It’s just a fact, isn’t it? Men cheat more than women do. Men are dogs. Men watch porn. Men think about sex every five seconds. Men are also selfish and perhaps genetically inclined to cheat, since their biological motivation is to spread their seed to as many females as possible to ensure survival of their bloodline.
Well now that we’re done with all the clichés, let’s analyze some evidence.
The truth is that the answer to who really cheats more is a bit more complex than what we might have heard.
Who cheats more: men or women?
When it comes to cheating, it may not be as simple as men vs women.
According to some sources, such as University of Connecticut professor Christin Munsch, cheating may be related to profession more so than gender. According to this particular study, the most moneymaking partner (or “breadwinner”) is likelier to cheat.
However, this wasn’t the only interesting finding. According to a Guardian story, partners who were completely financially dependent on their partners were likelier to cheat, particularly men.
The first statistic suggests that there is a correlation between more married women out-earning their husbands in salary, and thus fitting in with the general statistic that breadwinners cheat more so than evenly matched spouses.
Why do the most successful family-oriented partners feel inclined to cheat?
It’s possible that these men or women feel they can get away with the act, since their spouses are unlikely to leave them even if they cheat, since ending the relationship would require a complete lifestyle change.
Munsch went onto say that any relationship where there is “inequity” will not fare well in the long-run, and infidelity may be a real temptation.
Perhaps a somewhat biased perspective on the matter came from Men’s Health magazine, which revealed not-so-surprising statistics like 95 percent of Ashley Madison’s users were male. The writer even said that “conventional” wisdom states that women are hardwired for monogamy.
However, the publication also quoted two researchers, one from Dr. Kristen Mark, the other from Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, who both claimed that a big shift was definitely taking place—and either more married women are cheating now than ever before, or they are just being honest about their infidelity more so than the previous generation.
A more blatant study quoted by Fox News stated that while 70 percent of men in a survey admitted to infidelity, 50-60 percent of the married women also confessed to having an affair.
While these statistics weren’t as concrete as other studies, the article did focus on a different perspective: these decisions to cheat are not based on genetics or money or even marital happiness.
They were based exclusively on sexual satisfaction. The writer also suggested that psychological issues thwarting intimacy, and low self-esteem, also contribute to unhappy sex lives…and thus increase the chance of infidelity from one or both partners.
Another survey, based in Britain revealed that older women between the ages of 35 to 40 may engage in infidelity more often than younger women, and that the reason was linked to physical or emotional neglect from their “innocent” partner.
The women who cheated outnumbered the men in this poll, 25 percent compared to 9 percent…although we do have to wonder just how many cheating guys lied to protect their own sense of self-righteousness?
Brendan P. Zietsch of the University of Queensland, Australia brought a scientific perspective to the phenomenon, stating that some women may have a genetic disposition to cheat based on a certain mutation.
He attempted to link infidelity in women to the release of hormones oxytocin and vasopressin. In his studies, he linked together the tendency for the “eyes to wander” with variations in oxytocin and vasopressin receptor genes. He claims that of the five variants he found in the vasopressin receptor gene, they were all in the subjects who happened to be adulterous married women.
Based on his studies, women also tend to cheat for an oxytocin-related high—one of emotional bonding, trust and empathy.
The researcher went on to quote observations about vole studies, showing that while monogamous voles had vasopressin receptors closer to the “reward” section of the brain, adulterous little voles had vasopressin activity in the amygdala section of the brain, the center that deals with emotions like anxiety and fear.
Is it possible then, that adulterous urges come from hormonal imbalances?
WebMD also chimed in on the matter, with biological anthropologist Helen Fisher taking a somewhat conventional viewpoint that really can’t be disproven, even after all these years later.
Namely that women cheat because they are motivated by unhappiness, whereas men, statistically speaking, seem to have the ability to cheat in their spare time and yet come home to a happy family life.
When it comes to cheating purely for sexual pleasure, men are still statistically dominating, with WebMD’s article revealing that 34 percent of cheating women claimed to be happy in their married life compared to 56 percent of cheating men, which just wanted to have their cake and eat it too.
Men vs women: The conclusion?
There is no conclusive proof to indicate that men cheat more than women do because of their makeup or gender, just as there is no way to prove conclusively that more women are cheating today because there are more unhappy marriages.
We have to assume that each person has a different genetic, environmental and psychological approach to sexual dissatisfaction or temptation.
What’s right for one person may be wrong for another, and what might be difficult circumstances for one married woman, prompting her to surrender to temptation, may not even be worth a single thought by someone else.
One thing is for sure however…in a post-feminist world, it’s not only men that can get away with cheating. Whereas decades ago, men cheated and women had no choice but to tolerate it (or risk becoming a social outcast) now we have evened out the playing field and both sexes have rights to infidelity and responsibilities resulting from that infidelity.
So in many subtle ways, the maturity of our culture has been positive. Whether you’re a man or a woman, you deserve happiness and your happiness should never be based solely on what your society allows you.