A study by a US university has found men and women are most upset by different types of infidelity
Straight men are more likely than straight women to be most upset by sexual infidelity and less likely than straight women to be most upset by emotional infidelity, according to recent research.
Chapman University polled nearly 65,000 Americans aged 18 to 65 in the first large-scale research into gender and sexual orientation differences in response to sexual and emotional infidelity in American adults.
Participants were asked what would upset them more: their partners having sex with someone else without falling in love or their partner falling in love but refraining from extra marital sex.
The study found gay and bisexual men did not differ significantly to women in their response to infidelity. It concluded that straight men were unique and the only group more likely to be distressed by sexual infidelity than emotional infidelity.
The prevailing biological theory is that this fundamental gender difference has evolutionary origins: Men have evolved over time to be sensitive about sexual relations because, until the relatively recent introduction of paternity tests, they could never be absolutely certain they were the father of a child. Unlike women, men may still suffer from parental uncertainty. Women are much more concerned about having a partner who is committed to raising a family.
The study also notes that men are socially conditioned to be ‘a man and masculine,’ which includes having great sexual and reproductive abilities. If a man’s partner is unfaithful sexually, this may bring into question his sexual prowess and therefore put a question mark over his masculinity .This could be why men react more negatively to sexual rather than to emotional infidelity.
In contrast, women tend to think about relationships and to pay attention to the emotional side of a relationship. If their partner commits emotional infidelity, this may threaten her sense of self more than if her partner commits sexual infidelity.
The researchers of this study concluded that sexual and emotional infidelity causes great harm to human relationships and families, leading to relationship breakdown, abandonment, domestic violence, and loss of income and reputation.
The survey participants’ responses to the threat of infidelity ranged from intense jealousy to ostentatious displays of attention to win their partner back. Jealousy can also be a trigger for harmful and violent behaviour, so it is important to understand exactly what causes jealousy, the research found.