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Health & Sex

Promiscuity Differs by Gender

Men and women are hard-wired for short-term sex -- but must we obey our brains?
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Sex Cheating Defined

Adultery doesn't just happen. One member of a relationship has to switch strategies. Why?

"People abandon their long-term sex strategy in favor of a short-term strategy because of lust," Williams says. "But affairs are very complex entities. They are always problematic and usually dangerous. When people tell me they are having an affair, they think the most dangerous part is getting caught. I think the most dangerous thing is to fall in love."

The least dangerous kind of an affair, he says, is the kind of one-night stands that happen at a convention or a conference where people part and never meet again. The most dangerous are secret, longstanding affairs that go on for years with fantasies and hopes and dreams of building a relationship.

What makes it an affair? Williams thinks his answer will surprise most men -- and few women.

"I think an affair occurs when two people are in a committed relationship, and one or both has a relationship with another that has secret content and sexual tension and they hide all of it from their partner," he says.

"A common misconception among men is, 'I am not having an affair because I have not slept with the other woman.' But they dream, they fantasize, they wish they were with the other person -- that is what I call fanning the coals."

That "other" Williams speaks of may be a friend, or a co-worker -- or a pornographic image.

"Here's a common thing I am seeing today. Women will catch men engaging in something pornographic on the Internet," Williams says. "While men view this as innocent sexual arousal, women view it as a major violation of the marriage. It is a secret sexual encounter they are excluded from that contains arousal and ejaculation. This takes energy from the relationship. I encourage people to keep the focus of their sexuality on their partners."

Using Sex Programming In Your Marriage

Fortunately, men's and women's hard-wired sexual desires can be harnessed to help, not harm, their marriages. Unfortunately, Fisher says, few people take advantage of this.

"It is really remarkable how we absolutely know you have to do a good job every day at work to keep your job. We know we have to eat well and exercise regularly to keep healthy. But when it comes to marriage, for some reason we cling to that concept of 'til death do us part," she says. "It is quite detrimental. Because even in relationships in which people are deeply committed, one has to work to keep one's marriage together."

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