"Variety is the zest of life," writes Jake of East Hartford, Conn.
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A good number of people seem to share that viewpoint. MSNBC.com/iVillage's Lust, Love & Loyalty survey found that about 22 percent of respondents have cheated on their partners. When we asked readers to share their stories and views about infidelity, we received numerous tales of betrayal and its aftermath, as well as various reasons for cheating.
Whether it was a desire to fulfill emotional needs or sample an assortment of partners, which our survey suggested were two popular reasons, people have no shortage of justifications for their cheating ways.
"I have strayed in most of my relationships, sometimes because my partners were the ones cheating and I would find out and get even. Other times, my partners were cheating, but would accuse me of cheating to cover their own infidelities, so I figured if I was going to constantly be accused, why not go ahead and do it?" explains A. Aguero from Fort Worth, Texas.
Read on for more readers' tales and opinions on straying and staying true:
"Monogamy definitely has its place, but I just can't seem to locate that place. I am in love with the hunt. After I catch her, the fire dies and I become bored with her."
— Kevin, Brooklyn, N.Y.
I found out almost a year ago now that my husband was cheating. I found his cell phone bill with pages of text messages and phone calls to this one particular number. Sure enough, when I called it, the woman told me she was in a relationship with him. We have two young children and our sex life was GREAT. I didn't ever think he even had the energy for anyone else. The problem is now, with all the evidence, he STILL won't admit that he was ever with her. ... I still love him (always will), but now I am on antidepressants to help me cope with all the mess he's put me through.
I've been cheating on my boyfriend for three months. He won't have sex with me or hang out with me, and so I found someone who wants me every night. I haven't left my boyfriend yet because of our baby, but I eventually will. ... I don't regret anything!
— Judy, Honolulu
My partner has cheated on me for years yet I stick with him. He says it all about variety. We've been together 20 years and he says it has nothing to do with OUR relationship, OUR sex life or MY physical attributes. It really hurts but I justify staying because everything else in our relationship is amazing. I really feel he is my soul mate in every other part of our lives. ... I believe you're either inclined to cheat or your not — I'm not, he is.
— John, Michigan
I think people can find reasons to cheat whenever they want. However, there is no excuse for cheating. I am in the Air Force, and in my first marriage my wife cheated on me while I was deployed. I am now remarried to the love of my life and last week I was devastated when she told me she is having an affair with another man and she had no regrets. This is occurring while we speak and I am deployed again to Iraq.
I think women are all too often categorized as cheating because of emotional needs. My husband is phenomenal in every way. He is loving, caring, patient and wonderfully wicked in bed. I cheat, not because he lacks anything, but because I travel a lot and enjoy sex way too much to go for long dry spells when I'm away from home. ... He doesn't know and we are very happy.
Nothing is worth destroying your marriage and family over. You're not just cheating on your spouse, but if you have young children, you're cheating on them, too. Being unfaithful is one of the most selfish things you can do.
— Shannon, Pittsburgh
Due to an ever decreasing sex life with my wife, I plan on cheating the first chance I get. I won't regret it, because she will have deserved me straying because she won't take care of my needs. I've expressed that I need more from her, but apparently she's not capable or unwilling to give more. Believe it or not, it's actually the emotional connection I crave as much as the physical connection.
— John, Ventura, Calif.
Cheating is an unfortunate side effect of a relationship clearly over. While I understand those who cheat claiming they were either "bored" or "frustrated" in their relationships, I can't help but think many couples resort to that option all too quickly.
Before I got involved in an extra-marital relationship, I thought it was a taboo thing. Then I realized it helped spice up my marriage and I'm more pleasant to be around in the house. But nevertheless, I did feel guilty about my action toward my primary partner. He is a hard-working man, great father and husband ... I don't have any desire to leave him.
— Tifa, Minnesota
I think the problem with most relationships is that people don't wait to find the right person. You should be compatible in the present and with future goals. I don't try to change my husband, and I would never cheat — even if I were tempted. It's not worth it and I wouldn't disrespect him.
— Jennie, Austin, Texas
I was cheated on by my girlfriend after about a year into the relationship. Needless to say, I was heartbroken. I forgave her, but the feelings of distrust never went away. I ended up breaking up with her after she cheated on me again. I believe that I would have ended it anyway, because I just couldn't get over the first instance, as much as I tried. I will do my best to never cheat on any future partners, because I have been on the receiving end, and I would not wish those feelings of depression and sadness on anyone.
Obviously we live in a country of lust and a good chunk of its people lack morals. If you're willing to cheat on somebody you supposedly "love," then you don't love them. And people wonder why the U.S. has one of the highest divorce rates in the world — a whole bunch of people are cheaters. Marriage doesn't mean what it once meant to people — a promise to the end. Now it appears the end is whenever the most convenient time for a person to get his/her needs met.
I took a vow in front of God and our families and friends. I love my husband and respect him and our marriage. We are more in love with each other now. We have been married over 25 years. Why on earth would I do something to ruin all that is good in my life?
— Susan, Knoxville, Tenn.
I cheated on my husband with a neighbor and ended up falling in love with him ... it wasn't worth all of the emotional stress and turmoil. I wanted to leave my husband to be with him, but he didn't want to be with me.
— KS, Portland, Ore.
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