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Infidelity in Dating Relationships: Gender-Specific Correlates of Face-to-Face and Online Extradyadic Involvement

Abstract

This study examined the gender-specific correlates of face-to-face and online extradyadic involvement (EDI) in dating relationships. The sample consisted of 561 women (M age = 23.19 years) and 222 men (M age = 23.97 years), all of whom reported being in an exclusive dating relationship for an average of 35 months. Participants completed the following self-report measures: Extradyadic Behavior Inventory, Attitudes toward Infidelity Scale, and Investment Model Scale. During the current relationship, men were more likely than women to report engagement in face-to-face physical/sexual EDI (23.4 vs. 15.5 %) and online sexual EDI (15.3 vs. 4.6 %). Both men and women with a history of infidelity in a prior relationship were more likely to engage in EDI. More positive attitudes toward infidelity, lower relationship satisfaction, lower commitment, and higher quality of alternatives were significantly associated with EDI, regardless of gender. Women reporting infidelity of a partner in a prior relationship were more likely to engage in face-to-face and online emotional EDI; a longer relationship and a younger age at the first sexual encounter were significant correlates of the engagement in face-to-face emotional EDI. Women with higher education were approximately three times more likely to engage in online sexual EDI. Although men and women are converging in terms of overall EDI, men still report higher engagement in physical/sexual extradyadic behaviors, and the correlates of sexual and emotional EDI vary according to gender. This study contributes to a comprehensive approach of factors influencing the likelihood of EDI and encourages future research in this area.

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Acknowledgments

This study was developed within the research line “Relationships, Development & Health” of the R&D Unit CINEICC (Cognitive-Behavioral Center for Research and Intervention), University of Coimbra (PEst-OE/PSI/UI0730/2014). Marco Pereira is supported by a post-doctoral scholarship from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (SFRH/BPD/44435/2008).

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Martins, A., Pereira, M., Andrade, R. et al. Infidelity in Dating Relationships: Gender-Specific Correlates of Face-to-Face and Online Extradyadic Involvement. Arch Sex Behav 45, 193–205 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-015-0576-3

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Keywords

  • Dating relationships
  • Extradyadic involvement
  • Infidelity
  • Gender differences