The largest study of its kind, with over 60,000 participants, shows that men and women get jealous over different types of infidelity. Heterosexual men feel more jealous, threatened and upset by a partner’s sexual affair than by an emotional one. The opposite is true for women. Such different responses were not seen in homosexual or bisexual men and women. Infidelity is upsetting on many levels, no matter what kind of betrayal is committed, but the discrepancies between men and women may be explainable through the lens of evolution.
A Survey On Infidelity
Infidelity is an interesting topic of study, but one that has not been researched on a large scale until now. Researchers from Chapman University recently published the results of a survey that questioned nearly 64,000 men and women on the subject of affairs, gender, sexual orientation, jealousy and other emotions. The focus of the study was on emotional vs. sexual infidelity and how the type of cheating impacts men and women. It is the largest study to target this particular topic.
Jealousy: Emotional vs. Sexual Infidelity
The participants surveyed in the study were asked to imagine two situations and report on which upset them more: a partner having sex with someone else but not falling in love with that person, or a partner falling in love with someone else but not having sex. Among heterosexual men, 54 percent were more upset by the idea of sexual infidelity and only 46 percent were more upset by the idea of emotional infidelity. For heterosexual women, only 35 percent were more upset about sexual infidelity, while 65 percent viewed emotional infidelity as the bigger problem. Heterosexual men stood out compared not only to straight women, but also to gay and bisexual men and women. They were the only group to be more upset by sexual cheating.
Jealousy From An Evolutionary Perspective
The discrepancy seems surprising until you consider evolution and mating from a biological viewpoint. While women always know that they are the mothers of their children, men can never be certain. Both men and women can be expected to experience jealousy along with sexual infidelity, but for men it is heightened by this biological uncertainty. Supporting the evolutionary explanation is the fact that the study found that men are more jealous of sexual cheating across all ages, races, socioeconomic statuses and other factors.
Evolution may also explain why women are more jealous of emotional infidelity. Women need not be concerned about the parentage of their children, but traditionally they do rely on resources provided by a partner. When a man’s emotional interests stray to another woman, his partner may worry about losing those resources for both herself and her children. These ideas and explanations may seem antiquated, but they are consistent with biological and evolutionary factors.
Better understanding infidelity and how men and women react to it is important because of the devastating outcomes that often come with cheating. Infidelity is a leading cause for the dissolving of relationships not only in our American culture, but also around the world. Cheating and ending relationships can lead to domestic violence, emotional trauma, loss of resources and general emotional suffering and heartbreak. Infidelity and jealousy break down relationships and leave disaster in their wake. Avoiding these situations is important for keeping people together and happy and for improving public health generally.
Know That Each Person Is Different – You May Not Think Your Actions Are Hurtful –
But Your Partner Might – Have Compassion