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The National Health and Social Life Survey found that 4% of married men, 16% of cohabiting men, and 37% of dating men engaged in acts of sexual infidelity compared to 1% of married women, 8% of cohabiting women, and 17% of women in dating relationships.
These differences have been generally thought due to evolutionary pressures that motivate men towards sexual opportunity and women towards commitment to one partner.
The popularity of marriage is rising again after 40 years of decline.
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Rates of infidelity among women are thought to increase with age.
In one study, rates were higher in more recent marriages, compared with previous generations; men were found to be only "somewhat" more likely than women to engage in infidelity, with rates for both sexes becoming increasingly similar.
According to this theory, an area has a high sex ratio when there is a higher number of marriage-aged women to marriage-aged men and an area has a low sex ratio when there are more marriage-aged men.
In terms of infidelity, the theory states that when sex-ratios are high, men are more likely to be promiscuous and engage in sex outside of a committed relationship because the demand for men is higher and this type of behaviour, desired by men, is more accepted.
Another study found that the likelihood for women to be involved in infidelity reached a peak in the seventh year of their marriage and then declined afterwards; whereas for married men, the longer they were in relationships, the less likely they were to engage in infidelity, except for the eighteenth year of marriage, at which point the chance that men will engage in infidelity increases.
One measure of infidelity is covert illegitimacy, a situation which arises when someone who is presumed to be a child's father (or mother) is in fact not the biological parent.
A survey conducted in 1990 found 2.2% of married participants reported having more than one partner during the past year.
In general, national surveys conducted in the early 1990s reported that between 15–25% of married Americans reported having extramarital affairs.
People who had stronger sexual interests, more permissive sexual values, lower subjective satisfaction with their partner, weaker network ties to their partner, and greater sexual opportunities were more likely to be unfaithful.
Studies suggest around 30–40% of unmarried relationships and 18–20% of marriages see at least one incident of sexual infidelity.
In addition, recent research finds that differences in gender may possibly be explained by other mechanisms including power and sensations seeking.