Most people generally believe that they are moral and good and that cheating on a partner is wrong. So how do cheaters live with themselves after their infidelity? Understanding how they reconcile their indiscretions with their beliefs about themselves can help us figure out why “good people cheat.”
Dissonance theory1 predicts that when individuals’ thoughts and behaviors are inconsistent, something has to give. Have you ever wondered why anyone would be a smoker these days, given what we know about the link between “cancer sticks” and cancer? A smoker knows that smoking causes cancer, but might rationalize it by saying “I don’t smoke very much” or “My grandma smoked two packs a day and lived to be 90 years old!” By coming up with these rationalizations, people are able to preserve the impression that their behaviors and attitudes are consistent.
Similarly, cheaters might minimize the significance of their infidelity as a way to cope with knowing they did something wrong. The authors of a new study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships2 propose that cheaters feel bad about their indiscretions but try to feel better by reframing their past infidelities as uncharacteristic or an out-of-the-ordinary behavior.
MTV recently reached out to us to help them with casting for their new True Life: I Can't Cut Off From My Ex episode. No, there isn't science involved, but this is a great way for ScienceofRelationships fans to get some air time. If you are selected for the show, we suggest you do a little homework and read our articles on ex-partners here before making a fool of yourself on television.
Here's what MTV is looking for:
Have you broken up with a significant other, but you just can't seem to stay broken up? Does your ex constantly come in and out of your life? Are you constantly reminded of your ex on social media? Has it become impossible to unfollow/unfriend your ex? Or do you try to keep up with your ex, even if your ex doesn't want you to? Does a single past relationship keep affecting your life in ways you never expected?
If you appear to be between the ages of 18 and 28 and you have an ex who doesn't stay in your past, MTV wants to hear your story. Please reply to email@example.com with "True Life" in the subject line. Give us your name, location, phone number, a picture and tell us why you should be on True Life: I Can't Cut Off From My Ex."
The average woman will have 500 menstrual cycles throughout her lifetime.1 Although menstruation typically doesn’t win the “favorite days of the month award,” the actual purpose of a woman’s cycle is to prepare her body for conception and procreation. Yet, the irony in Mother Nature’s plan is that the actual window of potential conception only lasts for roughly 2-4 days throughout the 28 day cycle. Among researchers, we call these few days the “period of high fertility,” or the time when women are most likely to conceive.
Many women (and probably even some men!) may have noticed that the days leading up to menstruation can be accompanied by mood swings (you’ve heard of PMS – right?). Yet, there’s a bundle of evidence showing that women’s moods, behaviors, and interpersonal styles actually change during that small window of high fertility as well. For example, during those few days (compared to other days in the cycle) women are more likely to dress sexy,2 they are more accepting of men’s advances,3 they prefer the scent of symmetrical4 and dominant men,5 and they’re even more likely to fantasize about someone other than their current boyfriend or spouse!6
Imagine that Blake is tempted from time to time to snoop on his partner Taylor (for example, he sometimes desires to go through her phone or email to see who she’s been talking to). What might determine whether or not he intrudes on Taylor’s privacy? We already know that people are more likely to engage in intrusive behavior, such as snooping on their partner, when they have low trust. Basically, distrustful people need reassurance that everything is fine in their relationships, so they sometimes invade their partners’ privacy to make sure everything is indeed fine. People who have high trust, on the other hand, don’t worry about their relationships, so they don’t tend to snoop. But high trust may not be the only thing a person needs to avoid intruding on others’ privacy. One potential contender that could help someone fight the urge to snoop is high self-control
Editors note: This post was originally written for the site gapjunctionscience.org. Gap Junction Science is "a network for science faculty who are curious about the ways feminism and science connect. It’s also a home for anyone else interested in the meeting points between science and feminism including, but not limited to, non-academic scientists, trainees (grad students and post docs), and non-scientist scholars" (from their "about" page). You can see the original post here.
A few blog posts back, Sari van Anders pointed out that one connection between science and feminism is their seemingly equal ability to bring out nasty comments. In fact, Sari highlighted Lewis’ Law (and science loves laws) that states that the comments on any feminist post justify the existence of feminism. Not to go making laws in my own name or anything, but if I were to create Blair’s Law in a similar vein it would be that “the comments on anything to do with LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-identified, queer) research justify research on LGBTQ issues.” In fact, if you take a look, you’ll even find that Blair’s Law can be equally applied to articles written about both good and bad LGBTQ research. Good and Bad? By Good LGBTQ research I mean inclusive, prejudice reducing, diversity promoting, “queers are great” research and by Bad LGBTQ research I mean Regnerus – or research that manipulates and twists the facts in hopes of proving that sexual and gender diversity are examples of abnormality, sickness, perversion and will ultimately bring about the end of the world as we know it!
If you haven’t watched this video yet, I urge you to immediately stop everything that you are doing and click play. On second thought, even if you have already seen this video, you should probably do the same thing. I don’t want to oversell this, but you are about to witness true relationship genius. Your chance to see it, before I spoil it with this article, is going, going, gone!
For those who didn’t watch, I’ll do my best to summarize what you missed. We join a couple in the midst of a conversation about an issue that the female partner is having. She’s describing the painful symptoms and woeful emotions that she is experiencing (e.g., pressure, aching feeling in her head, snagged sweaters), when her partner makes the imprudent mistake of offering a rather practical suggestion for fixing the problem. The unexpected twist…she’s not describing the type of stressor you’ve imagined; she actually has a nail in her head! When her partner suggests removing the nail, she accuses him of never listening and of being emotionally unsupportive. A funny play on the belief that women would rather talk through an issue than solve it, even when it’s as straightforward as having a nail in the head!
What do divorce and the flu have in common? Obviously, both of them can be pretty unpleasant. But another thing they have in common is that both might be contagious. A new study indicates that being "exposed" to others' divorces can increase your likelihood of divorce by 33%. Click more to read about this study at TheAtlanticWire.com.
We often regard a kiss as a way to show affection or to create a spark. An international survey of over 900 males and females aged 18-63 found that kissing serves a greater purpose and is more than a way to increase arousal. Instead, it’s an important way to assess a partner’s quality, especially for women and for those who rate themselves as highly attractive. Those who more easily separate sex from love (i.e., high sociosexuality) rated kissing as more important early in a relationship and experienced more change in attraction (less attraction toward a partner who was initially attractive post-kiss).
Check out our other articles about kissing here.
Wlodarski, R. & Dunbar, R. I. M. (2013). Examining the possible functions of kissing in romantic relationships. Archives of Sexual Behavior. doi: 10.1007/s10508-013-0190-1
Do hot guys lead women to make risky sexual choices? To test this, college women rated 40 pictures of college-aged males for attractiveness, willingness to have sex with him with a condom, willingness to have sex without a condom, and his likelihood of having a sexually transmitted infection (STI). When women were willing to have sex with a guy with a condom, they were also willing to have unprotected sex with him. Women were also more willing to have unprotected sex with physically attractive males, but also rated them as more likely to have an STI—a potentially dangerous combination.
Lennon, C. A., & Kenny, D. A., (2013). The role of men’s physical attractiveness in women’s perceptions of sexual risk: Danger or allure? Journal of Health Psychology, 18, 1166-1176. image source: madamenoire.com
First comes love, then comes…? These days, the answer may be a U-Haul truck. For many couples, moving in together is a key decision that transitions them from a dating relationship to a long-term committed partnership. However, a small but growing minority of long-term couples across a number of Western countries – such as Britain, Sweden, and Canada – are choosing to forgo cohabitation entirely, preferring to keep their separate homes. This phenomenon is referred to as living apart together, or LAT.
In-Mind (an awesome on-line magazine that highlights social psychology research) just published a great piece on the important role humor plays in relationship initiation. Head over to inmind-magazine.org to check it out!
You can also read some of our articles about humor and relationships here:
- Here’s the Punchline: The Link between Humor and Hotness
- So You Think You’re Funny?
- Humor and Attraction: Who Likes a Joker?
Check out some of our favorite cartoons and videos about relationships here. We promise that you'll think we're hotter after reading these...
“Closure” is a term I have heard bandied about by many of my friends over the years, but I have always wondered what it really means. For example, after my friend Daphne’s long-distance boyfriend broke up with her over the phone, she told me she needed to fly from NYC to London to see him in person to “get closure.” Even after she saw him in person, she still didn’t feel like things were really over. The meaning of closure is something I have grappled with when trying to make sense of one of my own past relationships. I spent the better part of 10 years trying to get closure with The Question Mark so that I could move on, trying everything from writing him long treatises on why our relationship could never work, to hashing things out in person in order to finally say “goodbye.”
A reporter at a national publication is looking for people in long-term relationships to interview about their motivations for having sex and how they negotiate the inevitable ebb and flow.
If you are comfortable talking about the varied emotional reasons you have sex, please contact us (using this form) by Sunday morning (October 20th). Make sure to include your first name and email address and we'll put you in touch with our "SofR-approved" reporter.
You MUST be willing to use your name in print. NO EXPERTS NEEDED, just people willing to talk about their own sex lives.
Please note that this is not research sponsored by ScienceOfRelationships.com, its contributors, or institutions we are affiliated with. We are simply faciliatating communication between our contact at this respected national newspaper and our readers.
If you were sexually permissive, would you approve of your friends’ sexual permissiveness, too? After all, who are we to judge when we act the same way ourselves? Well, let’s say something you value is at stake. The attitudes of an overly sexy friend could threaten your own romantic relationships (“Hey BFF, let’s share everything, including your partner!”). Would you be likely to “mate-guard” your partner from a sexy friend? Or, do you believe in sharing?