Entries in cheating/infidelity (49)
The need to belong is a basic human drive; we as humans have a pervasive desire to form and maintain lasting, positive relationships.1 Relationships are important for our well-being, as their initiation is often associated with happiness, elation, love, and joy. Marital relationships serve as important buffers against stress;2 and marital quality is associated with better health.3 The benefits of being in a relationship, such as those just mentioned may explain why people are often very resistant to breaking social bonds and experience strong negative emotions when they feel as if their relationships may be compromised.
Cheating (or being cheated on) is one of the most detrimental behaviors for the survival of a relationship. Infidelity shakes the ground upon which the relationship was built, as it creates a violation of trust and breaks the commitment each partner made to one another. Not only does the act of cheating create tension and potentially destroy the relationship, but the perception that a partner may be cheating is also problematic. If there is suspicion of infidelity, that suspicion often creates a rift between couple members. Therefore, it is important to know how people view cheating and what behaviors people believe violate the terms of a committed relationship.
Recently, the anxiety levels of millions of individuals who have been less-than-faithful to their spouses skyrocketed the moment they read the headline: “Hackers Threaten To Out 37 Million Users Of Cheating Website AshleyMadison.com.” Suddenly, (supposedly) married individuals who, for whatever reason, had willingly created (and paid for) an online profile on a “top-secret” website targeting married individuals secretly looking for commitment-free extramarital liaisons could potentially be exposed. This site even allows for one to indicate their sexual preferences and for other members in the online community to “rate” people they've met. Think of what this could mean for these clients, and, of course, for their spouses!
Note that some Ashley Madison users are actually not married or searching for partners (there are plenty of “undercover” accounts on this site), but for those in committed relationships who had created a profile, the potential for unintended discovery of their secret could be just a click away. What will the fall out be for these relationships, if discovered?
Summer has only just begun, but I’m going ahead and calling it: The best relationship song of Summer 2015 is Andy Grammer’s Honey, I’m Good. Not only is this song ripe with catchy beats that make you want to clap your hands and sing along, but it’s an anthem for fidelity and commitment.
As you can imagine, I spend a lot of time talking about relationships, and an all too familiar topic is infidelity. A pet peeve of mine is when people defend their cheating by claiming that it “just happened.” I understand that if someone is under the influence (of alcohol, or perhaps stupidity), then they may not be able to fully comprehend the ramifications of their actions. But before reaching that level there is a point when we all know our behavior is leading towards trouble. This song debunks the idea that infidelity is an accident by reminding us of that moment when we should know better. Just like the song trumpets, you “could have another but probably should not” and if you stay you “might not leave alone.” It is then that you have a choice to make.
With a little help from my friends: Robert Burriss discusses two new experiments that examine how people use coalitional mate retention tactics to prevent their partners from cheating. Your friends can help to keep your partner faithful.
Check out the newest episode of The Psychology of Attractiveness podcast here.
Most people believe that infidelity is a very bad thing,1 yet a majority of people admit they have cheated on a romantic partner. In fact, studies have shown that about 75 percent of men and 68 percent of women have cheated at some point in a relationship.2,3
There are many reasons why people are unfaithful to their partners, but one possibility is that cheating may seem like a more acceptable behavior for us to engage in if we think it’s commonplace and widely accepted. If we think that our own cheating is less frequent or severe than the norm, we’ll be more likely to let ourselves slide and succumb to temptation. “Everyone else is doing it, so if I have one little dalliance that wouldn’t be so bad."
We often compare ourselves to others and compare ourselves to what we believe is typical behavior. According to social comparison theory, if we want to know where we stand on a particular behavior, we compare ourselves to our peers.4 So if you want to know if your faithfulness to your partner is typical, you can compare yourself to others.
The next time you see a couple together, take a few minutes to observe how the partners interact with each other. Based on what you see, consider what you might be able to determine about their relationship. It seems reasonable that you could tell whether they enjoy spending time together or if they’re fighting. But based on your brief observation, could you pick out a cheater? It may sound implausible that anyone could accurately and quickly determine whether someone is cheating on a partner based on a quick observation like this. But researchers from Brigham Young University and Florida State University thought it may be easier than we might think and conducted a series of two studies to get some answers.
You experience stress nearly every day of your life. Stress can come from your job, your coworkers, fellow commuters, and generally from having too much to do without enough time to do it. And anyone in a relationship knows how easy it for that “external” stress to find its way into their romantic relationship.
Researchers followed 80 couples’ over 4 years and found that when couple members reported more stress outside of their relationship, they also reported feeling less comfortable depending on their partners and felt less close and more unsure about their relationship compared to couple members who were less stressed.1 This type of stress “spillover” may also occur on a daily basis. In a study of 165 newly married couples, individuals who reported more daily stress also reported more negative relationship behaviors such as criticizing their partners.2 These results indicate that stress from outside a relationship can spillover and cause more negative relationship behaviors. But, it’s also possible that those more prone to stress are also more prone to having poor relationships. An experiment would be needed to determine if stress directly affects relationships.
With the pervasiveness of social media and mobile devices comes the potential to communicate with hundreds or thousands of people with just a few taps or clicks. Of course, we are connected to lots of different types of people, including family, friends, coworkers, and random people you have a faint recollection of from high school who friended you on Facebook. We also have very different reasons for communicating with particular people in our social circles. New research1 suggests that one motivation for communicating on Facebook (and other social media sites) is to keep some of our connections on the “back burner” as potential future romantic partners.
If you’re not currently in a romantic relationship, it makes sense that you may think of some people in your social network as romantic possibilities. However, do people who are currently in exclusive romantic relationships also keep potential mates on the back burner?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for that last 20 years, you likely know that the internet is full of pornography. But does exposure to porn hurt your relationships? Although there are conflicting results and plenty of questionable science on this topic (see here for an example), a new study suggests that watching porn may indeed impact certain aspects of relationship quality.1 Specifically, the researchers examined whether exposure to pornographic videos (i.e., the kind of thing you’re most likely to come across on the internet) increases people’s perception of relationship alternatives (read more about alternatives here), which negatively affects relationship quality.
In the movie Unfaithful, Diane Lane’s character seems to have it all: a nice house, kids, and a hunky husband to boot (played by Richard Gere). Yet, following a chance encounter with an attractive younger man, she finds herself being, well, unfaithful. Why would she risk all of the nice things in her life by cheating? There are several reasons why she would take such a risk. It could be something about her (her personality or self-esteem), something about her relationship (not satisfying or unfulfilling), or something about the situation (she just had the chance). However, infidelity or cheating could also result from, at least partially, underlying biological and hormonal influences.
We can learn a lot about what makes for happy, long-lasting romantic relationships by studying the various reasons why relationships fail. Though there isn’t a surefire algorithm that takes into account every possible factor that predicts how a relationship will evolve, research does give us insight into the characteristics and circumstances that help partners “stick” together – or not. One obvious reason why people break up is infidelity, or cheating. This “grim reaper” of relationships has attracted the attention of researchers who aim to identify tendencies that put partners at risk for getting into “sticky situations” outside of their current relationship.
Commitment, the big “C-word” in relationships, is defined as feeling connected to your partner, wanting your relationship to succeed, and thinking about your long-term future together. Although there are downsides to commitment (see here for an example), commitment is associated with lots of good outcomes...
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.
Would you have sex with a robot? If your partner did, would you consider it to be cheating? According to this article on Smithsonianmag.com, 9% of people would shag a cyborg, and 42% say that robot sex counts as cheating.
Check our our articles on what counts as cheating here and here. Sadly, we don't have any articles about having sex with robots to share with you; the closest we could find is this post by SofR contributor Dr. Justin Lehmiller on his excellent site.
Is it okay for people to be attracted to others while in a committed relationship? Is it normal? Someone told me "if you're in a relationship and attracted to someone else, then there is something missing in your relationship and you shouldn't be committed in the first place." Is that true? I've always thought that attraction is normal and unavoidable, and crushes are harmless if not acted on. So, is it normal to have a crush on someone who isn't your significant other?
A: Your question raises several different issues worth considering, so let’s take them one at a time:
1) Is being “attracted to others while in a committed relationship… normal and unavoidable?”
Actually, yes, there is reason to think that being attracted to others is unavoidable. When we look at another person our brain very quickly processes the visual information our eyes see, and we nearly instantaneously make a judgment concerning the other person’s attractiveness.
Although I can’t claim to have personal experience avoiding “getting caught,” here’s some advice to those of you engaging in extramarital (or extra-relationship) affairs. (If you want to know if your partner is cheating, see here and here for what does and doesn’t count as cheating.) It doesn’t surprise me that people have affairs (my research suggests that 24-51% of men and women cheat on relationship partners1). It does surprise me that these affairs seem to reduce the cheaters’ number of functioning brain cells.
So, those of you out there cheating on your partners, here’s a list of the Top 10 Things You Should Avoid Doing If You Don't Want To Get Caught. (I’ve based each on real cheating scenarios. Check your own knowledge of celebrity cheaters below.)
In order to determine whether your partner is cheating, you first have to define what “cheating” means to you. On the surface, this doesn’t seem difficult—cheating is cheating, right? It’s one of those things that you just know it when you see it (or hear about it from a friend that saw your partner doing it). Well, let’s see just how absolute cheating is. Is having sexual intercourse with someone other than your partner cheating? YES! Maybe this game is easy. (Though it wouldn't be cheating if your partner said it was okay) What if your partner has conversations with someone at work, but doesn’t tell you? Hmm. What if you have a crush where you fantasize about someone else when you’re with your partner? Is flirting cheating? What about going to a strip club? What about Hooters? What about accepting a friend invitation from an ex-partner on Facebook? What about sexting?
What do sex columnist Dan Savage and politician Newt Gingrich have in common? Probably not a lot, but they have both been in the media recently in regards to open relationships.
In a recent article in the New York Times, sex columnist Dan Savage discussed the benefits of a monogamish relationship – one where partners are committed to each other but free to occasionally pursue sex partners outside of the primary relationship. He believes that opening up a relationship in this way can promote honest communication and prevent actual “infidelity.”
There seems to be a widely shared belief that anyone involved in an "open" relationship is infected with all sorts of STDs. The assumption seems to be that if you aren't monogamous, you're a promiscuous disease spreader, right? Not so fast. The reality is actually far more complex than this, and the risks of “open” and “closed” relationships may not be as different as they are assumed to be.