Men who earn less than their partner likely to cheat


Men who earn less than their female partner are more likely to cheat on her, a study  found.

Cheating may be a man’s way of trying to restore his gender identity when he feels it is under threat, Christin Munsch, a sociology doctorate candidate at Cornell University, says in the study, which she authored and presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.

“Making less money than a female partner may threaten men’s gender identity by calling into question the traditional notion of men as breadwinners,” said the study’s author Christin Munsch, a sociology doctorate candidate at Cornell University.

“This relationship may be particularly strong for certain subgroups of the population that highly value traditional masculinity, like Latino men,” she added.

Indeed, the study found that infidelity dramatically increased when the man earning less than his female partner is Latino, probably because breadwinner status is “one of the defining features of Hispanic masculinity.”

Then again, the same study found that men whose partners were more dependent on them were also more likely to cheat, making it a lose-lose situation for women.

It’s different for girls, though.

If a woman is the main breadwinner in the family, she’s more likely to cheat — it would seem that relationships where women earn more than men really are doomed — and if she depends on her male partner for money, then she is less likely to cheat.

Overall, women are half as likely to cheat as men anyway, whatever the circumstances, the study found.

“Women’s femininity is not defined by their breadwinner status, nor is it defined by sexual conquest. Therefore, economic dependency does not serve as a threat to women,” Munsch says.

“Rather, given the sexual double standard, it is likely that, for women, economic dependency leads women to be more faithful.”

The study indicates ways to prevent one’s partner cheating without giving up the well-paid day job.

Both sides being satisfied in a relationship is a sure-fire way to make infidelity disappear, and getting your partner to go to church or the mosque or temple regularly is another: the more regularly an individual attends a religious service, the less likely he or she is to cheat, the study says.

Looking for a partner in a university library, lab or lecture might also be an idea because, the study says, “the more education one reports, the less likely he or she is to engage in infidelity.”

Munsch analyzed data on 1,024 men and 1,559 women who were married or living with a partner for at least a year for the study, which also found that, for whatever reason, men were around twice as likely as women to be unfaithful — 6.7 percent of men cheated in a six-year period versus 3.3 percent of women.


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  1. Avatar andrew k soi January 1st, 1970 at 12:00 am

    that is new to me

  2. Avatar popcorn June 6th, 2013 at 3:22 am

  3. Avatar GK December 8th, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    Data shows this “Men who earn less than their partner likely to cheat”. ok
    Then this article (I have not read the dissertation) proceeds to looks for reasons to pin the blame on the man, vilify and and further demean his already lowered status. I am assuming the researcher has taken into account reporting biases, which is women are less likely to admit to cheating, and men are more likely to brag about it. This article is lop-sided. It does not provide the information necessary for higher earning women with non-university husbands to succeed in their relationship but instead seems to advice to avoid them. … shoving the dust under the carpet so to speak.

    There is danger in reporting research like this because, it amplifies the underlying causes of the problem by misreading data.

    Cheating is not the starting cause of relationship deterioration but a symptom of one that has been deteriorating for quite a long time, at-least as long as it takes to start another extra-marital relationship. Cheating happens in a relationship when there is discontentment in the relationship itself. This discontentment can result because of (1) the woman (2) the man (3) both. That the higher earning woman may have an individualistic her perception of income, not having an intimate financial union with her partner. Her perceived disregard to her own man, patronizing projection of use of money, might have already destroyed for him the state of sexual contentment and emotional security in the marriage. There are necessary behaviours that higher earners need to project to make an intimate parter feel needed. Higher earning men, with dependent or less earning wives might not disaffect the sexual health of the relationship, since lesser earning by the woman is not part of a male’s evaluation of a intimate sexual partner. Being unfaithful by the the lesser partner may also be a passive way to trigger the other into consenting to a divorce. The lesser earning woman is not likely to disregard her husband on account of his higher earning, and knows that being feminine-supportive is necessary to prevent her higher earning husband from straying away.

    The article does not mention that the women in the relationship need to work on keeping their end of the sexual relationship healthy. And women need to assume their higher bread-winning status with some graciousness . The blame is put squarely on the man instead of 50-50.

    Amongst mentioned suggestions here, yes, sometimes when you are in a dead relationship, praying to god to deliver from living hell is one thing one way to kill one’s sexual desire. another not mentioned one is to work hard and keep busy so as to be able to ignore the discontentment. Are these really solutions?

    I hope there is direct-to-the issue, neutral and holistic recommendations in “The study indicates ways to prevent one’s partner cheating without giving up the well-paid day job.”


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