According to a piece by Tom Jacobs for Pacific Standard, “New research published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin …. suggests men’s ability to resist temptation is no stronger or weaker than that of the ladies. But it gets overridden more often because of the intensity of men’s desire.” Experts say men succumb to sexual temptations more than women because men experience stronger impulses, not because they exert less intentional control.
Sounds like a lame excuse for guys to cheat, right? “I couldn’t help it!” But it “makes sense from an evolutionary psychology perspective,” Jacobs writes. He quotes researchers as saying “brief, low-investment sexual encounters could have resulted in greater reproductive success for men than for women in humans’ evolutionary past.” He then adds, “while that urge goes back to our beginnings [as] a species, the ability to use self-control is relatively new, perhaps dating back no more than 50,000 years …. it’s not surprising that it is sometimes overridden by the … desire to mate with anyone who strikes a man’s fancy.” Self-control only dates back 50,000 years, guys. That’s hardly enough time to master something! It’s not like humans are really brilliant creatures who can learn multiple languages and create advanced technology and fly into space and stuff. Cut dudes some sexual slack. Penises are really complicated.
Jacobs says that “in another 50,000 years, the self-control impulse in men will strengthen to the point where it can override the I-want-her impulse.” The “I-want-her impulse.” Wow. That’s slippery language, the kind that is sometimes used to justify rape, assault and unwanted sexual advances. If we as a society expect men to be able to control themselves and not rape women, why can’t we expect them to control themselves enough not to cheat? How do we know that the poor impulse control men exhibit when it comes to cheating isn’t societal rather than biological or psychological? Furthermore, can’t we say the same might be true about women’s desire for monogamy? How much of our gendered behavior comes from socialization?
According to Ian Lang of AskMen.com, “I think most men have, at some point in their lives, had an attractive woman really come on strong to them. How we handle it depends on several factors, dating status presumably chief among them. Single? Great, hit it like it owes you money.” Um, okay. But, he says, “Not single? You know what the answer should be, but do you have the willpower? The kind of man who gives into this kind of temptation is often less experienced with women, and despite his being spoken for, believes it to be an opportunity he can’t pass up.”
Lang concludes his Top 6 Reasons Why Men Cheat by saying, “Whatever a man tells himself (or his partner) to rationalize his infidelity, it belies the simple fact that he is involved in something in which he does not fully wish to be involved. If you feel like you’re going to cheat, try to determine if … it can be resolved. If not, suck it up, be a man and get out.” He admits, “Cheating, above all else, is an act of disrespect and cowardice.” Not an impulsive “oops.”
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