Do men & women view infidelity differently?

Boy trying to fing research on this is difficult, but I did find this research paper. Interesting reading.

Here’s another, this one demonstates an evolutionary basis for cheating, it’s also very interesting.

I think all of this talk about “men will do it just because they see a hottie” is bullshit, frankly. I thought stereotypes like this went out with the stereotype that women should just lie back and “think of England” because none of them would ever enjoy sex.

I was in a relationship that sucked. I cheated. A lot.

It was immature of me to do this. But it was my first relationship.

When I was married and my marriage went South, I did not cheat. Didn’t even cross my mind. And believe it or not, a tata or two was shaken in my direction.

I came to the conclusion that either I was going to make it work or I was gong to leave, but I would not cheat. And I didn’t.

Now I am in a good relationship. Everything I ever wanted and some things I never thought possible. Those stray tatas could be in my face, and it wouldn’t do a thing to me.

I think anyone who is just writing men off as insensitive fuck-machines really needs to get out of the cave they’ve been living in for the last 30 years or so.

[hijack]Hmmm, maybe I souldn’t be using my sig [/byejack]


“My wife doesn’t understand me”
“My husband doesn’t have time for me anymore”
“My marriage lacks romance”
“My wife got fat”
“My wife isn’t interested in sex anymore”
“My husband never talks to me”

I think both sexes can blame the other for infidelity.

BTW, in my younger years I was propositioned by some “gentlemen” who maintained they were very happy with their wives, their sex life was great, their wife understood them, they just weren’t meant for monogamy. (Oh, and of course, their wives knew and understood this).

I am unconvinced that cheating is a sign something is wrong with the relationship.

I have a great relationship with my hubby. We are best friends, great lovers, soulmates (except his whole denying there is such a thing as a soul hangup). But there was this guy I used to work with a few years ago. When we went out drinking, I wouldn’t drink around him. Didn’t need to do anything that would offset my judgement. Didn’t think he’d “understand me better” didn’t think my husband wasn’t “romantic” enough or spending enough time with me. Nope, just hot for him (nice tatas - oh, wait he didn’t have tatas).

Now, I have a male friend who is a little passive agressive. His favorite method of letting his current girlfriend know that there is something wrong with the relationship is to let her find out he is banging his new girlfriend. Not my approved method of communication.

I think you have a bit of a misunderstanding of evolutionary psychology (or whatever they are calling this these days). The evolutionary argument wouldn’t be that you are cheating because you are trying to get more or better kids. The argument would more be that the drives that impel you to cheat (including the desire to want to try with someone else) are in our nature because they are traits that have been selected for because they do help us to propagate our genes.

Anyway, all of this evolutionary psychology stuff is pretty controversial, because it is not clear to what extent our genes determine these types of things and to what extent the selection process is that directed. One hypothesis made in that field is that woman will be more upset about men cheating on them emotionally whereas men will be more upset about women cheating on them sexually. [The evolutionary reasoning here is that it was more harmful to a man’s ability to propagate his genes if a woman cheated sexually and thus he and she raised kids that were not his, but a woman’s ability to propagate her genes was hurt more if a man abandoned her and the children than if he just cheated sexually with another woman.]

There claims to be a study that verifies that this is the case (i.e., that when presented with scenerios of partners cheating, the aspects of the cheating that bothers women more is the emotional aspects of it, whereas the aspect that bothers men more is the sexual aspects of it), but I won’t vouch for it.

jshore: I think you have a bit of a misunderstanding of evolutionary psychology (or whatever they are calling this these days).

Well, it’s an eight-letter word beginning with “b”…oh, you mean what its proponents are calling it? :smiley: “Evolutionary psychology” is still the term of choice, I believe.

Really, though, much of this evo-psych stuff strikes me as being simply a more modern up-to-date way of saying “that’s the way God meant it to be.” We know so little about the thoughts and cultures of our hominid ancestors, and we see so many examples in other species of “non-optimal” features that survived simply because they were never actually selected against, that it seems really implausible to me that every significant feature of the incredibly complex modern human psyche came into being because it was selected for, in ways that we can now confidently identify. A lot of it’s just cultural myths dressed up in genetics, if you ask me, and that probably includes evo-psych theories about men and women and infidelity. (And no, IANAB. :))

In nature all possible scenarios are played out i.e. faithful couple raise child, male runs off or female runs off or both run off etc.

I think its mainly cultural.

In the past some men would be unfaithful and there wives would put up with it, these days they get a divorce if it really bugs them ( is rising divorce rates bad ? ).

I know of cases of women cheating and men cheating so, to get back to the point, is there a difference in the way the genders view this… don’t know.

I think there are 2 kinds of cheating, one is where you are in a love affair ( why not leave your partner then ? ) and one which is mainly sexual ( we both just like it ! ).

As darwin would say, with contraception, its benign.

I agree in some ways but disagree in others. I agree that buying into these ideas uncritically would be accepting them as a religious explanation. And, I agree that testing them may be difficult and has to be done carefully in order to distinguish between alternate hypotheses (e.g., that differences found are cultural). But, I am not convinced that they are untestable / unfalsifiable, and that with time we will not come to a better understanding of their validity.

I think your critique of these explanations is along the lines of what Steven Jay Gould would say, as he generally argues that people tend to exagerate the predominance of “natural selection” over noise in the evolutionary system. From the point-of-view of a physicist, the question would be sort of what the “temperature” of the system is…I.e., at low temperatures, a system tends to go basically to its optimum (energy minimum) but at high temperatures, entropy (a large variety of different states) dominates. In this analogy, Gould would say that evolutionary psychologists (and discussions in the field of evolution generally) tend to assume a lower temperature system than is actually the case.

I can appreciate beauty in the fairer sex. Even while in a wonderful relationship, I can look at another woman and appreciate her beauty.

I never feel in danger of actually fucking her, though. Under any circumstances.

I think every person in a “good relationship” felt this way, not counting for swingers who feel differently about the subject. And more power to them if they can handle that, but that ain’t me.

So maybe the problem in your relationship is the fact that you feel like you are liable to fuck anything you are attracted to in spite of the relationship? Or maybe you should be a swinger who uses other relationships to enhance their lives?

In any event, I’d explore exactly how you feel about relationships - in general and your current specific one - before you make any grand pronouncements either way.

No Satan, trust me on this, I’ve known myself for years…I’m very unlikely to fuck anything other than my SO regardless of my relationship status - it ain’t me. I like monogomy and think its great. And, although I’m fond of sex, I don’t find my self worth tied up in it - I don’t
NEED it, and if my hubby found himself unable for the rest of his life, I’d probably do just fine.

As wonderful as you are (and I’ve been paying attention to your posts for a long time and DO admire your intellect and wit, this is not a sarcastic comeback), not everyone’s mind or emotions work the same way yours do.

I also had a lousy first marriage where my first husband was serially unfaithful. Yet I remained faithful to him for five years, and in fact, have never, ever cheated on anyone…regardless of how good or bad the relationship was. Regardless of if I saw someone I had a groin reaction to. I’ve also never had a one night stand.

I also don’t hold liquor well, and it almost immediately turns me into a horrible flirt with really BAD judgement. I haven’t had more than one drink outside a close circle of friends I trust in years. I assume that it affects SOMEONE else the same way it affects me (or there wouldn’t be all those “she looked good after a pitcher of beer” jokes).

I just think there is a lot of cheating that is the result of a “lapse of judgement” - sometimes alcohol induced, sometimes a more “permanent” lapse. I think a lot of people fall madly in lust, and have a hard time denying themselves.

I suppose it could be argued that there is something wrong with the relationship, in that the parameters haven’t been defined to include “I’m a selfish bastard (or bitch - I don’t think this is a gender thing), and I reserve the right to get drunk and sleep with someone when out of town at a confrence because I can’t keep my pants zipped (once again, pointing out that women, too, wear pants).” Or maybe it isn’t selfish, as much as its lack of discipline. It probably changes from person to person.

And certainly, there are people who cheat when and only when there is something wrong with the relationship, and as long as they are happy in the relationship remain monogomous. And there are people who don’t cheat regardless of how good or bad the relationship is.

And, in my reality, which may or may not be the consensus reality, there are plenty of women who have sex for the sake of sex, and plenty of men who are looking for sex as part of a relationship. Women’s “locker room” talk is as objectifying to men as anything I’ve ever heard come out of a guy about a woman (OK, not quite, I just remebered hearing something really bad out of one of my guy friends) - and it isn’t about him being sensitive and nderstanding. As a generalization, I think popular belief holds, but it is like all generalizations - only generally accurate .


Then why on earth did you post what I was actually responding to:

This tells a different story. So, color me confused…


Thank you for the comments, but I really don’t think that you are “like me.” I do think that two ideas made in a short time shouldn’t be contradictory, however. And those two above are, in my estimation.


Well, this is different. People are affected differently by alcohol. Maybe you feel that even in a good relationship, alcohol will override this and you can have sex with someone else? I’m not talking about being raped here. but alcohol will make you willingly commit adultery?

This helps me understand better, but even then there’s a problem which is making you do this. Not a relationship problem, per se, but a problem with how alcohol effects you. Which is still a problem, I think, since other people can get shit-faced in strip bars and manage to not feel compelled to commit adultery.

(Not an insult, and please don’t take it as such. Just pointing out that some people can imbibe without this worry, that’s all.)


Possibly, but I know that I personally turned down sex when I was shit-faced once and I was single!! Why? Frankly, she was not attractive to me. And no matter how drunk I was, I could still picture waking up next to her. So, I politely got out of the situation.

I’d like to think that if I could turn down no-strings-attached sex with someone while totally free to have it while pretty toasted, that I could turn down sex when I am in a happy relationship that I don’t want to fuck up. In fact, I have now that I think about it.


Maybe, but I have yet to hear about someone cheating on someone and have it not revealed that there was some kind of problem, even one that was never properly discussed (a problem in and of itself).

Not that my experiences are the be-all end-all, but I have yet to hear someone just say “I got horny and did it, but I love you baby,” and in fact, that kind of immaturity is a problem itself.


I’d agree with that, and I think lacking discipline is a problem in and of itself.

A book by Dr Gary Chapman “the five love languages”
He is very christian oriented but this book is pretty straight psych as I see it.

It explains why some people do or do not accept infidelity quite well I think.

In a nutshell the concept is this:
Some people feel more loved by SO’s who give gifts, compliment them, spend time with them, etc. Physical affection could be last on their list and sex along with it.

If they are getting the attention that makes them feel loved, they can disregard other behaviors.

It also explains alot of other relationship issues that made a serious difference in my life.

I think, as someone mentioned above, that most of the time when a man cheats it is because he wants to have sex with someone else, probably out of instinct. I know that getting into a steady relationship where I can have sex on a fairly regular basis seems to increase my sex drive, not decrease it. If I lacked respect for my wife or just didn’t care about her like I do, I probably would cheat. I know when I was in a relationship before where I had no feelings for the person I was with I developed a case of ‘The Cheats’ strong enough that it apparently changed my personality and made me more outgoing and confident - I started having a LOT more success with women, and it wasn’t just because I was ‘taken’, many had no idea I was with someone (long distance relationship). Basically, I think guys have an instinctual urge to sow their seed far and wide, though it’s not so strong that it can’t be overcome by strong emotion. A guy is more likely to cheat if there is something broke in his relationship, but that’s not the main reason he is cheating in most cases. Men understand this, we usually don’t even try to make excuses when we are caught, and guys never ask other guys WHY they are cheating, it’s assumed. Women understand this too, you can see it in how they are very jealous and protective of their men, and how they interpret and react to a man cheating.

Women have a wider range of reasons for cheating. They do it to build self-esteem, to get revenge on their men, to fulfill emotional needs, because they developed a crush, because they are attracted to the wealth and/or power of the new guy, because they have problems saying no to sex, because they are horny and not getting enough (or good enough) at home, or because they are bored.

Its all about the way men and women are motivated:

A man uses love to get sex;

A woman uses sex to get love.

I don’t agree with that at all. I’ve never used sex to get love. I’ve either a) had sex with someone I love or b) had sex because I wanted to have sex. I’ve never used it to “get” anything. Sure, there are men and women who use sex to get what they want… money, power, gifts, love, a promotion, etc., but not all men and women are motivated to use sex as a weapon to get what they want. I would say that very few people do this.

There was an experiment I read about on the Web a couple of years ago – darned if I can find the link any more – where men and women in monogamous relationships were told to think about their partner (A) having sex with another person with no emotional attachment to that other person, and (B) falling in love with another person without having sex with that other person. The experimenters randomized the order in which the thoughts were put forth from one participant to the next, and measured the anxiety levels of the participants somehow (perhaps they just asked them “how anxious did you feel when we asked you to visualize situation A?”.)

The results were, to a high degree of statistical significance, that the men in general got more anxious when they imagined their girlfriends/wives having sex with someone else than when they imagined their girlfriends/wives falling in love with someone else. The women in general, on the other hand, got more anxious when they imagined their boyfriends/husbands falling in love with someone else than when they imagined their boyfriends/husbands having sex with someone else.

The usual conclusion drawn from this, among evolutionary psychology buffs, is that (1) the men were more afraid of cuckoldry than of losing their partners, because cuckoldry reduces the number of copies of your genes you get to leave in future generations, and (2) the women were more afraid of losing their partners than of their partners impregnating someone else, because losing their partners would eliminate access to their partners’ resources.


That may have been the study that I was referring to in one of my earlier posts. Of course, particularly without any attempt to do that study across many different cultures, it is very hard to distinguish between innate biological-related psychological factors and cultural factors in determining why the results were the way they were.

And I have never heard of a relationship that when closely examined did not have some sort of problem or unresolved issue. That is not to say that many people aren’t in happy, fufilling relationshipw–I am myself–it’s just that no relationship is completely and totally problem free. Saying that every relationship where someone cheats had some sort of conflict or problem is like saying that every relationship where someone cheats involves at least two people.

My husband and I are very happy together, and i honestly can’t imagene either of us cheating (too much work!) But I am sure that if one of us did our friends could come up with any number of reasons it was sombody’s fault, or proof that we were “having problems.”