New research published in Sexual & Relationship Therapy has uncovered the different ways in which men and women perceive infidelity.
Infidelity can lead to relationship dissatisfaction and breakdown, though in some cases the problems may be caused by the different ways in which individuals define infidelity. The authors, based in the USA, sought to better understand potential perceptions of infidelity. They found that "women were more likely than men to identify both sexual-based and emotion-based acts as constituting infidelity."
354 undergraduate psychology students completed an online questionnaire, which aimed to assess their personality and how this related to their perceptions of infidelity and their sensitivity to rejection.
The questionnaire, through different categories of question, categorised infidelity in three ways – sexual infidelity, intimate infidelity, and fantasy infidelity.
The authors suggest that their finding that women were more likely to identify certain acts as infidelity is unsurprising given that the women scored higher than the men on measures of 'communion' – "the extent to which a person wants to form and maintain positive interpersonal bonds."
They concluded the study with suggestions for therapeutic application, including educating individuals on these gender differences to help ease anxieties.
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Crystal D. Oberle et al. Predicting perceived infidelity from gender and interpersonal traits, Sexual and Relationship Therapy (2016). DOI: 10.1080/14681994.2016.1196290