Having great sex in a relationship has traditionally been considered a factor that would stop either partner becoming unfaithful.
But new research has found that having a good sex life may make one’s partner more – not less – likely to stray, a study suggests.
Researchers suggest that people who really enjoy sex are more likely to be unfaithful because they seek out sex with more partners.
As well as finding out that good sex could be a risk factor, the researchers at Florida State University found men with a more-attractive wife were less likely to cheat than women with a more-attractive husband.
The authors say this sex difference is ‘consistent with evidence that partner attractiveness to men than it is to women’.
Researchers at Florida State University found that people who really enjoy sex are more likely to be unfaithful because they seek out sex with more partners
They also found attractive women were slightly more likely to remain faithful than less attractive women.
But in men, being more attractive was more likely to lead to straying.
The findings came from wide-ranging research into whether you can predict whether someone is likely to cheat in a relationship.
And they found that people whose gaze lingers on attractive ‘alternative’ mates were the ones who would be more likely to cheat – and their marriages more likely to fail.
In the study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers followed 233 newly married couples for up to three and a half years.
They recorded documented intimate details about their relationships, including marital satisfaction, long-term commitment, whether they had engaged in infidelity and if they were still together.
The researchers wanted to see if they could find factors that might show someone was more likely than not to ‘play away’ from home.
They showed participants in the study photographs of highly attractive men and women, as well as pictures of average-looking men and women and measured how long they looked a thtem.
They found that participants who quickly stopped looking at an attractive person were less likely to have affairs during the course of the study.
The difference in the length of time of the gaze between ‘cheaters’ and ‘faithful’ people was just fractions of a second.
A person who looked at an attractive person for just a few hundred milliseconds longer was 50 per cent more likely to cheat than someone who stopped looking at the attractive picture.
As well as avoiding looking longingly at others, researchers found that faithful people also ‘downgraded’ how attractive they viewed others.
The authors say that faithful people – when asked to evaluate how good looking other people were – gave lower scores than people who went on to cheat.
You could say that for faithful people, the grass is not greener.
The researchers say that these ‘automatic’ reactions –disengaging attention, and downgrading attractiveness could be taught by professionals, such as marriage guidance counsellors or psychologists.
At a time when potential romantic partners on social media that could tempt someone to stray is high, the authors say their research is more relevant than ever.
The authors write: ‘With the advent of social media, and thus the increased availability of and access to alternative partners, understanding how people avoid the temptation posed by alternative partners may be more relevant than ever to understanding relationships.’
Younger people were also more likely to cheat.
And in what is perhaps the least surprising finding, so were people who were less satisfied with their relationships.
Men who had previously had lots of short-term sexual partners were also more likely to have an affair, although the opposite was true of women.