Cheating in the era of Technology
Technology has transformed the world of dating and mating. Although the need for love is ubiquitous and universal, how we love is changing fundamentally The Internet has increased the pool of possible mates exponentially, giving us an unprecedented proliferation of choices. Once upon a time in the village, you got to pick between John and Mark, or Jane and Janet. Today we can target partners with carefully chosen criteria, filtering out undesirable character traits or perceived incompatibilities. A few decades ago, those having difficulty meeting eligible people; would have feel ashamed if they were suggested to put out a personal ad. Today the stigma is less embarrassing, and the Internet has become a place of cross breeding. The process of mate selection has been democratized. The swiping culture lures us with infinite possibilities, but it also exerts a subtle tyranny. The constant awareness of ready alternatives invites unfavorable comparisons, weakens commitment and prevents us from enjoying the present moment. “How do I know that I’ve chosen the right one?” we wonder. “What if there is someone better suited for me out there?” Many young people today live in a state of chronic self-doubt and FOMO (fear of missing out).
And if technology has changed how we choose, it’s also changed how we cheat. Though few experts can agree on percentages, they all agree that affairs are on the rise — and not least because women are rapidly closing the “infidelity gap.” As Esther Perel discuss in her book The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity, the possibilities for dalliance are endless in our connected era. Sixty-eight percent of Americans own a smartphone, which means “you’re carrying a 24-7 singles bar in your pocket,” as comedian Aziz Ansari and psychologist Eric Klinenberg wrote in Modern Romance. You no longer even need to leave home to stray — you can have an affair while lying next to your partner in bed. The Internet has had sex “accessible, affordable, and anonymous,” as the late researcher Al Cooper pointed out in his book Sex and the Internet. That description applies equally to affairs, although I’d add another word: ambiguous. Arguments about infidelity have become more complex. What constitutes an affair, when an illicit relationship may not involve an exchange of kisses but an exchange of nude pics? Does a Snapchat with a stranger count as cheating in the same way as the old-fashioned romp in a motel room? Because of the ever-expanding range of furtive activities that the online world plays host to, we must carefully rethink our definition of infidelity. The common stereotype is that men are more likely to cheat on their romantic partners than women. It falls into the old stories of men not being able to resist female attention, and the fact women supposedly have more self-control. In fact, although this may have been based on truth in the past, women have been catching up to men with infidelity over the past few years.One study from Kinsey Institute at Indiana University found that women are cheating at nearly the same rate as men.
The 2013 General Social Survey in the US found that the number of wives who reported having affairs rose almost 40% over the past two decades, while the number of men stayed pretty much consistent.The IQ level too may play a part in the cheating scheme.
One study from 2010, published in the journal Social Psychology Quarterly, found that men with higher IQs were less likely to want to be unfaithful to their partners. However, this doesn't mean they cheat less.The author, Dr Satoshi Kanazawa from the London School of Economics and Political Science, analyzed the results of two major US surveys which had answers from thousands of teenagers and adults.
"More intelligent men are more likely to value monogamy and sexual exclusivity than less intelligent men," the study concludes. However, preference and behavior are two different things, and Kanazawa found that more intelligent men simultaneously are both more likely to value sexual exclusivity and more likely to engage in extramarital affairs.One explanation for this could be supported by the findings that the same was not found for women. Their perceived level of intelligence did not affect how much they were unfaithful. Sex and mating are, usually, matters of female choice, Kanazawa said, so what men want or prefer doesn't matter.It comes down to how relationships have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years. Back when human relationships were basic and new, it was in the male's favor to mate with as many females as he could, to produce more offspring.The evolutionary advantage isn't as vital to the modern man. Kanazawa theorizes that it's the less intelligent men who can’t shed their basic instincts, and thus cheat on their partners.Women, on the other hand, have always seen the advantage of having one partner, because they have a finite number of eggs with which to reproduce. With females, it has always been quality over quantity, so it makes sense that there wouldn't be a perceived difference in intelligence and their infidelity record.
When relationships end, technology again facilitates the process, but often not for the better. Indeed, a whole new vocabulary has emerged to describe the breakup strategies of the digital age. People talk about “ghosting” — when a partner abruptly stops communicating via text or online channels even though they sent 100 texts the day before. “Icing” is a less abrupt version of the same story, when the tone of communication suddenly turns cold and excuses abound for not getting together. “Simmering,” another variation, keeps a person hanging, with meetings postponed and more excuses. The term “stable ambiguity,” used by Terry Real, is quite apt for such relationships. By remaining in this state, people avoid both loneliness and commitment. This strange mix of consistency and uncertainty is increasingly common to relationships in the era of Tinder.All of this takes a toll on our emotional health. Often, it demonstrates a lack of empathy and a diminishment in relationship accountability. People can check out on each other without having to face the emotional consequences. True, in the past you could be rejected over the phone, or have your calls not returned, but the sheer volume of communication today — with the accompanying dopamine rushes — makes any rupture much more of a shock to the system.