The Closing Gender Gap: Infidelity and Boredom

Our first Good in Bed survey examined boredom within the context of relationships. We were curious about the prevalence of and relations to boredom and we surveyed 1418 men and 1923 women to find out. Not only did we find out that 25% of our sample indicated boredom in their relationship, but an additional 25% of our sample indicated they were on the brink of boredom.

Our survey about boredom yielded a ton of interesting data, and you can check it out here. One piece of information that we collected was about infidelity - I was interested in how this played out between men and women, especially with the recent research trends (some of which I've conducted) that show the gender gap between men and women is closing in terms of rates of infidelity.

Here is a breakdown of the men and women in our sample in terms of whether they could envision themselves engaging in infidelity due to boredom:
Picture 12.pngMen and women were equally likely to envision themselves engaging in infidelity due to boredom...but we also wanted to know how many have actually engaged in infidelity due to boredom in their relationship. Here is a breakdown of the men and women in our sample who have engaged in infidelity due to boredom:

Picture 13.png Statistically, we didn't see any significant gender differences on either measure of infidelity related to boredom. This is consistent with the current literature on infidelity. Now, we didn't collect information on whether our participants had ever engaged in infidelity for other reasons, and we know from the large body of infidelity research that there are a number of things that predict infidelity. So we can't promise that our participants wouldn't have varied by gender on other predictors of infidelity.

In earlier research, we often saw that men engaged in infidelity at higher rates than women. Also, there is a stereotype in our culture that men are more likely to cheat than women. Men tend to be constructed as over-sexual, always ready for sex, no matter the consequence. However, current research isn't supporting these stereotypes.

The closing gender gap isn't unique to infidelity. In research on sexual desire we also see this trend. Men are constructed to have higher desire relative to their female partners. In desire discrepancy research, we have seen this gender gap closing with men and women equally likely to be the partner with lower sexual desire relative to their partner.

All of these closing gender gaps lead me to question the cause. Is it because of actual shifts in men and women, both moving toward the mean? We have become more accepting as a society of women's sexuality from a pleasure perspective. So perhaps women are more open to expressing their sexual desires, experiences, and even deviance (in the form of infidelity) than they previously were. Or, is this an artificial trend that is a result of shifts in data collection methodology? When collecting sensitive-topic survey data (such as data on sexuality), researchers are increasingly turning to online data collection. Online data collection has been shown to yield more accurate information due to the anonymity the Internet brings. It is also a more cost-effective methodology that offers a broader participant base than paper-and-pencil would provide. So perhaps this gender gap never existed, but women were just hesitant to document it on paper, where the Internet now allows for the anonymity necessary for honesty.

Regardless of the reason, this isn't the last we will hear of the narrowing gender gap in the realm of sex research.

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