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If you believe everything you see in the media, cheating and cheaters are on the rise across society. It’s not uncommon to hear of famous married men who are sexting and neighborhood wives who are finding their own “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
So what’s going on? Have we become a generation of people who can’t keep a promise? Well, sort of.
In fact, two major cultural trends are contributing to the apparent increase in marital infidelity: The rise of sexual opportunity and the decline of sexual restraint.
Let’s take each of these trends apart.
1. An increase in exposure to possible sexual partners and a willingness of those partners to participate in infidelity.
2. Technology can certainly be credited for an explosion of contact with strangers.
Our hunter/gatherer instincts make us sit up and take notice when a human outside of our gene pool enters our eyeline, but that instinct evolved when novel pheromones were few and far between.
Today, we are exposed to thousands of sexual opportunities every day on Facebook, Twitter, crowded subways, Starbucks lines and on actual dating websites.
As for a willingness of partners to participate in an illicit sexual encounter, technology has a piece of the puzzle there, too.
“Modern cheaters have easy tools — cell phones with
locks and private messages on Facebook and Twitter.”
And cheating has certainly become convenient.
Today, every married person can be contacted directly — no need to hang up after two signal rings on the family phone.
Modern cheaters have easy tools — cell phones with locks and private messages on Facebook and Twitter.
Any spouse can literally lead a double life due to technology. And this low risk of getting caught makes partners participatory.
We are living in a high-supply sexual economy as a byproduct of the sudden rise in female economic power.
Think of it this way:
When a woman is disadvantaged in a culture, she is more likely to withhold sex until a provider signs on the bottom line and supports her and her children.
It’s an economic contract called marriage.
Disadvantaged women are also more likely to enforce the sexual double standard, thereby coercing other women to deprive men of sex so it will increase the number of men willing to marry. (Yes, one of the reasons many men marry is to have consistent sex.)
But when women rise in economic power, they no longer need a male provider, so they enjoy the pleasures of their body and put sex out in the economy in high supply.
Thus, we have a decrease in sexual restraint among single women who may have affairs with cheaters.
Why has sexual restraint gone down among married people?
Some researchers speculate the decline of religion with inherent moral teachings is a factor, and they also blame our highly sexualized media.
Sexy television, films and online pornography arouse married people and give them the impression everyone is having lots of sex, something that may not be the case in long-term monogamy.
This makes them feel they are missing out.
It is the collision of these two trends, increased sexual opportunity and decreased sexual restraint, that results in a rise in infidelity.