Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs survey asked 1,535 American adults about the moral acceptability of 20 behaviors, and having an affair was found to be the very worst, with 91 percent of respondents deeming it morally wrong. Surprisingly, a smaller percentage deemed polygamy (83 percent), human cloning (83 percent), and suicide (77 percent) morally wrong.
Divorce, on the other hand, was determined by most to be morally acceptable, with 68 percent of respondents deeming it so. Unmarried women having babies, sex between unmarried men and women, and gay and lesbian relationships also saw high percentages of moral acceptability, at 67, 63 and 59 percent, respectively -- all up from a decade ago.
Hugo Schwyzer discusses these findings at length in The Atlantic, noting that the prevailing attitude is, "'I'd rather be left than lied to," and that "it's not a stretch to suggest that the reverse would have been true just a few decades ago."
The same Gallup poll that found near-unanimous disapproval of cheating also found rising acceptance of many other non-traditional, consensual sexual relationships. The new ethical consensus that you can do whatever you like as long as you're not hurting anyone -- and as long as you're being rigorously candid -- reflects a thoroughly modern mix of tolerance and puritanical censoriousness. We've become more willing to embrace diverse models of sexual self-expression even as we've become ever more intolerant of hypocrisy and the human frailty that makes hypocrisy almost inevitable.
We want to know: is an affair really the worst moral offense? Click over to The Atlantic for more on this discussion, then let us know your thoughts in the comments.
HuffPost Divorce recently partnered with YouGov to poll 1,000 U.S. adults about what they consider to be adulterous behaviors. Check out the results below:
In a recent HuffPost/YouGov poll of 1,000 people, fifty-six percent of women polled said that if their partner kissed someone else on the lips, they would consider it cheating, versus 40 percent of men who felt the same.
Younger people were more likely to consider it cheating if their partner kissed someone else on the lips than older people. Seventy-four percent of 18-29 year-olds polled would consider it cheating if their partner kissed someone else on the lips, as compared to 53 percent of those ages 30-44, 38 percent of 45-64 year-olds and 30 percent of those 65+.
Women were more likely than men to perceive it to be cheating if their partner sent a sexy text message or photo to someone else: 85 percent of women polled would consider it cheating, versus 74 percent of men.
There was a big discrepancy among men and women regarding forming a deep emotional connection with someone else: 70 percent of women said they would consider it cheating, compared to 50 percent of men.
Age was also a factor in whether or not respondents said that forming a deep emotional connection with someone other than their partner constituted infidelity. While 69 percent of people ages 65+ would consider that cheating, only 52 percent of people ages 18-29 said the same.
Democrats and Republicans don't see eye to eye on strip clubs. Thirty-five percent of Republicans said that they would consider it cheating if their partner went to a strip club, compared to 19 percent of Democrats. (Sixty-eight percent of Democrats said they wouldn't consider it cheating, compared to 51 percent of Republicans).
If a partner were to reconnect with an ex on Facebook, 26 percent of women would consider it cheating (42 percent would not) compared to 21 percent of males (56 percent would not).
Republicans and Democrats also differed on the implications of reconnecting with an old flame on Facebook; 29 percent of Republicans said that they would consider it cheating (44 percent would not), versus 19 percent of Democrats (51 percent would not).
The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted March 8-10 among 1,000 U.S. adults. The poll used a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.