Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t. That’s exactly the message a recent study on infidelity is communicating to women everywhere. Christin Munsch, a sociology doctorate candidate at Cornell University, examined data from 1,024 men and 1,559 women who were married or living with a partner for at least a year.
The findings? Men are more likely to cheat if they earn less money than their female partner. The study also found that, for whatever reason, men were around twice as likely as women to be unfaithful—6.7 percent of men cheated in a six-year period compared to 3.3 percent of women.
Cheating could be a man’s attempt to restore his gender identity when he feels it is under threat, Munsch explains in the study. “This relationship may be particularly strong for certain subgroups of the population that highly value traditional masculinity, like Latino men,” she added. Interestingly, infidelity’s connection to earning less significantly increased if the man was Latino—what Munsch surmises is that this is because breadwinner status is “one of the defining features of Hispanic masculinity.”
But here’s the rub: The study also determined that men whose partners were more financially dependent on them were also more likely to cheat than men whose partners were less financially dependent. So basically, regardless of how much you earn, your mate is likely to be unfaithful.
So what now? Luckily for heterosexual women everywhere, the study suggests ways you can keep your man loyal and still have a well-paying job! (Note the sarcasm.) Apparently, if both mates are satisfied in a relationship the likelihood of infidelity will be miniscule. Also, getting your partner to regularly attend a religious service reduces the chances of he or she cheating.
But, at the end of the day, is it really about money or masculinity? These factors may contribute to infidelity rates, but are they really the cause of what makes someone break a marriage vow or a bond of trust? Believe it or not, women cheat too. In fact, the study found that women who earn more are more likely to cheat. Or is it that our society has become numb to unfaithfulness?
Someone recently (and unsuccessfully) tried to convince me that anyone would cheat under the “right” circumstances. Another individual asked me frankly, “What man doesn’t cheat?” It’s this complacent attitude from both men and women that keeps infidelity rates on the rise. Infidelity doesn’t have to be inevitable. It won’t be if we don’t tolerate it from ourselves, our friends, or our family. Cheating has lost the moral outrage that once came with it. Let’s get it back.