… that’s the question! First of all the scientific point of view: Men are made to try to spread their genes to as many women as possible. They see a lot of possibilities (beautiful women) all around them, but there are various reasons why they don’t act on their urges – morals, fear, rejection etc. Women on the other hand have to find a guy who can take care of their children and a family, and also has the best genes possible. Additionally the cost of having a baby is much higher for women than for men, and the chances to actually have and raise children are limited by time and resources. So the strategy of being faithful and keeping the partner faithful yields much more stability – especially for women. That doesn’t mean that women don’t want to have sex with many partners as well – and that they wouldn’t act upon those wishes.
This means that there are different consequences and approaches when it comes to cheating.
Men carry a lower risk than women, who not only lose their provider but have to fear all kinds of negative consequences in society for their behavior. This is all based on our brains’ ancient programming which shouldn’t matter anymore in today’s society. But it does.
The result of this programming nowadays:
Men and women cheat – but for very different reasons. Men cheat (morally) much easier and often do not regard their current long term relationship connected to their cheating at all. This means that they also judge the consequences for stepping aside as negligible.
Women on the other hand cheat mostly out of sexual frustration with their current long term partner – or out of entitlement to have more sexual partners/experiences. Some women will also cheat when they are looking for their next long term partner, keeping up the current relationship until a better man will come along.
It is also interesting to see when women are more likely to cheat: In the days before and after ovulation, when they are most fertile. Their brains will give them all kinds of cues and explanations why it is ok to cheat. A very nice read on that whole subject is Robin Baker’s “Sperm Wars”. It is especially interesting to see which kind of men women prefer at this time of the month: Not the sweet and stable provider, but the guy with the “good” genes: The v-shaped, muscular, very manly type who will guarantee them many healthy children.
Statistics show: Women and men will cheat almost equally much – with women winning this battle by a few percentage points. Some people cheat out of habit, some have problems with their long term relationship, some just have the opportunity and act upon it – a business trip, holidays, or whatever convenient excuse comes to mind. It is not easy to go to the root of each cheating behavior, and it is equally unclear how this will affect the current commitment.
I found the following true for the vast majority of cheaters:
- When a woman is cheating, it is highly likely that her current long term relationship is at its end. When men cheat, anything is possible: The current relationship is not in danger, will end soon or will stay stable, maybe with some problems down the road.
- A person, man or woman, who cheated, has a very high probability to cheat again – also in future relationships.
- A married man will very probably stay with his wife, even though he has a long term affair on the side, where he promised repeatedly that he will leave his wife some time in the future.
There are exceptions for all points above.
Especially nowadays and in Western cultures, cheating leads very easily and incredibly fast to the end of a relationship.
We love to pretend that we need faithful partners and would never cheat on each other – even though reality looks quite different: More than 50% of all people cheat on their partners at least once in their life!
The sad part about it is that we do not seem to think and talk about our sexual desires and wishes openly and like mature people – ending a relationship just on one instance of unfaithfulness is often not the best solution.
People are too different and have too many motivations for cheating or being faithful to their respective other, which makes it very hard to have clear and easy answers when it comes to this subject.
So if you have to cheat – just do it smart and never forget the consequences it might have on your life!