The Top 5 Reasons Cheaters Enjoy Having Affairs

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

When we talk about why people cheat, most people assume that it boils down to one thing: sex. That it's about getting what you want in the bedroom — what you aren't getting at home, because either the spark has faded or your partner isn't into the same things you are. But a new survey from Ashley Madison, the extramarital relationship site, found that the reasons people cheat are far more complicated — and not only about the physical side of things.

The survey, which asked over 2,000 users questions about why they cheated and what they were looking for, found that the reasons were definitely not all about sex. You may be surprised to see that 42 percent said they were looking for friendship from an extramarital partner — and 30 percent said they were hoping to feel butterflies again.

“As the data has shown, our users come to Ashley Madison seeking an element of intimacy they aren’t finding with their spouses or in their daily lives," Isabella Mise, Director of Communications at Ashley Madison, tells Bustle. "Being appreciated and noticed by one’s significant other is a key to maintaining emotional satisfaction and closeness — and while those components are almost certainly present at the start of many relationships, it isn’t abnormal for that spark to eventually fade. Some couples know how to reinvigorate those passions and others don’t, which can lead to people growing apart.”

But things got even more interesting when it came to what cheaters got out of it. When they asked users why they like having affairs, the responses may not be what you're expecting. Sure, sex topped the list — but there was a lot more to it. Here's what they survey found.

1Sex

Ashley Batz/Bustle

Sex was the top of the list, with 76 percent of people saying that they liked cheating because their sexual needs were met. That means that for nearly a quarter of people, sex had nothing to do with it.

2Feeling Alive

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Yikes. Over half of people, 51 percent, said cheating made them feel alive. There's no denying that people seem to like the rush.

“Feeling more alive” can encompass a number of things," Mise tells Bustle. "It can be the discovery of a more adventurous love life, finally getting noticed physically or emotionally (if the spark between spouses has faded) or perhaps regaining a sense of confidence that one may have lost in the midst of relationship ‘upkeep.’ Our users look to potential affair partners to reignite those inner feelings. Sometimes it’s all about getting out of one’s skin and shedding their identity — the chance to be someone new with someone new. That alone can do wonders for a person’s state of being, both physically and emotionally."

3Feeling Desired

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Just under half of people, 48 percent, said that feeling desired was one of the things they like about cheating. That suggests to me that they're not feeling attractive in their relationship, which can be really tough — so they go looking for someone who will treat them like they're attractive and worthy.

4Emotional Needs

Ashley Batz/Bustle

Over a third of people said that emotional need came into it, which is... a lot of people. The fact that nearly 40 percent of people felt that it was an emotional connection they were getting, at least in part, from having an affair shows just how emotionally distant some relationships can become.

5Confidence

Ashley Batz/Bustle

Almost 30 percent of people said that an affair helped them get their confidence back.

It's easy to boil down cheating just to sex — and yes, sex is a huge part of it. But as you can see, there's so much more going on. It's more proof that it's so important to check-in with your partner and make sure they're doing OK. Letting a relationship stagnate can have some huge consequences.