Having Your Cake and Eating It, Too: Factors Impacting Perception of Life Satisfaction During Outside Partnerships


Considering both the prevalence of infidelity and the preoccupation in the U.S. with achieving personal happiness, the question of whether participating in affairs increases perception of life satisfaction is a relevant one. This study utilized a sample population of married individuals specifically seeking extramarital sexual encounters (n = 1070) and investigated those factors which influence the individual’s overall perception of life satisfaction before, during, and after their affairs. Findings indicate that while affairs do tend to make respondents happy, a number of factors influence perception of life satisfaction during an affair, including a belief that an outside partner is required to remain in a primary partnership, a desire to remain in the primary partnership, at least biweekly sexual events with the outside partner, a belief that the individual loves their outside partner, and seeking out the partnership due to sexual dissatisfaction within the primary partnership. There was also a gender effect. A surprising finding was that even after the outside partnership ends, respondents reported a higher life satisfaction rating than before the outside partnership.


Sociology and Anthropology

Document Type





Affairs, Extradyadic, Extramarital relationships, Gender, Happiness, Infidelity, Life satisfaction, Relationship satisfaction, Women

Publication Date


Journal Title

Sexuality and Culture