Volume 9

Gender Differences in the Perceived Effects of Emotional and Sexual Infidelity on Couples’ Relationships

Cheryl Lum and Nicole Peloquin

Infidelity affects many young adults in different ways. This study was conducted to investigate gender responses to dating infidelities as well as to explore perceptions of its impact on dating relationships. Participants were 169 college students, 87 of whom were women. Participants evaluated one of six scenarios of hypothetical couples depicted as having committed one of three types of infidelity: sexual and emotional infidelity, emotional infidelity, and sexual infidelity. Also, each participant was asked to complete a questionnaire consisting of scales measuring sexual attitudes and trust. Results indicated overall that men and women were equivalent in their views of the damaging effects on infidelities. However, when presented with the hypothetical situations, women viewed the combination of sexual and emotional infidelity as more damaging to relationships than emotional infidelity alone. In contrast, men viewed all three forms as equally damaging to relationships. Women also scored higher in sexual permissiveness than did men. Thus, it appears that young adults, especially men, may be more conservative in their views about casual sex and recognize the potential damaging effects of dating relationship infidelities.

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