A new study reveals that sexual anxiety increases a person’s likelihood to cheat on his or her partner. Researchers report that a history of poor sexual performance or anxiety may actually cause someone to look outside of a relationship for sexual interactions that could increase their confidence. “People who score high on this [trait] may feel less pressure when they’re engaging with a person who doesn’t know their sexual history,” says Kristen Mark, a doctoral candidate at Indiana University and researcher on the study. Statistics show that nearly twenty percent of men and women in committed relationships stray, and do so for reasons including relationship dissatisfaction, financial strain and even sexual personality.
The study surveyed over 500 men and over 400 women, all monogamous, to determine what their sexual behaviors were, their satisfaction with their current relationship, and if they had cheated. Roughly twenty percent of those surveyed admitted to cheating, but for different reasons. Men who cheated also admitted to becoming sexually aroused easily. Women who did get sexually excited easily did not consider that a factor in their decision to cheat, but the quality and satisfaction of their relationship was. Both genders reported sexual anxiety and poor performance were directly linked to their likelihood to cheat. Women actually cheated more than men based on their level of anxiety related to their sexual abilities.
The researchers suggest that although there are several factors that can influence a person’s decision to cheat, their sexual personality may be the strongest indicator of infidelity. Discovering what fears and anxieties a partner has before they wander outside of the relationship may be an issue worth addressing. “We found that some of those demographics were important,” Mark said. “But once you included all these other variables, we realized quickly that they weren’t nearly as important, and their relative importance disappeared.”