Until 200 years ago, couples generally married for reasons of kinship or to pass on their land or property. This monogamy was necessary to ensure that no individual cheats and leaves the imposed family line., And so that the properties remain in the male line.
However, extramarital affairs and infidelities have always been a part of human history, regardless of the culture and society of the time. I today it seems that rates of infidelity between couples have skyrocketed and we ask ourselves: is it a cultural issue or are we inherently unfaithful?
Infidelity rate in our culture
Today, couple relationships are established not only to share property, but also for love and desire.
The hope for married couples is that this love will last until deathAlthough the reality is that for more than half of them, it fades long before death or even old age. Some remarry and choose serial monogamy, creating an engagement with another spouse, although statistics tell us that second marriages only last a third of the time and thirds are even less successful.
The rates of infidelity in our culture haven’t changed much. Although studies vary in their results, they show that almost 60% of men and over 45% of women will cheat on their partner at some point. In reality, problems related to infidelity and cheating in marriage affect nearly one in three couples.
Why are we unfaithful?
However, studies vary on why infidelities occur. Some data suggest it is an effect of dopamine; this neurotransmitter would be released by cheating on our partner and hiding that we have another relationship. Other studies emphasize that it is a matter of opportunity: that is, when the opportunity presents itself, we do not hesitate. But there seem to be as many reasons to be unfaithful as there are people in this world.
The reality is that there aren’t any studies that really prove that humans, as mammals that we are, are monogamous in nature. Take a look at our history as primates to justify our behavior. Do we have the ability to mate with people outside of our primary relationship because deep down are we just animals? It’s possible. Do we have the capacity to make such decisions because our brains have evolved since we lived in caves? It is also possible.
What does the research say?
In a study conducted at the University of Oxford, it was observed that the rate of infidelity was related to the length of the index fingers compared to the length of the ring fingers of the respondents. It was found that 62% of men and 50% of women who had a ring finger larger than the index finger were more likely to commit infidelity.
This appears to be due to the fact that a longer length of this finger correlates with a higher level of exposure to the hormone testosterone during fetal development. However, one should be careful when interpreting this data and remember that correlation is not the same as causation (having a longer finger does not imply that one should automatically be a Don. Joan).
Studies have also been carried out on prairie moles, one of the only truly monogamous mammals. Their mating habits have been compared to those of their more promiscuous cousins, the peasant moles; and the results suggest that the only difference between the two animals is that the former had a higher level of vasopressin and the female moles more promiscuous they had more oxytocin receptor blockers, A substance considered as the hormone of love and which promotes the union of couples.
In fact, inhibiting oxytocin creates resistance to this type of binding, and it’s interesting that when women are stressed, they generate lower levels of this hormone.
So are we inherently unfaithful or not?
We live in a culture where almost 50% of couples divorce. Many of these marriages, possibly up to a third, end due to infidelity. Does this mean that as a society we are not attached to monogamy?
Some people assume that infidelity is a symptom of a fundamental problem in a marriage or engaged relationship, ignoring the more important dilemma of whether monogamy is even possible for the average person. It also seems that we are not very good at choosing our lovers, and it is that only 10% of these relationships last even a month; and the rest lasts a maximum of a year or two. Very few extramarital affairs last longer than three or four years.
Perhaps, in response to the constant divorce rate, today we have a new generation of open weddingsAnd what is defined as polyamory, where couples choose to define their own structural forms of new monogamy. Some couples choose what is traditionally called an “open relationship,” where sexual fidelity is not what maintains the monogamous relationship, but it is the emotional bond that defines the concept of monogamy.
In short, today we may not have a clear answer to the question of whether or not we are inherently unfaithful; However, new questions are being raised that affect the question of how we currently understand the concept of monogamy which can enrich our view of what a relationship means to us and what we can do to be happier in our relationships.