5 Fascinating Facts About Cheating

In the wake of Beyoncé's colossal visual album which details her raw and redemptive experience with cheating, conversations about infidelity have been coursing through the Internet. Whomever "Becky with the good hair" really is, Bey's story obviously strikes a nerve with listeners because cheating is so painfully common. While the science of cheating might try to soften the blows of infidelity with biological explanations, try telling someone who's just gotten their heart shattered by an adulterous partner that humans aren't hardwired for monogamy and see how far it gets you.

True, monogamy is rare in the animal kingdom, and the reason why humans evolved into monogamists remains somewhat unclear. There's no question that extra-marital dalliances are not acceptable in most communities today, but despite this, popular culture still loves a juicy affair. From Unfaithful and The Affair to Fatal Attraction and, yes, even Lemonade, folks just can't look away from a horrific tale of cheating. However, when cheating becomes personal and not part of some vague, master narrative detailed in a rom-com or a pop song, people start to look for answers in psychology and science. 

There are thousands of theories about who is more predisposed to cheat and why, and how the experience of cheating can affect you. Here are five conclusions researchers have come to regarding infidelity:

1. A Thrill-Seeking Gene Might Make You More Likely To Cheat

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The phrase "cheating gene" gets tossed around a lot, and while scientists haven't located an actual cheating gene, they have found links between a thrill-seeking gene and cheating. Those with a certain variant of the DRD4 gene (which is present in about half the population) "were more likely to have a history of uncommitted sex, including one-night stands and acts of infidelity," said the leading researcher of the study from Binghamton University, SUNY. The same variant is also linked with alcoholism and gambling addiction.

2. Hormone Receptors Might Make You More Likely To Cheat

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Although there is plenty of research on men cheating, one study by the University of Queensland looked at the genetic basis for why both men and women might cheat. The New York Times reported that women with certain variants of a vasopressin receptor gene may be more likely to step out on their relationships. Because the hormone vasopressin impacts trust, empathy and sexual bonding, a mutation could impact how someone functions under monogamy.

3. Cheating Might Run In The Family

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As a poll of over 2,000 Brits in The Daily Mail revealed, half of men who reported being unfaithful said there was cheating in the male side of their family, and three quarters of women who reported being unfaithful said there was cheating in the female side of their family. While this is an informal poll, it does say a lot about how adultery can be a learned behavior and more impacted by nurture than nature.

4. You Might Be Able To Tell A Cheater By Their Face

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A University of Western Australia study found that after briefly looking at pictures of 34 women, male participants were able to guess which ones had admitted to infidelity with a 59 percent accuracy. Apparently, the inverse is similarly true, and women are also able to gauge adulterous men to moderate success by looking at their facial features, too.  

5. Those Who've Been Cheated On Adapt

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In one of the largest studies of breakups ever undertaken, an anonymous online survey of 5,705 people from 96 countries found that those who have been cheated on develop "higher mating intelligence." Basically, you live and learn from your experience with cheating, and will likely be inspired to choose a better partner for yourself next time. Not a bad consolation prize in the long run, right?

Images: Andrew Zaeh/Bustle; Giphy (5)

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