The idea that “men are dogs” and “only think about sex” is a stereotype that has plagued the male population for decades. But, some unearthed research has found that women are just as interested in sex, and could in fact be more likely to cheat.
There has been a long held belief that men in relationships are going to be more likely to cheat than their partner – especially if those men have a certain face shape, according to science – but there is now some new research that suggests otherwise.
The research, cited by the New York Post and expanded upon by Wednesday Martin, author of Untrue, a book that focuses on female infidelity, suggests that women have just as much of a burning libido as men, if not more.
Martin, who interviewed sociologists, sex researchers and anthropologists for her book said, “the new research is correcting false notions that women have lesser libidos, that women are more naturally monogamous and that it’s easier for women to partner in life.”
“Women don’t like sex less [than men], but they do get bored of sexual sameness.”
Indeed, while it doesn’t necessarily state that women are categorically more likely to cheat, the reasons behind their sinful temptations do differ from those of men.
Martin adds that men may indeed have a higher level of spontaneous sexual desire – hence the stereotype phrase ‘men only think about sex,’ but she also said “women take the lead for responsive or triggered desire.”
What’s the difference? Martin explains, “Spontaneous desire is when you suddenly think, ‘it would be nice to have sex.'”
“Responsive or triggered desire occurs when something suggests the idea of sex to you – you’re watching or reading something, or a partner initiates a sexual encounter – and you get turned on.”
“For that type of desire, women’s libidos are every bit as strong as men’s. We’ve internalised this idea that men are the randier sex and that’s untrue.”
Alicia M. Walker, as assistant professor of sociology at Missouri State University who also studies infidelity, has examined the sociological reasons both men and women might cheat. Writing for Psychology Today, Walker said “results of surveys conducted by websites found most folks who cheat fail to be caught and most intend to stay married.”
“So, if folks aren’t cheating to mate-shop and they aren’t cheating to exact revenge, then what is going on?”
Men are looking for love, women are looking for passion
To find out, Alicia interviewed 46 men between the ages of 27 and 70, in the United States who had used the Ashley Madison website to find an affair partner. She found that, while these men did engage in sexual relations with other women, “what they really wanted from those relationships had little to do with sex.”
She adds, “we think men cheat for sex and women cheat for love and attention. In my previous work, the vast majority of the women reported sexual gratification as their motivation for affairs.”
“They approached their affairs pragmatically and with a clear purpose.”
“Conversely, the men with whom I spoke sought to outsource the emotional intimacy, emotional connection, and emotional support of their marriages.”
The takeaway, then, is that women are the ones more likely to cheat if the sex in their relationship isn’t good enough or they’re bored, whereas men are more likely to have an affair if they’re emotionally unhappy in a relationship.
These findings also, therefore, beg the question, why does society and the media regularly generalise men as being sexual deviants? Instagram accounts such as @violetclair, for example, exist to empower women and to help console them through the tricky world of dating.
But occasionally, posts will paint men to be the ‘bad guy’ and receive thousands of comments from women all in agreement and essentially saying “all men are pigs.” But this just isn’t the case.
However, all this research has taken place in the United States. To get a deeper understanding of the infidelity landscape in Australia, DMARGE reached out to relationship expert Samantha Jayne.
Samantha says, “I don’t think your gender determines if you chat or not. It ultimately comes down to a person’s values or integrity and I believe someone’s personality type as to whether they will cheat.”
She elaborates on that personality type by saying, “If someone is more driven by variety and adventure (gets bored easily) and had more partners than most, in addition to struggling emotionally to connect on a deeper level, then they are more likely to cheat.”
“Whereas some people, no matter how much temptation they have, they just won’t.”
“Genders are now less of a factor because there is a fusion of roles. Traditionally, the man would be the provider and the woman at home would be softer and more sensitive. But today, anything goes.”
As for the reasons one might cheat, Samantha agrees with the research by claiming it to be “unmet needs.” These needs, of course, could be either sexual or emotional, and this is where the research found men and women can indeed differ.
Samantha does add, however, that “for serial cheaters there is no reason, they just do it out or habit or entitlement.”
Can an adulterous relationship be saved?
So, what happens if you get cheated on, or even if you cheat on your partner? Going off the research, if a man cheats for emotional reasons, it suggest he is unhappy in the relationship and so may want it to end anyway. Women, meanwhile, may still love their partner but just need a little more action under the sheets.
Samantha tells DMARGE, “Infidelity is very difficult to come back from. It takes commitment to rebuild trust and sometimes the damage can’t be repaired. It is up to the individual as to whether they can move on and it’s up to the couple to work as a team, ideally with professional help.”
“There is no right or wrong, it’s all dependent on the circumstances.”
“If it’s a very new relationship then it might be best to move on because if someone is willing to cheat during the honeymoon phase then they are not a keeper. But if the couple have been together forever, then it might be able to be salvaged with the right support.”
Ultimately, Samantha says, “an emotional connection is what keeps couples together. Couples that play together, stay together, so be sure to have regular date nights.”
“Talking and listening to each others’ needs and being supportive, as well as providing space to miss each other can help. Always try to keep the spark going.”