Financially Dependent Spouses Are More Likely To Cheat On Their Partners, New Study Finds, Especially Economically Dependent Men
A new study out of University of Connecticut says financially dependent spouses are more likely to cheat, reports The Guardian. Christin Munsch, a professor and author of the study, which was published in the American Sociological Review, decided to look into this area after conversations about infidelity with her friends, "specifically, one unemployed young man who cheated on his partner, saying that he had felt emasculated because she made more money." She was interested in the relationship between feeling emasculated and acting out in order to claim back some autonomy.
The anecdotal evidence was cemented with her study, published in the American Sociological Review. She looked at information from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth from 2001 to 2011, taking information from 2,757 individuals that were in heterosexual relationships for at least a year, all falling between the ages of 18 and 32.
Although it seemed that dependence could lead to infidelity in anyone, she found that 5 percent of women who are economically dependent cheat and 15 percent of financially dependent men will. Munsch emphasizes how dependence seems to have a larger impact on the male respondents:
We don’t really like inequity, and there’s probably something about masculinity that means men really don’t like it.
Another project that Munsch has found interesting in relation to infidelity involves looking at men at a university with more female than male students. Despite seeing how many women were at university receiving the same level of education, she has found the men still feel pressured to be the main income provider. Munsch tells The Guardian:
It's 2015 and they’re looking around at their very successful women peers and they still feel this need to live up to that expectation. It speaks to how strong of a social norm that is, particularly in older generations, and I think that’s what’s going on with men who are economically dependent.
It's a important reminder of the rippling effect of sexist expectations, and the clash of engrained heteronormative roles with today's reality, for both men and women.
She also notes that with the gendered nature of the results a look at homosexual couples in the future would be especially interesting and could provide some beneficial insights.