The Holiday Season Is The Most Popular Time For Cheating In The Year, An Extra-Marital Dating Site Reports

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

You may associate the holiday season with family and friends, or maybe presents, mulled wine, and finding ways to deal with holiday stress. But there's a wholesomeness that we often associate with this time of year (maybe tinged with some consumerism, of course). Yet far from the warmth and family spirit of the holidays, there's another trend this season. It turns out, the holidays are a big time for cheating. In fact, it's the busiest time of the year for it. The three-week period starting December 3 is actually the biggest cheating period of the year — coming in ahead of the summer and New Year's.

A new survey of 1,000 people from IllicitEncounters.com, the extra-marital affair site based in the UK, found that one in three of their members have cheated on their partner during their holiday season, which is a startling chunk. Granted, if you're replying to a survey from an affair site, you're likely more affair-inclined than the average person, but it's still a big number.

There are quite a few reasons that cheating might peak around the holidays season. "It may be because of the high expectations of the holidays," relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW tells Bustle. "We often expect holidays to be picture perfect and in reality they are anything but! I think this can lead to dissatisfaction and depression. Some people might seek the quick fix that cheating can bring." There's also the party atmosphere and the consumption of alcohol lowering inhibitions — in fact, two out of three people who had cheated said it involved drinking and things getting out of hand, according to the survey.

But that wasn't all that they found. Here's what else the survey discovered, because apparently when it comes to cheating people have very few regrets.

1. Most People Cheated With A Work Colleague

Andrew Zeah for Bustle

It must be all of those office parties, because 57 percent of people who are unfaithful this season got down with a work colleague. Since many affairs and flings seem to be fueled by alcohol — and work parties are famous for being boozy — it's probably not a surprise.

2. More Women Than Men Are Unfaithful During This Season

Andrew Zeah for Bustle

There wasn't a huge difference between men and women when it came to holiday cheating, but women were slightly more likely to stray, with 35 percent of women cheating versus 31 percent of men.

3. 85% Of People Feel More Passionate In The Holiday Period

Andrew Zeah for Bustle

It's not just the booze that's leading to holiday cheating — it also has to do with the mood. The vast majority of people felt more passionate during this season. Maybe it's being moved by the spirit of the holidays, maybe it's a horny frenzy brought on by inescapable stress, but either way it's making folks a little frisky.

4. Only 32% Regretted It

Andrew Zeah for Bustle

Less than a third of cheaters, 32 percent, actually regretted their holiday tryst. Now, again, these stats were taken by an affairs website, so consider the source, but that's still a pretty small percentage regretting their holiday dabblings.

5. Only 11% Are Caught By Their Partner

Andrew Zeah for Bustle

With the whirlwind of the holidays season only 11 percent of cheaters actually reported being caught by their partner, which is maybe why there are so few regrets. Though 29 percent of those who cheated with someone from work made no attempts to hide it from their work colleagues, so it sounds like folks at the office often know what's what — even when the spouses don't.

There are lots of different reasons why someone might cheat on their partner — and many of those will be deep-seated issues in a relationship, rather than the time of year. But the combination of booze, stress, and expectation seem to make the holidays a ripe time for infidelity. Ding-dong-ding.