The Science Of Infidelity: 14 Reasons People Cheat
A sad reality that many must face in relationships is that we can’t control what our mates do. Even though you might do your best to fulfill their needs, ultimately it’s up to them if they’re going to be faithful. But, if fidelity is simple as it seems? Is it merely just a choice, or are some people more prone to infidelity? Is there a science behind it?
Well, thanks to the study of many scientists, psychologists, and sociologist, I brought you all 14 studies that dissected fidelity and the myths along with it. Remember, that with science all these things are theories, and it’s not indicative of every person that you date/marry. But, the more you know…
“I didn’t see it like that”
With the constant knowledge of things that are bad for us, do you ever wonder why some people still smoke, obsessively drink, or binge, knowing what the consequences are? People are able to do these things due to something called “cognitive dissonance.” This is the act of separating the wrong that you do, and either trivializing it, or justifying it so you don’t seem as bad. This behavior is very prominent in cheaters.
An experiment was published in January 2013 that proved that when people were made to feel bad about their past cheating, they saw it as such. Whereas, if their behavior was rationalized, they were able to separate themselves from their own bad behavior leading them with thoughts like: cheating is bad, but I’m not, because I’m a good person… even though I cheated.
They have an addiction
Within the last decade, people have been using the fact that they have a sex addiction to justify their infidelity. While some have been skeptical, it actually is an issue for some. Some people who have sex addictions allow themselves to do very unhealthy things for themselves and relationships, and there are recovery facilities for those who suffer.
People Find them Desirable (Depending on Gender)
An experiment was recently done by recovery.org entitled “To Catch a Cheater.” They set up a number of fake profiles on dating sites and created them with a certain level of fidelity. Through that, they saw that their fake women profiles who were interested in cheating were hit up more by men. Where as the fake male profiles of cheaters were more chastised.
This pointed to the fact that some men merely want just sex, rather than a relationship. That’s why the men in the study sought out these “taken” women.
According to “dating” site AshleyMadison.com, a site that helps married people to find people to cheat on their spouses with, found that their busiest days for signup were the day before Valentine’s Day (for men) and the day after for women. According to the site:
“While February 13th — also known as Mistress Day — saw a 271% increase in signups, there was actually a 314% decrease in signups on Valentine’s Day itself. The most prolific traffic came the day after Valentine’s as 439% more people signed up to find what’s missing in their marriage.
The huge spike in signups on the 15th was mostly driven by married women: their membership increased by a whopping 977%.
Ashleymadison.com CEO and founder Noel Biderman says expectations around the holiday drive membership: “Mistress Day is all about avoidance. People sign up to avoid the stress they know they will have to face with their spouse the following day.” He continues, “The day after Valentine’s Day is one of our biggest days of the year. People are disappointed by their spouses’ lack of effort, and they feel especially undervalued when there is a societal expectation of romance. Certain days of the year act as litmus tests for many people in relationships.”
According to the same study on the controversial site, the increase of men signing up to find a mistress the day before Valentine’s day was due to the stress that they feel society puts on men to deliver on Valentine’s day. These men get mistresses to help them cope with the stress that they know they will face the very next day.
It’s in Your Genes
The good people at Scientific American tried to find a correlation between genetics and infidelity. They found that men who had a variant of the chemical vassopressin (which is dominant in voles) have a tendency to have problems of fidelity and in relationships in general.
Further research from the Binghamton University, State University of New York also did a study and found that people who had a variation of the chemical DRD4 had a tendency to engage in activities of infidelity. These people also tended to be more open to social situations and taking risks.
You Got it from your Mama/Dad
Does anyone else remember that PSA about a man who confronts his son about finding drugs in his closet, and when the father asks him: “Where did you learn this stuff?” the boy yells: “I learned it from watching you, okay?!”
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!! Good memories! ANYWHO…
That might be true for women. Men cheating has been largely contributed to men’s evolutionary need to want to spread their seed. Which always lead scientists to want to understand the rationale of women who have issues with fidelity. A 17 year study was conducted to examine the reason why women cheat, and while the conclusion was that women also wanted to ensure a good genetic match for their children, some scientists aren’t convinced.
Some believe that women who are descendants of a cheating father might have inherited that behavior from said low-life.
They have a Need for Control
When powerful people are caught cheating, the rationale that usually comes is the fact that the person’s ego was so big that they felt that they were untouchable. While that’s probably true, another study brought in the idea of control.
If a person is powerful, that person has a tendency to be in control of certain aspects of their lives, namely the talent that got them their power. Though the person might not actively sit down and plan to cheat, they might go through with it for the fact that they believe that they can control the situation.
In a study conducted by researchers at Indiana University,Bloomington and the University of Guelph in Ontario found that a reason why some people cheat is due to stress of dealing with the anticipation of having to perform for their mate sexually. With a person that they’re not in a relationship with, they tended to not care as much about meeting that person’s needs, allowing them to be more open sexually:
“It may be that individuals with arousal difficulties feel less pressure to perform sexually with a partner to whom they are not emotionally committed or in a relationship context which is not long- term. In addition, it may be that some individuals want to evaluate if, or believe that, their arousal difficulty is specific to their primary relationship and engage in infidelity for that reason.”
To Fix their Marriage (?)
The site AshleyMadison.com decided to ask its users (which are married, by the way) what attempts they made to try to save their marriage, and apparently cheating on their mate was one of the last straws. I guess, in some way it’s a cry for help/attention. (Shoulder shrug)?
“People don’t pursue an affair at the drop of a hat. We always knew anecdotally that people used AshleyMadison.com to stay in their marriage,” said Noel Biderman, CEO, AshleyMadison.com. “Married people know that sex isn’t the most important thing in a marriage, and they aren’t going to simply or quickly leave. They also aren’t willing to settle for abstinence for the rest of their lives, so that’s when they look for an external solution.”
If the Man is Financially Dependent on the Woman
From 2001 to 2007, Christin Munsch, a sociology PhD candidate at Cornell University, studied behaviors in heterosexual relationships and the factors that affect fidelity. Within that, she found that men who tended to depend on their female counterpart financially tended to be prone to stepping out on their mates.
Not all under-earning men tended to cheat. Only those who weren’t on the same education, religious, and social status as their mates.
The correlation seemed that the men were more unhappy in a relationship where the women held the reigns, money-wise, sought to find happiness outside. Their earning potential was directly correlated to their masculinity. Where as…
More Money, More Opportunity
The exact same study proved that men who made more money, regardless of whether or not they had the same level of education, religious beliefs and social status would cheat if the opportunity presented itself.
The more a man tended to make, coupled with increased opportunity, and lastly an inflated sense of self, the more likely he would cheat. But don’t feel defeated, ladies! According to Stephanie Coontz, who also participated in the study, she had these words of encouragement:
“The take-home message for me out of this is more encouraging for women: Yes, there are guys who still take advantage. But if you are married to a guy who does work, shares your values and background, is close to the same age, and is a good partner, you should not worry at all if you make more than he does!” Coontz added.
Blinded by Beauty
When a person has a risk-taker personality, it seems to be heightened when they are around someone they find attractive.
“As it turns out, men may become blind to risk when an attractive woman enters the picture. One 2008 study found that men who played blackjack after seeing beautiful female faces took more risks than men who played the game after seeing unattractive faces.”
Maya Angelou once said: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Sometimes in relationships people might be honest about who they are, but we’ll sometimes be blind to it, ignore red flags, or think that if they spend enough time with us that they’ll realize that we’re the one.
But, as DNLee wrote in her study Hip Hop Evolution Files: Examining Infidelity from a Biological Prospective “monogamy is a myth.”
“Why is monogamy a myth? Well for the most part, among people and the entire animal kingdom, it rarely exists in its pure form – a single mate for life. Love ain’t so simple [and] neither is monogamy… We’re just as carnal as our beastly cousins. The truth is, more often than not, like the man in the very beginning of [Naughty by Nature’s “O.P.P.“] music video – who hesitates, but eventually discards the token of his monogamous relationship – many people struggle to be faithful to their mates.”