Keeping Him Faithful 1.0: Five guys to watch (out) for

Dear Duana,

From ex-boyfriends to an ex-husband, most men in my life cheated on me, even during good times.  I felt less to blame after learning that men’s happiness is unrelated to their affairs, until I realized the depressing flip side:  Doing my part in a relationship won’t protect it.         

Before I abandon all hope, is there any way to find and keep a man who’s monogamous and emotionally invested in me—and me only?      



Dear Belinda,

Ouch.  You’re right—a happy relationship does *not* prevent male cheating.  Most studies find *no* relationship between men’s happiness and whether they stray…and one found that  unfaithful men were actually the most happily married .          

But before you join a convent, let’s note that cheating is far from guaranteed.  Globally, for every man who has affair(s), there’s at least one who never does.    


So what’s the source of your unusually bad luck?  I suspect it has something to do with repeatedly saying Yes to cheating’s 5 Usual Suspects:         


—Mr. All That

Review your exes.  Were they Catnip For Women—tall, handsome, charming, intelligent, accomplished, educated, generous and rich?  Were they Rock Stars—metaphorically or in reality? 

If so, you’ve been hanging around with the Likely To Cheat crowd—the guys who give off the signs of superior genes and/or protection and provision every girl wants.  And therefore, the guys other women will continually compete against you to have.   

And some research indicates that a wedding ring on his finger only makes many women want him more

Fact is, the single-biggest factor in men’s cheating is simple Opportunity.  In the presence of the Aggressively Willing, neither male Genes nor most cultures have prepared guys to say No to a shot at biological immortality—nevermind the immediate joy of sex. 

Most men, of course, will *never* know what that feels like; a few will be pursued once in a lifetime.  But He Who Has It All is often literally surrounded by Temptation.  For some, it eventually goes to their heads (and other parts). 

And that’s how Tiger became a Cheetah, and Letterman endured more than a few not-so-funny moments. 

And, I’m guessing, how Opportunity knocked when you weren’t home.


—Mr. Globetrotter

Speaking of home, a special case of Opportunity is…the Suit Case.  Men who travel, especially in tandem with beautiful women, are an affair risk just because travel creates more Opportunity for secret liaisons.  And if his Travels are combined with Power/Stardom…don’t say you weren’t warned. 


—Mr. History

I’ll never forget the guy who guiltily revealed his sexual escapades with his (ex) best friend’s wife.  Did I continue dating him?  Noooo.  Did I learn he had cheated on other friends and lovers—and his former wife?  Yeeees. 

As every good intro psych student knows, the future is actually quite predictable:  What people have done before, they’re highly likely to do again in similar circumstances.  It’s so reliable, it’s Psychology’s only Law.   

Find out your partners’ histories *before* you get seriously involved.  You’ll be amazed by what men—and their friends— will tell…if only you ask. 


—Mr. Personality 

I wouldn’t have guessed this, but compared with Opportunity, personality plays a relatively minor role in men’s cheating. 

But.  Willful Philanderers and bona fide Narcissists and men with Low Commitment to a particular woman exist—sometimes wrapped up in one package.  They tend to regard playing around as their right, regardless of how it hurts their partner, and when discovered, they aren’t sorry they cheated—just that they got caught. 

(Genes may play a role in men’s unfaithful personalities.  For around $100 USD, you can even buy a test to see if your guy is a high affair risk at the level of his DNA.  But for various reasons, I cannot recommend this, scientifically or otherwise.)   

Not surprisingly, these folks are high affair risks.  And they may begin their infidelity very early in the relationship—say, during the courtship or engagement or honeymoon—a particularly bad sign that you can indeed trust them…to cheat again. 

To a lesser degree, people with an insecure attachment style—who chronically feel the need for a ‘back-up’ in case their current mate loves them too little—are likelier than secure lovers to cheat, ironically causing the end they fear.      


Contrast that with the man *you* seek—someone who is highly Committed to you, and to the idea of Commitment itself.  Self-identified One-Woman Men seek and value all forms of fidelity in themselves and their mates.  Scientists find that these guys, too, exist.

Insist on finding out which Type you’ve got, asap.  As a male Love Science reader wrote, “Seems like the lion’s share of the responsibility for keeping HIM faithful belongs to HIM.  Best first step would be to find a HIM that accepts, nay, embraces, that responsibility.” 



—Mr. (In)Experienced

Have your past paramours had many sexual partners—Easy come, easy go, as it were?   

As a past Love Science showed, it appears that the more sexual partners a guy has had, the more he’s wired to “disengage” from you post-coitally.  It may be a mechanism that helped ancestral men leave more progeny without losing commitment to their primary partner, but nevermind—whatever the reason, it’s a bad bet for *you*. 

Virgins, men with little experience, and men with extensive experience in very few (and deeply committed) former relationships are a good bet.  They’re more likely to use sex for emotional bonding, rather than pure physical pleasure—and to stick around faithfully after the lovin’. 


Belinda, maybe you’ve been *picking* wrong partners—men who, for any of these reasons, are likely to Cheat.  If so, the path ahead for you is clear:    

Interview men and their friends and consult your own Inherited Mating Psychology gut, and then select from the many men who have a history of fidelity; of not cheating even when opportunities arose; of dogged persistence at a few choice relationships rather than rampant meaningless liaisons.  Find men who *want* to give and receive with only One.  And consort with other mere mortals, avoiding Rock Stars unless you are a Supermodel—and can brook further infidelity. 


But what if you picked the right ones—and later, things went wrong?  That’s what we’ll cover next at Love Science. 

Until then—choose wisely.





Related Love Science articles:










The author wishes to acknowledge the following scientists & sources:

Shirley Glass, for authoring THE book on affair prevention and recovery—Not “Just Friends” : Protect Your Relationship from Infidelity and Heal the Trauma of Betrayal —and doing much of the research showing what works and what doesn’t. 

David M. Buss (and his related book, The Dangerous Passion: Why Jealousy Is As Necessary As Love and Sex) and Todd K. Shackelford, for research into the personality variables involved in infidelity—and for showing that Opportunity is the more important factor. 

Jena Pincott, for her science-based book and blog regarding sex, dating, love…and science.  I especially liked these two links for today’s Love Science posting:




If this article intrigued, surprised, affirmed or enlightened you, please click “Share Article” below to link it with your favorite social media website. 

All material copyrighted by Duana C. Welch, Ph.D. and Love Science Media, 2010

Do you have a question for Duana?  Contact her at Duana@LoveScienceMedia.com




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Reader Comments (34)

As usual, I love the article! Also, I like the concept of serial articles to address the serial cheaters :)

I realize Miss Duana doesn't make the rules, she only reports and analyzes them (quite beautifully, I might add). But if I were Belinda, I might feel disheartened. Love is an emotional thing, but to find a faithful man, Belinda must avoid her emotions (?). Apparently, choosing men that way isn't working for her.

Rather, Belinda using a cool heart and a cool head must interview prospective mates to assess their backgrounds which will reveal their tendency toward future fidelity. Sounds reasonable, but not very romantic.

This is all swimming around in my head, and I'm having trouble articulating my thoughts ...

Is the choice really choosing a mate based on emotion (and experiencing euphoric love, and possibly getting hurt) or making the choice based on science (and experiencing stability, but possibly not love ...)? Maybe there's a way to have it *all*?

October 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGillian

My husband likes to say, "For a lot of people, fidelity is simply a function of the lack of opportunity." It's easy to be faithful when no one's trying to get into your pants. On the other hand, I find it remarkable that some men are able to resist daily temptation -- until recently I never knew this sort of man existed.

October 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMonica

Really interesting. I expected to be angry after reading this, but I'm the faithful type so it only made me look good, lol.

But I am curious why you don't tell women to get the genetic fidelity test done on their boyfriends or husbands? And also, I wonder if there's a test like that for detecting infidelity in women?

October 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTodd

Here's a question. Let's assume I picked the wrong one. (I didn't but I almost did. And at a very young age, too. Thank goodness life intervened and sent him away to a boot camp/reform school. Literally.)

He was a rockstar. Badboy. Handsome. Rich. Pilot. Motorcycle. His momma bought him an airplane when he was in college. Self-centered. Once in high school, the live-in maid (hoping to please him) brought his favorite homemade french fries out to the pool where we were sitting. He stuck his nose in the air and waived her off, not even speaking to her. (!)

Even this young man's father told me privately, "Neither of my sons is marriage material." Can you imagine???

Most every girl wanted him (except those with good sense) and he dated anyone and everyone he could get his hands on.

I've often wondered what would have happened had I married him. Does the science say nothing in my behavior or within my realm of control could have kept him faithful ...?

October 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Separately from worrying about him being faithful, I wouldn't want to be married to any guy who arrogantly dismissed a kind gesture. That would have been a deal-breaker on its own.

October 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKay

Dear Kay: Agreed. (As my older, wiser self.) However, my younger, less-experienced self was willing to overlook his arrogance and selfishness because I was suuuuuure he would change. For me.

October 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Whhhhy do we always make excuses for behavior like that? Is it that we really feel that we're different, or are we just afraid to focus on the nastiness out of fear of being alone?

October 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKay

Kay - I think it's both. In my teens and 20's, I thought I had to put up with a certain amount of boorish behavior from guys in general. With a limited world view/limited life experience, I didn't realize there actually WERE more fish in the sea.

I had low self-esteem, but also an unrealistic view of my "specialness" (would someone please call a therapist??) because I truly believed that once married, I was special enough that he would change for me.

It wasn't so much that I thought I'd end up alone. It's that I was super attracted to this Badboy and wanted him. Today, much older and wiser, I am content in my marriage, no longer looking for a rockstar, and no longer tolerate nastiness.

October 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I've got a few follow-up questions!

This is my situation:
He cheated on his first wife, confessed to her and they get divorced. After a couple of years of healing, therapy, short-term relationships (& other sexual encounters that were primarily physical), he & I entered into a serious, long-term relationship. He began early on talking about marriage because he still wants to be married and believes he's grown a lot over the past few years (plus, of course, stated & demonstrated commitment to me). However, he still worries that he will cheat again. He's basically a Mr. History worried about being a Mr. Personality. So what is the likelihood that he will cheat? Are his fears justified? Should I be worried? What advice do you have for me besides running (I would like to think that grace & my experience with him trump previous failures!)? Does remorse have anything to do with repeat behaviors?

Thanks for your research! I love this site!

October 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

Wonderful questions and comments...I am typing away at my responses even now and will begin posting this afternoon.

Keep 'em coming, O Wise Ones!

October 7, 2010 | Registered CommenterDuana C. Welch, Ph.D.

Basically, in a real relationship, you should always be able to know your significant other has your back and your best interest, without question.
Trustworthiness allows lovers to be completely open and honest with one another, sharing their secrets in confidence desires and feeling safe.
Infidelity destroys that trust and in my opinion is a deal breaker. Why? Because I think it's a symptom of a failed relationship.
@ Michelle: if he is really worried that he may cheat again he is admitting that he has a lack of self control or that given the same circumstances he might do it again.
Maybe he is just being honest. Or telling you he's not ready to commit.

October 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBryan

Hi, Michelle, and thank you. It’s great to hear a new voice—welcome!

Relationships, like everything else, are about odds. Although common belief holds that it’s random which marriages will succeed or fail, that’s not so. In reality, the odds are significantly stacked in favor of some unions, and against others.

What kind of probability do you and your man have for a faithful marriage?

--Ask yourself (and him, and the people he knows and knew through his life, who research suggests will give you a truer picture than he can give):

How important has fidelity been to him?

How often has he broken faith and hearts?

What were the circumstances surrounding his affair(s)?

Did they start from a place of intentionally seeking sex/saying yes to Opportunities for sex—or because he accidentally (and over a long timeframe) let down his guard with a female friend who became so much more?

What’s the longest amount of time he was faithful to any one woman?

How old was his marriage when he began his affair?

How genuine is his remorse—and how long has he mended his ways?

Michelle, to the extent that your guy has been a player *in and out of relationships*; and to the extent he’s cheated more early and more often in relationships; and to the extent he’s cheated on more than one woman in his life; and to the extent that he’s intentionally sought affairs for sex (as opposed to falling for a friend, once and once only, out of ignorance of how dangerous that is); and to the extent he’s sorrier he got caught than that he cheated; and even to the extent that he still does not trust *himself*

--this guy is a poor risk.

He’s got a lot of History, Experience, and maybe even the Personality that predispose affairs. And he himself is worried!

Some leopards change their spots—but not many. Those who do are those who made a mistake *once*, felt horrible about it (even if they didn’t get caught!), vowed within themselves (even if they never got caught!) never ever to do it again, and showed through several *years* of behavior that they *didn’t* repeat their infidelity…with anyone. These are the people who have decided that cheating isn’t worth it, *not* because they could get caught, but because they feel like bad people, and who *actively avoid situations that would bring Opportunity knocking*.

Those who reform are, in short, guided by a strong sense that affairs are against who they are, and that full commitment is what they expect of themselves. Again, even if they would never get caught.

But your guy is worried about his own ability to remain faithful—not exactly a sign that he’s solidly past his, um, past. And in the interim between his marriage and his relationship with you, he’s basically been a player. His history of fidelity sounds brief and conflicted and riddled with meaningless, casual sexual relationships.

My concern, then, is not so much that he’s worried…but that you haven’t been.

And my advice is to carefully and truthfully assess his behavior from the questions above—and to then do one of the following:

If I’m wrong and he is genuinely remorseful and would never again cheat and had an affair accidentally, once, and vowed never to do it again and is willing to live within the boundaries I’ll be publishing in the next Love Science-- proceed with caution.

If I’m right and this guy is Mr. History, Mr. Experienced *and* possibly Mr. Personality--

a) Run—a broken engagement is infinitely preferable to a broken marriage!; or

b) Decide you can live with a cheating mate, because that’s what you’re likely to have.

I fear my answer may be coming too late. You’re very emotionally involved with your man, and what I’ve said would be a lot easier to hear if your relationship were newer.

But a broken engagement is easier mended than broken marriages, broken families and broken hearts. Now is the time for utter honesty within yourself about your man and your own ability to tolerate infidelity. I wish you well.

October 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDuana

Bryan, well-said, especially this: " if he is really worried that he may cheat again he is admitting that he has a lack of self control or that given the same circumstances he might do it again."

I thought I'd answer the Immediate Burning Question from Michelle first, and the rest as I can...I appreciate that you've jumped into the fray!

October 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDuana

That’s a wise husband you’ve got there, Monica. Virtue untested may not be virtue at all!

I agree with you that it’s more surprising that we’ve got Rock Stars who don’t cheat—politicians, athletes, brainiacs, uber-wealthy men of the world who are faithful despite continuous Temptation. I would love to see a study regarding how these men with abundant Opportunity are not only able, but willing to say No.

Until then, I'm going to continue being pleasantly surprised (and filled with admiration) when our Leaders *don't* have affairs, rather than utterly flabbergasted when they do!

October 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDuana

Thanks Duana, as always, an interesting topic. I'd like to remind everyone that it's not just the men at fault. I know married and single men and women who have been or are involved with other marrieds and singles. Takes two to play pitch and catch!

October 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBryan

I know there are plenty of guys who are just hardwired to cheat, but it seems like the other men and women who cheat do so because they are lonely from the day-to-day "uninterestingness" of their comfortable relationships. Am I totally wrong about this? I've tried really hard to be sure my husband knows how much I appreciate him and still find him interesting and appealing after all these years, hoping that he won't feel the need to get that affirmation from someone (maddeningly younger) else.

October 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDiana

I have a gorgeous, sexy, successful, funny, talented man as my husband. Oh yeah, he travels, too. And yet I have great confidence in his faithfulness to me because he is just that kind of guy. I know something could "just happen", but he knows that, too, and chooses fidelity because it is such an important part of our relationship.

October 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPenelope

I love this post but it is difficult to not panic when I am currently with a man who is amazing. Has an amazing personality - can befriend anyone and is a pleasure to be around, VERY handsome and humble about his good looks, has been in bands before and is working on being a "rock star" -with promising hope -, and he will be traveling once the tours start.........
He assures me constantly that he cares very much for me and has never (and would never) cheat. He seems mildly insecure about our developing feelings (moreso worried that I am not "in love" ) and I think that is why he has not dropped the L bomb yet, but he is by for the best man I have *ever* dated.
What should I do? How do I keep this from *not* keeping me up at night wondering if I'm naive to all of these things?

October 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCJ

Dear CJ, I wish you and Penelope knew one another in real life, because I think Penelope could set your mind a bit at ease.

From what Penelope is saying, I’m betting:
-- she has status that matches her husband’s;
--her husband has actually turned down Opportunities before (because given her description of him, I promise you he’s had plenty of options);
--he self-identifies as wanting to be faithful;
--he has a history of fidelity in prior relationships;
--and that they have mutually-established Boundaries and transparency of action that helps them both to remain faithful (this last part will be covered in Version 2.0 of the Keeping Him Faithful topic, upcoming soon).

(Penelope, feel free to jump in here and correct me!)

In short, I’m betting that although Penelope’s husband is at risk for affairs from the Opportunity standpoint, all the other stuff runs in favor of their relationship being emotionally and sexually monogamous. And they’ve done what it takes to mitigate Opportunity as a threat (again, that’ll be covered in the next LS entry).

Another reason I’m betting on the fidelity within Penelope’s relationship is Penelope’s unconcern.
Jealousy, as scientists such as David Buss are increasingly learning, is akin to a smoke detector: Most people who feel jealousy feel it for a reason, and that reason is that their mate is thinking about cheating or is actually cheating (pathologically jealous types need not apply).
Women are particularly alert to their mate’s emotional wanderings, which could spell trouble because men who fall in love with (instead of just have sex with) other women, are the guys most likely to abandon their mate.

In other words, men have often gotten away with sexual flings, undetected, because sexual flings historically were not a threat to women’s and their kids’ survival—whereas having their man fall in love with another woman *was* (and remains) such a threat.

So, if Penelope’s husband were to have a fling—she might not ever know. But if he’d ever become emotionally involved, I’ll bet her smoke alarm would have set off by now.

The only part of Penelope’s response I can’t go with is the “he’s just that kind of guy” logic. Researchers such as Shirley Glass have long known that one of the stunners for women who discover their husband’s cheating is that “How could he?! He’s just not that kind of guy!”

Remember: Most of the men who cheat *aren’t* “that kind of guy”. Personality is one of the very worst predictors of cheating—Opportunity and History are the best. Many a staunchly religious, overtly moralistic, seemingly devoted guy has had an affair just because the option turned up, or because he accidentally fell for a “friend” and erroneously hoped his solid marriage would save him from running afoul of his own belief system.

October 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDuana


All that said—what should *you* do, CJ?

1. Look for Patterns in his History, History, History:

Although the men voted Most Likely To Cheat have at least one (and often several) of the Five characteristics in the article, none of these by itself is a guarantee of infidelity. It’s about odds, not certainties.

So when you think about your boyfriend, consider this:

--How much opportunity has he already had? Are women throwing themselves at him already? If so, how has he handled that?

--If he’s young, how has he used his sexuality so far—more for recreation, or more for emotional bonding?

--And let’s not forget Family History. Men whose fathers cheated are more likely to be cheaters themselves.
It’s not clear whether this is because the father and son share genes, an environment, back-slaps over conquests, or all of the above. But it’s clear that men whose dads were faithful, tend to be faithful men themselves.

The best predictor of future behavior is relevant past behavior—so if your man has already turned down women who were attractive and willing; if he’s used sexuality for bonding, not scoring; and if he’s from a family with a history of fidelity—these are all very strong points in his favor.

2. Assess your own status relative to his:
--What’s your status –in terms of your age, your youth, your beauty--relative to his?

If fidelity is hugely important to you, then it’s important for anyone—male or female-- *not* to date or marry someone out of one’s league.

What this means?
If he is gorgeous, you need to be, too. If he is rich, you need to have the youth and beauty to balance that out. If he’s past his early 30’s, then at the relationship's start, you need to be significantly younger the more successful he is.

As discussed elsewhere at Love Science, fertility cues in women (youth/beauty) and provision/protection cues in men (income/ education/ fame/ influence/height) helped our ancestors’ survival and procreation—so we, the inheritors of ancestral mating practices that Worked, carry these preferences forward.

And power imbalances are scientifically *known* to create cheating in the More Powerful mate.
What does the Less Powerful person usually do? Hang in there and wait for the affair(s) to end. Ugh.

So the short answer, CJ, is that I don’t know whether you should worry about your guy or not—I don’t have enough information.
But *you* do—or can get it.

If you do everything I advised Belinda to do, including asking questions of CJ and his friends and family; if you listen to your own Gut, which you inherited from your maternal ancestors; and if you pay really close attention to the information that is *already* available about him—then you should be able to answer your own concerns.

Whatever you find out, I wish you peace and a good life with someone who will be faithful—whether this man or another.

October 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDuana

Dear Anonymous,

I share your gratitude and relief that you escaped from that relationship uncommitted and unscathed.

Because No: Nothing in your realm of control can reform someone whose behavior screams out “Narcissist”—and even if he *had* been faithful, what would it have mattered? He would never have been kind.
(The French Fry Incident was oh-so-telling, which is why you told it!)

As we know from John Gottman's research on hundreds of couples over nearly four decades, the presence of contemptful, disrespectful, dismissive behavior—and the lack of kindness--kills relationship more surely than anything else.

If I could give just one piece of advice, and only one, to those who are Dating, it would be: Find Kindness and Embody Kindness. Nothing Else Works!

Fortunately, though, my job permits me to give advice every week ;).

But I think you and Kay bring up another valuable point, which is why your Narcissistic Badboy had such a pick of girls. Why did you—a clearly intelligent person—fall for him? Why did others?

I’ll do an article on Badboys in the future. For now, though, let’s note that the guy you dated had *so* many markers of Status that could enhance female survival and procreation—especially for such a young guy—that it would have been amazing had you *not* been attracted. He was rich, accomplished, and handsome at a time when most guys are struggling in most regards.

So, I hope this answer clears up how you could have been attracted to an Unworthy—because your mating psychology recognized some ancient signs of at least short-term worthiness in him.

Ultimately, though, research shows men and women around the world want the following *same* things in a mate: kindness, intelligence similar to their own, lovingness, and loyalty.

Your former boyfriend had the Status markers—but he lacked the kindness that *must* be present. He had loads of part of what was needed—and an utter lack of other Requirements for anything long-term.

No wonder you were confused. No wonder other girls were, too. And thank God you’re outta there!

October 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDuana

Thank you, Duana and others. I didn't write this in my original post, but he is genuinely remorseful (and has spent a lot of time living with internalized shame & guilt) and has vowed to himself, not just to me, to never cheat again. That said, he is terrified of hurting me or himself because he knows he, despite his original marriage vow, did once in the past. So lots to chew on...

I want to proceed with caution, slowly, and spend time with the questions that you offered. I look forward to the boundary article next week!

October 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

Michelle, your decision to Proceed with Caution and take your time sounds like a truly Wise choice. If you keep gathering information, and being really open to it, the answer will come upon you like the dawn: You might not be able to perceive the change in your understanding of the odds, but at some point, it'll suddenly be daybreak. And given what you've said, I think you'll have the strength to make the best decision for you, whatever that is.

October 8, 2010 | Registered CommenterDuana C. Welch, Ph.D.

Dear Todd, Good to hear from you, and I love your questions.

There’s no corresponding test for infidelity detection in women, probably because the impetus for all this was research on small mammals called voles. In some male voles, promiscuity is rampant—yet their close cousins are faithful ‘husbands’ for always.

It turns out that the difference is in how much vasopressin the vole-dudes have coursing through their bods. Those with more—or those whom nature endowed with little vasopressin, but who were scientifically engineered to have more vasopressin—were unswervingly faithful; the reverse was true for the cheating male voles. No corresponding effect exists for the females.

Regardless, though: I can’t and don’t advise women to put their men to the genetic fidelity test. That’s because all complicated human behavior has more than one cause. Cheating is a complicated behavior with many origins. So in my scientific opinion, Genes are unlikely to cause cheating all by themselves—and cheating can and does occur without the “right” Genes.

To explain, let’s start by discussing something really sexy: Calluses. Every person carries the genes for calluses, yet only some of us express those genes by actually developing calluses. Why? Experience. The callus genes only turn on when an environmental pressure literally bears on hands or feet.

Or consider alcoholism and addiction. It appears there are genes that predispose people to addictions…yet many people who carry these genes *aren’t* addicts, and never will be. Someone who never drinks or drugs won’t even know they could be an addict; their genes have no environmental encouragement. And others may not have the genes—yet they drink so often and so much that they behave themselves into addiction.

So, some men clearly come into the world more (or less) prepared to desire and enjoy full sexual and emotional commitment with just one partner. But if a guy has the “infidelity Genes”, he might never know…unless his experiences of casual sex turn them on. And carrying “fidelity Genes” might not protect against turning into a man-slut if one continually behaves as if women were in direly short supply!

All of which is to say that I think the test is usually not only unfair, but a waste of money. In my opinion, it unjustly implicates some men who won’t ever cheat, and indicates that some future cheaters wouldn’t.

*Past behavior* will remain the best predictor of the future. It is, after all, past behavior that turns on so many Genes, or creates behavior problems where none were predisposed.

Or, as Lynda, a commenter at another site, opined, “Genes load the gun; environment pulls the trigger.”

(You can read more here: http://jenapincott.wordpress.com/2010/05/08/cheating-gene-mouth-swab-test-available/)

October 8, 2010 | Registered CommenterDuana C. Welch, Ph.D.

Dear Bryan and Diana:

Agreed. Affairs take two people, and both share culpability. Yet, most studies have found more cheating men than women. How can that be?

First, married men sometimes select single women as affair partners. (Married women usually cheat with married men.) So, in that case, the men are cheating—the single women are not blameless, but not cheating.

Also, studies have shown that men are much likelier to have flings with prostitutes than women are. Which means that again, you’ve got a scenario where the guy is cheating, and the woman—although getting in the way of his marriage—is not cheating.

BTWay, if either of you wants to read more about why *women* cheat, two former Love Science articles contain that information:



As you can see, most women cheat because

a) they’re miserable in their marriage (not a factor in male cheating);

b) they’re unhappy with their sexual relationship with their husband;

c) they’re unconsciously seeking ‘mate insurance’ in case things with their current man don’t work out;

d) they’re getting the chance to cast their own Genes far and wide through “sexy sons” they have with their ultra-unfaithful (seed-spreading) affair partners.

e) All of the above! Every one of those ideas has a great deal of data behind it.

And although Opportunity is *not* a good predictor of women's cheating, Past Experience is. Women with many partners at a young age are particularly likely to be unfaithful later, with affair rates rivaling male affair rates.

Likewise, History is a good predictor of women's affairs. If they cheated before, they're likely to do it again, given similar circumstances.

October 8, 2010 | Registered CommenterDuana C. Welch, Ph.D.
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