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By Alberto Guerra, Brenda Bushway, and Karen Brito

Chapters 6 & 7 from “The Dangerous Passion: Why Jealousy Is As Necessary As Love and Sex” by David M. Buss (2000)



There is something interesting about the topic of Sex.  On February 28, 1997, Monica Lewinsky entered into the oval office and created a scandal in the White House.  The entire nation was entertained with the sexual experiences of President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.  What was it about this affair that intrigued us all?  Furthermore, Why would President Clinton risk so much for a few minutes of sexual gratification?  People are constantly risking things such as, status, reputation, honor, marriage, children, and even personal safety for a love affair.  How can we explain what it is that drives a woman or man to have an affair?

            The driving force behind people that have affairs is extensively researched.  It is constant controversy because different studies produce widely varying estimates.  For example, while some studies may claim that as high as 70 percent of married couples cheat, others may claim that only 5 to 10 percent actually cheat.  Which of these statistics is correct?  This topic is extremely challenging to study for various reasons.  For example, most people are reluctant to talk about their infidelity, especially to a researcher.  Not only does the level of trust in the researcher affect the studies, but the methods used and the time frame selected for the study.  Most research shows that there is a high probability that one of the partners will cheat.  As demonstrated by Anthony Thompson of Western Australian Institute of Technology, " the probability that either the husband or wife will have an affair (the affair rate for the couple) may be as high as 76 percent."  The question to ask here is "Who cheats more?"  According to David M. Buss (2000), men break their marital vows of infidelity more frequently.  It is also very common for a man in a position of power to use his status to attract women for sex.  There have been many cases such as the case of a Hindu guru in Houston that was able to convince four women to have sex with him.  He convinced each woman that "she must have sex with him to cleanse her womb of evil spirits" (Buss, p. 133).  Although, it is very common for a man to use his position of power to attract sex, the author has not come across a single case where a married woman uses her status and power to lure men in for sex. 

            The lust in the hearts of the sexes varies.  There seems to be fundamental differences in the variety of partners a male and female desire.  According David M. Buss (2000), "Most women are careful about whom they choose to sleep with, and for the most part avoid jumping into bed with a total strangers."  This evolutionary evidence is compelling.  Women are less likely to sleep around more because of the risks involved.  The minimum risk for a male is a few millions of sperm lost and perhaps a few minutes of his time.  He is able to pack his bag and fly the coupe.  On the other hand, the minimum risk for females is nine months of carrying the child, to say the least.  Another compelling difference is in the desires to have sex with someone outside of their married partner.  According to a study done by Ralph Johnson of Sacramento State College, 48% of men, but only 5 percent of women, expressed a desire to engage in extramarital sex.  These are huge differences, but they could be due to several factors.  For example, women may be more reluctant to confide their sexual desires to a researcher, so the figures are likely to underestimate women's adulterous impulses.       

            Another interesting issue that is addressed is about—Who dreams about what?  How do the sexual fantasies differ for the sexes?  According to David M. Buss (2000),  “Men’s sexual fantasies more often include strangers, multiple partners, and anonymous partners” and “Numbers, variety, and novelty dominate men’s fantasies.  Men focus on body parts and sexual positions stripped of emotional context.”  On the contrary, women fantasize more about familiar partners.  In their fantasies, women focus more on emotions and personality.  Something interesting that I discovered when reading examples of fantasies that were documented by researchers is that women tend to fall for the manipulating lies of men.  The following is what two different women included when talking about their fantasies:  “He let’s me know that I’m the center of his life, the only one who has ever made him feel this way” and “He says that I’m the only one who has ever made him feel this way.”  The women are taken by the lies that the men make about how the women make them feel.  This is a burned out line, and I think that women should stop falling for it.      

Secrets and lies

I.                    The Nature of Infidelity 

A.     President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky

                           1.  Something interesting about the topic “SEX”

                           2.  Entire nation watching

B.  Risks:  status, reputation, honor, marriage, children, personal safety

                           1.  Why do we risk so much for a few minutes of gratification?

                           2.  How can we explain the confusing puzzle of infidelity?

II.                 The Prevalence of Infidelity

A.     Different studies produce widely varying estimates

1.      Infidelity: rates as high as 70%, other studies show only 5%-10%

B.     Problems with determining precise rate

1.      Infidelity is concealed and people are reluctant to talk about it

2.      Methods used:  some measure rates across entire marriage span whereas others restrict time interval to previous year of marriage

3.      Level of trust in researcher: women less likely to talk about it

C.     Who cheats more?

1.      Men cheat more often

2.      Study: 26% of men, 5% of women, had affairs with 3 or more partners. Study: 64% of women who have affairs have them with only one partner,

43% of men who have affairs restrict themselves to single partner

D.     Status and power

1.      Married men, in positions of power, use their status to attract sex partners

2.      Not a single case of a married women abusing position of power to secure sex with multiple men

III.               Lust in the Heart

A.     Women less likely to sleep around, while men are more willing

1.      Risks are higher for women

B.     Desires to have sex outside of marriage

1.      Study:  48% of men, only 5% of women expressed desire to engage in

extramarital sex.

C.     What do men dream about?

1.      Men have twice as many sexual fantasies as women

2.      Men:  strangers, multiple partners, anonymous partners

3.      Dominate:  numbers, body parts, sexual positions, variety, novelty

D.     What do women dream about?

1.      Familiar partners

2.      Women: focus more on emotions and personality

3.      Few women fantasize about Ally Mcbeal car wash affairs

4.      Dominate: emotional intimacy, private whispers, personal attention, psychological closeness



By Brenda

Personality is often a factor that will predict if a spouse will be unfaithful. People that are narcissistic have an exaggerated sense of importance. They may feel that they are special or unique. Also, they often feel that rules dictating social norms do not apply to them. Their profound sense of entitlement may cause them to take advantage of others without conscience. They oscillate between feelings of grandiosity and worthlessness. This often leads to seeking self-esteem boosts outside of marriage. Since they believe that they are special, they may feel that they are entitled to special sources of gratification.

Another personality trait that may lead to infidelity is low conscientiousness. These types of people tend to be careless, lazy, disorganized, negligent, impulsive, and lacking in self- control. This impulsivity combined with lack of empathy and self-control can lead to a partner that is unfaithful. Men tend to score higher on this type of trait than women do.

Sometimes a mate’s personality characteristics will drive their partner into the arms of another. A good example of this would be people that are emotionally unstable or quarrelsome. Emotional instability is marked by large mood swings. Minor life events can throw an emotionally unstable person into a tailspin. This trait can quickly turn marital bliss into marital hell.

Quarrelsomeness involves being condescending to one’s mate and believing that one’s own opinions are superior to their partner’s. The partner often ends up feeling neglected and rejected. In the end, the partner may seek to have their needs met elsewhere. When a person is married to somebody that is emotionally unstable or quarrelsome, they may seek refuge from their terrible marriage outside of the marriage.

When a mate does seek refuge outside of the marriage, it isn’t hard to pick up on the cues of infidelity, if the other partner knows what to look for. Some signs of infidelity are quite obvious. An example of this would be the proverbial lipstick on the collar or the smell of strange perfume or cologne on one’s mate. Other less obvious signs are when a person’s mate dramatically changes their hair or clothing style. They may mysteriously start dressing in tight, seductive clothing or begin taking special interest in their appearance. New changes in a mate’s tastes may also be an indicator of infidelity.  There may be changes in the amount of sex desired by one’s mate. Some partners, who are cheating, may show a new interest in sex. They may want to start trying out all sorts of new things. Others may all of a sudden have no interest in sex with their husband or wife.

Emotional infidelity may demonstrate itself in more subtle ways. A person’s mate may become disengaged emotionally. They may forget important dates such as anniversaries or birthdays. A big tip-off is when a mate accidentally calls you by another person’s name. Also, if a mate is acting guilty, there is probably a reason for it. If one mate quits sharing their feelings with their partner, this too is a clue to emotional infidelity. Women will generally be more attuned to these subtle changes than their husbands will.

Infidelity is the leading cause of divorce. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that divorce must follow.  A third, of the 107 married couples sampled, said that they would not seek a divorce if their mate was unfaithful. Several factors may determine how forgiving one’s mate will be. If a woman is married to a man that has a higher mate value than she does, she will be more likely to forgive her mate if he is unfaithful. Her reasoning may be that she probably couldn’t do any better if she left him and tried to find another mate. Also, women with higher incomes are more likely to seek divorce than women with low personal incomes. Whether a couple divorces after an infidelity depends largely on the desirability of the partners.

This brings up the question, given the risk involved, why do women have affairs?

When a woman seeks a partner outside of her marriage, he will likely be attractive and “studly.” Women often lower their standards as far as stability and status go when they seek an extra marital partner. Looks may not be as important in a long- term partner as they are in a short term mating. However, if a woman does have a husband that is not symmetrical or good looking, she will be more likely to cheat on him. This is because women seek to reproduce with men that exhibit good genes. Symmetry is an indicator of good genes, because those that are born symmetrical are healthier. A person that is genetically susceptible to pathogens and mutations will be born more lopsided. It is also a sign that the fetus was able to withstand other environmental insults as well.

Men tend to desire a variety of mates. Often they will be very obliged to mate with a woman that is not as attractive as they might desire. In this way a woman can trade up and mate with a man that has more mate value than her-self. Men will often have a temporary mating with woman of lesser mate value, but they would not be willing to marry them. By mating with a man of higher mate value than her husband, a woman could produce a “sexy son.” In turn, her sons would be found to be sexy by other women. In this way she would be able to continue her genetic history more prolifically. So, men are not the only ones to treat women as sex objects. Women also treat men as sex objects, though it may be for different reasons.

So, men and women both may be unfaithful to each other, but the motivation behind the infidelity may be slightly different. However, for the most part, men tend to be unfaithful more often than women do. About 10% of the children born are actually not genetically related to their “father.” In other words, the woman had a child by a man other than her husband. Infidelity may occur for biological reasons, psychological reasons, or due to personality traits in either spouse. Infidelity is the main reason for divorce.

Personality and Unfaithfulness


I.                 Personality can be a predictor of infidelity.

1.   Narcissism

2.   Low Conscientiousness

3.    Emotional Instability

4.   Quarrelsomeness

II.            Signals of Sexual Infidelity

1.   Unexpected Orders

2. Changes in Sexual Interests

3. Changes in Clothing Styles.

4. Changes in Tastes

a)   books

b)  music

c)   food etc.

III.        Signs of Emotional Infidelity

1.   Love has Gone Out of Marriage

2.   Forgetting Important Dates

3.   Emotional Disengagement

4.   Apathy Toward Partner

5.   Calling Spouse by Another Person’s Name

6.   Not Sharing Feelings with Partner

IV.        Infidelity is the Leading Cause of Divorce

1.      Women with a lower mate value than their

husband’s tend to be more forgiving.

2.      Women with higher incomes are more likely to divorce after mate infidelity

V.             Why Women have Affairs

1.  It is easier for a woman to get an attractive man as a sex partner than as a permanent mate

3.      Women that are married to men equally

matched to themselves may want to trade up once in while

4.      A woman might be able to have an affair and

produce offspring with better genes

VI.        Symmetry as a Predictor of Good Genes

1.   Women can detect symmetry through their

sense of smell when they are ovulating.

2.    Symmetry is a sign of developmental stability

3.    Symmetry predicts resistance to pathogens

4.    Women chose symmetrical men as their affair


5.   Asymmetrical men are more likely to be


VII.    Sexy Sons are Preferred

1.   Women will have affairs with attractive, sexy

men in order to produce sexy sons

2.   Sexy sons attract an above average number of

women when they grow up

3.   Women relax their standards when choosing

a brief mating, as long as the man is attractive and sexy.


By Karen Brito

            In Chapter seven, Why Women Have Affairs, the author discusses many possible reasons regarding female infidelity.  Buss presents the hypothesis of mate insurance by our ancestral mothers.  He questions whether it was possible for a women to have relied solely on a single man to provide for her and her children in an era when life was a daily struggle for survival against the natural elements.  Abandonment or death made it too risky for a woman to rely on one man.  The solution would be to cultivate an affair partner as a backup mate.  The backup mate can serve many functions when the regular mate is not around.  By consenting to sexual 'favors' with another man, a woman greatly increases the possibility of a future return in material resources in the case that her regular mate could not or would not provide sufficient resources.  Under such circumstances, women should choose backup partners based on their ability and willingness to provide resources and protection when necessary. 

            Another potential theory of female infidelity is "trading up".  In this case, affairs could be used to evaluate potential husbands that may have 'better' qualities than the current mate.  There are several ancestral conditions that set foundation for this behavior.  For example, a woman's partner may decline in value due to disease, injury, 'slacking off' in providing resources, or he may become physically or emotionally abusive.  Also, a woman's value may have increased due to certain acquired skills or gained political alliances.  Lastly, contact with a new tribe may have exposed her to more desirable partners.  One critical quality for 'trading up' is a woman's own perception of her personal 'value' in the mating market.  In other words, having an affair can boost a woman's self-esteem, perception of her physical attractiveness, and sexuality.  If she has raised confidence gained by having an affair, than the chances of her leaving her current mate for a better one, are increased.  Moreover, in recent studies it was found that this increased confidence and self-esteem were rated by women who have affairs, as one of the most beneficial results of having an affair. 

            The importance of a woman's sexual gratification with an affair partner was further explored due in part to a theory called "sperm retention".  Proposed by two British biologists, this theory is better understood when the broader theory of sperm competition is introduced.  Sperm competition occurs when sperm from different men occupy a woman's reproductive tract simultaneously.  Although a female's egg is viable for only 12 to 24 hours after ovulation, sperm can remain viable for up to seven days.  Therefore, if a woman has sex with two different men within the span of a week she activates a competitive race between the two different sperm, for fertilization of the egg. 

            Both male and female physiology and passions have evolved to the demands of sperm competition.  Evidence for this is provided in similar studies conducted in many countries regarding the rate of paternal discrepancy.  In such studies, roughly ten percent of children had biological fathers different from those whom they believed to be their legitimate fathers.  With these statistics, it is clear that women sometimes conceive and bear children from men other than their husbands and have probably done so throughout our ancestral history.  One physiological clue may be the sperm volume and testes size of human males.  Both are far larger than those of monogamous primates such as gorillas or gibbons.  This could suggest that men have evolved a larger ejaculate to increase the odds of successful fertilization by crowding out competing sperm.  Secondly, men's sperm comes in different shapes such as the "kamikaze" sperm.  Kamikaze sperm have coiled tails and are terrible swimmers.  In laboratory observations, kamikaze sperm have wrapped themselves around competing sperm and destroy them while simultaneously self-destructing! 

            It has been recently discovered that women have also developed adaptive strategies and do not 'passively' allow this type of male competition to occur.  According to Baker, women's concealed ovulation is among the major weapons women have evolved in order to 'shop around' for superior genes for their children.  With concealed ovulation, women have made it difficult for a regular mate to guard them during their most fertile time of the month.  Consequently, concealed ovulation has set the stage for sperm competition by giving women the opportunity to be fertilized by men of their own choosing.  In fact, the Calahonda study found that 37% of female participants who spent two weeks far away from their partners, had affairs.  Although this percentage is considered unusually high, the low risk of discovery due to the great distance apart contributed to this high rate of infidelity. 

            One of the most startling finding from these studies of sperm competition focused on a woman's sexual orgasm.  An orgasm is a factor most closely linked with a woman's sexual satisfaction.  Remarkably, women have more 'high sperm retention' orgasms with their affair partners than with their regular partner!  (As noted by the amount of sperm contained in the 'flowback' collected after intercourse).  This idea coincides with the fact that most women report sexual gratification as an essential ingredient in extramarital affairs.  Moreover, women seem to time their orgasms with their affair partners to coincide more closely with their time of ovulation.  These findings, along with the sperm competition theory, may solve the puzzle of why women place such importance on sexual gratification as a major benefit of extramarital affairs! 

            However, it is possible that this theory is wrong.  Don Symons argues that female orgasms lack an adaptive function.  He suggests that women's orgasms, like men's nipples, have no evolutionary function.  Both are supposedly mere incidental byproducts of the common design males and females share at an early developmental stage.  Symons may be right, but there is sufficient evidence from several labs around the world weighing against his argument.  Since not all mated women have affairs, what strategy do straying women use to evaluate the cost-benefit of extramarital affairs compared to monogamous women?  Are straying women driven by the perception that more benefits arise from casual flings?  In a study, women who were actively pursuing short-term sexual strategies were contrasted with monogamous women.  Their perceptions of benefits differed.  One main benefit as mentioned previously, was sexual gratification from an affair partner and elevating self-esteem (due to the fact that more than one man found her attractive).  The greatest differences between these two groups did not focus on if they received such benefits.  Instead they were centered on how beneficial they would be at the time they are received.  These rewards included sexual experimentation, more sexual orgasms, and receiving oral sex, which their regular partners did not provide them.  Short-term sexual strategists perceived these rewards to be more beneficial than monogamous women did.  Other rewards centered on acquiring resources such as receiving expensive clothing, becoming friends with higher status people, discovering other attractive potential partners, and advancing a career.  The more promiscuous women were well aware of their sex` appeal and seemed capitalize on their sexuality by using multiple partners to gain status, material goods, and a wider pool of potential mates.  The last cluster of rewards involves the cultivation of new skills and abilities such as improving attraction techniques and being better at seducing a man because of experience gained through an extramarital affair.  These skills may be considered to be a better method for attracting a more desirable permanent partner.

            The question still remains, why do some women engage in a monogamous strategy while others opt for multiple partners?  One possibility is that casual strategists possess more abundant sexual assets that allow them to be more successful in reaping the various benefits from a short-term strategy.  Accordingly, a woman with less sexual appeal may be more limited in her success regarding extramarital affairs.  This explanation suggests that casual strategists should be viewed as more 'sexy' than a monogamous woman, but not necessarily more physically attractive.  Another possible explanation could be that a woman might lack the ability to hold on to a highly investing, long-term partner and so she chooses the multiple partner strategy.  Furthermore, the strategy a woman chooses depends on several circumstances such as the time in her life, the assets she possesses, and the social setting in which the sexual strategy is implemented. 

With all the potential benefits a woman can gain through affairs, it is puzzling that most women do not have affairs.  To understand this behavior, we could discuss the costs of infidelity.  The benefits from a woman's affair come at the cost of her regular mate.  Men do not like being cheated on so they greatly discourage this strategy by making it very costly for a woman to stray.  Men attempt to discourage affairs by closely guarding their mates and punishing them with verbal abuse, emotional manipulation, jealous rages, beatings, and even threaten death when infidelity is suspected.  Additionally, each woman's decision to stay or stray hinges on cost-benefit calculations based on the quality of her partner, perceived benefits, odds and consequences being discovered.  The most obvious cost is the expectable loss of the women's regular partner.  In fact, a study by Laura Betzig documented that infidelity more than any other reason, impels men to divorce their wives.  Another cost for these women is violence at the hands of their mates.  The violence can range from being kicked, punched, burned, belted, suffocated, or killed.  Unfortunately, the damage caused by this abuse is also borne by the children of battered wives.  An unfaithful wife also risks being ostracized by her own family and friends, thus further decreasing the overall investment towards the children.  Furthermore, if she is injured or dies and her mate abandons her, the kids are in jeopardy of suffering greater violence at the hands of others.  Research shows that stepchildren suffer a 40 times higher rate of abuse compared to kids that live with their biological parents.  Even if the regular mate does stay, he may continue to abuse her for her infidelity or even have an affair of his own.  Finally, loss of self-esteem, (which is different from the self-esteem gained through an affair partner), as a consequence of discovery is considered to be another important cost of infidelity.  This loss of self-esteem comes from the stern disapproval of family and friends because we tend to evaluate ourselves with the same mirror that others evaluate us.  Not surprisingly, there is a double standard in these costs and women usually experience the most severe consequences. 

            We inhabit a modern social environment that is forever changed from the era in which our sexual psychology evolved.  The anonymity of large city living allows more opportunities to carry out affairs without too much risk of discovery, compared to the small living arrangements our ancestors experienced.  By lowering the risk of discovery modern conditions lower the odds that women will suffer the cost of infidelity.  Also, modern urban cities provide thousands more potential partners (through work or leisure) to choose from than did the prehistoric communities.  Evidently, modern women share the sexual strategy of infidelity with our ancestral mothers.  However, the modern world has definitely increased the benefits and decreased the costs of extramarital affairs, which can cause women greater temptations for straying. 

Why Women Have Affairs


I.                   Reasons for female infidelity

a.     Mate insurance theory

                                                             i.      Ancestral woman could not rely on one man

1.    Life was a daily struggle for survival

2.    Abandonment or death of mate

b.     Back up mate theory

                                                             i.      Serves many functions when regular mate is not around

                                                          ii.      Sexual favors with a back up mate, increases the probability that he will provide protection and resources in the future

                                                       iii.      Choosing a back up mate is based on his ability and willingness to provide resources/protection when necessary

c.     Trading up theory

                                                             i.      Affairs used to evaluate potential husbands that may have better qualities than current mate

1.    Current mate loses value because he may be sick, injured, not providing resources, abusive, etc.

                                                          ii.      Woman has increased value

1.    Gained valuable skills or political alliances

2.    Contact with new tribe and more desirable, potential partners

                                                       iii.      Women’s high self value/perception may trigger her efforts for trading up

1.    She sees herself as deserving a better mate

II.                Evolutionary adaptive behavior

a.     Sperm competition theory

                                                             i.      When sperm from different men compete to fertilize a female’s egg at the same time

                                                          ii.      A female’s egg is viable from 12 to 24 hours but sperm are viable for up to seven days

1.    If a woman has sex with two different men in a week she activates this sperm competition

b.     Physiological clues

                                                             i.      Increased volume of ejaculate/testes size of male to crowd out competing sperm

                                                          ii.      Kamikaze sperm- bad swimmers with coiled tails

1.    They wrap themselves around the other man’s sperm and simultaneously self-destruct

a.     If they can’t fertilize the egg, they want to prevent other sperm from doing so

c.     Concealed ovulation

                                                             i.      Difficult for mate to know time that female is most fertile

1.    He can’t guard her during her most fertile period

                                                          ii.      A woman’s way of “shopping around” for superior genes

III.             Potential benefits of infidelity for a female

a.     Sexual gratification from an affair partner and elevating self-esteem

                                                             i.      Receive more sexual orgasms, oral sex, and sexual experimentation than with their regular partners

b.     Acquire status, material goods, and a wider pool of potential mates

c.     Cultivation of new skills and abilities related to attracting better partners

IV.           Costs of infidelity for a female

a.     Loss of regular mate

b.     Infidelity by a women is reported to be the #1 reason why men divorce their wives

                                                             i.      Men discourage infidelity by making it very costly for a woman to stray

1.    Loss of regular partner

2.    Loss of all benefits given to the female by the male

3.    Additional verbal abuse, emotional manipulation, beatings, or even death

c.     Possibility of being ostracized by family, friends, and community

d.     Loss of self-esteem due to being treated like an outcast

e.     Children may lose their primary provider


By Alberto

Point I found interesting

Examples of women’s fantasies that were documented by researchers: The following is what two different women included when talking about their fantasies:  “He let’s me know that I’m the center of his life, the only one who has ever made him feel this way” and “He says that I’m the only one who has ever made him feel this way.”  The women are taken by the lies that men make about how the women make them feel.  This is a burned out line, and I think that women should stop falling for it.      

Point I agree with

“Lust is one thing; acting on it is another.  Not all people who experience extramarital desires give in to them.

n      Throughout the entire chapters, the author made it seem as if all people are driven by their sexual impulses. 

Concept I would have liked author to explain more

Author has no evidence of married women using their positions of power and status to attract sex partners.  I know they have to be out there.



By Brenda

I. Women can detect symmetry through their sense of smell. Smelly T-shirts worn by symmetrical men were found to be more pleasing to women, but only when they were ovulating.

II. Women married to men matched to their level of desirability will sometimes be tempted to have affairs with men whom they find sexier than their husbands. Earlier, the author said that couples that are equally matched in desirability are the least likely to have affairs.

III. The author mentions several personality factors that contribute to infidelity. I would have like to have known how much infidelity is due to biology and how much of it is due to psychology. It seems to me that our psychological makeup would have a lot more to do with mate selection than the author would lead us to believe.


6.        (a) 1. When women look for an affair partner or a short-term mating, their main concern is the man’s genes. The affair partner must be “studly” or sexy. He must also be appealing to other women, which is the sexy son theory. Physical attractiveness is more important in a short term mating.  When looking for a long-term mate, women place a strong emphasis on status and whether the man would be a good provider and father.

     2. The personality of person’s mate can have an affect on whether their mate will be likely to cheat. Narcissism and low conscientiousness are personality predictors that may predispose a partner to be unfaithful. Emotional instability and quarrelsomeness are personality characteristics that can drive a person’s mate to want to be unfaithful.

(b) Personality is an overlooked predictor of infidelity. Narcissism is a very strong risk factor for infidelity in both men and women. The narcissistic person often seeks sexual gratification to boost their fragile self-esteem. They also lack empathy and believe that they are special. Hence they do not have to follow the rules that they believe others must follow. Those with low conscientiousness lack self-control and are impulsive. They also fail to recognize the effect that their actions may have on others.


By Karen

I.                    The point that I found most interesting was the concept that concealed ovulation has beneficial effects for the women because they are able to ‘shop around’, yet has unfavorable effects for their male partners due to paternal discrepancies.

II.                 The author presented sexual gratification as a major benefit for women who have extramarital affairs.  However, I disagree because sex is much more emotional for women, (as stated earlier in the text) and so the sexual gratification could be a result of being emotionally satisfied with their affair partners.  The two ideas seem to contradict each other, as presented by the author.

III.               The two theories, back up mate and trading up, are supposed to illustrate evolutionary adaptive behavior but I don’t think that the circumstances presented would be applicable in ancestral times. It would have been much more difficult for a woman to conceal an extramarital affair and the consequences were probably much more severe than today.



1). Most important points:

·        Concealed ovulation is beneficial for women and unfavorable for men.

·        Personality can help determine whether someone will cheat or not.

·        Physical attractiveness in is most important for women that pursue a short-term sexual strategy.

·        “No body has ever made him feel this way”

·        Men and women cheat for different reasons

2). Comments:

·        Author should have made better effort to research the concept of women using their status and power to attract sex partners.

·        “Lust is one thing; acting on it is another.  Not all people who experience extramarital desires give in to them.

·        The author mentions several personality factors that contribute to infidelity. I would have like to have known how much infidelity is due to biology and how much of it is due to psychology.

·        The author presented sexual gratification as a major benefit for women who have extramarital affairs.  However, I disagree because sex is much more emotional for women, and so the sexual gratification could be a result of being emotionally satisfied with their affair partners. 

·        Women married to men matched to their level of desirability will sometimes be tempted to have affairs with men whom they find sexier than their husbands. Earlier, the author said that couples that are equally matched in desirability are the least likely to have affairs.