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.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting position!

orion40m said...

Agreed... It hurts a lot!