Msc Kvetch: Why isn’t the excuse for male cheating open to women?



In an op-ed in the NYT Sunday Review (May 24, 2015), “Infidelity Lurks in Your Genes,” Richard Friedman states that:

We have long known that men have a genetic, evolutionary impulse to cheat, because that increases the odds of having more of their offspring in the world.

But now there is intriguing new research showing that some women, too, are biologically inclined to wander, although not for clear evolutionary benefits.

I’ve never been sold on this evolutionary explanation for male cheating, but I wonder why it’s assumed women wouldn’t be entitled to it as well. For the male’s odds of having more offspring to increase, the woman has to have the baby, so why wouldn’t the woman also get the increased odds of more offspring? It’s the woman’s offspring too. Moreover, the desire to have babies tends to be greater among women than men.

Categories: Misc Kvetching | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Msc Kvetch: Why isn’t the excuse for male cheating open to women?

  1. I guess it’s because a woman’s procreation rate more or less maxes out at one baby per year, and for most of our evolutionary past, women would typically be not far short of that from age 12 until they died (quite probably in childbirth). Few men, on the other hand, will have been hitting their theoretical annual maximum, which for men of the ages we evolved to live to is 365 times some constant in the range 1-.

    • But if she were busy having babies, she wouldn’t be available for having babies through affairs

      • paul

        what about after she has the baby? everyone knows its hers. man has incentive to have other man raise his offspring.

    • I have read that a man’s fertility declines (sperm count/quality drops) unless he reserves himself to an every-other-day ejaculation… so it should be 0.5…

  2. Argh. “1-.” above should have said “1-[mumble]”, except I used angle brackets instead of square ones and WordPress ate them.

  3. paul

    a nine month biological commitment seems relevant to cheating behavior differences between sexes.

    apart from that, dont know anything and appreciate your points.

    • That could explain a difference in rates,as opposed to a difference in explanation. Again, I’m not saying it’s a good explanation for male behavior

  4. BT

    Oh, wait, but wouldn’t this translate into: if a gene-machne can’t reproduce cheaply, it would benefit the most by finding the best possible partner (which is what the so-called standard narrative suggests)?

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