The science of affairs: Experts explain why men and women often have different reasons for cheating
- Cheating is not necessarily a sign of an unhappy marriage, experts claim
- Studies show women are more upset by the emotional aspect of infidelity
- Recent survey found a third of Brits don't consider sexting to be cheating
- 34% of men considered sexting as cheating, compared to 49% of women
The reasons for cheating are complicated, and the waters are muddied further because not everyone defines cheating in the same way.
For example, more than a third of Brits don't think that sexting another person while they are in a relationship is cheating.
This is according to new research from law firm Slater and Gordon who also found that 34 per cent of men considered sexting to be cheating, compared to 49 per cent of women.
This gender divide is rooted in evolutionary difference between what men and women really want, according to experts speaking to MailOnline.
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Donald Trump has been trying to push former US president Bill Clinton's past infidelities into the spotlight as part of his campaign for the White House, even going so far as to suggest that presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had not been 'loyal' to her husband
THE GENDER DIVIDE
Only 34 per cent of men consider sexting to be cheating, compared to 49 per cent of women says law firm Slater and Gordon.
Women are more likely to cheat because they are seriously unhappy with their primary relationship, loneliness, or in a subconscious search for 'better genes'.
They tend to be more upset by the emotional aspect of cheating rather than the physical side.
In contrast, men are more likely than women to cheat for pure sexual variety and sexual motivations, say the experts.
Males are more likely to define infidelity in strictly physical terms, are tend to be more upset over the thought of their partner being with someone else, rather than the emotional betrayal.
'People cheat for many reasons—because they are bored, for sexual variety, for revenge, because they are emotionally or sexually dissatisfied, for adventure, for resource, or as a mate switching tactics,' Dr David Buss from the University of Texas told MailOnline.
'The reasons are almost as varied as the reasons that people have sex in general,' adds Dr Buss, who is the author of the book 'The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating.'
According to life coaching firm The School of Life, the question of whether someone will cheat is all down to the conflict between distance and closeness.
As explained in a video, the differing levels of distance and closeness by each person in a relationship is what leads them to stray.
While there are many different reasons for people to cheat, they vary greatly between men and women, claim the experts.
'There is considerable overlap in the reasons, but men are more likely than women to cheat for pure sexual variety and sexual motivations,' says Dr Buss.
'Women are more likely to cheat because they are seriously unhappy with their primary relationship and use infidelity to get out of a bad relationship, to test the waters to see if someone better might be out there for them, or to ‘trade up’ to a better partner'.
Dr Duana Welch, who is the author of 'Love Factually', a science-based dating advice book, agrees, telling MailOnline that: 'We know from science that for women, two major reasons are loneliness and the search for better genes'.
'The first reason is conscious: women are aware that they’re lonely, and loneliness does make women more vulnerable to involvement with someone else who makes them feel heard and loved,' says Dr Welch.
'The second reason is totally non-conscious, where they choose the best-looking man around: women don’t consciously say to themselves, “Wow, look, that guy is better looking than the others and therefore has a better immune system to pass along to kids—I’ll have an affair with him.'
While there many different reasons for people to cheat, they vary greatly between men and women, claim the experts
RESULT OF CHEATING
When a woman's partner cheats on her, the betrayal and grief she experiences afterwards can be difficult to get over.
But researchers have found that women who lose their unfaithful man to another women may actually be winners in the long run.
They say the experience she gains from the infidelity of their partner helps them make better mate choices in the future.
And perhaps most gratifyingly of all, their partner's new woman is actually the ultimate loser, according to Dr Craig Morris, an evolutionary biologist at Binghamton University in New York.
'Our thesis is that the woman who "loses" her mate to another woman will go through a period of post-relationship grief and betrayal, but come out of the experience with higher mating intelligence that allows her to better detect cues in future mates that may indicate low mate value,' said Dr Morris.
'Hence, in the long-term, she "wins". The "other woman", conversely, is now in a relationship with a partner who has a demonstrated history of deception and, likely, infidelity.
'Yet in studies, women did choose men who were best-looking to have affairs with; those men do in fact have superior immune systems that can aid their children’s survival; and the women tended to have sex with these guys on their fertile days of the month, having ‘maintenance sex’ with their mates on the non-fertile days'.
However, while men and women sometimes have different motivations for infidelity, they may also have different ideas on what exactly constitutes cheating.
While many men only regard full sex as infidelity, women are much more likely to consider an emotional connection as a betrayal, according to the experts.
'Men are more likely to define infidelity narrowly, strictly in sexual infidelity terms,' explains Dr Buss.
'Women define infidelity more broadly to include sexual infidelity, but also to include "emotional infidelity" or a partner becoming psychologically intimate with someone else,' he adds.
Dr Welch claims that 'happily married men are as likely to cheat as unhappily married men are' and that infidelity is more a case of opportunity.
'The more chances there are and the greater number of women who express sexual interest, the higher the odds that a man will cheat,' explains Dr Welch.
'Your mileage may vary, though: science tells us what will happen to most people most of the time. None of this is written in stone for any one person, as nothing can predict what every person will do every time'.
While men and women sometimes have different motivations for infidelity, they may also have different ideas on what exactly constitutes cheating
Studies show that women are more upset by the emotional aspect of infidelity, says Dr Welch while men tend to be affected by the thought of their partner being with someone else.
Male reactions to their partner's cheating has been measured using 'heart rate, breathing rate, facial tension, and other physical data, in addition to stated feelings', says Dr Welch.
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