I was having a conversation with my colleagues a few weeks ago and the gist veered off into the realm of relationships and marriages. Not long after, we began to talk about men that cheat on their partners, especially the repeat offenders. We tried to think up reasons why men in perfectly “good” relationships or marriages would risk all that they had for a few moments of pleasure in the arms of other women. We came up with the usual reasons – boredom, lust etc – and then from nowhere a possible reason as to why some men are serial cheaters popped into my head!
You see, I was a science student in secondary school. My Biology was excellent, save for the chemical aspects of it (read: as Kreb’s Cycle). My first degree was in the physical sciences and as a result I try to think like a scientist in spite of my religious beliefs. Now, due to my interests and quest for higher learning I have received additional training as a social scientist and thus my search for answers has made me a keen observer of human beings their nature and their environment. As such, what popped into my head may be viewed as nonsense or a man’s way of providing yet another excuse for cheating and immorality. However,like every hypothesis it must be explored and tested for validity.
Some men and women (an appreciable number or not) are serial cheaters because it is nature’s way of ensuring the propagation of the human species! There I said it! *Now ducking for cover* *Dons flak jacket and helmet and re-emerges from the trenches*
Hang on, hang on. Please allow me to discuss my case. Please? Phew! Ok, first and foremost, for the human race to survive extinction in the form of plague, pestilence, flood, famine and other natural disasters our numbers must be in such large figures that ensure that a good number of us will survive. The odds that a significant number of people will survive the impending meteor impact as predicted by the Mayans (and their distant relatives) are only increased by the increasing number of people on the planet. So if we borrow from Darwin and Statistics we find that procreation is the way to go. Following my argument, it would seem that “Mother Nature” has already swung things in motion in the event of a cataclysmic event.
Sitting down at my desk, I can, with a degree of confidence, assert that a good one-third i.e. 33% of individuals currently inhabiting the Earth were conceived or born out of monogamous wedlock, whether as a result of youthful passions or extra-marital affairs. At this point I must say, that we as a people are really hypocritical about such offspring. I mean getting pregnant out of wedlock has been with us as a people since the beginning of time. It is not the right thing to do by societal and religious standards but it does not mean we should turn up our noses at the individuals involved! It is part of life and life goes on! But I digress.
Yes, where was I? Oh yes, think about it, a good 33%!! So if everyone stuck to one partner we would not be as many as we are. So many women would be childless and the odds that the human race would survive a Roland Emmerichesque disaster would be undoubtedly slimmer.
So what then triggers the cheating in man? His nature. And as all men are different, this nature is different in different men. It may surprise you to know that scientist have “discovered that about half of all people have a gene that makes them more vulnerable to promiscuity and cheating.” (Source: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/scientists-discover-gene-responsible-cheating-promiscuous-sex-habits/story?id=12322891#.UIVkG2_R6Sp). Yup! Researchers at the State University of New York observed that “Those with a certain variant of the dopamine receptor D4 polymorphism — or DRD4 gene -“were more likely to have a history of uncommitted sex, including one-night stands and acts of infidelity,” (Justin Garcia, 2010).
“DRD4 is the “thrill-seeking” gene, also responsible for alcohol and gambling addictions. The gene can influence the brain’s chemistry and subsequently, an individual’s behavior. The desire to cheat or sleep around seems to originate in the brain’s pleasure and reward center, where the “rush” of dopamine motivates those who are vulnerable, the researchers say.”
“When the brain is stimulated – drinking alcohol, jumping from planes, having sex – it releases dopamine, the pleasure response hormone.
“It’s rewarding and makes us excited and gives us pleasure,” said Garcia. “But the people with the DRD4 gene need more stimuli to feel satiated. Some of say ‘wow,’ that was a rush after jumping out of a plane. Others ask, ‘When is the plane going back up?'” (www.abc.go.com as above)
Dr. Garcia asserts that everyone has got the gene but like all things genetic some have it stronger than others and are more prone to cheat while some have it repressed. Yes, it is also passed on from parent to offspring. A similar study was carried out by scientists in Sweden where the AVPR1A gene has been identified as the possible cause for cheating.
While this might be a scientific explanation we must agree that nurture also has a role to play. Nurture based on religious beliefs and modern social conventions serve to control and repress his nature. So what if the man was raised in a polygamous home? Or grew up knowing his father had children outside his matrimonial home? Would he replicate his father’s behaviour or would his beliefs hold sway? Sometimes nurture overrides nurture and nature and vice versa. By the way, cheating is by no means gender specific! So women could be as easily affected.
You might not agree, but we must explore all the possible reasons as to why men and women cheat in order to arrest or deal with it, and the cheating gene which in some way tries to ensure the propagation of the human species might be responsible.
Purists and moralists may roll their eyes in contempt but hey if you believe in Tim LaHaye’s proffered behavioural theories in his bestseller “Why You Act The Way You Do”, why not this? Some individuals by their actions whether genetically motivated or not try to ensure man’s continual survival at the top of the food chain as the superior species on this planet. Of course by reason if we were all rabbits giving in to our natural urges to copulate we would very quickly overrun the Earth and its resources, paradoxically taking us on the path to extinction.
The truth is in life there must be a balance. As medical science increases life expectancy and provides alternative ways for barren women to have babies, we are still prone to death from wars, natural and human disasters. Extinction is still a possibility and maybe just maybe these “philanderers” are just doing their bit, however inadvertently.
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