Study Finds Something Upsetting About Certain Men Who Cheat


How do you know a cheater when you see one? You could zero in people who are risk-takers, or the promiscuous among us, or most of all, people who have already cheated. But a new study points us to another culprit of infidelity: money. 

Specifically, a husband who's financially dependent on his wife may make him more likely to cheat.

The study: Published in the June issue of the American Sociological Review, the study analyzed the financial situations and relationship history of 2,750 married people ages 18 to 32, using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.

The findings? Both men and women are more likely to cheat on their spouses if they're economically dependent on them. Moreover, not being the breadwinner increases the wandering eye for both men and women, but the effect is that much stronger in men. 

In an average year, there is a 5% chance financially dependent women will cheat, while there is a 15% chance financial dependent men will have an affair, study author Christin L. Munsch told Science Daily.

Feeling a little insecure: What about a breadwinning wife makes men that much more likely to stray? Call it the Jack Berger syndrome: It may be that some men grow insecure when they're making less money than a woman. The cheating is, then, reaction to their wife deviating from the gender norm of being the financially dependent spouse. 

"In situations that challenge the status quo — namely, when men are economically dependent and women are breadwinners — identity concerns would become salient, threatening men's masculinity," the study said. "Consequently, men with low relative incomes would be more likely to engage in infidelity." 

Historically men have lived under the expectation they're the ones who bring home the bacon. As the study suggests, when men aren't the ones supporting the household, they might feel like less of men and thus seek out sexual validation elsewhere. 

But the truth is that in 2015, we've entered an era of bringing home the bacon (or arugula, pasta, whatever you're craving.) In 2013, women were the primary breadwinners in 4 in 10 U.S. households with children under age 18, making the study's findings seem particularly backward. 

Ironically, all it might take to get over the fears of emasculation from uneven household incomes might be an honest conversation. After all, according to a recent Time survey, couples with the greatest trust about money have the hottest sex lives.