Why People Forgive Their Intimate Partners’ Infidelity: a Taxonomy of Reasons

Menelaos Apostolou, Andriana Demosthenous

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Infidelity is a widespread phenomenon, with perpetrators being frequently caught by their partners. Yet, not all instances of revealed infidelity lead to the termination of the relationship, and the current research aimed to study the reasons which lead individuals to forgive their partners. Methods: Study 1 employed a combination of qualitative research methods in a sample of Greek-speaking participants (N = 164) in order to identify the reasons that motivate people to forgive their partners’ infidelity. Studies 2 and 3 employed quantitative research methods in two independent Greek-speaking samples (N = 1,243) in order to classify these reasons in broader factors. Results: We identified 32 reasons, which are likely to motivate people to forgive their partners’ infidelity. By using principal components analysis, we classified these reasons in four broader factors. The most important one was having children, followed by own infidelity, reduced likelihood of future infidelity and dependency on partner. In the presence of assurances that they will be unlikely to cheat again in the future, women and older participants were more likely than men and younger participants to forgive their partners. Furthermore, participants who scored high in agreeableness were more likely than those who scored low to forgive their partners’ infidelity. Conclusions: There are at least four main reasons why people forgive their partners’ infidelity, which are predicted by the former’s sex, age and personality.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAdaptive Human Behavior and Physiology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Big-Five
  • Cheating
  • Forgiveness
  • Infidelity
  • Reasons for forgiveness


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