Infidelity is one concept where men and women will never be able to agree on. Each gender has adhered its own meaning to the word. It’s not about justifying what counts as cheating. Science has found a great difference between the mind of an unfaithful man and that of a woman who has cheated on her partner.
In a study done this year by Kansas State University, researchers were able to decode how men think and feel about infidelity. They recruited 477 adults, 238 men and 339 women. The participants were asked to fill out several questionnaires regarding a variety of topics related to relationships and infidelity.
Based on the findings, the researchers concluded that men define infidelity through the sexual spectrum. In other words, they believe cheating comes from their partner having a sexual encounter with another person, but not through an emotional bond between them.
On the other hand, women find that when their partner forms an emotional connection with someone, whether it’s a friend or coworker, they are undermining their place. If their partner thinks of someone else, supports them, gets distracted by another, tries to spend more time with someone else, or even shares intimate secrets with another person, it’s taken as a betrayal.
These opposing views make it impossible for either side to understand their partner’s annoyance and suspicions. This does not mean that if a woman finds out her boyfriend has had sex with another person, she shouldn’t be angry. Monogamy is a practice that men have not been able to fully develop yet. Their instincts seem to dictate a need for a variety of partners. For them, this should not be considered cheating but them responding to their needs.
Another study done by the University of Bath in the United Kingdom, published under the title “Infidelity and Monogamy Amongst Heterosexual Male Students” raises a few specific reasons why men have a tendency to cheat on their partners. Over half of the 40 interviewed subjects, all of which claimed to be in a stable relationship of over 3 months, admitted to being unfaithful. To be exact, 26 stated they have cheated on a purely sexual way, while their partners remained unaware of the situation. When asked why they’d done it, they responded that even though they loved their partners, their desire for other women had not disappeared.
Doctor and Professor Eric Anderson, author of the study and of the book The Monogamy Gap: Men, Love, and the Reality of Cheating, claims that it’s not natural to spend an entire lifetime with just one person. The desire for other people never goes away. In other words, and according to science, nature has not designed men to be monogamous creatures. Culture might try to hide that, but it fails eventually.
“I’m a man and want to have sex with other women, but I shouldn’t.” That was the answer given by one of the men interviewed in the study, which seems to sum up the thoughts of most men in a committed relationship. The following statements, which are also part of the answers given in the study might show what really goes on in the mind of a man who’s considering to be or has been unfaithful:
“After six months, the sex becomes routine.”
“Infidelity is a product of a natural desire.”
“It’s because of the psychological tension of being in a relationship.”
“It’s a solution for things to get better with my partner.”
“I can’t forget what I did, but if I tell her she’ll leave me.”
“My male instincts don’t change because I put on a wedding ring.”
“Infidelity is pretty common all around.”
It’s unlikely there’s a woman who agrees with these excuses, much less with Dr. Anderson’s conclusions, which suggest that infidelity is healthy in a relationship. What we can agree with is that both sexes have very different definitions of what monogamy means, and that we should try to understand the other person’s perception before judging and falling into a hurtful process that could mean the end of a relationship.
Translated by María Suárez