Pursuing infidelity considerately: some tips

A blog entry on Psychology Today explores the differential underpinnings of jealousy in women and men. The author argues that in general, men are more apt to be jealous when their self-esteem is threatened, while women are more upset if the relationship itself is threatened. Therefore, men become especially jealous when their partners’ lovers or potential lovers possess qualities that they themselves believe they are lacking, whether or not their partners appear to care all that much about these traits. Women, on the other hand, reach great heights of jealousy when they perceive that their partners’ lovers or potential lovers have traits they know their partners value. (The article ignores same-sex relationships.)
Simple examples:

  • A man of modest means in married to a woman who has a fling with a rich guy. Even if the driving force for the infidelity wasn’t the other man’s wealth, this is what the husband is apt to fixate on, whether or not he especially cares if the marriage survives.
  • A sedentary woman who knows her boyfriend appreciates a physically active partner sees him getting friendly with a female marathon runner. Even if the girlfriend sees herself as more attractive in any number of objective ways, the fact that her fears are being confirmed are apt to trigger extreme jealousy.

The author proposes that men are apt to be more jealous if they catch their partners cheating on them with another woman rather than another man, because of the loss-of-control factor; the other woman is clearly offering something no man can. This I’m not sure I buy. But I haven’t been through this and am not jealous by nature, so I am not really qualified to opine.
The concluding paragraph of the blog entry is funny:

In any case, if you decide (after lengthy consideration, of course) to take a lover, and yet you nevertheless want to reduce the pain this causes your partner, please choose a lover whose advantages are less relevant to your partner’s self-image. And if you are in a heterosexual relationship, choosing a same-sex lover is likely to further reduce your partner’s pain (at least in the case of a male partner). It seems that one can sin and still, to some extent, be considerate.

Somehow I don’t think supplying evidence of having planned things out with such diligence is apt to satisfy a lot of jllted people.

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  1. #1 by Snowbird on March 28, 2009 - 8:41 pm

    I’m surprised to see that you’re reading this stuff – it will rot your brain if you read, too much of it. Psychology Today, despite having been bought out by the APA years ago, is still a bunch of crap pop-psychology. Most of it is junk that does nothing, but further the personal bias of of some wannabe scientist. Come to think of it, that would sum up 90% of social and personal psychology research in a nut shell.
    The real unfortunate part is that this rag makes perfect fodder for John Tesh’s “intelligence for your life”. Which is about the most pathetic piece of trash out there. I used to listen to because I thought it would be a good laugh. Unfortunately, I often wound up wanting to throw Tesh of a 100 story building at the end of it because he’s such a moron.

  2. #2 by Kevin Beck on March 28, 2009 - 9:07 pm

    Snowbord–of course it’s crap. I read that blog periodically for roughly the same reason I read religious-nut blogs. The guy appears to be giving serous advice about how to cheat without causing too much domestic tumult.
    I don’t think the fact that it’s under the aegis of the APA makes it any more credible, really. Psychology is interesting, but as you say, it doesn’t matter how rigorous the research protocols are in that field–very little of applicable use seems to emerge from it. And for those who think I’m shitting on soft sciences, fear not; I’m shitting on psychology.

  3. #3 by Mara on March 29, 2009 - 7:27 am

    As a former APA employee (and current APA contractor), I should point out that APA hasn’t owned Psychology Today for a number of years. Yes, they did own it for a few years, but they sold it years ago.
    I’m not touching your contention that little of applicable use comes from psychology. Well, other than tapping my fingers on the keyboard and thinking about journals filled with research on how to treat anxiety, panic, depression, PTSD…

  4. #4 by Snowbird on March 30, 2009 - 9:15 am

    @Mara, I stand corrected on the Psychology today being owned by APA, it’s been years since my grad studies. OTOH, what part of social/personality psychology did you misunderstand?

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