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How long does a relationship last after cheating?

Infidelity can deal a devastating blow to a relationship. When one partner discovers the other has cheated, it often leads to feelings of betrayal, anger, sadness, and mistrust. Many relationships don’t survive infidelity. However, some couples do choose to stay together and work on rebuilding the relationship after an affair. So how long do couples typically stay together after infidelity? Here’s a look at the data and factors that influence how long a relationship lasts after cheating.

How Common is Infidelity in Relationships?

Experts estimate that roughly 15-20% of married couples experience infidelity at some point. However, infidelity is likely underreported, so the actual rates may be higher. According to the General Social Survey, an estimated 21% of men and 13% of women admitted to having sex with someone other than their spouse during the course of their marriage.

Younger couples tend to have higher rates of infidelity than older couples. In one survey, 13% of couples admitted to infidelity within the first year of marriage. Rates appear to decline with age and length of relationship. Only 6% of couples reported infidelity after being together for more than 10 years.

What Percentage of Couples Stay Together After Infidelity?

Research on the aftermath of infidelity shows mixed results. While each couple’s situation is unique, studies show both high and low rates of recovering from an affair. Here’s a look at some key statistics:

  • In one study, 47% of couples reported staying together after discovering a partner’s affair.
  • Another study found the divorce rate to be 75% among couples where one partner had cheated.
  • When both partners have had affairs, only 35% of couples stay together.
  • About 10-15% of couples improve their relationship after resolving infidelity.

Overall, the research indicates roughly 35-55% of couples stay together after infidelity. But it also depends on whose perspective you look at. When asked, cheaters estimate their relationships have an 80% chance of surviving. Betrayed partners give a lower chance of 40% on average.

How Long Do Couples Stay Together After Cheating Before Separating?

For those couples who do split after an affair, it generally happens relatively quickly. One study found the following:

  • 35% of couples separated within 6 months after disclosing or discovering infidelity.
  • 55% of couples separated within 2 years.
  • Only 10% of couples stayed together longer than 5 years after infidelity was revealed.

The initial 12-24 months after an affair appears to be the make or break period for most couples. This time allows for the immediate emotions to settle and time for rebuilding trust. Couples who make it past the two year mark have a better chance of going the distance.

Factors That Influence How Long a Relationship Lasts After Cheating

Why do some couples split quickly, while others are able to recover for the long haul? Here are some key factors that play a role:

Type of Infidelity

Affairs can vary greatly in their emotional and physical intimacy. A one-night stand or primarily sexual affair is easier for many people to get past than the discovery of a long-term affair with deep emotional connection. Partners tend to feel more betrayed when there is deception, secrets, and emotional intimacy with the other person.

Length of the Affair

Similarly, a longer-term affair often causes more damage. The longer deception goes on, the harder it is to rebuild lost trust and a sense of security in the relationship.

Remorse From the Cheater

The cheater expressing genuine remorse and regret can help in the healing process after infidelity. When the cheating partner blames the other spouse, minimizes the affair, or continues contact with the affair partner, it’s nearly impossible to repair the relationship.

Willingness to Work on the Relationship

When both partners are committed to making it work and rebuilding intimacy and trust, couples have better chances of success. Attending counseling provides the tools needed for post-affair recovery.

History of the Relationship

Couples who had a strong relationship prior to the affair have better prospects. Those whose relationship was already struggling are less likely to rebound after betrayal.

Circumstances of the Affair

Who initiated the affair and how it unfolded also impacts the ability to reconcile. An affair that develops out of individual vulnerabilities or life circumstances has more potential for healing than one consciously pursued for thrill-seeking.

How Men and Women Differ in Response to Infidelity

Studies show some differences in how men and women react to a partner cheating and their willingness to work on the relationship. For example:

  • Men are more likely than women to end a relationship because of infidelity (55% vs. 35%).
  • Men are more insecure about sexual infidelity; women are more threatened by emotional cheating.
  • Women indicate greater willingness to work through their partner’s affair and make the relationship work.

The double standard also persists when it comes to gender and infidelity. Society tends to judge cheating wives more harshly than cheating husbands. These biases can further shape reactions to affairs.

Tips to Survive Infidelity and Rebuild Trust

Here are some tips to increase the chances of overcoming cheating in a relationship:

  • Seek counseling support to process feelings and learn skills to communicate and rebuild intimacy.
  • The cheater takes full responsibility and expresses remorse and commitment to the relationship.
  • Re-establish trust slowly through action and honesty.
  • Let go of anger, blame, and desire to punish; focus on understanding.
  • Work together to protect the relationship from future infidelity.
  • Accept it will take time to heal the relationship – expect ups and downs.

The Aftermath of Infidelity

Discovering a partner’s affair can rock the foundations of a relationship. Each couple faces their own challenges in the aftermath based on the unique circumstances. For some, the ability to heal and reconnect exceeds the betrayal. Many others cannot move past the broken trust. But affairs do not need to spell the definitive end. With time, hard work, and commitment, some relationships can grow even stronger.


Research shows that around 35-55% of couples stay together after infidelity. For those who separate, most split within the first two years after the affair is revealed or discovered. Several factors influence a couple’s chance of successfully recovering after cheating. The severity of betrayal, history of the relationship, and willingness to work on rebuilding intimacy all shape a relationship’s prospects after infidelity. While challenging, some couples can heal stronger than ever after getting the right help and support.