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Sex with Dr. Jess


September 21, 2017

Cheating in the Digital Age

In light of Kevin Hart coming clean about his unfaithful tendencies, Jeff and Jess discussed cheating in the digital age this week on Global TV’s The Morning Show. Check out Jess’ expanded notes and video below.

How prevalent is cheating?

    • Studies range in data from 1% to 85%, but a review of 31 studies suggests that for married people it’s between 20%-25% and for non-married people (e.g. college students), it ranges from 33%-50%.
    • These figures likely reflect underreporting.


Is cheating on the rise?

  • A review of data from the nationally representative US General Social Survey from 1990-2012 reveals that rates of admission have been consistent for the past 20 years despite the belief that we have more opportunities than ever.
  • Reporting rates for women, however, have increased — we’re closing the gap.

Are you more likely to get caught now because of digital technology?

  • 1/3 of partners admit to snooping — reading emails and texts; if you’re snooping, chances are your partner is doing the same — 73% report the same “monitoring behaviour”.
  • 34% have no lock on their smartphone home screens.
  • You’re more likely to be photographed in public; Instagram receives 52 million photo uploads per day and FB receives 300 million. This must increase your odds of getting caught, as it doesn’t even account for stories, Snapchat, Twitter and just nosy neighbours with a phone.
  • One survey suggests that men are more likely to get caught than women (17% versus 5%).

How have the consequences of cheating shifted with online sharing?

  • You used to have to answer to your partner and maybe their family, but now you answer to the court of public opinion. This impacts both the cheater and their partner — I’ve worked with spouses whose primary motivation for (considering) breaking up after an affair related to public appearances.

Should we be shaming Kevin Hart?

  • I’m not one to often quote scripture, but I do think it’s appropriate to turn to ““Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”; you may not have ever cheated, but surely you’ve engaged in behaviour you regret that has hurt someone you love.
  • I also think it’s important to examine the psychology of judgment: when we judge others, it’s most often a reflection of our own perceived deficits. Morality is often the most common of judgments and it may be our way of differentiating ourselves from that person. “I’m not like Kevin. I’m a good person. I would never cheat. I’m trustworthy.” If embodying these characteristics really matters to you, focus on how you can let them shine — not how you can highlight their absence in others.

If you feel inclined to judge consider these strategies:

1. Look for the basic good that exists in everyone — even Kevin Hart.

2. Consider their vulnerabilities. What might they struggle with?

3. Think about what you like about yourself; when we like something about ourselves, we tend to like it in others. If I’m happy with my marriage, I don’t bother to criticize others’.