In a recent study, psychology researchers at the University of Texas asked 718 students to imagine various scenarios featuring their long-term and committed significant others cheating on them.
50% of the men said that they would carry on in a relationship with a woman who has had a fling with another woman, while only 22% said they would be willing to forgive an indiscretion with another man. For women, results differ: 28% of them answered that they would stay with their boyfriend if he cheated on them with another woman, while only 22% were willing to forgive a fling with another man.
Jaime Confer, the evolutionary psychology postgraduate student who conducted this study, concludes that the participants’ reactions were most fundamentally grounded in basic jealousy instincts: “A robust jealousy mechanism is activated in men and women by different kinds of signals: those threatening paternity for men, and those suggesting the possibility of abandonment for women.”
According to the authors of the study, men feel less threatened by a female rival on account of the latter’s incapacity to father a child with their girlfriend, but also because they see their girlfriend’s same-sex affair as “an opportunity to mate with more than one woman at the same time”. Cases of same-sex infidelity which the researchers asked the volunteers to imagine being very rare, questions pertaining to real affairs were asked. The results? Men tend to tolerate infidelity to a lesser extent than women, and are more likely to put an end to relationships on account of affairs.