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Smith, director of the General Social Survey for the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.
Survey takers guessed that twice as many people are having extramarital affairs as really are, estimating that 44 percent of married men and 36 percent of married women are unfaithful.
The reality is it's not as rampant as we think, with 28 percent of married men and 18 percent of married women admitting to having a sexual liaison, the survey found.
About one in five adults in monogamous relationships, or 22 percent, have cheated on their current partner. And nearly half of people admit to being unfaithful at some point in their lives, according to the results of the MSNBC.com/i Village Lust, Love & Loyalty survey.
More than 70,000 adults completed the online reader survey in February, answering about 30 questions that revealed their intimate feelings about adultery and what makes them stray or stay faithful.
"We think everybody is out there doing it," says Janet Lever, a sociologist at California State University, Los Angeles, and the study's lead researcher.
"Well, they're not." In fact, the rate of cheating has stayed pretty consistent, according to research expert Tom W.
The bright side is, while many of us are tempted by the fruit of another, it seems we fear cheating more than we need.
For most people in relationships, a commitment means no playing around, ever.That doesn't mean there aren't plenty of love rats out there.