proportion that are yet to cheat on their spouse but may well stray from the path

Author: Jennifer Lorusso

Jennifer Lorusso is a recognized dating and interpersonal relationship expert. As a woman with Psychological degree, she utilizes both her whole life training and her incredible life experiences to serve her readers. She is known for her approachable manner and empathetic abilities. She trully believes that everyone can find true love as long as they believe it is available to them.

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