In our predominantly monogamous society, cheating is primarily painted as objectively wrong. The person who cheats in the movies or in our favorite television shows is inarguably the bad guy and there really isn't much further discussion on why it is that the person may have cheated. But, if all of these people are out there cheating, I think it's safe to say there might be some pretty legitimate reasons. Does cheating make you happy? Well, according to a new study, the answer to that question depends on your gender.
Believe it or not, the results of the study found that cheating makes women happier than it does men.
In order to conduct her research, Alicia Walker, Ph.D., an assistant professor of sociology at Missouri State University, surveyed Ashley Madison users and found that women who cheated were more likely to be satisfied with the controversial lifestyle choice than men who did the same.
The first reasoning behind this happiness is that cheating can, at times, increase sexual desire. "Females having affairs are more likely to be happy than men,” reports Walker, whose study was published last week in the Journal of Sexuality and Culture, told Marie Claire. "It’s the ‘monogamy malaise.’ Existing research shows the longer women are in a sexual relationship, the more their desire drops over time, and they become less and less interested in having sex with their primary partner. However, if they take on a new partner, their sexual desire returns to its previous high level."
Lots of women find joy in cheating because they genuinely believe it's saving their marriage. “If women believe they have to have an affair to stay married, it increases the happiness,” Walker explains to Marie Claire. She also found that for both men and women the likelihood of their happiness increased if they were having sex with their lover at least twice a week.
Walker believes another reason why cheating is an especially positive experience for women is that it's one of the few times they're able to have a relationship completely on their own terms. "These affairs are spaces where women set the boundaries and the rules and they create them to focus on their own needs," she tells Marie Claire. "They purposely vet partners and only get involved with men who will cater to their wants, needs, and desires. These are spaces unlike any others in their lives." Of course, this doesn't mean that there aren't other ways for women to develop relationships on their own terms.
While she admits that the responses might have been a little skewed by those cheaters trying to justify their behavior, Walker believes that why you're cheating plays a huge role in whether or not you'll actually be happy with your decision to do so.
"This data shows that the reasons you choose to cheat greatly impact the satisfaction of your experience," she explains to Marie Claire. "The more satisfied you are in your primary partnership, the more satisfied you are in your affair." If the only reason you're cheating is to satisfy a sexual need rather than an emotional one, you'll have the highest likelihood of being a happy cheater.
That being said, the study also found that people were the most happy when they left their deteriorating relationships and got a fresh start with a new partner.
Here's to hoping people in unhappy relationships are able to muster the strength to leave and subsequently find that happiness in their own lives.
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