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In one of the largest studies to date undertaken by Chapman University in the journal, Archives of Sexual Behaviour, it has been found that men and women are different when it comes to feeling jealous. This study provides a first large-scale investigation into infidelity, both sexual and emotional, and how it affects men and women differently.
In a poll of around 64 000 participants, aged between 18-65, were asked to imagine which would upset them more. Either finding out their partners had sex with someone else but did not fall in love with them or if they fell in love with them but did not have sex.
What it found was that heterosexual men were more likely than heterosexual women to be more upset by sexual infidelity than emotional infidelity and the opposite is true for women who are more affected by emotional rather than sexual infidelity. This result is consistent with an evolutionary perspective.
“Heterosexual men really stand out from all other groups: they were the only ones who were much more likely to be most upset by sexual infidelity rather than emotional infidelity,” says David Frederick, lead author on the study.
Both sexual and emotional infidelity can be harmful to both men and women and can lead to broken hearts and relationships ending abruptly and painfully. It can also lead to abandonment, partner violence and a loss of resources when these resources are invested into affair partners.
“The responses of men and women to the threat of infidelity range from intense pangs of jealousy to elaborate displays of attention to woo their partner back. Jealousy can also trigger harmful and violent behavior, so it is important to understand what are the most potent triggers of jealousy,” says Frederick.
Men seem to experience more heightened responses to sexual infidelity than women because of an evolutionary perspective known as paternal uncertainty – they never know if their child is genetically related to them as there is always a chance the child could have been fathered by another man.
Sociocultural perspectives in terms of how men are socialized to be masculine, by having more sexual prowess also plays a part in the responses. If their partner commits sexual infidelity it will bring into question his sexual prowess and therefore threating his masculinity. This is why as a man a more negative reaction occurs from his partner committing sexual rather than emotional infidelity. In contrast women react worse to emotional infidelity as they are emotional nurturers in a relationship and emotional infidelity by their partners threatens their sense of self.
Before you fool around on the side remember this; Infidelity Increases Penile Fracture Risk.