Why do women cheat? Some people say they do it in revenge or because they are dissatisfied in their relationships, but science is adding a twist to the tale, with a new study suggesting that women cheat because they are wired to have a back-up man.
Professor David Buss, who led a team of researchers from the University of Texas in the US in studying this phenomenon, explained that neither men nor women are wired to practise lifelong monogamy, but rather, they are wired to keep switching mates.
“Affairs serve as a form of insurance, by keeping a back-up mate, should a mate switch be required in future when the regular mate cheats, defects, dies or declines in value,” the researchers reported.
According to the study, women are always measuring their mates against other single men and they consider cheating if the mate value of their current partners is found wanting.
“Breaking up with one partner and re-mating with another may more accurately characterise the common, perhaps the primary, mating strategy of humans,” said the research report.
Overall, the study sought to challenge the assumption that human beings are monogamous in nature and the idea that break-ups are a sign of failure. “Although break-ups are often seen as ‘failures’, humans are designed to dump current mates and acquire new ones in circumstances when mate switching would have been advantageous,’ said the researchers.
The study cited the evolution of ancestral relationships, saying that since chances of male survival were low, women tended to choose the man with the highest ability to survive. However, they always had a secondary option on the cards just in case their primary choice died or failed to live up to their expectations.
“Ancestral women lacking a back-up mate would have suffered a lapse in protection, and resources,” Buss explained.