Nov 1, 2007

Fiancial Fidelity

When people think of infidelity, they typically think of sexual monogamy.

However, there are many different ways to betray a loved one. For better or worse, people conceal many things from their romantic partners.

One of the big issues, which causes couples a lot of problems, deals with financial fidelity. That is, being responsible to another person for one's financial decisions.

Many couples think relationships are about love, sex and companionship, but fail to take into account the financial obligations that come along with getting married.

Just this week, posted a great article on the financial "I do's for newlyweds."

Oct 23, 2007

Where were you?

According to an article in the New York Times, a majority of cell phones on the market today now allow a user to be monitored using GPS tracking.

Is your spouse truly stuck in traffic?
Is your friend really running late for dinner?

Thanks to GPS tracking devices embedded in cell phones, you can now see (monitor) exactly where your friends and loved ones are at all times.

Luckily, the technology allows individuals to determine who can track their movements. Add your friends to the list of people who can track your location, but block your mom from doing so.

However, how do you explain to your new romantic interest that you don't necessarily feel like being tracked?

I have a feeling that this new technology will not only lead to the loss of privacy, but it will also add another wrinkle to the dating scene.

If you didn't like dealing with questions such as "where were you?" - how much more fun will it be to deal with the following: "If you have nothing to hide, why don't you add me to your track list?"

Related Articles:

  • Using GPS devices to track the elderly, children, and bank robbers...

Oct 16, 2007

What's the gossip all about?

A new study on the role of gossip was just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A reader friendly description of the study was also published at LiveScience.

The key finding: gossip has a powerful impact on our perception... we tend to believe what we hear about others.

While people downplay the role of gossip ("I hate gossip"), it actually serves a very important function. Without gossip, which everyone does from time to time, cooperation and group living would be impossible.

When animals live in groups, some system for maintaining a hierarchy and social accountability is required. In humans, gossiping allows us to maintain and establish "reputation effects" - making social life possible.

As everyone knows, gossiping isn't always accurate, but without a system for identifying loafers and cheaters - trust could easily be exploited making cooperation impossible to achieve.

What are the topics we are most likely to gossip about? Taking advantage of others, cheating, not playing by the rules, and sexual behavior. Just the really important things in life.

And if your interested in reading more about gossip, the New York Times has a great article on the topic.

Oct 14, 2007

It's ok to play the game, as long as you don't get caught

Reading the papers in the past few weeks has been very interesting.

To begin with, an article in the New York Times covered the story of a 25 year old, “spectacularly beautiful” woman, who posted an ad on Craigslist looking for a husband who made at least $500,000 a year, because “$250,000 won’t get me to Central Park West.”

As her ad gained attention online, one gentleman responded to the economic exchange underlying her ad (i.e., let’s swap my good looks for your money) by pointing out that her proposal was inequitable. To quote: “In economic terms, you are a depreciating asset and I am an earning asset…. Your looks will fade and my money will likely continue into perpetuity.”

In many people’s eyes, neither one of the two came off looking very good. For the most part, the woman was viewed as being a “gold digger” while he was viewed as being “sexist.”

On the other hand, there was little reaction to another article in the New York Times which conveyed the same message, but in a much more subtle manner. This article describes the growing problem of women in their early 20s who are making more money than the men they are dating. According to the article, a disparity in income is a problem for couples when women earn more than their boyfriends.

Finally, an article in the Las Vegas Sun describes a new study which shows that strippers earn significantly more money when they are ovulating than at any other time during the month. Apparently, women somehow signal their fertility which causes men to compete for their attention by offering up more of their cold-hard cash.

What’s the point of these stories, if there is one? There is always element of exchange underlying our attraction to each other. But, being explicit about it doesn’t make you more attractive to others.

Oct 5, 2007

Interesting Blog on the Experience of Infidelity and Divorce

I ran across an interesting blog for women who are going through the experience of divorce.

The purpose of the blog, the divorce darlings, is to provide a creative outlet for anyone who has gone through, or is going through, or might go through the complicated experience that is divorce.

I think that reading the divorce darlings would also be useful for people who are going through the experience of getting engaged. Unfortunately, people who tend to idealize romance, love and marriage, often end up broken hearted.

Holding realistic expectations about relationships, tends to make them more bearable.

Oct 2, 2007

Words Can Wound...

A study reported in the New York Times today identifies some of the physical costs associated with fighting. While everyone knows that conflict can be emotionally draining and that it can take a toll on one’s relationship, researchers are beginning to identify some of the health issues involved.

Consistent with research on conflict in marriage – it’s not the topics discussed or the amount of conflict which causes the most problems. Most of the outcomes are tied to the way couples interact with each other while arguing. Hostility, criticism and defensiveness are the real culprits – leading to shorter lifespans and increased risk of heart disease.

Resolving conflict effectively requires learning how to express one’s feelings while also making sure that one’s partner feels understood. Some tips for communicating more effectively can be found here.

Oct 1, 2007

Born to Cheat....

Just ran across an interesting article in The Age this morning. The article explains the link between personality differences and an individual's willingness to cheat.

Essentially, people, who have an avoidant (or dismissing) style of attachment and a game playing style of love (ludus), are more likely to cheat (see, previous post for more information on love and attachment).

While these findings are intuitive, the article still makes for an interesting read: Some of us are are born to stray, research finds.

Back From Summer Break....

Thanks for everyone's comments... I take summers off, but I'm back now.

Jun 1, 2007

Intentionally Mixing Love and Work

Close relationships, which provide support and understanding, are important in all aspects of life. For instance, people with few close connections encounter more anxiety, stress, and health problems. In fact, people with fewer close relationships have shorter life spans and report a lower quality of life.

Being close to someone else, however, does not guarantee benefits. It is not only important to have a close relationship, but the right type of relationship as well - relationships where people feel cared for, understood, and supported.

As such, it should come as no surprise that a growing number of companies are beginning to realize that personal issues impact productivity at work. An article in the Wall Street Journal highlights how companies are beginning to offer workshops and courses to help people manage their personal relationships away from work. People with quality relationships outside of work, make better employees at work.

To me, such an approach makes a lot of sense. I seem to spend a lot of time at work listening to my colleagues complain about their personal problems, rather than work related issues. Trying to separate the two doesn't always seem to work. So, perhaps providing some type of support for people with relationship problems is the right thing for employees to do.

Apr 23, 2007

Great Article on Lying

The Guardian posted an article on lying over the weekend which contains a great quote about detecting deception:

"The results are clear. Liars are just as likely as truth-tellers to look you in the eye, they don't move their hands around nervously and they don't shift about in their seats (if anything, they are a little more static than truth-tellers). People fail to detect lies because they are basing their opinions on behaviours that are not actually associated with deception."
The entire article can be found here and it highlights many of the problems people encounter when trying to detect deception.

Apr 17, 2007

Survey Results on Infidelity

A new survey on infidelity shows some interesting results. Msnbc and Ivillage just released their survey results on cheating and among the findings:

  • Roughly 50% of men and women have cheated at one time or another, but only about a quarter have cheated in their current relationship.
  • Most people get away with cheating; most partners never discover the truth and few people confess to cheating.
  • Men are more likely to cheat for sexual satisfaction and diversity, while women are more likely to report emotional reasons for cheating.
All of the survey results can be found here.

Apr 6, 2007

Morals about Infidelity are Relative

Are moral standards relative?

I think most people would like to think that their morals are absolute, something is right or wrong, end of story.

But, more often than not, I think our morals are driven by our self-interest. How does someone's behavior impact me? If someone's behavior has a negative impact on me, it's wrong. But, if their behavior doesn't necessarily have a negative impact on me, then our judgments can be more nuanced.

Case in point, CBS just published a story about infidelity by presidential candidates. It seems like people are willing to overlook a politician's infidelity and cheating, as long as people perceive that the candidate in question has the public's interest at heart. People do not necessarily care that a politician may have cheated on a spouse, but what's in it for me?

When people do us harm, it is wrong. When people try to help us, but cause harm to others, we tend to become more morally flexible.

I also believe that when people are very morally outraged, it may not reflect as much on their moral standards, but that they can not calculate any benefit for themselves by forgiving the person who may have done something wrong.

Apr 3, 2007

When Good People Do Bad Things....

People, who have been hurt in a relationship, often wonder how someone they love could treat them so poorly.

I think that most callous behavior is driven by one of two explanations.

To begin with, some people are just naturally more selfish and self-centered. Some people have little empathy or respect for another person's feelings... it's all about what they want. Such individuals are often very manipulative and underhanded when it comes to love and romance. The website, lovefraud, does a great job of trying to explain such behavior.

The other explanation is probably more troubling, because it can be harder to understand.

People, who are basically empathetic and caring, can behave the same as individuals who have little regard for other people's feelings. Social science research has consistently shown that good people can do great harm when placed in wrong situation. In particular, the work of Stanley Milgram and Philip Zimbardo demonstrates how most people can be led to cause others unimaginable harm. Dr. Zimbardo discusses this phenomenon in an interview in the New York Times today. It is a must read if you want to understand how easily negative behavior can be brought about.

And when close relationships become marked by competition rather than cooperation, the same holds true - decent people can do awful things to each other.

Unfortunately, the harm done by relatively decent people probably hurts more profoundly than the harm done by more self-centered individuals. People expect selfish people to behave poorly, but when hurt comes from unexpected sources it can have a greater impact.

Mar 22, 2007

Infidelity American Style

Is infidelity the end-of-the-road or just a bump-in-the-road for married couples?

According to an article posted on Msn, it all depends where you live.

Americans tend to be the most idealistic (unrealistic) when it comes to issues of love and romance, while the rest of the world tends to take a more lazie faire approach (get the pun?).

According to the article:

  • Russians treat infidelity as a benign vice - like cigars and scotch (scotch? I would have said vodka).
  • Japanese commercialize affairs through sex clubs.
  • The French prize discretion over fidelity.
It's a great article and it reinforces the idea that perhaps our expectations about love and romance have gotten out of line.

Anyway, a big thanks to my online friend, and fellow blogger, at Eyes for Lies for sending this one my way!


Mar 20, 2007

Principle of Least Interest

A friend of mine is in trouble…

She is terribly in love with her boyfriend, but he is less in love with her.

And this sets up a terrible dynamic in their relationship.

Because he doesn’t care as much as she does, he has tremendous power over her. He dictates most of what happens in her life… She willingly submits to this because she wants his love more than he wants hers in return.

And the more she tries to please him, the more of herself she loses to the relationship, and the less happy she becomes because she gets so little in return, so she tries harder to please him.

Of course, from his perspective, things are great. The less he gives, the more she tries to make him happy. What a deal.

The principle of least interest at work: The person who cares the least about a relationship has considerable power over the person who cares the most.

Ironic and sad.

We Never Escape The Past

The New York Times published a great article today on the similarities between human moral reasoning and chimpanzee behavior.

Our ability to empathize, give care, and our desire for fairness can also be found in our closest living relative.

To me, this illustrates how patterns of social interaction have a deep evolutionary history.

If you are interested in reading more about how evolution has shaped the way we think, reason and behave, the following website is a great place to start - Evolutionary Psychology: A Primer.

Looking at the world this way, helps me realize that my own thoughts, feelings and actions, especially when it comes to love and romance, aren't very novel - people have been behaving this way for millions of years (see, Do Things Ever Change?).

There is something comforting in the realization that my feelings are not really my own. My thoughts and feelings have been around for a long time and they will continue to exist when I'm gone.

It's just cool that I get to experience them for a little while right now.

Preventative Relationship Maintenance Workshops

This one made me laugh out loud!

Several counties in Florida are starting relationship classes, costing 5.5 million dollars, to help build healthy marriages. These programs are being billed as a preventative measure to help couples succeed - a modern approach to love.

What's so funny about trying to teach people about relationships with the hope that couples will get along better?

I admire the goal, but I question how effective these workshops will be.

Our close relationships are enormously complex, emotionally driven, and much of our behavior has been shaped by millions of years of human evolution.

Will sitting in a relationship class have much of a lasting impact?

Of course, knowledge helps solve problems. But knowledge isn't the answer, it's only part of the answer.

Romantic relationships are influenced by our early, childhood experiences with our caregivers, personality characteristics, cultural backgrounds, and our innate, instinctual responses to situations (e.g., jealousy, love, attachment), just to name a few.

Many couples struggle to get along, even after extensive, hands-on counseling. And it is quite possible that some relationships are just not meant to be.

Personally, I think these workshops will help couples who are already headed for success... but, I doubt that they will have much of an impact on couples who are headed for trouble.

Want to know why I really don't think that these workshops will be of much help?

Just spend a little time around "relationship experts" - people who have their PhDs on the topic (like me). It can be an eye-opening experience... kinda of like discovering a plumber who has leaky faucets throughout his (or her) house.

The relationship between "knowing something" and "doing it" is never very straightforward, but especially so when it comes to love.

Mar 17, 2007

Too Much Infidelity?

It looks like 2007 is shaping up to be the "Year of Infidelity."

An article was just published in the Christian Science Monitor about how the upcoming Presidential Race will focus on family issues, including allegations of infidelity. A quote from the article:

"Journalists get very, very tired of hearing the issue speeches over and over again," says Bruce Gronbeck, a professor of communication studies at the University of Iowa. Covering candidates' divorces and marriages and children "fits into the great American political culture, where the personal is political."
Two new movies have just been released which have infidelity as underlying themes:
And Warner Brothers recently announced that they bought the movie rights for the following book:
  • The Infidelity Diet - a story about a couple of overweight husbands who go on a diet. The incentive? Whoever loses the most weight has his wife's permission to sleep with a prostitute. How charming.
Personally, I think the subject of infidelity is fascinating.

To me at least, the subject of infidelity reveals a lot about the complexity of our emotions, how we don't always understand our intentions, how people manage the tension between intimacy and individuality, how our beliefs do not always correspond to our behavior...

For someone like me, who studies relationships, infidelity provides a very unique opportunity to see how things work (see, Rules About Love).

I know most people don't approach the subject this way. Most people approach infidelity as the victim of it, which is anything but fascinating.

Given my interest in the topic as an academic, I don't know if I'm alone on this - but I don't want to spend my downtime watching political debates, or going to movies, or reading books where infidelity is the underlying theme...

Do people really want to spend their free time this way?

Mar 14, 2007

Test Your Knowledge About Lying

Here is a really quick quiz to see how much you know about lying and deception.

For the most part, I thought the answers provided were right on the mark, although I probably would have framed two of the answers differently.

If you want to take the quiz, do so now before reading my comments.

My Comments:

When it comes to the difference between children and adults, there are some similarities and differences. Yes, young children have a more difficult time distinguishing between imagination and reality. But, adults and children are both likely to lie to avoid punishment. However, adults are better at lying to avoid hurting other people's feelings, whereas young children tend to be much more honest.

And with respect to sex differences and lying - yes, men and women are much more similar than different. But, when it comes to relationships, men are more likely to lie than women. Men are much more likely to lie because men tend to be higher risk-takers. People, who are risk-aversive, tend to lie less often. Risk-aversive individuals are more cautious and, therefore, they have a lot less things to lie about. Risk-aversive individuals are also much more fearful about telling lies.

Mar 10, 2007


Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, recently admitted he was having an affair while also leading the effort to impeach President Clinton for lying under oath about his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

Newt was quick to point out the difference between President Clinton's and his situation: Newt was committing infidelity, not perjury.

Regardless of how one feels about this situation, I think that there is something to learn from it. Despite being wonderfully rational, we are still creatures of our emotions. When thinking about human behavior, the power of emotion tends to trump logic.

Infidelity is rarely a wise and rational choice, but it is often driven by one's emotions: sexual desire and/or feelings of love.

And hypocrisy, by definition, is always illogical - applying standards, but not in a consistent manner.

But, hypocrisy makes much more sense when you look at the emotions that drive such behavior: The desire for control and power, often mixed with the desire to avoid punishment. These emotions are directly related to one of the most basic distinctions underlying life: reward and punishment.

When viewed this way, it's no wonder that hypocritical behavior is so common and widespread. Not everyone has been unfaith to a spouse, but who hasn't been a hypocrite recently?

In this light, is it any wonder that Newt took the stance that he did? Did people assume that Newt would forego a chance at power, but seek out punishment instead? I'm not trying to justify Newt's behavior, just frame it in a different light.

And this leads me to a question that a viewer asked me this week: She caught her husband cheating, but she doesn't understand why he won't admit to it. The answer is often very simple. If admitting the truth is tied directly to punishment, there can be a strong emotional desire to create confusion and doubt.

Telling the truth is easy when there is nothing to lose.

Mar 8, 2007

More on Love, Sexual Desire and Attachment

Fantastic interview with Helen Fisher, a scholar noted for studying the biology of love, was published yesterday in the Orange County Register.

The article focuses on the experience of falling in love and why people cheat, highlighting the differences between sexual desire, romantic love and attachment.

You can find a link to the article here.

Mar 4, 2007

Time to Separate?

An article in the Montgomery Advisory does a good job of highlighting the issues couples should consider as they decide to stay together or separate. The advise given is based on well-supported research.

Some of the issues couples should consider:

  • The amount of negativity couples express toward each other.
  • Equity when it comes to doing the work that needs to get done.
  • Mutual respect and consideration each other's point of view.
  • A lack of fun or enjoyment in being together.
The entire article can be found here... And for more articles on the same topic - Questions Couples Should Consider...

Mar 3, 2007

Feb 28, 2007

Online Quizzes on Lying, Love and Romance

The has recently added several online quizzes dealing with lying, cheating, love and romance.

These quizzes, however, are probably more useful in terms of raising issues rather than being informative as participation is based on self-selection. For what it's worth, these quizzes do allow respondents to compare their answers with other people who have completed the survey.

Here is a listing of these online quizzes:

Feb 27, 2007

An Interesting News Story and Book Excerpt on Infidelity

Two short and interesting articles dealing with infidelity and betrayal:

  • An interesting article on the Alibi Network - a company which will go to elaborate lengths, for a small fee, to help you skip work or cheat on your spouse.
  • An excerpt from Mr. Wrong: Real-Life Stories About the Men We Used to Love - a new book featuring real-life accounts of troubled relationships.

Feb 23, 2007

Signs of Lying

People who study deception know that there are very few, if any, nonverbal signs of lying.

And even if people did give off consistent clues when lying, it would still be difficult to detect deception for a variety of reasons which I've highlighted before:

A new study on the nonverbal indicators of deception by Siegfried Sporer and Barbara Schwandt once again reveals that many of the clues thought to be associated with lying, are not. The study also reveals that liars often behave just the opposite of what people expect.

And the study shows that the relationship between nonverbal cues and lying is complex - there isn't a simple and straightforward set of clues that can be identified - the cues vary based on the nature of the lie, a person's motivation, level of preparation, and so on.

In short, if you are looking for an easy way to tell if someone is lying, don't count on it. And more importantly, never pay anyone to reveal the secrets of how to detect deception. There are much better ways to spend your time and money.

Hat tip to Deception Blog for blogging about Sporer and Schwadt's new study.

Feb 21, 2007

Resources on Infidelity

Some useful resources on infidelity:

Feb 20, 2007

Typology of Cheating

People are fairly comfortable talking to me about cheating, probably because I’m much more curious than judgmental when it comes to such things.

In any case, over the years, I’ve implicitly developed a typology of cheating based on conversations I’ve had with my friends and colleagues who have cheated on their spouses.

My typology is based on the idea that there are three fairly separate emotional systems underlying our romantic relationships: There is sexual desire, love, and attachment. Different types of cheating can occur based on different combinations of these basic emotional components.

To begin with, let me describe the differences between sexual desire, love, and attachment and then I’ll use these components to create my typology of cheating.

An excerpt taken from

Sexual Desire

The first emotional system is sexual desire. Sexual desire involves the lustful, sexually passionate feelings people have for each other. Sexual desire is a very intense and powerful emotion; it can cloud one’s judgmental and prompt risk-taking. Sexual desire is often based on physical appearance, novelty and the chemistry between two people. And while sexual desire motives a lot of our behaviors early on in a relationship, intense levels of sexual desire are difficult to maintain with the same person over the course of time (see, section on the Coolidge Effect).


The second emotional system entails love. And love, in and of itself, is composed of a complex set of feelings. Love often entails feelings of closeness, genuine appreciation, and concern. But, the experience of love is not the same for everyone. For some people love is delusional and needy, or based on emotional game playing, or experienced as the desire to take care of another person (see, Styles of Love).


The last emotional system involves attachment. Attachment is the feeling of security and comfort we get from being close to someone else. Attachment provides a sense of stability, certainty, and safety – the feeling that someone will always be there for you in a time of need. And like with love, there are individual differences in the experience of attachment (see, Attachment Styles).
In a perfect world, perhaps sexual desire, love and attachment would all be directed towards one’s romantic partner and no one else. But, this is not the case. These three emotional components are often not directed toward the same person, especially over the course of time. And to make things more complicated, some of these components, like sexual desire and love, can be directed at more than one person at a time.

Based on these three emotional systems, different types of cheating are possible:

Types of Cheating

Opportunistic Sexual Cheating

This type of cheating occurs when a partner is in love and attached to a spouse, but succumbs to their sexual desire for someone else. Typically, this type of cheating is driven by situational circumstances – opportunity (e.g., travel), risk-taking (thrill of excitement), and alcohol or drug use. The typical one night stand. And the more in love a person is with their spouse, the more guilt he or she will experience as a result of their sexual encounter. But feelings of guilt tend to fade as the fear of getting caught subsides.

Obligatory Sexual Cheating

This type of cheating is based on fear. Fear that resisting someone's sexual advances will result in immediate disapproval or rejection. Essentially, people may have feelings of sexual desire, love and attachment for a spouse, but still end up cheating simply because they have a strong need for approval. And their need for approval, at that moment, can cause them to act in ways which are inconsistent with their other feelings. Simply put, some people cheat, not because they want to cheat, but because in the situation, it can be too difficult to say "no." However, people who cheat in order appease others often experience tremendous guilt and shame. Ironically, their desire for approval, in the immediate situation, causes people to act in ways which ultimately disappoint someone else - their spouse. This category of cheating was provided by a viewer.

Romantic Cheating

This type of cheating occurs when one is attached to a spouse, but experiences sexual desire and love for someone else. The traditional emotional and sexual affair. In such situations, people often make promises to leave a spouse to be with their lover, but fail to do so. Their attachment to their spouse prevents them from leaving. Often these situations end in misery. Lovers feel betrayed and cheating spouses end up staying in a loveless marriage. A classic example of Romantic Cheating can be found here.

Conflicted Romantic Cheating

This type of cheating occurs when people experience genuine love and sexual desire for more than one person at a time. Despite our idealistic notions of having only one true love, it is possible to experience intense romantic love for multiple people simultaneously (see, Polyamory). While such situations are emotional possible, pragmatically, they are very complicated and tend to create a lot of anxiety and stress. In this case, cheating spouses, in their attempt not to cause anyone harm, tend to end up hurting everyone.

Commemorative Cheating

This type of cheating occurs when people are in a committed relationship, but have no feelings for that person. There is no sexual desire, or love or attachment – only a sense of commitment keeps a couple together. When people cheat in this type of situation, the overriding concern seems to be for keeping appearances… emotionally there is no angst or guilt, just concern for what other people might think.
It is important to understand how sexual desire, romantic love, and attachment can produce different outcomes when trying to recover from an affair.

Feb 17, 2007

Feb 14, 2007

Relationship Anxiety Day

Today is Valentine's Day.

And it also happens to be the day when the most news stories about infidelity get published. Here is just a sample of some of the stories about infidelity which are appearing in the press today:

Why is there so much collective cynicism in the press about true love and fidelity on a day meant to celebrate romantic relationships?

Can you imagine the press publishing articles about the pitfalls of being Christian on Christmas, or articles highlighting military abuses on Veteran's Day?

Maybe when it comes to love and romance, it is easier for people to question the idea of true love given that many people have experienced betrayal first hand. Many people through their own thoughts and actions have betrayed a lover at one time or another or they have been betrayed by a loved one.

So while lovers may spend Valentine's Day exchanging flowers, chocolates, and cards... part of the day is probably spent thinking about downside of being in love - betrayal, heartache and pain.

Perhaps the press are not as cynical as they appear, rather they understand their readership fairly well.

Feb 10, 2007

Insults, Sexual Interest, Sperm Competition, and Infidelity

Upcoming Research on Romantic Relationships:

Men use insults (e.g., "you're an idiot, you're ugly, you make me miserable") as a mate retention tactic. Essentially, if a man can convince his parter that she's an unworthy mate, she'll be less likely to leave him.

Citation: McKibbin, W. F., Goetz, A. T., Shackelford, T. K., Schipper, L. D., Starratt, V.G., & Stewart-Williams, S. (in press). Why do men insult their intimate partners? Personality and Individual Differences.
Men who suspect their partners of cheating may become more sexually aroused and sexually coercive as a means of combating a reproductive rival. Essentially, men show more sexual interest in a partner when cues to infidelity exist - men engage in sperm warfare.
Citation: Shackelford, T. K., & Goetz, A. T. (in press). Adaptation to sperm competition in humans. Current Directions in Psychological Science.
Men who spend more time apart from their partners since the last time they had sexual intercourse are more likely to want to have sex, be more persistent in their sexual advances, and be more upset by sexual rejection. The results are interpreted in terms of sperm competition - sexual interest is a tactic to combat potential female infidelity. Men who spend more time with their partners are less concerned about a reproductive rival and can therefore be more relaxed about having sex.
Citation: Shackelford, T. K., Goetz, A. T., McKibbin, W. F., & Starratt, V. G. (in press). Absence makes the adaptations grow fonder: Proportion of time apart from partner, male sexual psychology, and sperm competition in humans. Journal of Comparative Psychology.

Feb 8, 2007

Are You Having an Online Affair?

The just posted an article about the pitfalls of online affairs - how easy they are to start and how problematic they can become. As part of that article, they post a series of questions to ask to help determine if your online chatting crosses the line. Here is a copy of the questions and a link to the article:

Are you having an online affair?

If you answer yes to five or more of the following questions you could be crossing the line from online chatting to a cyber affair:
  1. In the past week, have you spent more than three hours talking to an online "friend"?
  2. Do you plan/look forward to your next communication with them?
  3. Does your partner know about your "friend", and would you be comfortable for them to join in chats?
  4. Do you chat when no one is around?
  5. Do you make excuses to go online?
  6. Do you exit the screen if someone walks into the room while you're chatting?
  7. Do you tell your online "friend" more about your thoughts, feelings, achievements and disappointments than your partner?
  8. Do you talk to your "friend" about problems in your real life relationship?
  9. Do you think your online "friend" understands and supports you more than your partner?
  10. Are you becoming unpredictable about how you act towards your partner?
  11. Has your sex life with your partner changed since meeting your "friend"?
  12. Do you think about sending your online "friend'' photos, talking on the phone or meeting for coffee?
Virtual Infidelity - By the

And some another source of information about online affairs:

Feb 7, 2007

Do Things Ever Change?

Prehistoric lovers are uncovered in Italy, the oldest known human turns out to be a murder victim, and just this week an astronaut is charged with attempted homicide in a love triangle.

What an interesting glimpse of our ancient emotions influencing modern day life.

Feb 6, 2007

Color of Love

The New York Times has an interesting article on the importance of the color of red and it's connection to love. Nicholas Humphrey, who is quoted in the article, is well known for his scholarship on evolution and social relationships...

An excerpt from the article:

As it happens, red is an exquisite ambassador for love, and in more ways than people may realize. Not only is red the color of the blood that flushes the face and swells the pelvis and that one swears one would spill to save the beloved’s prized hide. It is also a fine metaphoric mate for the complexity and contrariness of love. In red we see shades of life, death, fury, shame, courage, anguish, pride and the occasional overuse of exfoliants designed to combat signs of aging. Red is bright and bold and has a big lipsticked mouth, through which it happily speaks out of all sides at once. Yoo-hoo! yodels red, come close, have a look. Stop right there, red amends, one false move and you’re dead.
The entire article can be found here: How do we see red? Count the ways

Feb 5, 2007

Study on Sex and Infidelity

The times just posted an interesting article on sex and infidelity in Great Britain.

An excerpt from the article:

At least 42 per cent of men and 31 per cent of women have kissed another person while in an ongoing, regular partnership... As for vaginal sex outside of marriage or an ongoing partnership, 14 per cent of the under thirties have participated in such activity, as compared to 23 per cent of the 30 and 40-year-olds. Most strikingly, among the over fifties, 30 per cent have had vaginal sex with someone other than his or her regular partner, a figure higher than the national average, across all age groups, for extramarital vaginal penetration. Thus, in spite of the decline in sexual practices across the life cycle, older people will still be much more likely to have engaged in extramarital vaginal penetration...
The entire article can be found here: Sex Matters

The Dark Side of Valentine's Day

As Valentine's Day approaches there always seems to be more stories about infidelity, betrayal and other relationship problems. And for some reason I don't think this is a coincidence.

I imagine that for some people, Valentine's Day forces couples to think about their relationship and doing so may bring problems to light. For instance, feeling obligated to show affection to a partner can often have the opposite effect - forced affection can increase awareness of just how little affection there is in a relationship or how unnatural showing affection has become. Along the same line, being forced to do a task often leads people to discount the task at hand - so many people may devalue the affection they give to a partner simply because it is not freely given. Moreover, seeing genuinely happy couples tends to invite social comparisons - why aren't we as happy or what happened to our relationship? I also find it somewhat ironic that "experts" on infidelity put out more press releases and give more interviews during Valentine's Day than at any other time of the year.

My conclusion: Valentine's Day is great when you are madly in love, but it for many couples it probably creates some awkwardness, and in some cases, disillusionment. And it's just my guess, but I think that the media know that stories about troubled relationships play well this time of the year.

Anyway, here is a recent sample of some news stories about infidelity, cheating and relationship problems:

Jan 30, 2007

Electronic Tattle-Telling

This post isn't really about lying or relationships, but it deals with a somewhat related topic: snooping and tattle-tellling.

If your childhood experience was anything like mine, there was always the nosey neighbor, someone who kept close watch on what was going on and reported any hint of wrongdoing.

And while most people disliked the specific individuals who took on such a role, tattle-tales probably served an important function - after all, people tend to behave more appropriately when they think they are being watched.

But, given our high tech, mobile society, how does the neighborhood tattle-tale keep up? By going online?

A new trend is emerging - the electronic tattle-tale:

Jan 24, 2007

Jan 22, 2007

Importance of Happiness

Close relationships are so interesting because all of the important issues in life - happiness and heartache, cooperation and competition, trust and betrayal - all get played out on a very small stage, providing a certain amount of clarity and focus.

And when people lie to each other, it is often about their feelings. Fortunately, most people know better than to take words at their face value; it is important to pay close attention to how messages are conveyed.

And more often than not, people pay special attention to the face, believing that facial expressions convey information about one's true emotional state. But at the same time, people are aware that others are watching their faces for clues to their inner feelings. So, people are pretty good at masking their emotions - putting on their poker face, so to speak.

But as it turns out, one of our most basic emotions, genuine happiness, is hard to fake. Generally speaking, signals which are hard to fake are also very important - the fact that they can't be faked usually indicates that important information is being exchanged.

To me, it is reassuring to know that there is real value in letting people know when you are happy or not - that at some level our happiness, or lack thereof, is important to share with others, so important, that it is one of the few things we can't easily hide.

Jan 16, 2007

Love and Marriage...

Most people find themselves deeply attached to a romantic partner. Forming a deep emotional bond to a sexual partner is a fundamental part of our human nature. But, two interesting articles published this week highlight some growing trends and problems people encounter when our ancient ways of relating encounter our modern day notions of love and romance.

The first article published in the Guardian's Observer highlights how attachment bonds, which are designed to keep people together, do not necessary equate with longterm sexual satisfaction. And how some couples, who are happily attached, but sexually unsatisfied, find romance on the side.

The second article, published in the NYTimes, highlights the growing trend in the US away from marriage as the "main institution that organizes people’s lives."

What is interesting about these two articles, to me at least, is not that people are moving away from love, romance, and attachment, as if that were possible, given our human nature. But, that people are starting to come up with creative solutions to fit love and romance into their lives in ways that may be less traditional (idealistic), but more pragmatic. These articles also remind me of a previous post I wrote about relationships - Does one size fit all?

Jan 12, 2007

Questions Couples Should Consider...

Even in the best of circumstances, lying and deception are part of our close relationships. And being in love is no guarantee that the truth will be told. In fact, infatuation and passion often lead people to make poor choices when it comes to picking a romantic partner, only increasing the odds that deception will occur.

So, before jumping into a serious relationship, it often useful to consider some issues which eventually drive many couples apart. With this in mind, I've put together a list of questions couples should ask when evaluating their relationship:

Jan 11, 2007

Late Life Divorce

Increased health, more disposable income, living longer, and increased expectations for happiness... has spurned a new trend: The late life divorce.

Deirdre Blair's new book, "Calling It Quits: Late Life Divorce and Starting Over," explores why people are increasingly getting a divorce after decades of marriage.

Infidelity, falling out of love, and growing apart are just a few of the reasons why couples are increasingly calling it quits as they approach their golden years.

More details on this growing trend can be found in an article in the Hartfort Courant and an AARP report on divorce.

Jan 8, 2007

Divorce Day In Great Britain

Monday January 8th is D-Day in Britain - Divorce Day that is.

Now that the holidays are over, more couples start the divorce process than at any other time of the year.

Reasons why couples decide to call it quits:

  • Lack of sex, infidelity, falling out of love, and relationships which have turned abusive are the primary reasons given.
  • Roughly one third of all men in England are bored with their relationship.
  • And the holidays can be particularly tough on relationships, as couples are forced to spend quality time together, which turns out to be far less than ideal.
In any case, the early part of January is the busiest time of the year for divorce attorneys in the United Kingdom.

The full report on D-Day can be found at

Jan 3, 2007

Resources on Lying and Deception

My favorite resources on the web for information about lying and deception.


Detecting Deception:

  • Psych Central - Article focusing on difficulty of detecting deception.
  • American Psychological Association - Article describes the nonverbal clues of deception and how difficult lying is to detect.
  • Human Face - Article provides an overview of the various ways to detect deception.
  • Science News - Article highlights problems involved in using nonverbal clues to detect deception.
  • FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin (pdf) - Article discussing how to detect deception in the context of an interview or interrogation.
Benefits of Lying:
  • - Article highlighting the benefits of lying.
Ethics of Lying:

Websites on Lying and Deception

How to Lie:
  • How To Lie - Information on how to lie persuasively.
Deception in Romantic Relationships:
  • Truth About Deception - A detailed look at lying and deception in close relationships.
  • Love Fraud - A website for people who are romantically involved with a sociopath.
General Information about Lying and Deception:
Quotes on Lying:
Popular Culture:
  • Eyes for Lies - A "truth wizard" - a person with an unusual ability to detect deception - provides her insight on lying and current events.

Jan 2, 2007

Women's Views on Love and Marriage

Relationships are always difficult. Being close to someone else brings rewards, but it also creates tension. And as I have posted in the past, not everyone belongs in a modern day romance.

Personally, I believe that our expectations about love and romance are out of touch with reality. While being in love is great, love does not solve the problems people face.

And despite the average $30,000 wedding, many couples end up unhappy.

Unfortunately, a new survey of married woman being released this month by AOL and Woman's Day also brings home that point.

Here are some of the highlights of that survey:

  • 36% of the women surveyed said that they would not marry their husbands if they had to do it all over again.
  • An additional 20% said they were not sure if they would marry their husband again.
  • 76% of the women reported keeping secrets from their husbands.
  • 49% suspect their husbands of cheating at one time or another.
  • 76% fantasize about having sex with other men.
  • 39% admit to constantly flirting with other men.