Cheating as a Way of Life: Analytical Essay

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The Psychology of Human Relationships: Why do women cheat?

Sexual relationships are common among human beings and other animals in the world. The relationships between human beings are influenced by a broad range of factors beyond sex. Nonetheless, sexual roles play a huge part in the survival or dissolution of a relationship. Cheating is particularly a significant factor in the termination of many marriages and other sexuality-based unions, and any party in both homosexual and heterosexual relationships might be the culprit. Despite cheating being a common phenomenon in relationships, the reasons why either party cheats may vary across genders. This implies that the reasons for cheating among men might be different from those that compel women into cheating. These reasons may be further categorized into social, mental, and psychological among other groupings. Factors that lead to cheating may interact with each other to give a more accurate image and an overall reason as to why spouses may end up cheating. In this paper, cheating among women will be reviewed from two perspectives including genetics, as discussed by Gangestad et al. (2007), and mate switching by Buss et al. (2017). The mate-switching theory stands out as a more accurate explanation for cheating among women, pointing to selection as it applies in reproduction as the primary purpose for women desiring a different mate in what turns out to be an evolutionary advantage.

The rate of breakups in marriages leading to divorces continues to rise in the USA. According to Buss, Goetz, Duntley, Asao, & Conroy-Beam (2017) infidelity rate among men is higher compared to that of women at 50% and 26%, respectively. Buss and Co. add that cheating amongst women, which in their discussion passes as mate-switching, is evolutionary whereby a different mate brings with them survival advantages. Selection is a common phenomenon in both evolution and genetics where the best male is selected to sire children that have the most suitable traits for survival. As such, Buss et al. denounce the moral dimension from which cheating has over time been viewed, purporting that cheating is (or results from) an instinct among women. Despite this behavior is natural to humans, Buss et al. concede that there are benefits that individuals take into consideration before choosing one mate over another, evading the general cost of their partner being one of these benefits.

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Contrary to the evolutionary viewpoint, cheating amongst women has been attributed to genetics by Gangestad, Garver-Apgar, Simpson, & Cousins (2007). According to Gangestad et al. (2017), during their fertile periods, women have a preference for men with more defined masculine features as opposed to other aspects, such as wealth. The good genes sexual selection theory appeals to the nature of women preferring to have dominant genes characterized by masculine traits passed to their offspring. According to this theory, it is through exploring the right mating partners that women can pass their favored male characters down to their progeny. Going by this theory and the knowledge about women’s ovulation cycles, it is deductible that women who chose to marry their current spouses during their days of ovulation are more likely to cheat on them than those who married during their fertile periods. This observation is derived from the fact that their most desired genetic traits may not have been naturally considered, and identifying a male in possession of these traits during their fertile periods may lead to cheating in marriage.

The mate-switching theory presents several adaptations that women have over time developed to assess the feasibility of their relationships. The overall cost of any given relationship is evaluated using these adaptations that Buss et al. outline, and if the costs outweigh the benefits, women will look for a less costly alternative. This observation has been reverberated by Danel, Siennicka, Glińska, Fedurek, et al. (2017) with the Mate Value Discrepancy theory that acknowledges the tendency of women to assess the value of potential mates against that of their partners and making a choice based on the outcomes of this comparison. The MVD theory explains a broad range of reasons that are known to cause cheating among women including seeking sexual, physical, or emotional satisfaction (Ziv, Lubin, & Asher, 2018).

From a genetic perspective, attraction toward persons presumed to have dominant male characteristics such as facial hair, deep voice, etcetera undermines the fact that these traits may not be passed on to female offspring. According to Clot, Grolleau, & Ibanez (2014), high executive control among individuals is imperative to their resistance against the urge to cheat. This finding points to the fact that choices by different women to cheat or to stick by their partners regardless of both internal and external factors that may otherwise compel them to cheat are personal. According to Stone, Goetz, & Shackelford (2005), 50% of the 90% of men and women who marry end up cheating, meaning that the women in the 50% population are in the largest part of their lives (fertile periods) attracted to males but their partners. It also implies that these women remain emotionally attached to other persons for more than 20 days of every month for the rest of their lives from the time they start a relationship to the point at which it ends.

Cheating amongst women has been attributed to the availability of an opportunity by Fincham & May (2017). This proposition adds to the mate-switching theory that is primarily based on the perceived value of another mate. According to Rhodes, Simmons, & Peters (2005), cheating comes at costs such as potential violence, contracting STIs, marriage breakups, prospects of single parenthood, and loss of financial and other forms of support from partners. It is thus accurate to state that women are more likely to avoid cheating based on these costs, but if pushed by the factors earlier discussed they may find a way to create an opportunity to cheat without being caught. The theory of impulsive cheating that results from the physical attributes of the desired males disregards modern technology that may help identify the paternity of the offspring leading to the losses (or costs) that result from cheating. It also goes against the desire by women to reproduce with males that will be available to offer paternal care to the children at an age where research shows that these children have higher rates of survival compared to their counterparts.

It is scientifically factual that sexually reproducing organisms may opt to recreate with others that are perceived as genetically healthier. However, Schmitt (2015) observes that physical attributes are secondary to other traits such as intelligence, mental, social, and psychological when women are choosing a mate. The scientific proof for good genes aside, any woman is unlikely to leave their partner for a mate in possession of the traits that Gangestad et al. (2017) describe but mentally retarded. Failing to appreciate the importance of all traits and emphasizing the physical attributes thus dwindles the gene selection theory.


There are many reasons why females may choose to mate with another person that is not their life partner. The mate-switching hypothesis presents a solid argument compared to the preferred gene hypothesis. Superficial reasons, such as sexual satisfaction and other material benefits of cheating back the mate-switching theory, making a better-applicable explanation in the day-to-day experiences of partners. Also, looking at factors that discourage women from cheating points to the reasons that may encourage women not to switch their mates, but these factors cannot deter women from being attracted to males with better or distinct masculine features. As such, with the weighed strengths of the mate-switching hypothesis against the preferred genes, it is clear that women are more likely to cheat as a result of adaptation that guarantees them value and eradicate costly relationships.

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