Long-distance relationships have become increasingly common and they are just as susceptible to infidelity as any other relationship.
In this article, we explore the question of who cheats more in a long distance relationship: men or women?
According to research, men are more likely to cheat in long-distance relationships. Neither gender in long-distance relationships cheat significantly more than couples who live in close proximity. There is a 33% increase in cheating for couples who live between 11 and 200 miles apart.
Keep reading to examine the latest research on why some people are more prone to infidelity than others.
The Research on Who Cheats More in a Long Distance Relationship
I’m a big ole’ nerd so I love digging into data about topics.
That’s how I found all of this juicy research about who cheats more in a long distance relationship. The headline is that research has shown that long distance relationships do not necessarily increase the likelihood of cheating.
However, some studies have found variables that do seem to correlate with more cheating.
Those factors include:
- Frequency of visits
- Going to college
Ok, let’s break down the research bit by bit so that we can make sense of it.
Are men or women more inclined to be unfaithful in a long-distance relationship?
In the past (like 20 years ago), studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology indicated that men tend to be more prone to infidelity than women, regardless of how much they prioritize and engage in behaviors aimed at maintaining their relationship.
Yeah, but that was decades ago.
A more recent study confirms this data overall (with a caveat we’ll mention in a moment).
The study by the Institute for Family Studies (IFS) found that 20% of the men in the study reported cheating compared to only 13% of women in the study.
However, the stats change dramatically by age bracket.
Younger women between the ages of 18 to 29 cheat slightly more (11% compared to 10%) than younger men.
Of course, as the genders get older, the percentages change, flipping back to the overall stats with men being more likely to look outside of the relationship.
Proximity: How Far Is Faithfulness?
That may seem like a strange way to phrase a question but the fascinating science behind it makes it make sense.
You see, studies show that faithfulness is impacted by proximity – how close we are to each other.
In fact, a 2016 study from Brigham Young University found that couples in long-distance relationships between 11 and 200 miles had a 31% higher chance of one partner cheating compared to couples who lived in the same town.
However, the study also found that couples who lived over 200 miles apart had a slightly decreased chance of cheating.
Membership data from a cheating-based website reported that Alabama has the most users (by far).
Therefore, there might be more infidelity going on there than almost anywhere else in the United States.
Frequency of Visits
Another study conducted in 2023 found a correlation between fidelity and frequency of visits.
Among couples who saw each other once a month, the vast majority, 68%, reported no instances of infidelity. In contrast, only 46% of couples who met every 4-6 months were certain that no cheating had taken place.
These findings suggest that the frequency of in-person visits can play a significant role in the likelihood of infidelity in a long distance relationship.
Going to College
The study from IFS (mentioned earlier) also showed a slight uptick in infidelity (18% compared to 16%) for people with college educations.
In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a huge percentage of significance but it is something.
Therefore, if your long-distance boo goes off to college or is college-educated, they may be more likely to be unfaithful.
Of course, you shouldn’t assume or jump to conclusions based on one data point.
Just keep it in mind.
Cheating in Long Distance Relationships: Lessons From the Science
To summarize the research, someone is more susceptible to cheating in a long-distance relationship if:
- They are an older man
- They are a younger woman
- They went to college
- They live between 11 and 200 miles away
Therefore, if you are dating a college-educated older man who lives 40 miles away, there is a significantly higher chance that he will cheat on you compared to an older non-college-educated woman who lives 201 miles away.
Here is a chart that puts it in perspective:
|Gender (men vs. women)||Men: 20% / Women: 13%|
|Proximity||11-200 miles: 31%|
|Frequency of visits||Monthly: 32% no cheating / Every 4-6 months: 54% no cheating|
|Going to college||College-educated: 18%|
Is Cheating Common In Long Distance Relationships?
Cheating is not more common in long-distance relationships compared to relationships where couples are in close proximity.
However, the challenges of maintaining a connection and physical connection in a long-distance relationship can create stress and strain on the relationship, which can potentially increase the risk of infidelity.
More important than the nature of the relationship (long-distance) are the two persons involved and the frequency of visits.
With that said, there are reasons people cheat, signs of cheating, and specific ways to protect your relationship from cheating.
Let’s turn to those important topics next.
Why Do Some People Cheat More in Long-Distance Relationships?
Long-distance relationships can be challenging, and the lack of physical proximity and face-to-face interaction can make some individuals more susceptible to infidelity.
Here are three common reasons why some people may be more likely to cheat in a long-distance relationship:
1) Lack of Physical Connection
Physical connection is an important part of any romantic relationship, and the lack of it in a long-distance relationship can be challenging for some individuals.
When individuals feel deprived of physical touch, they may be more susceptible to cheating.
That’s one reason the frequency of visits is so important to maintaining a healthy and monogamous relationship when you live apart.
2) Emotional Disconnection
In addition to physical intimacy, emotional connection is also important in a relationship.
Long-distance relationships can make it difficult to maintain emotional intimacy, particularly if the partners have different schedules or are in different time zones.
When individuals feel emotionally disconnected from their partner, they may be more likely to seek connection and validation from someone else.
This can easily lead to emotional infidelity, micro-cheating, and more.
3) Temptation and Boredom
When individuals are physically separated from their partner for long periods of time, they may experience boredom or feelings of loneliness.
This can make them more susceptible to temptation and may lead them to seek out attention from others.
Additionally, the lack of daily interactions with a partner can make it easier for individuals to rationalize cheating or minimize its impact.
Research has also identified certain personality traits that may make some individuals more prone to cheating in a long-distance relationship.
For example, individuals who are high in impulsivity or who have a history of infidelity.
However, it’s important to note that not all individuals with these traits will cheat, and there are many other factors that can contribute to infidelity.
Signs of Cheating in Long Distance Relationships
While cheating is never easy to detect, there are some signs that individuals in long-distance relationships can look out for. Here are some common warning signs of infidelity in a long-distance relationship:
1) Decreased Communication
One of the most telling signs of cheating in a long-distance relationship is a sudden decrease in communication.
If your partner has stopped responding to your messages or calls as frequently as before, it could be a sign that they are no longer as invested in the relationship as they once were.
Unless they are busy (and let you know about it), then I’d certainly get curious about what’s going on.
2) Unexplained Absences
If your partner is consistently unavailable or unresponsive during certain times of the day, it could be a sign that they are spending time with someone else.
This could include times when they should be available, such as during scheduled phone or video calls.
When your partner starts missing conversations, especially scheduled conversations, without explanation, something might be up.
3) Changes in Behavior
If your partner has suddenly become more distant or secretive, it could be a sign that they are hiding something.
They may become defensive when you ask questions about their whereabouts or their activities, or they may become more secretive about their social media and online activities.
Check out this video with even more subtle signs of cheating in a long-distance relationship:
It’s important to note that these signs are not always indicative of cheating, and there could be other explanations for changes in communication or behavior.
However, if you notice any of these warning signs and are concerned about infidelity, it’s important to address the issue with your partner directly.
Maintaining open communication and trust is key in any relationship, particularly in a long-distance one where physical proximity is limited.
By having honest, direct, and kind conversations about any concerns or suspicions, individuals in long-distance relationships can take steps to prevent cheating and maintain a strong, healthy relationship.
How to Avoid Cheating in a Long-Distance Relationship
You can take several proactive steps to protect your relationship from infidelity.
Check out these four strategic moves of savvy long-distance couples:
1) Maintain Emotional and Physical Chemistry
Maintaining emotional and physical chemistry is crucial in a long-distance relationship.
Even though physical intimacy may be limited, finding ways to stay emotionally and physically connected is important.
This can include regular phone or video calls, sending care packages or thoughtful gifts, or finding other ways to show your partner that you care.
Here are some great ways to stay connected:
|Love Box||A wooden box with a display screen that allows couples to send messages to each other from anywhere in the world via a smartphone app (super cute!).|
|Long Distance Touch Lamp||A set of lamps that sync up over Wi-Fi to allow couples to communicate via touch from anywhere in the world.|
|Long Distance Touch Bracelets||A set of bracelets with a customizable charm that connects to an app, allowing partners to send vibrations to each other.|
|Long Distance Touch Neckulas||The same as the bracelets but in a necklace.|
|The Adventure Challenge||The Adventure Book for Couples is a journal that helps couples document and commemorate their experiences together, including prompts and space for photos and mementos.|
2) Set Boundaries
Setting boundaries is key to preventing misunderstandings and ensuring that both partners are on the same page.
This can involve agreeing on expectations for communication, being clear about your feelings and needs, and setting boundaries around interactions with other people.
Each couple will likely come up with different boundaries.
Whatever works for the two of you and allows for health and growth is probably just fine.
3) Use Technology to Stay Connected
Technology can be a great tool for maintaining a connection in a long-distance relationship.
Using video calls, text messages, or social media to stay in touch, as well as using shared calendars or apps to plan visits and coordinate activities can help couples stay connected despite the distance.
You can also use apps for couples like Love Nudge or the Gottman Card Decks.
4) Select Partners Who Are More Likely To Be Faithful
Partner selection is the most important aspect of preventing cheating in a long-distance relationship.
Choosing a partner with strong character and integrity is crucial, as individuals with these traits are less likely to cheat, even when faced with temptation or challenges.
Look for signs of honesty, trustworthiness, and commitment, such as a history of integrity, a willingness to communicate openly and honestly, and a demonstrated commitment to previous relationships or endeavors.
It’s important to note that while these strategies can help prevent infidelity in a long-distance relationship, there is no foolproof way to guarantee a cheating-free relationship.
However, couples can reduce the risk of cheating and build a strong, healthy partnership that stands the test of time.
Final Thoughts: Who Cheats More in a Long Distance Relationship?
We’ve covered a ton of information here, so that’s for sticking with me through it all.
To learn even more ways to have a better long-distance relationship, browse through the articles listed below.
Read This Next:
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- 1,000+ Flirty Truth or Dare Questions (They Won’t Forget)
- What Is Considered a Long Distance Relationship? (SOLVED)
- Are Long Distance Breakups Easier? (10 Things You Must Know)
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Institute for Family Studies
BYU Scholars Archive