Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 112–131 | Cite as

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

  • Alicia M. WalkerEmail author
Original Paper


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.


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


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The sole author declares that he/she has no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights Statement

No animals were involved.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Missouri State UniversitySpringfieldUSA

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