The Cheating Gene: Does sexual fidelity run against our nature as men?

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    Feb 13, 2011 5:20 AM GMT
    A guy I'm seeing told me that he thinks men are not wired to be sexually monogamous....that our natural state is to pair bond emotionally, but we can not resist our urge to spread our seed with other partners.

    Of course, we can choose to try to resist these urges, but we are hard wired to cheat....a residual evolutionary trait....men who cheated had more offspring and over time the cheating gene won out.

    His thought is that as long as you are emotionally true to your partner, it's better to acknowledge that at times a man will have sex outside of the relationship, and that is natural and it's better to accept that part of us rather than fight against our nature.

    That's the crux of the theory...what do you think?

    I think it is both makes some scientific sense and seems a little self serving (which really doesn't disprove it).
    My initial programming has been that a partnership is between two men and if it is a true partnership, neither will wander for their needs.

    To think otherwise is both exciting and disappointing.
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    Feb 13, 2011 6:24 AM GMT
    I think it's like this when it comes to wiring, my penis is wired to my heart so the two don't operate separately, whereas for many men they do.

    lol, like us two, perhaps you're part of a monogamous minority which is, in spite of being a minority, a very large demographic.

    -Doug

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    Feb 13, 2011 7:39 AM GMT
    Some studies have suggested that males pair with a mate strongly for about 4 to 5 years. Instead of the proverbial "7-year itch" like in the Marilyn Monroe movie of that name, it's actually closer to 5 years, at which point men start to roam.

    The hypothesis is that's the time it takes for a child to mature enough that the mother alone, plus the community, can care for it without the father. So he's free to go off and do other things at that point. Fathers who leave before that time risk the demise of their child, and so their genes aren't passed on.

    Complicating that model is what happens when more children come along by the same mother. And there are polygamous models, where a successful male might have multiple wives at once.

    Bottom line is that nobody really knows for sure. What I'm sure about regarding myself is that I roam when I'm single, and nest monogamously when I have a man. And it's an automatic response, like a switch, over which I exercise no conscious control, nor for which I should be given any credit.

    I don't know if that makes me an anomaly, but it sure makes life simpler & easier for me. And suggests that at least some men do not fit the pattern for sexual infidelity, even if in the minority.
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    Feb 13, 2011 2:51 PM GMT
    meninlove said I think it's like this when it comes to wiring, my penis is wired to my heart so the two don't operate separately, whereas for many men they do.

    lol, like us two, perhaps you're part of a monogamous minority which is, in spite of being a minority, a very large demographic.

    -Doug



    I know what you mean...my thought was always to meet someone I love and 'nest' I guess.

    Maybe that's because I was married heterosexually before and had apparently accepted the model of two people in a monogamous relationship whereas my buddy has lived as a gay man for his whole life and, I think, there is less expectation that gay guys will settle down and 'nest'.

    We both pondered whether that was inherent, or if it is something we learn in a society that even now does not accept fully homosexual partners. The idea that many will accept men having sex with men as their right, but assume that it must just be about sex and would therefore not be expected or allowed to form the same types of relationships that heterosexual men do.
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    Feb 13, 2011 3:02 PM GMT
    I think it all comes down to the individual. My partner and I are monogamous but that doesn't mean we don't notice other guys. Actually, it isn't uncommon for us to point out guys we think are hot to each other. Still, I don't think I could handle an open relationship. While it might be part of our nature to WANT to get with other guys, we make the conscious choice not to. I know it sounds self serving, but I think it is because we get more out of the relationship on an emotional level by knowing that we aren't sleeping around with other guys.
  • Latenight30

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    Feb 13, 2011 3:19 PM GMT
    meninlove said I think it's like this when it comes to wiring, my penis is wired to my heart so the two don't operate separately, whereas for many men they do.

    lol, like us two, perhaps you're part of a monogamous minority which is, in spite of being a minority, a very large demographic.

    -Doug



    I am the opposite. I think certain guys and women are the same way. Look at people in the professional sex trade or film business. It does take a lot of will power sometimes to stay faithful. With the ease of the internet why not be a big ol hooker.
    Logically you can look at the consequences but when something as strong as libido gets a hold of you, you don't think of consequences.
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    Feb 13, 2011 3:27 PM GMT
    By Definition:

    cheat

    1. To deceive by trickery; swindle:
    2. To deprive by trickery; defraud:
    3. To mislead; fool: illusions that cheat the eye.
    4. To elude; escape:
    5. To act dishonestly; practice fraud.
    6. To violate rules deliberately, as in a game: was accused of cheating at cards.
    7. Informal To be sexually unfaithful: cheat on a spouse.
    8. An act of cheating; a fraud or swindle.
    9. One who cheats; a swindler.

    I do not want to be any of those things. I do not want my man to be any of those things. Do you want to be defined as a cheater?
  • gsh1964

    Posts: 388

    Feb 13, 2011 3:42 PM GMT
    RED FLAG!!
    Sounds like to me that your new boyfriend is introducing this to you so that later on done the line, if he cheats on you... he can just say.. "Oh well, I'm a guy."

    I believe that for each of us we all have a level of monogomy. It's all shades of gray. You should stick to what seems right to you and fits your needs.

    This "Cheating Gene" may be true on some level. But what are we, animals? Yes, But having self awareness and having a soul, that makes us different. We realize that cheating, if your not in an open relationship, hurts your partner.

    We are suppose to rise above our "animal" instincts and understand the pain and hurt it causes others. That's one of the things that separates us from the animal kingdom. Because we are better than that.

    I was married to a woman for 11 years, I never cheated on her. Because I promised that I wouldn't. It would of devestated her, if I had.

    For me, I will not accept anything but a monogamus relationship. I may end up being single and alone, but it's what I want in a relationship. Until I find it, I will remain single.
  • fitdude62

    Posts: 294

    Feb 13, 2011 3:49 PM GMT
    PhnxKng saidBy Definition:

    cheat

    1. To deceive by trickery; swindle:
    2. To deprive by trickery; defraud:
    3. To mislead; fool: illusions that cheat the eye.
    4. To elude; escape:
    5. To act dishonestly; practice fraud.
    6. To violate rules deliberately, as in a game: was accused of cheating at cards.
    7. Informal To be sexually unfaithful: cheat on a spouse.
    8. An act of cheating; a fraud or swindle.
    9. One who cheats; a swindler.

    I do not want to be any of those things. I do not want my man to be any of those things. Do you want to be defined as a cheater?


    So then, it really comes down to communication. If we are going to "cheat" it is not cheating if there is an agreement that both parties are comfortable with and the communication is open and honest.

    If we are "wired" this way, communication is the only way to deal with it. This is really where the issue is. We are programed by society to think that monogomy is what relationships are about. Since being in a same sex relationship is not about procreation it is more about support and understanding. Getting over what society's rules are and the fear and doubt placed on us is the hard part. This is what really causes people to cheat.

    Peace, David

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    Feb 13, 2011 4:01 PM GMT
    Men in general are pigs, but some have more discipline than others and are able to resist temptations. That being said, I don't think that only men cheat; many women do, too. I do think that some people cheat because they're unhappy in their relationship and are not getting sexual or emotional satisfaction at home. That's a general proposition--and I acknowledge that there may be other reasons why people cheat (e.g., insecurity, boredom,etc.). With respect to gay relationships, I have known gay couples who are in committed, monogamous relationships that have never violated their commitment. I have also known gay couples who are purportedly in committed, monogamous relationship, but they do other things behind their partner's back. Others have open relationships, which are a bit more complicated. But regardless of the particular arrangement, I think couples ought to understand each other's expectations and act accordingly. Ergo, if it's an open relationship, then the expectation is that the parties involved might sleep around from time to time; if it's an "authentic" committed, monogamous relationship, then the expectation is that, you can look, but you can't touch. I would dare say that, as a general proposition, when we find someone that we truly love and who truly loves us, the human desire is to limit ourselves to that person.
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    Feb 13, 2011 4:41 PM GMT
    The sexual competition theory of human sexuality is a relic; we've kept propping it up over and over for the last 120 years because of our societal investment in the idea of monogamy. The author of the fluffy pop-sci book Sex at Dawn argues that monogamous pairings weren't even possible in pre-agricultural societies (the vast majority of human history.)

    I think the author's biggest gripe is with the idea that we can simply rationalize ourself out of sexual behavior and desire that is socially inappropriate, that we can apply moral pressure to shape our sexuality. Worked really well for us types, eh. Or family values politicians. ;)

    Human sexuality exists on multiple spectra. There are people out there that can have a rich, erotic life with only one sexual partner throughout their entire life. There are people out there that only really find novel partners exciting. While both are at the far ends of the bell curve, you can still find people like the one's you're looking for.

    The Coolidge Effect
    "... an old joke about Calvin Coolidge when he was President... The President and Mrs. Coolidge were being shown [separately] around 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: “Tell that to Mrs. Coolidge.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coolidge_effect
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    Feb 13, 2011 5:33 PM GMT
    Evolutionary behavioural theory is an excellent way to abdicate personal responsibility.

    We evolved to be many things: Fighters, killers, selfish bastards. If you adopt the 'genetically programmed infidelity' premise, then you have to accept the rest of it too. Evolution-wise, there's no room for altruism or rational thinking. Any observation of apparent altruistic behaviour open whole fields of study to explain why it exists, or why it isn't actually altrustic.

    So sure, if you want to go with "We're programmed to cheat", go ahead, but keep in mind that we're also programmed to do horrible things to one another, so you had better get ready for some rough times.
  • Celticmusl

    Posts: 4330

    Feb 13, 2011 5:39 PM GMT
    There actually is a new study that suggests cheating is a genetic trait, in both men and women. I, for one, feel like I genetically can't cheat....it is very much against my nature.
  • starboard5

    Posts: 969

    Feb 13, 2011 6:28 PM GMT
    PhnxKng saidBy Definition:

    cheat

    1. To deceive by trickery; swindle:
    2. To deprive by trickery; defraud:
    3. To mislead; fool: illusions that cheat the eye.
    4. To elude; escape:
    5. To act dishonestly; practice fraud.
    6. To violate rules deliberately, as in a game: was accused of cheating at cards.
    7. Informal To be sexually unfaithful: cheat on a spouse.
    8. An act of cheating; a fraud or swindle.
    9. One who cheats; a swindler.

    I do not want to be any of those things. I do not want my man to be any of those things. Do you want to be defined as a cheater?


    It's not cheating if the guys are in an agreed upon open relationship.
    I'm on your side, PhnxKng. I believe in monogamy, but I approach it not in terms of what it means/doesn't mean to a relationship, but from a purely individual stand point. And I would hope any potential partner would be on the same page.

    After our basic needs for security and survival are met, the strongest drive we have to deal with is sex, and it's very powerful. How do I want to relate to it? Well, with honesty, first and foremost. If you want to have a spiritual orientation to the human condition, you can't avoid the conclusion that there is a hierarchy of values: some things are more important than others. In my opinion, corralling or containing the sexual drive within the context of a loving, monogamous relationship is healthy and more conducive to my development, spiritually.

    I am going to get major flamed for saying this but: I believe monogamy represents a higher level of spiritual development than an open relationship, and I believe celibacy represents a higher level than monogamy. But (and this is the most important part) it has to be what's right for YOU. It's not about the celibate person being "better" than the monogamous person, etc. To force yourself into celibacy or monogamy when it's not right for you is unhealthy.

    I completely support peoples' right to define their own relationships. That goes without saying. As a practical reality, open relationships work for a lot of guys; it's the right choice. I know of a couple who have been together for thirty-four years and still going and loving strong, and their relationship has been open from the start.

    So how do you know where you fit? Experience...trial and error. Maturing is a slow and messy process, and it never is complete. I know.
  • starboard5

    Posts: 969

    Feb 13, 2011 6:40 PM GMT
    bryanc_74 saidEvolutionary behavioural theory is an excellent way to abdicate personal responsibility.

    We evolved to be many things: Fighters, killers, selfish bastards. If you adopt the 'genetically programmed infidelity' premise, then you have to accept the rest of it too. Evolution-wise, there's no room for altruism or rational thinking. Any observation of apparent altruistic behaviour open whole fields of study to explain why it exists, or why it isn't actually altrustic.

    So sure, if you want to go with "We're programmed to cheat", go ahead, but keep in mind that we're also programmed to do horrible things to one another, so you had better get ready for some rough times.


    Well put. When I first came out (1981) I was totally on the nurture side of the argument. I thought sexual orientation was the product of upbringing and conditioning; failures in the relationship with one or both parents...all those red herrings. I resented the biological model.

    Now, after a lot of years, and a lot more experience with people and life, I'm 180 degrees the opposite. But I understand why I resented the biological model back in the day: because people seemed used it as an excuse to abrogate responsibility for their desires and behaviors.

    Yes, there's a lot that's scripted in us (more of it as potential than inevitability, I believe) but we have this amazing frontal cortex.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 13, 2011 7:02 PM GMT
    Theories on "human nature" tend to be self serving.

    People who like to sleep around say it is against our nature to be monogamous.

    Those who insist on monogamy may think essential human nature is toward family, commitment and fidelity.

    Those who support selfishness believe in reciprocal altruism.

    Those who support freedom believe we are naturally drawn to self-determination.

    Those who support autocracy believe we are naturally drawn to follow.

    etc.

    For better and worse this list could support hundreds of examples.
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    Feb 13, 2011 7:17 PM GMT
    Genes don't determine behaviour. It's a social construct not a "genetic defect."
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    Feb 13, 2011 7:21 PM GMT
    BoulderingBum saidThe sexual competition theory of human sexuality is a relic; we've kept propping it up over and over for the last 120 years because of our societal investment in the idea of monogamy. The author of the fluffy pop-sci book Sex at Dawn argues that monogamous pairings weren't even possible in pre-agricultural societies (the vast majority of human history.)

    I think the author's biggest gripe is with the idea that we can simply rationalize ourself out of sexual behavior and desire that is socially inappropriate, that we can apply moral pressure to shape our sexuality. Worked really well for us types, eh. Or family values politicians. ;)

    Human sexuality exists on multiple spectra. There are people out there that can have a rich, erotic life with only one sexual partner throughout their entire life. There are people out there that only really find novel partners exciting. While both are at the far ends of the bell curve, you can still find people like the one's you're looking for.

    The Coolidge Effect
    "... an old joke about Calvin Coolidge when he was President... The President and Mrs. Coolidge were being shown [separately] around 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: “Tell that to Mrs. Coolidge.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coolidge_effect



    I concur......... icon_cool.gif
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    Feb 14, 2011 12:57 AM GMT
    A study was done on this subject of fidelity and aired on the discovery channel many years ago in the late 90's, it turns out women are more biologically predisposed to cheating because, a woman would rather a certain man be the biological father of a child, but not have the same man raise that child as the father, other wise known as the " I want you to be the baby daddy but not help raise the baby" syndrome. The result of the study was that women cheat just as much as men do, but showed their is a biological basis for it.icon_eek.gif
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    Feb 14, 2011 1:12 AM GMT
    A recent study found an association between a gene and sexual promiscuity, and the lay media dubbed it as the slut(ty) gene (1, 2). Obviously, there is always a balance between nature and nurture (with an increased role of the latter) when it comes to behavioral patterns in humans.

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    Feb 14, 2011 1:13 AM GMT
    Cheating is a choice. It's not some "gene" or automatic response. One needs to exercise self-control. If you can't do that then stay single so you don't run the risk of hurting someone.
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    Feb 14, 2011 1:13 AM GMT
    There's not one single monogamous man in my entire family (except my brother, but he's the polar opposite of us in most ways) so I think there's something to the belief that it's genetic. I have zero interest in dating or a ltr because I know I'd never be able to settle down with one person.

    Even now, with me having EXPLOSIVE, strenghth-draining, dehydrating, back arching, muscle aching sex with an incredible FB, I STILL have sex with other dudes when he's out of town. Even though he satisfies me beyond belief, I cant stop myself from wanting something new.

    Much respect to guys that can settle down and be perfectly happy with one man. I wish I could do it, but I dont feel wired for it....
  • Anto

    Posts: 2035

    Feb 14, 2011 1:16 AM GMT
    That's the crux of the theory...what do you think?

    Possibly but not sure how it can be argued to justify it because that might open the floodgate to all kind of philosophical or moral problems, such as the murdering of competitors or forced sex like rape.
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    Feb 14, 2011 1:32 AM GMT
    I think saying "hardwired to cheat" is overstepping. "Hardwired to have sex w/a variety of partners" seems more accurate to me.

    Cheating implies violating a "pact" made, and treads into moral territory. Biology may predispose you to a certain behavior, but cheating is a decision that I don't think can simply be justified by this biology, if it is indeed true.

    In my experience, men both gay and str8 do have this instinct... to "spread their seed" to multiple partners. What you do with that instinct is another story entirely.

    Pending further research... ;)
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    Feb 14, 2011 3:32 AM GMT
    bryanc_74 saidEvolutionary behavioural theory is an excellent way to abdicate personal responsibility.

    We evolved to be many things: Fighters, killers, selfish bastards. If you adopt the 'genetically programmed infidelity' premise, then you have to accept the rest of it too. Evolution-wise, there's no room for altruism or rational thinking. Any observation of apparent altruistic behaviour open whole fields of study to explain why it exists, or why it isn't actually altrustic. So sure, if you want to go with "We're programmed to cheat", go ahead, but keep in mind that we're also programmed to do horrible things to one another, so you had better get ready for some rough times.


    Thanks, mate -- there's a good point to address there.

    The flawed evolutionary arguments that predict the pessimism of monogamy with sexual competition are the same Hobbesian arguments that paint human beings as innately aggressive, violent, selfish isolationists. It's a self-projection of contemporary people on the past. While undermining our idea of the naturalness of monogamy can be depressing, the optimism in the idea that a polygynandrous evolutionary past co-evolved with fierce altruism, genuine reciprocity, and band communalism more than makes up for it. It's remarkable, the contortions academia has forced itself into to skirt the anthropological evidence up until quite recently.

    Again, see 'Sex at Dawn'. If you want something a wee bit more substantial. try 'Ishmael' by Daniel Quinn. If you want something well-researched and substantive, read 'Guns, Germs, and Steel' by Jared Diamond (it won the Pulitzer Prize, for god's sake!) They're all in the same vein.

    MeOhMy saidGenes don't determine behaviour. It's a social construct not a "genetic defect."


    Don't you go and get all post-modern on me--that's normally my job! icon_wink.gif So quickly, if genes don't determine behavior, when exactly did you decide to be queer? Performing heterosexuality can be waaaaay less complicated.