Sex Roles

, Volume 12, Issue 9, pp 1101-1120

First online:

Sex differences in type of extramarital involvement and marital dissatisfaction

  • Shirley P. GlassAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Catholic University of America
  • , Thomas L. WrightAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Catholic University of America

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This study extends traditional sex roles to extramarital relationships in order to clarify sex differences in extramarital involvement and marital dissatisfaction. Both emotional and sexual extramarital involvement were studied, since women's greater emphasis on emotional intimacy was ignored in earlier extramarital studies which focused solely on sexual involvement. A purposive sample of 300 White middle-class men and women completed anonymous questionnaires about marital and extramarital relationships. Men's extramarital relationships are more sexual and women's are more emotional. Women involved in extramarital relationships report greater marital dissatisfaction than their male counterparts. For both sexes, those with combined sexual and emotional extramarital involvement report the greatest marital dissatisfaction. In sum, traditional sex roles that influence the expressions of sexuality and emotionality in premarital and marital relationships also appear to operate in extramarital relationships.