Dear Dr. G,

I am writing to you with a bit of guilt and dilemma

I am a twenty-five year old chap who is a “bit of a lad”.

I have been in several relationships in the past and all of them ended up in a mess.

Truthfully, they are entirely my fault.

I admit it, while engaged in a serious relationship, I have tendency to “wonder off” for casual encounters outside the relationship

Of course, having been caught a few times before, I begin to reflect on this terrible habit of cheating on my partner.

I read somewhere men just has genetic tendency of promiscuity, therefore would like to put Dr. G on the spot for this matter.

Why do some people tend to have multiple sex partners while being in a serious long-term relationship? 

What fuels the “casual sex” phenomenon, and why is it becoming more common in today’s society? 

Which gender and age groups tend to have higher urge for casual sexual activities? Why? Is there such a thing as a “playboy genes”?

What are the long-term psychological effects of having multiple sex partners?

Lastly, I really hope you can enlighten me with the nature or nurture of promiscuity.

Casual Cameron

Many terminologies have been coined for individuals having multiple partners while being in a serious relationship. The violation of a couple’s assumed emotional or sexual exclusivity in a relationship is infidelity, also described as adultery, cheating, unfaithful or having an affair. Such tendency of promiscuity has been extensively studied since 1950’s.

The phenomenon of engaging in casual sex is slightly different. Such behavior can stem from non-committal sexual activities taking place without a romantic commitment. Behaviors such as causal dating, one-night stands, swinging and prostitution are typical of casual sex where absence of emotional attachment.

The culture of casual sex emerged since the 1920’s when the “flapper lifestyle” became popular. The automotive ownership boomed and increase in dating venues such as Jazz halls generated casual hook-up opportunity. The era also coincided with the decrease in parental control of courtship.

The Sexual revolution in 1960’s, with the advent of oral contraceptive pills and women’s liberation witnessed the rejection of parental matrimonial ideals. In modern days, the depiction of trends in liberal sexual behavior in films and pop culture continues to push the boundary of sex without procreative intent. This is reflected in studies demonstrated one-time sexual encounters amongst college-aged students becoming increasingly common. Seventy percent of individuals in this age group have partaken in casual sex at least once because of their newfound sexual freedom in early adulthood.

Men and women are found to engage in very similar casual sex conducts, despite popular beliefs. A 1995 study of Canadian students traveled to Florida for spring break. This is when students are known to deliberately seeking-out casual encounters and experimenting with risky behavior. The study revealed 30% of participants had penetrative sex with a person they met during the break. Of the 681 students studied, 15% of males and 13% of females had such casual sexual behavior. However, 61% of men and 34% of women admitted to casual sex within 24hours of encounter.

Other studies had demonstrated different gender statistics when it comes to adultery, The National Health and Social Life Survey found 4% of married men, 16% of cohabiting men, and 37% of dating men engaged in infidelity. This compared to 1% of married women, 8% of cohabiting women and 17% of dating women with such affairs.

The Father of sexual medicine, Alfred Kinsey suggested adultery is historically and culturally is common. In general, individuals blamed stronger sexual interests, more permissive sexual values, lower subjective satisfaction with partner, greater sexual opportunities and weaker network ties with their partners are more likely to be unfaithful. In the twenty-first century, scientists even managed to support people who are unfaithful to their partners may be genetically predisposed that way. A certain type of Dopamine Receptor gene (DRD4) is linked to sensation-seeking behavior associated with one-night stands and infidelity.

Numerous studies have shown negative impact of infidelity in a relationship. These include rage, aggressiveness; lost of trust, decrease personal and sexual confidence. Other psychological adversities are sadness, depression, guilt, damaged self-esteem and fear of abandonment. This commonly leads to justification to leave the relationship. A 1983 report revealed sample of 205 divorced individuals, half of them stated infidelity is the major source of the break-up.

One of the founding fathers of USA, Benjamin Franklin once said: “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything!” Dr. G is often put on the spot, by men (and occasionally women) coming up with excuses of infidelity blaming nature or nurture leading to promiscuity. Despite some weak evidence supporting the genetic tendency of being unfaithful “Making excuses for love cheat is simply good for nothing!”

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