The Infidelity Index: Which Countries Have The Most Affairs?

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Adultery, affairs, unfaithfulness, cheating….there are a lot of ways to describe infidelity and even more ways to go about it but not all cultures view the act in the same way. There have been many reports and research studies over the last few decades that claim to reveal that one country has more affairs than the others. Stick around long enough and you could find that it’s yours. So, which nation is the most adulterous?

In this feature, we take a closer at some of the statistics and reports about global infidelity trends and reveal some of their findings to try and find out which countries are the least faithful.

What is Infidelity Anyway?

Depending on where you are in the world, infidelity can mean different things with some nations even practicing polygamy. So, what exactly is infidelity and do some countries have a different cultural and social attitude to it?

Infidelity is widely accepted as when a partner violates the exclusion of sexual or emotional relations with someone outside of marriage or other form of stable relationship.

which countries have the most affairs polygamy
In some cultures, sex outside of marriage isn’t a big deal with polygamy being popular. Image via Wikimedia.

In North America and the UK, this is commonly referred to as cheated but in parts of Scandinavia (Finland) this can be called having a ‘parallel relationship’. Other parts of Europe also take a more liberal-minded view of extramarital affairs and ‘simultaneous multi-partnerships’ are more acceptable. In Nigeria, the practice is known as sexual networking whilst other nations know it simply as adultery for which there can be sometimes quite dire punishments (see below). In places like Taiwan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Somalia adultery is illegal. Romania, in eastern Europe, only decriminalized infidelity in 2006!

There are also many different ways that infidelity can be defined. For some cultures, the act of going on a date with another might constitute cheating whilst for others it might be a handjob in a car park. What is clear is that what one person might call an extramarital affair might not be the same for everyone.

With so many notions of, and attitudes towards, infidelity, what is the best way to determine which country has the most ‘affairs’?

Lust in Translation: The Data Behind the Infidelity Index

Statistics can be a very useful thing but they are often commissioned by people with a point to prove and often not conducted in a truly representational way.

Researched well, national polls, surveys and studies can all help to reveal certain trends and truths but often they simply scratch at the surface and show a one-dimensional side to a nation’s behaviors.

It is also notoriously difficult in some countries to conduct national research about sex. Take Russia for example where these kinds of survey are effectively banned. And, in some nations like those in the Arab world, the punishment for infidelity can be death…meaning talking about extramarital affairs is just not done.

We’ve tried to track down as many sets of data as we can that have been used to demonstrate a culture of infidelity in different countries and found some very contradictory results.

which countries commit adultery
Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery? But which country does it the most? Image via pxhere.

Which Countries Have The Most Affairs….

… According to Durex?

It is Durex who is quoted in most online statistics on the subject of the ‘Infidelity Index’ but the company has not provided any back-up material to support its findings on the popular top ten lists not when the survey was conducted although most reports on these findings can be dated back to around 2012.

According to the headlines, Durex conducted a survey of 29,000 people across 36 different countries and found the following top ten nations to be the most likely to have extra-marital affairs:

Country % of Married Adults Surveyed Who Admitted to Having an Affair (circa 2015)
1 Thailand 51%
2 Denmark 46%
3 Italy 45%
4 Germany 45%
5 France 43%
6 Norway 41%
7 Belgium 40%
8 Spain 39%
9 United Kingdom 36%
10 Finland 36%
thailand most affairs which countries commit adultery
According to one survey, people in Thailand commit the most affairs globally. Image via pxhere.

Interestingly, Durex also commissioned a global sex survey in 2005 which polled more than 317,000 people from 41 countries and a very different set of results were found:

Country % of Married Adults Surveyed Who Admitted to Having an Affair (2006)
1 Turkey 58%
2 Denmark 46%
3 Norway 41%
4 Iceland 39%
5 Finland & Vietnam 36%
6 Netherlands 31%
7 Chile 30%
8 Belgium 28%
9 Italy, South Africa & Sweden 26%
10 France 25%

There are some notable differences between the two sets of data many several nations ranking in the ‘current’ top ten most adulterous countries list no even featuring in the more comprehensive survey taken almost a decade before.

Thailand who takes the top spot in the more recent set of infidelity figures recorded an average rate of just 16% in the 2006 survey whilst Spain and the UK also had significantly lower percentages (10% and 14% respectively).

… According to the Pew Research Center?

In a report that followed the scandalous 2015 Ashley Madison data leak, the Pew Research Center released some data which reported on those countries that cared the most and the least about cheating.

The results showed the percentage of respondents who considered an extramarital affair morally unacceptable (or cared most about cheating)

Country % respondents who considered an extramarital affair morally unacceptable
1 Palestinian Territories 94%
2 Turkey 94%
3 Indonesia 93%
4 Jordan 93%
5 Egypt 93%
6 Pakistan 92%
7 Lebanon 92%
8 Malaysia 90%
9 Tunisia 90%
10 Philippines 90%

Notably, more people in Turkey (who were reportedly the most adulterous nation in 2006 by the Durex Global Sex Survey) would disapprove of extramarital affairs than most other nations.

the infidelity index which country has the most affairs france
Cheaters in Turkey are more likely to be judged than those in France. Image via Pascal/Flickr.

By contrast, the following nations were found to care least about cheating:

Country % respondents who considered an extramarital affair morally unacceptable
1 France 47%
2 Germany 60%
3 Italy 64%
4 Spain 64%
5 South Africa 65%
6 Czech. Republic 66%
7 Chile 67%
8 Senegal 68%
9 Japan 69%
10 Russia 69%

So, France seem to be the nation where attitudes towards infidelity make it least objectionable.

… According to Victoria Milan?

Victoria Milan is a European dating site with international members all of whom are attached and are seeking a discreet affair. The company commissioned some research from its 6 million+ members to try and establish which nationalities of women would cheat the soonest after getting wed.

ireland most affairs which countries commit adultery
According to one report, Irish brides are the quickest to resort to cheating. Image via pxhere.

It’s not clear just how many countries were included in the research nor how many people were involved but their results revealed that it was the Irish ladies who could hardly wait to bed someone outside of marriage first. On average, women from the Emerald Isle were found to wait only 3.6 years after tying the knot before cheating on their spouses.

The rest of the top ten looks like this:

Country Average Age To Marry Average Age To Cheat Years After Marrying To Start Cheating
1 Ireland 31.6 35.2 3.6
2 Sweden 33.3 37.4 4.1
3 UK 30 34.4 4.4
4 Norway 31.6 37.1 5.5
5 France 30.8 36.5 5.7
6 Denmark 31.9 37.7 5.8
7 Germany 30.9 36.7 5.8
8 Portugal 29.8 35.9 6.1
9 Greece 29.9 36.3 6.4
10 Italy 31.3 37.8 6.5

Another dating website ( revealed in their Love: Uncovered report that 80% of Irish people believe it is never okay to cheat but that almost a quarter of them have done so in the past.

Whilst the Irish and the Brits rank highly here, it is another top ten entry for France….

… According to Happn?

Okay, so this survey only looks at the Europeans but it does make interesting reading.

Happn commissioned a study of people using their dating app whilst on holiday and concluded that the following European countries were the most likely to have cheat on their partners:

Country % of respondents who would cheat on their partners whilst on holiday.
1 France 54%
2 Italy 53%
3 Spain 45%
4 Sweden 42%
5 Belgium 38%
6 Netherlands 35%
7 Portugal 33%
8 Denmark 30%
9 Norway 28%
10 United Kingdom 27%

Of course, the data is based on people who were using a dating app so there may well be a tendency towards a more casual attitude to relationships but interestingly, France appears to take the crown on this one.

affairs on holiday infidelity index
The French are (apparently) more likely to have their heads turned whilst on holiday. Image via Max Pixel.

Conclusion: Which Countries Have The Most Affairs?

We think it’s fair to say that there is no easy answer to this question but more fingers seem to point towards France than to any other nation.

This, in spite of the popular mass media representation that Thailand has the highest infidelity rate in the world based on one survey.

The reason for this could well be cultural and the book ‘Modern Love’ by Aziz Ansari reveals that the prevalence of cheating in France being high could be down to the fact that the French are just more forgiving. Ansari visited the country whilst researching his book and found that many French people considered infidelity as ‘inevitable’ or ‘natural’ with one interviewee (a young Frenchman) even going so far as to say, ‘in the subconscious of French people is an idea that everyone cheats’.

The country seems so aligned to this notion that even flower shops in the capital city display signs that say, ‘Don’t forget your mistress!’.

which country is the most adulterous france or thailand
Could the French be the most adulterous nation? Image via Good Free Photos.

Whilst it isn’t possible, simply on the sparse evidence that has been collected, to conclude that France has a higher number of affairs than any other nation, it does seem reasonable to suggest that , when it happens, they may be more forgiving.

As for Thailand….our sister site, Asia Sex Scene, picks up with this in more detail in their feature guide, Infidelity in Thailand: How Did Affairs Become the Norm?

Featured image via MaxPixel.


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