Mar 28, 2008

Honey, if you really loved me, you'd turn on your location-tracking

Cells phones are coming out with a new feature which will raise some problems for people in close relationships.

These cell phones have GPS tracking technology. With this technology, friends and family members can track each other’s movements on their cell phones.

From a Wall Street Journal article on these spy cells:

The most significant is that cellphone users who sign up can make their whereabouts available only to a network of friend who also buy the service. They can view each others’ location any time, with the proviso that users always can temporarily turn off location-tracking.
With this technology, there is no reason to ask a spouse “Are you still at work?” Just check your phone, it will show you where he or she is (or at least where his or her phone is).

I imagine that many spouses will not want to have their every movement tracked for a variety of reasons, including having an affair.

It should be interesting to see how these conversations play out among couples:
  • I let you track my movements, so why can’t I track yours?
  • If you don’t have anything to hide, why don’t you turn on your tracking-location feature?
Clearly, for some couples this issue will be a significant source of conflict and game-playing (getting two phones, one for location-tracking, which always forwards calls to your real location).

Mar 27, 2008

How common is infidelity?

From an article in US News and World Report:

Monogamy worship is leading some experts to think that expectations are exceedingly unrealistic and, probably, hypocritical. "As a society, we are privately more forgiving and publicly often more judgmental...
A link to the article.

Mar 26, 2008

Pain of infidelity

A question from a viewer:

Does the anguish of your beloved cheating come from social expectations or biological imperatives? Or, in other words, if it is so common, why is it so uncommonly painful?

Great question…

Biological imperatives and social expectations work in tandem to influence behavior. Social expectations, which run counter to biological predispositions, won’t get very far (think about trying to get everyone to walk on their hands… it can be done, but we are predisposed to walk on our feet). Likewise, biological predispositions, which are not implicitly reinforced through social or cultural norms, have little chance of being expressed.

Lasting behavior requires both biological tendencies and social expectations.

When it comes to discovering an unfaithful mate, both biology and social norms work together to create tremendous pain. This pain is designed to punish a partner for cheating – to instill consequences for being unfaithful. Without this pain (and the punishment it implies), partners would be much more likely to cheat. And cheating partners are more likely to spend their time, energy and resources elsewhere – outside of the relationship. If we didn’t try to influence how our partners invested their resources, everything about being human would change – including who we find attractive, how we form attachments, and how we raise our offspring.

In short, it is in one’s interest to have a faithful mate; an interest which is part of our biological make-up and is readily expressed through our social norms.

Cultural take on infidelity

Reactions to infidelity in the US as compared with other cultures:

But American D-Days are even worse because we have such improbably high standards for marriage. If your spouse cheats, you’ve been living a lie. Americans describing their D-Day experiences say that they weren’t just shocked, jealous and profoundly upset, but that their whole view of the world had collapsed. “It robs you of your past,” one husband said. “What is real? What is fake?”

We Americans are particularly preoccupied with honesty. We’re the only country that peddles the idea that “It’s not the sex, it’s the lying.” (In France, it’s not the lying, it’s the sex.) America is also the only place I found that has a one-strike rule on fidelity: if someone cheats, the marriage is kaput.
The entire article from the New York Times.

False sense of security

Public scandals about infidelity undoubtedly lead many couples to discuss the importance of being faithful. For the most part, such discussions are designed to put a partner's mind at ease.

These conversations, however, can be somewhat problematic because partners, who cheat, often provide the exact same reassurances as spouses who are truly faithful - "I love you, I'm so glad were together, I would never cheat on you..."

A spouse who is willing to betray their partner's trust by cheating, is also willing to lie about it. Lying and cheating go hand-in-hand.

Getting some type of verbal reassurance feels good, but it both cheaters and faithful spouses provide it.

Related Article: