The Most Dependent Men Are Most Likely to Cheat

Well, this isn’t exactly good news for wives in high places.

A new study in the June issue of American Sociological Review has found that men who are married to female breadwinners are most likely to cheat – especially those who were 100 per cent economically dependent on their wives.

The dependent males were three times more at risk of cheating than women who were married to male breadwinners. While there is a 15 per cent chance that a man married to a female breadwinner will cheat, women who are financially dependent on their husbands face only a 5 per cent chance of straying.

I have to say, I’m not too surprised. It all comes down to ego (and perhaps a little heckling from buddies about asking the wife for money for a night on the town).

Trust me, nobody wants to feel financially dependent on another person.

No matter how much you try to pretend otherwise, there exists an inevitable power dynamic that puts the ‘have-not’ in an inferior position. Take it from someone who once sat in coach on a flight while her (ex)-boyfriend enjoyed the royal treatment in first-class (I mean, I appreciated the vacation, but still).

The authors agree – about the whole ego thing, that is.

Study author Christin Munsch says that extramarital sex “allows men undergoing a masculinity threat – that is, not being primary breadwinners, as is culturally expected – to engage in behavior culturally associated with masculinity.”

If they don’t have kids, maybe it could also have something to do with all that free time on their hands (just thinking out loud, here).

According to the study, as the percentage of earnings that men bring home relative to their wives increases, the less likely they are to cheat – but only up to a certain point.

Once a man starts bringing home more than 70 per cent of combined marital income, he becomes more likely to have an affair. This is not shocking news, either. We see it both with our own eyes at swanky Thursday night hotspots, and in the media, as each report of a high-profile athlete, movie star, or politician cheating seems to blend into one, having lost its shock value years ago.

The thing is, though, the study found the opposite to be true for the female breadwinners; the larger per cent of the combined income that comes from them, the less likely they are to cheat. Munsch points to previous studies that suggest that women in such a position are “acutely aware” of their deviation from long-established cultural norms – and are still not entirely comfortable with the whole idea.

In turn, they’ll do things like downplay their accomplishments or take on more housework to big up their man’s masculinity. Unlike their male counterparts, they’ll also remain true to the vow they took to be faithful.

The study was based on data from more than 2,750 married people between the ages of 18 and 32 who were part of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth from 2001 through 2011.

So, with that in mind, the age of the subjects also probably comes into play in terms of their marital habits. Not to mention, under the age of 25, who’s really rolling in that much dough any way – dependent or not?

When it comes to surveys on cheating, I’m also always skeptical of the findings; I mean, if a cheater can lie so easily to his or her spouse, then lying on a survey is probably second nature, right?

Either way, we know a few couples – and potential couples – who should probably pay attention.