Nature or Nurture: Men and Women Get Jealous About Different Things

Jealousy, we've all experienced it at one time or another in our relationships. Whether the threat is real or imagined, jealousy has the power to tear relationships apart. But for men and women, it's usually over different things.

Jealousy, we've all experienced it at one time or another in our relationships. Whether the threat is real or imagined, jealousy has the power to tear relationships apart. But for men and women, it's usually over different things.


Jesse Singal from NYMag highlights a recent study published in Archives of Sexual Behavior, which seeks to understand what gender differences show themselves in men and women, and why. The researchers took a survey from a poll msnbc.com released in 2007, which was filled out by 63,894 people living in the U.S. In the survey, participants answered a variety of questions relating to dating and relationships. But researchers were particularly intrigued by one question:

“Participants were presented with the following scenario: 'Take a moment to imagine which of the following situations would be MOST upsetting or distressing to you.' They then chose between the following options: 'You found out that your partner is having a sexual relationship with someone else (but has not fallen in love with this person)' or 'You found out that your partner has fallen in love with someone else (but is not having a sexual relationship with this person).'”

Straight men found it most upsetting to find out that their partner was having sex with someone else, but not falling in love. Meanwhile woman tend to fear emotional infidelity. Some researchers claim these fears all revolve around our evolutionary survival instincts. Men don't want to waste time on a kid that won't carry on their genes and women know a child has less of a chance to survive if the guy walks out. But Singal notes the answer to this question varies from country to country—discounting the evolution explanation.

The researchers stated that there were other cultural factors to consider why women of one nation would be more bothered by emotional infidelity than another. Throughout the paper they acknowledge that some of these fears are in line with evolution (being the best explanation for their findings). However, they realize there are a variety of factors that also play into these fears, such as old-world perceptions about manliness. The true find in the future will be examining and understanding what these factors are and how they stress on our evolutionary instincts one way or another.

Read more at NYMag

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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