In this article I’ve primarily used information from my classes and notes, and the book The Evolution of Desire by David M. Buss, which contains studies from over 37 countries and more than 10,000 subjects. I also took some information from The Harvard Business Review
On my social networking sites, I requested real life New Yorkers to email me and participate in my survey. I interviewed about 20 people who labeled themselves as a cheater and/or a home-wrecker, and will be using excerpts from their answers in order to back-up my statements.
I want to thank everybody who helped make this article possible. Though I was unable to use the survey of every person that participated, your time and effort is greatly appreciated.
Here are a few of my favorite interviews:
1. Woman #1: A 22 year old who was a man’s ‘side-chick’ and eventually had his child.
2. Man #2: A serial home-wrecker who claims that being a person on the side is ‘all pros.’
3. Man #3: The man who fell in love with his best friend.
4. Woman #3: Someone who has been hurt so many times that she has made her default title ‘The Side-Chick.’
5. Man #4: The side guy that caught feelings.
6. Man #5: The man who was dating a married older woman.
7. Woman #5: A manager dating her employee, who has a girlfriend.
1. Woman #4: The unhappily married woman.
2. Man #5: A man who has cheated on his past girlfriends but his only advice to other men is to ‘beware of man-eaters.’
3. Woman #2: A 22 year old lesbian who got caught up in a love triangle.
4. Man #1: A 26 year old who has had 2 serious relationships and has been single for the past 7 years.
I’ve been perfecting this piece for over two months and the first thing I want to say is: Don’t kill the messenger! A great deal of the information that I was taught in my Psych. classes and the extensive collection of books I’ve read on this topic has debunked quite a few my previous ideologies.
As a feminist who strongly believes in equality between men and women, it is extremely difficult for me to wrap my head around a theory that states that a person’s character is essentially predetermined and innate. Evolutionary psychology’s rudimentary principles are all traced back to the thought that people are ‘hard-wired.’ The discipline believes that men and women are fundamentally similar to all other men and women, and that an individual’s differences are caused by a person’s genetic inheritance, their personal experiences, and culture, which in retrospect sounds like a rational theory, but leaves little room for the idea of change.
Basically, their theory strengthens stereotypical differences in the behaviors of the sexes. The studies suggests that men are naturally tougher, bigger, and less emotional than women, and that women are inherently sentimental, more nurturing, and logical than men. Can you see my problem with this yet?
While Darwin’s theory of natural selection explained why human beings shared biological and physical traits with other species, evolutionary psychologists believed that if evolution shaped the human body, it also shaped the human mind.
Evolutionary psychologists are able to study every present day human action and somehow, in a very reasonable way, display a purpose for it whilst tracing it back to our hunter-gatherer ancestors. For example, they believe that the reason that men overall love women with big hips, long hair and small waists, is not because society has brainwashed them into drooling over the coke-bottle figure, rather because subconsciously, they connect those features with health, and a healthy woman equals a healthy baby (honestly, they might be giving men a little too much credit here).
I introduce to you, Man #1: A 26 year old who has had two serious relationships and has been single for the past 7 years. He states, “I was with her almost going on 3 years. [To be] 100% honest, the girl [I cheated with] just had a fat ass and big tits. She threw it at me and I caught it... Smh I simply did it because I could. Regretted it, never cheated after that. I couldn't carry that with me I simply told her I cheated.” For some reason, I highly doubt that when he first laid eyes on the girl’s “fat ass and big tits” he was thinking of her carrying his future child, but whatever!
Home-Wreckers: A short narrative.
Woman #1: A 22 year old who was a man’s ‘side-chick’ and eventually had his child.
“The Person is my sons father. I've known him for over 2 years now. We was in a relationship back in 2011. I made the first move, he kind of did as well. It was just sex. It was worth it because now I have my son which I don't regret at all. What i do regret is him being the father.
I repeatedly told him we should stop [and he said he couldn’t]. When I got pregnant, [however] I had asked him for sex and he said no because he didn't want to cheat on his girlfriend again lol which was stupid at the point since I was having his child.”
Man #2: A serial home-wrecker who claims that being a person on the side is ‘all pros.’
“I've been a home-wrecker more than once. I met Jessica when she had a bf but they were on a break. Kim was another girl, she was just really cute and she was doing the long distance thing. When I first met her and she told me she was in a relationship, I told her I was gay in a very obvious joke that I wasn't. I guess she really thought I was cute ‘cus she went along with it. She asked me to come over her house and "watch a movie", and we did, I didn't try to fuck her but I was extremely physically flirtatious and she just let me touch her and what not. The next time she came over my house we smoked my hookah and I gave her a "shottie" and she just started making out with me and we fucked. Good times.
With Jessica I made the first move, with Kim she did. Jessica just sex, Kim it became intimate, she was a genuinely cool girl who I could never trust because she was fucking me while she had a bf. But she was really fun.”
Does knowing the person’s significant other change anything?
When asked about the person’s girlfriend, Woman #1 says “ I did not know his girlfriend personally but I did know of her. In fact when me and him was in a relationship, he actually cheated on me with her, which is his current girlfriend now [but] actually I don't think it would of changed anything.”
Man #2 states: “I met Jessica’s bf plenty of times, he was a punk bitch. But I always gave him a pound when I saw him. And I never met Kim’s bf but it wouldn't have changed anything if I did.”
Man #3 says he “never knew him, but did have a conversion over the phone cause he was the jealous type to call people she had texted…”
Woman #5 states, “I don't personally know his gf but he never mentions her so I don't bother asking anything. If I would've known her I probably would've never even gave him my number in the first place.” (Notice the ‘probably’ haha).
However, Man #5, the man who was dating a married woman, did have a few interactions with the woman’s husband, even if they were from afar. He says “I’ve seen him at lounges I would go to. Kind of felt bad for the guy but I knew how much of an asshole he was so I really didn't care. I had a feeling he knew his wife liked me bc she would like my pics on Insta and leave comments. I would feel this laser beam sometimes coming from him. I'm not stupid, I know what those stares were about; he wanted to ask me something.”
Did you feel any guilt or compassion?
When asked if he had any sense of compassion or sympathy for the person’s gf/bf, Man #4 replied, “No, i do not. I believe if you give your attention to your spouse and give space at the same time there is no reason to cheat.” Man #2 concurs, he states [I didn’t feel] “no compassion or sympathy. Maybe guilt... and a ‘I'm glad it's not me sort of feeling’ with fear of karma.”
Woman #1, the side chick who became pregnant, was also indifferent: “I did not (feel bad for his gf) because she's very immature. She spoke about me without knowing me, which I would completely understand why but still… Honestly at this point I feel like it's his girlfriends fault because she took him right back. No questions asked, knowing I was going to have his child. If that was me, I would of never taken him back. Once a cheater, always a cheater.”
When asked about the pros and cons, Man #2 says “It’s all pros. You fuck and never have to commit. You're in complete control of the situation.” However, Woman #1 disagrees: “I really don't think there is any pros, cons yea. A child can come into place, like in my situation, mess up a relationship that might have been going to the next level (like engagement or marriage) and the same can happen to you as well (karma)”
Seems like the only thing these people were scared of was them having to pay for what they’ve done.
Cheaters: A short narrative.
Woman #4: The unhappily married woman.
“I've known Wells for over 25 years we were classmates in High School and back then he had a crush on me but I had a boyfriend [Sam] at the time. We lost touch through our college years [and regained contact through FB when invited to our college reunion]. Before the reunion we decided to meet for a drink and I was nervous because I'm a married woman. So to help me fight my feelings I invited him to a bbq at my moms house. He asked to use the bathroom so I escorted him there and once we were out of sight he planted a big kiss, and it felt weird at first but then he said close your eyes and let me do this.
So I did. And he did. And it was good.
I forgot I was a married woman, already spoken for. The next day my husband couldn't attend the dinner with me so I asked Wells to be my date in front of my husband and he said no problems. I went to Wells hotel room and waited as he got dressed. He came up behind me and unzipped my dress it fell to the floor
We realized we had an event to attend so we got up dressed and went we separated for the rest of the evening but we texted each other throughout the night. This secret rendezvous continued on… I was hooked on Wells.”
Long-term vs Short-term
A study was conducted where men and women had to list their top preferences in a mate. Men listed 100 standards that they would want a long term partner to meet, (attractiveness being number 1, followed by intelligence, personality, etc.), but when asked about a short term partner or a one night stand, those 100 standards dropped to 41. All of a sudden, when thinking of someone that they are not considering marriage with, most men are willing to relax their standards for a quick sexual encounter. Women, however, did not lower their standards by much. Their preferences for long term and short term mates remained relatively the same.
Man #2 is the perfect example of this, considering the fact that he could barely stand one of his short-term sexual encounters. He says, “I met Jessica when she had a bf but they were on a break. I hated her, she was a pretty half Italian half Puerto Rican girl that looked white and only saw her stuff as white. She was racist and would say she'd never ‘fuck a spic.’” Man #5’s story is similar, he says, “She wasn't affectionate enough. Not caressing, nothing sweet to say. Her state of mind was ratchet. She definitely had a better face, body, sexgame then the other 2...but all of that doesn't mean a thing. She lacked my previous girl's smile… I felt as though I couldn't be myself [around her].” They both obviously downgraded in certain areas. As opposed to Woman #4, who sounds like she stayed on the same level.
Women’s infidelity is a more prevalent cause of divorce, yet men are more likely to be unfaithful. This just strengthens the double standard in Western societies and the rest of the world. Ever met a man that constantly cheats on his girlfriend, but when you ask him what he would say if he found out that she was unfaithful his immediate words are ‘I’d kill her!’?
“The biological irony of the double standard is that males could not have been selected for promiscuity if historically females had always denied them the opportunity for expression of the trait.” -Robert Smith, Sperm Competition and the Evolution of Mating Systems
An experiment was conducted where a woman approached strangers and said “hey, you’re cute, let’s have sex.” 90% of men said yes. 5% said that they weren’t able to at the moment but went on to exchange numbers with the woman. However, a man made the same proposition to random females in the street and 0% said yes. He was even slapped a few times.
Evolutionary psychologists even have an explanation to back up the commonness or acceptance of man’s promiscuity, which goes back to evolution and mammals practicing similar rituals.
The Coolidge effect, which was named after an old joke about Calvin Coolidge when he was President, explains this, for lack of a better word, phenomenon. Here is the story:
The President and his wife were taking separate tours of an experimental government farm. When Mrs. Coolidge came to the chicken yard she noticed that a rooster was mating very frequently. She asked the attendant how often that happened and was told, "Dozens of times each day." Mrs. Coolidge said, "Tell that to the President when he comes by." Upon being told, President asked, "Same hen every time?" The reply was, "Oh, no, Mr. President, a different hen every time.” President promptly responds with: "Tell that to Mrs. Coolidge.”
The Coolidge effect is the tendency of males to be re-aroused with the appearance of a new female. Allegedly, this is a trait found in many mammals worldwide, including rats, ram, cattle and sheep. (I believe that it is just an excuse to say being unfaithful is in men’s “nature”)
- Women almost always ‘partner switch’ or replace, which is when they jump from one relationship to another. If they break up with someone, chances are that they already have someone else in mind, even if nothing has happened. Evolutionary psychologists explain this by stating that our hunter-gatherer ancestors did not have the luxury of being alone for long periods of time. Women benefit extra material and resources from men, so losing one man would mean that she needed to quickly seize another one for survival.
- Women always upgrade in one are or more. Even if it is not in attractiveness, women are known for their constant improvements in mates. (This is obviously subjective to each person and their preferences)
- Male fantasies involve threesomes (or more than one person). They also consist of changing partners, focusing on body parts, and new faces. However, female fantasies involve their current partner in a romantic scenario. Allegedly, most women fantasize of their man surprising them with candles, roses, jacuzzis, etc.
- If a woman is content in every area, she will not cheat. Women are unfaithful because they are missing something in their current relationship, as opposed to men, who (allegedly) cheat even if they’re happy. Apparently, men are unfaithful for sexual variety and momentary euphoria; they can have casual sex with someone and have zero intentions of pursuing anything further. —Remember, don’t shoot the messenger. My mouth dropped when I read this too… Seems like no matter what we do, according to society and apparently also to evolutionary psychologists, “boys will be boys.” When being questioned about her affair, Woman #4, the unhappily married woman, responded with: “I cheated because it was easy to do. I was fulfilling a need that had been hidden for years. I had a void that needed to be filled and Wells was the answer. At no point while we were together did we think about the other people in our lives. It was our time and we enjoyed it. We continue our affair to present time and I won't stop spending time with him. My husband never found out about Wells. But I don't know if it would make a difference if he did. So back to the beginning why do people cheat for me it is not about an emotional connection. I am not fulfilled by my relationship so I'm substituting these side pieces to fill the void. Wells I can love but not enough to leave Sam for. So [I’m] still confused.”
Sexual Infidelity vs Emotional Infidelity
The age-old question: Why do humans cheat? Why not just break up with your significant other and freely pursue other people? Well, before attempting to answer this we have to touch base on the two main types of cheating which are sexual and emotional infidelity. Sexual infidelity is a bit obvious, but an emotional affair might be difficult to distinguish.
An emotional affair usually starts off as a friendship. Though (at first) there is no physical intimacy, there is usually some sort of sentimental closeness.
How do you differentiate a platonic relationship from an emotional affair?
- Are you spending an extensive amount of time on the phone? (Texting, Phone Calls, FaceTime, Skype).
- Are you deleting text messages and emails? (Deleting ANYTHING is a sure sign that you’re doing something wrong).
- Is there borderline flirting going on?
- Is your phone on silent more often? (Scared of someone calling at the wrong time? Trifling ass).
- Do you feel any tension whatsoever when this person is around?
- Is he or she a threat to your current relationship?
- Have you ever thought about being with this person?
If you said yes to any or all of these questions, I think it is time for you to reevaluate this ‘friendship’ and reflect on whether it is worth ruining your relationship.
Man #4, the side guy that caught feelings, had both an emotional and sexual relationship. “We had a full-on affair, we had sleep-overs, movie dates, and long conversations.” Which explains why he fell in love.
In a recent study, 500 college men and women to compare two distressing events: Which do they find to be worse, their spouse engaging in sexual intercourse with another person or forming a deep emotional attachment to someone else?
83% of women and 40% of men deemed ‘Emotional Attachment’ as worse, while 60% of men and 17% of women disagreed and chose ‘Sexual Intercourse’ as the most harmful.
I don’t want to choose sides because cheating is cheating, but I’m going to have to go with the 83% of women who considered their partner forming a deep emotional attachment with someone else as worse than them having sex. I mean, yes, they’re both horrible experiences, but how much more would it suck if your girlfriend or boyfriend told you that she/he is IN LOVE with someone else?
Please note, Man #2 ends his survey by saying “Kim is still my friend now. Our fucking days are long gone since she sucked my friend's dick in a game of truth or dare. But she still holds me down.”
I obviously chose New York’s finest for my interviews.