Infidelity and double standards: Why it's not the same when you cheat and when you are cheated on?

Photo: Profimedia

Gender double standards, in which women and men are judged differently for the same sexual behavior, are nothing new and have always existed in all cultures, says "Conversation".

So, promiscuous men are rated as womanizers, swindlers and dudes, while women who frequently change sexual partners are fornicators, lechers and dishonest. Men who cheat on their wives are not very praised for their actions, but very often it is seen "through their fingers". But when women do the same, they risk seriously jeopardizing their reputation in society.

But there is another type of double standard that exists between partners – "What works for me doesn't work for you".

The psychologist David Bass, a professor at the University of Texas, devoted himself to researching the psychology of infidelity. In his book "When Men Behave Badly: The Hidden Roots of Sexual Deception, Harassment and Assault", he notes that when analyzing the way men accept their promiscuity, it can be concluded that they are more inclined to rationalize infidelity than women. But under this double standard system, both sides resort to mental gymnastics to justify their "bad" behavior.

Sexual hypocrisy

What is behind the classic sexual double standard, according to which men have a blank pass to have multiple sexual partners? Some look for an answer in the evolutionary psychology of the expansion of the male species.

Compared to women, men have a stronger desire for sexual diversity, which is reflected in a stronger sex drive, the number of partners they have relationships with, their tendency to fantasize about different women, and the need to use sexual services.

Throughout human history, it is easy to see how powerful rulers have set parameters that give them greater sexual freedom. Roman emperors still had harems, a Joseph Smith, the creator of the Mormon religion which recognizes polygamy, argued that God would not have made women so attractive if he had wanted men to have only one wife. However, Smith said the same rules do not apply to women.

In his manuscripts, Smith records that the Lord told him, “If there are ten virgins given to him according to this law, a man cannot commit adultery, because they belong to him. But if any of the ten virgins, after being betrothed to the man, is with another man - she has committed adultery and will be destroyed. By my command."

It's no wonder, then, that women often find this sexual hypocrisy confusing and logically inconsistent.

However, versions of these sexual double standards persist to this day, even in many liberal countries that have achieved very high levels of sexual freedom, such as Norway.

Recent studies, Professor Bass argues, conducted in many different cultures have found that women, not men, rate women more for casual sex and cheating on their partners.

Photo: Profimedia

What is sex and what is not?

The double standards mentioned have to do with what is acceptable for men versus what is permissible for women. But there are double standards when judging this issue between partners as well.

In one study, sociologists asked men and women the same question: "What counts as sex?".

Only 41 percent of men in monogamous relationships said that oral contact with their partner's genitals is considered sexual intercourse. But 65 percent of men said that if their partner did it, it would be considered sex.

At first glance, one might conclude that these results confirm the usual double sexual standards, in which women are judged more harshly than men for the same behavior.

However, only about a third of women, 36 percent, said that if they had oral contact with someone else, it would be considered sex, which is about the same percentage as men. At the same time, 62 percent of women stated that they would consider their partner to have sexual intercourse if he had oral contact with another woman.

These findings reveal a previously unexplored sexual double standard – not between men and women, but between the standards people hold for themselves in relation to their partners: the "me vs. you" double standard.

If people have sexual double standards for even what counts as sex, it's easy to see how these strange rationalizations lead to conflict in relationships.

"It's okay to kiss someone else." That doesn't mean anything. Actually, it's not even sex. But you better not do that.''

"It's okay to enjoy oral pleasure while I'm out on the town, it's not sex." But if you do that - then it's infidelity with a capital letter N."

Sex, love, couple
Photo: Tom Merton / Caia Image / Profimedia

Women reinforce the double standard

Women are not only "participants" in this double standard, but also contribute to the preservation of the traditional male-female double standard.

For example, Professor Bass' research team conducted a series of studies and found that women are more likely to condemn infidelity and casual sex than men. However, women in most cultures are much more rude to other women than men are to men.

They are also much more likely to spread gossip about women who change partners. And although women do not admire promiscuous men or adulterers, they still express much less moral condemnation of such men than of women who behave in the same way.

Photo: Profimedia

A question of rivalry

What seems to be revealed here is the fact that female sexuality evolved, like male sexuality, in the brutal and amoral "melting pot" of sexual and reproductive competition.

Women's only competition has always been other women, and tarnishing the reputation of rivals is one of the key strategies in the serious game.

And as far as sexual double standards go, it seems we're all pretty big hypocrites.

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