Men more likely to stick with girlfriends who sleep with other women than other men

January 27, 2011, University of Texas at Austin

Men are more than twice as likely to continue dating a girlfriend who has cheated on them with another woman than one who has cheated with another man, according to new research from a University of Texas at Austin psychologist.

Women show the opposite pattern. They are more likely to continue dating a man who has had a heterosexual affair than one who has had a homosexual affair.

The study, published last month in the journal , provides new insight into the psychological adaptations behind men's desire for a variety of and women's desire for a committed partner. These drives have played a key role in the evolution of human mating psychology.

"A robust jealousy mechanism is activated in and women by different types of cues — those that threaten paternity in men and those that threaten abandonment in women," says Jaime C. Confer, the study's lead author and a doctoral candidate in evolutionary psychology.

Confer conducted the study with her father, Mark D. Cloud, a psychology professor at Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania.

The researchers asked 700 college students to imagine they were in a committed romantic and sexual relationship with someone they've been dating for three months. They were then asked how they would respond to infidelity committed by the imagined partner.

Some participants were told their partners had been unfaithful with a man, others with a woman. Some were told their partners had an affair with one person, others with multiple partners. Some were told the infidelity happened once, others twice.

Regardless of the number of episodes or partners, the study found that:

  • Overall, men demonstrated a 50 percent likelihood of continuing to date a partner who has had a homosexual affair and a 22 percent likelihood of staying with a woman after a heterosexual affair.
  • Women demonstrated a 28 percent likelihood of continuing to date a boyfriend who has had a heterosexual affair and a 21 percent likelihood of staying with someone who has had a homosexual affair.
The findings suggest men are more distressed by the type of infidelity that could threaten their paternity of offspring. Men may also view a partner's homosexual affair as an opportunity to mate with more than one woman simultaneously, satisfying men's greater desire for more partners, the authors say.

"These findings are even more remarkable given that homosexuality attitude surveys show men have more negative attitudes toward homosexuality and to be less supportive of civil rights for same-sex couples than women. However, this general trend of men showing lower tolerance for homosexuality than women is reversed in the one fitness-enhancing situation—female homosexuality," say the authors.

Conversely, women objected to continuing a relationship following both types of affairs, but especially so for a boyfriend's homosexual affair. Such an affair may be seen as a sign of dissatisfaction with the current relationship and a prelude to possible abandonment, according to the authors.

Participants were also asked the outcomes of real-life infidelity experiences. Results mirrored those of the imagined infidelity scenarios: Men were significantly more likely than to have ended their actual relationships following a partner's (presumably heterosexual) affair.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Color of judo uniform has no effect on winning

February 22, 2018
New research on competitive judo data finds a winning bias for the athlete who is first called, regardless of the colour of their uniform. This unique study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, puts to rest the debate on ...

Infants are able to learn abstract rules visually

February 22, 2018
Three-month-old babies cannot sit up or roll over, yet they are already capable of learning patterns from simply looking at the world around them, according to a recent Northwestern University study published in PLOS One.

Antidepressants are more effective than placebo at treating acute depression in adults, concludes study

February 22, 2018
Meta-analysis of 522 trials includes the largest amount of unpublished data to date, and finds that antidepressants are more effective than placebo for short-term treatment of acute depression in adults.

How people cope with difficult life events fuels development of wisdom, study finds

February 21, 2018
How a person responds to a difficult life event such as a death or divorce helps shape the development of their wisdom over time, a new study from Oregon State University suggests.

Smartphones are bad for some teens, not all

February 21, 2018
Is the next generation better or worse off because of smartphones? The answer is complex and research shows it largely depends on their lives offline.

Researchers uncover novel mechanism behind schizophrenia

February 21, 2018
An international team of researchers led by a Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine scientist has uncovered a novel mechanism in which a protein—neuregulin 3—controls how key neurotransmitters are released ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Jan 27, 2011
Cause lesbians is hot.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.