Cheating Is Genetic

Cheating Is Genetic

While it may sound like a convenient excuse for selfish behavior, apparently, cheating can actually be traced to your genes.

“We have long known that men have a genetic, evolutionary impulse to cheat, because that increases the odds of having more of their offspring in the world.

But now there is intriguing new research showing that some women, too, are biologically inclined to wander, although not for clear evolutionary benefits. Women who carry certain variants of the vasopressin receptor gene are much more likely to engage in “extra pair bonding,” the scientific euphemism for sexual infidelity.”

Despite the claims that “all men cheat,” in fact, a vast minority of men do – and not a significant amount more than women.

I’ll spare you the details of the study, which can be read here, but the article points out:

“Correlation is not the same as causation; there are undoubtedly many unmeasured factors that contribute to infidelity. And rarely does a simple genetic variant determine behavior.

Still, there is a good reason to take these findings seriously: Data in animals confirm that these two hormones are significant players when it comes to sexual behavior.”

As we’ve reported extensively on this site, “the rate of infidelity has been pretty constant at around 21 percent for married men, and between 10 to 15 percent for married women, according to the General Social Survey at the University of Chicago’s independent research organization, NORC.”  Which is to say that, despite the claims that “all men cheat,” in fact, a vast minority of men do – and not a significant amount more than women.

While we are not slaves to our genes, those with a predisposition may experience more temptation than the rest of us.

The article concludes  by saying that  while we are not slaves to our genes, those with a predisposition may experience more temptation than the rest of us:

“So do we get a moral pass if we happen to carry one of these “infidelity” genes? Hardly. We don’t choose our genes and can’t control them (yet), but we can usually decide what we do with the emotions and impulses they help create. But it is important to acknowledge that we live our lives on a very uneven genetic playing field….For some, there is little innate temptation to cheat; for others, sexual monogamy is an uphill battle against their own biology.”

Your thoughts, below, are appreciated.

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  1. 1
    Isobel Matheson

    It may well be that monogamy is an imposed order, and that many people are fine with having multiple sexual partners alongside one life partner with whom to raise children and create a secure home. There’s nothing to say that monogamy is ‘natural’ or better than alternatives.


    The key word here is ‘cheating’. Lying and deception are harmful, in any relationship – be it parent and child, colleagues, friends, business partners etc etc. If someone is honest and says from the get-go they do not do monogamy, then fair enough. Their prospective mate can decide for him/her self whether or not to carry on. If someone proclaims to be loyal, faithful, and monogamous then, they should be loyal, faithful, and monogamous. Cheating – that is, doing something behind the back of someone who trusts you to do otherwise – is not a healthy thing to do, ever ever ever.

    1. 1.1

      Being a man I know that if I was “honest” with 99.9% of women on this planet from the start and tell them I don’t believe in monogamy for life because for myself and many men it’s unnatural. They’d all laugh, walk away, and say good luck with that. So many men are forced to go the alternate route. I’m not saying it’s right. It’s just one huge reason.

      1. 1.1.1

        As a man, I feel the opposite. I feel that monogamy is natural and it makes the most sense to me. I don’t have the emotional energy to handle more than one woman at a time. Also, I don’t like sharing, so if I believe that she shouldn’t be with another man, then it’s only fair that I refrain from being with any other woman.

        Maybe I’m just more emotional than the average male, but when I feel connected to someone, I feel deeply connected and I don’t want anyone else coming between that connection. And when someone takes up a fair chunk of my thoughts, I find it difficult to give any more of my energy to connect to someone else.

        1. Al

          I suspect that if more men thought like you do, that what’s good for the Gander is good for the Goose (yeah, I flipped it on purpose), there would be a lot less cheating and maybe more people in open relationships.   What I’ve discovered is that many men refuse to consider an open marriage because they can’t handle the idea of their wives being with another man, yet want to have the freedom (only for themselves, mind you) to be with another woman. So rather than have that honest conversation and give HER the same opportunity to find sexual satisfaction, they sneak around behind their wives’ backs instead.

          Sadly, I come at this from a place of experience. After 18 years of a troubled marriage, I offered my ex husband the option of an open marriage. I thought that a change of focus might save us cause otherwise we were sinking fast. It was sort of a last ditch effort. He shot that down immediately. NO discussion. I found out months later that he was already cheating on me and yet had no intention of   leaving our marriage. He liked things just the way they were. Him with two women and me at home playing the faithful little wifey for him. Even after I found out about the Other Woman, he had the nerve to expect to keep both of us. However, when I said, “OK, then we both get to date other people?” He freaked out and slipped into some weird depression. That ended up being the final straw. The hypocrisy and lack of empathy was simply mind boggling.

          Why do so many men feel that they are entitled to whatever they want, yet can’t tolerate the same treatment themselves? It even goes back to some of the other discussions on this board. Like, older men who wouldn’t even consider dating a woman their age or older because “Eww. Those ladies are all out of shape and wrinkly,” without acknowledging that they, themselves, are just as “out of shape and wrinkly.” Why so many double standards?

        2. Surayya Malik

          Oh how I wish there were more men like you !it is very hard to find men like you who have such loyal thoughts . Way to go !!your woman is one lucky one !with my bad experience I have give up on dating . I have lost all faith I will ever find a man who is loyal , honest and share the same thoughts as you . My friends tell me not to give up. But my ex crushed my self esteem ( wandering eyes that lead to cheating with many women ) and I can’t ever trust any man. I am very lonely

        3. Surayya Malik

          Curt ,my response was for your comment . To continue I have moments where I feel so lonely, but I try distract myself and remind myself about the past marriage. Gives me the goosebumps than I change my mood to being grateful for having divorced my ex ,thus being in a better place ! Wish we had more men like you , there would be less hurt single women in this world !

        4. Amy

          This is a mature soul. I wish people could forget the gender thing and identify as souls. Emotional beings.

        5. Ingrid

          You’re one in a million, can I get your number? 😛 J/K

          In all seriousness though, very few men think this way and most women (myself included) end up hurt because it’s hard to find someone with such high moral standards.

        6. Kim

          Your girl is lucky to have you!

      2. 1.1.2
        Isobel Matheson

        If you met a woman who said she didn’t believe in monogamy, would that be OK with you? Many people find it hard to tolerate their partner seeing other people – perhaps they need to explore their assumptions and what they have been led to think is ‘normal’ behaviour. I still think you should be honest about what you want from the start. Clearly, your ideal mate is in the 0.1% so, I hope you find her.

      3. 1.1.3

        That’s not true. There are many polyamorous groups, swingers, ect. If   you really don’t believe in monogamy pursue those relationships. The problem is men want a one sided open relationship, which always makes me laugh.

        1. JB

          I said “monogamy for life” I never said I wanted or  HAD to date or be in relationships with multiple people simultaneously. That means for the most part  I’ve been  monogamous when that was discussed between us but when it wasn’t I just dated and did what I wanted.

        2. Al

          Exactly. Too many men want to be the only one “open” in the marriage, while the wife faithfully stays at home. They feel entitled to sleep around yet can’t give the same option to their partner.

        3. Me

          yeah no s—- lol   . sounds just like my bf.   Its ok for him to cheat behind my back but if I was to do it oh no he would come unglued. Im not like that tho.

      4. 1.1.4

        Monogamy may not be “natural”, who knows…I am still wrestling with this reality myself, I’ll admit. However, it is nothing short of weak to not be upfront about your beliefs, intentions, etc. to someone who is trusting you.

        I have heard this excuse so many times from men – the “women can’t handle it, that’s why I lie and cheat on them”   excuse – and again, it all comes back to being weak. Are you a man or a mouse? Do you respect the woman you’re with or don’t you?   If you can’t even tell her you prefer to keep things open, the answer is no, you do not respect her and you are not a man at all. Besides, you’d be surprised what we women can “handle.” To scurry under the blanket of your immaturity and under-developed sexuality and use that as an excuse to be deceitful and manipulative is again, just plain weak,. Period. And so, to those who indulge under this umbrella, I say: grow a pair. Because, clearly you are just a little boy and shouldn’t be having adult sex anyway.

        1. JB

          If you can’t even tell her you prefer to keep things open”

          For the record, I’ve never cheated on anyone or asked for or been in an open relationship because I’m intelligent enough to know “I” personally could never get a woman to agree to it and it’s not what I want anyway. If anything I’m a serial monogamist, but I know asking a woman for an “open” relationship unless you are a very attractive high status wealthy man is waste of time because very few if any would agree to it. Would SOME be able to “handle” it? Sure……….   .0001%             The others would scoff at the notion.

          Do you know why attractive high status wealthy men can get women to agree to it? I’m sure you do. Average looking middle class men will never get the same deal I can assure you. It has nothing to do with maturity or being weak and more to do with a man being aware of his limitations and his value to the opposite sex in his age range at any given time. I’m not saying it’s “right”. Like Evan would say, don’t blame ALL men for how some men are you just have to find one that believes  like you do whatever that may be.

        2. Me

          touche”!    lol

  2. 2

    Interesting info.   Obviously, the impact of culture can’t be overstated as well.   Male cheating seems to be tolerated less than in the past, which is a good thing btw.   However, female cheating seems to tolerated to a much greater extent, and it is often seen as being the man’s fault when a woman cheats.

    1. 2.1

      Really? I have never seen female cheating being tolerated. On the whole people feel very strongly about either sex cheating.

  3. 3

    As one who has been on the cheating side, looking at what I know of my family history, it appears the genetic predisposition may have some merit. I consider myself to be generally moral and fair. Certain extremes in my life pushed me over the edge from an abusive wife (former marriage). Had that not occurred, I probably would have remained a faithful partner to the RIGHT spouse. But once the line was crossed, it became too much of an impulse to cheat. And when I say cheat, I mean hiding and lying as needed to prevent the truth from getting out and hurting me and those that would be impacted by my actions. This is not a defense or excuse for what has happened in my life, just a means to protect myself. So when the comment was made regarding men being pressured into monogamous relationships, there is some merit to that.

    Would I be open to an open marriage? That would depend on my partner greatly. The key element would be trust. First, trusting she would not freak at the thought of me being with another woman. Second, me trusting that she would always, ALWAYS come back to me; that I would not loose her to another partner. I would venture to project that she would want the same assurance from me as well. So, in answering Isobel, yes, I would be ok with my SO being with another man under the conditions that we have an implicit trust in one another. Would this ever happen in my life. not a chance in my current and hopefully lasting marriage. My wayward ways had found me out and am paying that price now.

    My message for those who have or are cheating, it’s not worth getting caught. The harm is too deep to comprehend. Sure it’s a great thrill, but there will always be regret after. Get out of it any way you can. I know how it grips and holds on to you. It’s hard to give up and I struggle all the time with the same desires you do. On the flip side, if I ever did find out my wife was cheating, since I’ve been there myself, I would at least understand what can drive one to do that. But more important, I would just want to make sure I am the one she wants to come home to in the end.

    1. 3.1

      Andre, I am very impressed with this comment. Thank you for your honesty and for putting out such a compassionate and well reasoned reply.


      With dating and close friendship, I tend to avoid those who seem a little too smug and self righteous. Humans are ALL fallible and   those who place themselves too far above others are simply lying to themselves. Plus, I believe that people sometimes need a humbling experience in order to develop true understanding of the struggles others face. A good example is that, if your wife ever cheated, you could understand what pain might have led her to that mistake and forgive her. People who have had life too was always seem to be missing a crucial piece of their puzzle somehow.



  4. 4

    I truly don’t understand people who say that monogamy is ‘unnatural’. I feel these people don’t understand the elemental things about people and their make-up. Monogamy is completely natural. Don’t confuse ‘natural’ with “easy’ though. Infact, monogamy is just as natural as the desire for multiple partners. It comes down to the choices we make. We have hormones and chemicals that support both kinds of sex and relationships patterns.   Both are natural, both have different pluses and minuses. Pair bonding with one mate insures a certain amount of physical and emotional safety. Not to mention it eradicates the health concerns around STDs that come from multiple partners. While having multiple partners clearly satisfies those hormones around newness and conquering the unknown.

    Me? I’m a monogamy kind of girl. Cheat on me? You have lost my respect. Can you get it back? I don’t know. Open relationship? No thank you. I am worth more than that. In my personal relationships I should be number one, not one of the harem of women a man uses to make himself feel good. Sometimes I feel that people want to believe having open relationships or cheating makes them more sophisticated. I think it just makes us more callused and discarding of other people.

  5. 5

    I cant stand men who lying cheat and deceive and then play head games with you trying to make you think that they arent doing any of the above.   Users and Losers. Narcissists.   Men like that need to grow up and get a life. Period.

  6. 6

    Speaking as a biologist – a geneticist in particular – I can say categorically that the article quoted above does not go even part of the way in its claim re women and infidelity.   Women are EXTREMELY ‘programmed’ to mate with more than one male and it makes excellent biological sense for them to do so. My colleagues and I are often astounded at the errors and misinterpretations that   journalists and popular science writers make of the actual scientific research.   It’s also mystifying that some ‘serious’ researchers waste time on  dubious research into fields where things have already been totally proven (e.g. the  evolutionary advantage to  women in having multiple mates).

    Let me explain:

    – If a woman has to invest her whole body in producing one baby at a time – a process that involves not only 9 months gestation during which her body is under much strain (e.g leaching of calcium form the skeleton) but also years of care in raising that child, it does not make any sense for her to do this again and again with a male who may turn out to have bad genes.   Often she would not know this until the child is older or fully grown. Suppose she mated with someone who passed on genes for  mental or physical diseases. If she were to mate with only this one male then she might have wasted her time and body in producing several flawed offspring.   By mating with several partners she has a better chance of producing at least some healthy children.

    – By mating with several partners, the various males involuntarily become engaged in ‘sperm wars’.   The different varieties of sperm inside her have to fight it out with each other to be the successful one that gets to unite with the ovum.   We see this happening in many species.

    – By mating with several partners she can potentially engage the support of several males in raising her offspring – either by being directly involved or by providing other resources.

    Of course, throughout human society the patriarchy has invented all sorts of social sanctions and taboos to keep women in check.   Marriage, social disapproval of single and divorced women, barriers to certain occupations – usually those that are high-earning and influential and which would allow me greater freedom, female circumcision and other forms of violence, to name a few. And, of course, men would not be such jealous creatures if women weren’t so prone to look elsewhere.   We do not put ‘stop’ signs in streets with no traffic.

    So why are some routinely reported as being less prone to infidelity than men?   Well – look what happens to women who declare their sexual liberty.   Violence, social censure, horrendous name calling (slag, tart, whore)… Not always, of course, but it does still happen.

    In view of all this, monogamy, or at least serial monogamy, is most beneficial to the male sex not the female.   Bear in mind also the huge emotional needs of the male and there is another huge benefit to the male from monogamy.   But  above all this, let’s remember that we are much more than a primitive biological ‘urge’ to reproduce.   The human soul really does seem to flourish and grow when it is paired with a loving and well-matched    partner.   It’s only   when marriage is prescribed as the best state for everyone that trouble begins.   Not everyone is suited to it.   Not everyone meets the person who is right for them.   In these cases it is far better to remain single than to enter the nightmare of a Mickey Mouse union.

    1. 6.1

      Hi Steve….thank you so much on your input on this subject.   I believe integrity is key when two people are trying to hold on to a one on one relationship with the same commitments and goals.


    2. 6.2

      Thank you. I’m no biologist, but one just has to take a look at nature, and the survival of a species, to see that women going for the currently strongest, healthiest male makes perfect sense.

  7. 7
    Ms. W

    If u wouldn’t be ok with your partuner doing the same thing u r doing, or about to do…then DON’T DO IT! Being faithful to your partner is a choice and as such if u r going to cheat, then give your partner the choice to accept it or leave u. Be open & honest from the gate so that u don’t end up breaking someone’s heart because u two weren’t on the same page. My world was shattered as well as my trusting another man after finding out my husband of 17 yrs had cheated on me several times throughout our marriage while remained 100% faithful.

  8. 8
    Lady P

    What planet are you people living on. People cheat and cheat for one reason only – selfishness… A marriage or other intimate relationship is never about you.   It is and always will be about the other person.   If you are busy trying to love, cherish, and care, etc. for the other person you won’t have the time or the mind to cheat. It’s is so sad that we live in a time in which people have no real love or concern for another person.   People are living for only what they can get/receive. I don’t care what is going on in the relationship. I don’t care what predisposition you may have genetically speaking.   It all boils down to choice.   We can choose to be a person of honesty and integrity or we can choose to be liars and cheats. Two wrongs never make a right.

  9. 9

    I am a woman and i see being with only one man as a ball and chain. I know plenty of women who are equally sexually simulated a men are!!! Hello!!! Quit using the genetic,   animal shit and realize all us humans have unique desires.   Some men want monogamy, some don’t. Some women want monogamy, some dont. Wake up!!!!

    1. 9.1
      Sum Guy

      its only cheating if you promised to be exclusive

      if you did so promise, you need to break it off before sleeping with someone else, or really even getting serious about them

      it’s a matter of your word, your character, and trust someone has put into you.

      If no promise then it’s not cheating, others don’t own you just because you are intimate with them, and vice versa

  10. 10
    oogy boogy

    Fuck all cheaters their kind need to go extinct and evolution and gene spreading is a really horrible explanation for why somebody would want to cheat because you would have so many more offspring if you stayed with one woman and were faithful from the beginning. But many women will go unimpregnated at all or only once because you just couldn’t be patient and stay with only them. You lose so many women and good women at that by being impatient. That’s fucking stupid. You could have had a much larger and stronger family had you just been faithful.

    Anyway investigate all of your partners and stalk the shit out of them and their phones don’t ever feel crazy for doing so because to keep their repulsive and destructive genes from hurting other people’s future children and to keep other people’s bad genes from hurting your future children we need to make sure we don’t accidentally breed with those genes and let them continue. I mean maybe their genes won’t die off but cheaters need to only be with other cheaters so they can do their little gene spreading whatever with each other and leave faithful people in peace.

  11. 11

    I agree. If two people are in love and only want each other then   great. Make that promise.   But im sick of men that make up lame ass studies   saying men are the only ones that have eyes and look at other females/cheat/ desire other women etc.   I check out men all day long and every single one of my girlfriends does too. We are not some esoteric species, we are HUMAN. i fantasize about a different dude every time i use my vibrator. So take that all you controlling pieces of ****

  12. 12
    amol joshi

    Different people who have fought with their partners, and help them understand how to make up right. When we fight with our partner and we make up it says that our relationship is more important than any difference and that is a big thing to understand.  Make your relationship strong. Make sure if you do something flirt or cheat me I won’t forgive and won’t talk to you and don’t come saying sorry.Love is about sharing, understanding each other and trust each other. It is not about madness or just being over possessive. Make decision that feels right for both of you. Relationship is all about give and take.

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