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Why do men cheat on women? Show more Show less
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Heterosexual infidelity is increasingly common. Statistics vary, but most estimate that 20% of married men have secret extramarital sexual relationships at one point or another. Why? This illicit betrayal can ruin lives and tear families apart. So, what drives men to cheat on women?

Men cheat because they are trapped in unhappy relationships Show more Show less

Men cheat because they are unsatisfied with their current partner.
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Men are not satisfied with their partners

There is a significant link between cheating and relationship dissatisfaction.
Gender Infidelity Love Marriage Monogamy Relationships Sex
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Context

One fact remains in all instances of cheating. That is active betrayal. A man is breaking the trust of his partner to be with someone else when he cheats. A link to emotional detachment may explain how a person reconciles the act of betraying their partner. A 2017 research series by David Rodrigues and Diniz Lopes found that the chief predictor for infidelity is the extent to which a person is committed to their partner.[1] This is striking because it suggests infidelity is entirely based on the state of a person's primary relationship. The less close they feel towards their partner, the more likely they are to cheat. In this case, romantic dissatisfaction is the root of all infidelity.

The Argument

The 2017 study analysed the link between socio-sexuality, that is behaviour and attitudes, and heterosexual infidelity. Intriguingly, the population sample was taken from romantically involved individuals who were actively seeking illicit relationships via an online dating platform for arranging affairs. The report found no link between the desire to cheat and prior knowledge of a potential affair partner. This shows that neither lust nor gradual infatuation with another can explain why people decide to cheat. Where it did reveal strong links, was in how an individual perceived their relationship with their existing partner. The more committed a person felt, the less likely they were to cheat. When commitment was broken down, or had never truly existed, the authors discovered a clear trend. Relationship commitment was not defined by the union itself. Neither was defined by the attitudes a person has built up over time: a person's romantic history was not a predictor of future behaviour. Instead, the likelihood of infidelity is entirely predicated on how psychologically committed a person is to their partner. This intangible quality has a number of knock on effects that limit the chances of infidelity, including how attractive others appear. Critically, it is also directly linked to relationship fulfilment and how happy a person is with their partner. As Cornell research Claire Kamp Dush finds, "the stronger the relationship's commitment, the greater the happiness and sense of well-being of the partners."[2]

Counter arguments

The Lopes and Rodriguez study was based on a very specific sample, and a very specific type of infidelity. These results are interesting insofar as they can explain motivations for cheating amongst those arranging affairs through purpose-built platforms. Yet, this holds only for a minority of cases and cannot explain infidelity as a broader phenomenon. This theory also fails to satisfactorily define what commitment is. It is hardly surprising that people who actively seek affairs online with do not feel wholly committed to their relationships. But leaving it at that is too simplistic for salient analysis. For example, is commitment defined by attraction, sacrifice, ideological concerns or something else? Until we can be certain of this, it is impossible to use this study to draw meaningful conclusions.

Premises

[P1] Infidelity is positively linked to relationship dissatisfaction [P2] Relationship dissatisfaction causes infidelity

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] It is misleading to view this relationship in terms of cause-and-effect

References

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/290820978_Sociosexuality_Commitment_Sexual_Infidelity_and_Perceptions_of_Infidelity_Data_From_the_Second_Love_Web_Site
  2. https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2005/12/people-committed-relationships-are-happier

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This page was last edited on Monday, 26 Oct 2020 at 13:20 UTC

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