Posted on Infidelity Counseling Network yesterday, Praveen Kumar’s Reasons Why Couple’s Cheat on Each Other in boldsky limitless living cites the statistic that ten percent of marriages are headed for divorce due to infidelity. Though unverified in the article, I don’t doubt that is true. Anecdotal evidence from my former practice conforms to that reality. Kumar goes on to state that most cheat before they separate and then lists the reasons for cheating in relationships: neglect, dissatisfaction and boredom, essentially.
While these reasons are no revelation, some of the statements the author makes are rather surprising. For one, she distinguishes male from female patterns:
The cheating patterns of men tend to be a bit different than that of women. Some men would perceive cheating as just having fun outside the relationship.
And women don’t? I am curious as to the basis of the author’s conclusions. Which studies differentiate men and women’s cheating patterns on the basis of fun? Seems to me the validity of the article’s conclusions would be more compelling and interesting with some foundational support and less bias. In Kumar’s brief summation, men are presumed to be superficial weasels–of which I am sure there are plenty–and women victims.
Some of those cheating men don’t even feel guilty unless they are cornered. When it comes to women, most of them resort to cheating when they are emotionally dissatisfied or feeling lonely in their relationships.
However, attributing dishonesty and overall bad behavior to one gender strikes me as a hasty generalization. Shortcutting the work of proof and relying on stereotypes perpetuated by cultural lore or media does no one any good. Moreover, it makes fluff of some serious consideration: the causes of infidelity and its immediate and collateral devastation to spouses and children.
One non-profit organization that focuses on those life-altering effects of infidelity is the aforementioned Infidelity Counseling Network, which is having a fundraising drive today. While I have balked at some of the articles on their website as genderist, favoring women, I have since come to realize that their services would logically benefit those who come forward to seek help from the heartbreak and trauma of cheating and resulting divorce: most prominently women.
There is currently debate in the field of evolutionary psychology whether an innate, evolved sex difference exists between men and women in response to an act of infidelity; this is often called a “sex difference”. Those that posit a sex difference exists state that men are 60% more likely to be disturbed by an act of sexual infidelity (having one’s partner engage in sexual relations with another), whereas women are 83% more likely to be disturbed by an act of emotional infidelity (having one’s partner fall in love with another) (Buss, et al., 1992). Those against this model argue that there is no difference between men and women in their response to an act of infidelity.
This excerpt from Wikipedia citing The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests there are sound reasons to believe that women are more affected by infidelity than men, and thus, it would seem, along with socially constructed beliefs men hold about confessing emotion and weakness, women are more likely to avail themselves of counseling services for their pain.
And so, I believe there is a necessity to support nonprofits like Infidelity Counseling Network, a group of professionals that inform and support those suffering from the pain borne from betrayal, loss, and rejection, some of the profound suffering resulting from any broken relationship but especially from one irreparably or remediably damaged by cheating.
An invaluable public service focused on healing and compassion thrives only on the support of the many who believe in spreading the wealth of giving, caring and sharing.
Here is the link for this Cinco de Mayo support drive: Infidelity Counseling Network May 5th drive.