When in a relationship, one of the most devastating things to learn is that your partner cheated. It is the ultimate form of betrayal and completely annihilates honesty and truth, which are the foundation of a healthy relationship. A relationship cannot exist without this base; in other words, if you cheat, it’s over, unless you can somehow figure out how to work through it.
Interestingly, according to Psychology Today, more than 90% of Americans believe that infidelity is unacceptable, yet 30% to 40% of us engage in it. What exactly makes someone more likely to cheat? The answer might surprise you: Both men and women are more like to cheat on their spouses when they’re more economically dependent upon them, according to a game-changing study out of the University of Connecticut.
Researcher Christin Munsch, Ph.D, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut, analyzed pooled data of 9,000 people, from the ages of 18 to 32, from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Munsch looked at how satisfied people were in their marriage and overall sexual activity to determine if they had cheated, and discovered that, in an average year, there is a 15% chance that men who are completely financially independent on their wives will cheat, whereas there was only a 5% chance that a woman who was completely financially dependent upon her husband would have an affair.
Her research also concluded that men who made money, but who were not the primary breadwinners for their family, were also more likely to cheat. However, if the man earned 70% of the family’s total income, then at that tipping point, they were least likely to cheat. It would seem, from the data, that men (some men) have not quite yet accepted women’s capability and desire to want to be breadwinners for their families. Women, on the other hand, are less likely to cheat the more money they earn for their families. Munsch explains the disparity when it comes to the genders: “We don’t want to be in relationships with people who make us feel like losers.”
“We like equity in our relationships,” she adds. This makes sense considering that we don’t want to be in a relationship with someone that we feel jealous of, and we don’t want to be with someone who is more attractive or intelligent than we are. But then again, we don’t want someone who is less so. This comes along with relationship territory though, when it comes to choosing the partners we want to be with. The disparity, especially when it comes to differentiating income, may come into play later in a relationship. The best we can all do is accept and love the people we are with and not focus so much on their monetary station in life (even though money can be an important lifestyle issue).
Income inequality is not the only reason for infidelity. Here are the three most common reasons for cheating, and the ones that we are all most likely to encounter.
1. Individual Reasons
This more or less refers to the “once a cheater, always a cheater” school of thought, where cheating is specific to that person’s personality. This takes into account your gender: If you’re a male (which if you’re reading this article you most likely are), you are more likely to because you produce testosterone, which is associated with a higher sex drive. On the other side of the testosterone-filled-monster hypothesis, if you are religious and/or your political views are more conservative, you are less likely to cheat, due to more rigid values. Also, if you’re less conscientious and have an agreeable personality, you are also more likely to cheat.
2. Relationship Reasons
This refers to relationship satisfaction and whether there are unresolved issues in the relationship. If you are compatible and happy together, the desire to be unfaithful diminishes, as well as if you both see eye to eye in terms of personality match up, educational level, and so on.
3. Situational Reasons
This is a tricky one. You could be very happy in your relationship, but environmental factors, for example, where you’re employed and your association with attractive people, could cause you to stray; however, this does not always equal cheating. Your likelihood of cheating also depends upon where you live: If you live in an urban area, as opposed to a suburban area, you are more likely to cheat.
To avoid cheating nonsense, it’s a good idea to communicate with your partner and discuss infidelity openly.