We don’t have couple-level data so the men and women in the study are not in the same relationships

We don’t have couple-level data so the men and women in the study are not in the same relationships

In other words, if the cheated-on take longer to start new relationships than cheaters do, as intuitively seems likely, the study will be more likely to capture a dissolved relationship through an interview with the cheated-on party than with the cheating party

As I mulled Frisco’s response, two limitations of the Add Health data struck me as particularly important. First, as she implied, there can be delays between 1) cheating, 2) getting caught, and 3) getting dumped-so cheaters interviewed before the final step may have reported doomed relationships as “intact,” whereas the study’s cheated-on respondents by definition had reached at least Step 2.

Second, cheaters interviewed after Step necessary hyperlink 3 may also have reported intact relationships, and may not have identified themselves as cheaters at all, so long as they promptly took up with someone else when the relationship ended-recall, the questions pertain only to respondents’ current or most recent union

  • Cohabiting relationships were much more likely to break up with the other variables held constant-a whopping 12 times,2 in fact, for both men and women. Bear in mind, though, that these are the relationships of 24 to 32-year-olds.
  • For women, each sexual partner in adolescence or early adulthood corresponded to a 3 percent increased chance of relationship dissolution. There was no effect for men: Forget about statistical significance; the result was 0.00.
  • In the preceding wave of the survey (when they were 18 to 26 years old), the respondents overwhelmingly rated fidelity as important. On a scale of 1 to 10, the average was above 9.5 for both men and women. It’s possible that these young adults’ attitudes changed in the intervening years, though: In a recent YouGov survey when asked what kind of relationship they’d like, 23 percent of Americans under 30 chose one on the “non-monogamous” side of the spectrum (4-6 on a scale running from 0-6).
  • For men, having a child in the household was associated with a 41 percent reduced chance of relationship dissolution. For women, the effect was statistically insignificant and half the size.
  • Living with both parents in adolescence, racial demographics, religiosity, and prior cohabitations did not have a detectable relationship with union dissolution.
  • For both men and women, alcohol use (measured in the preceding wave of the survey) was associated with a roughly 12 percent reduced risk of union dissolution. I was reminded of the George Thorogood song “If You Don’t Start Drinkin’ (I’m Gonna Leave).”

Infidelity isn’t merely a salacious and inherently interesting topic; it affects some of the most important relationships in our lives, with ramifications for our children and our own happiness. This study makes inroads toward understanding the consequences.

2. In their tables, the authors present the results as changes in “log-odds,” in this case about 2.5. As the authors do when discussing their results in the text of the paper, I have exponentiated the values and presented them as multiplicative effects to ease interpretation.

Everyone who reports partners’ EDS (men and women) has an increased risk of union dissolution. We suspect-but have no way of testing given data limitations-that those reporting EDS have been able to conceal it, and thus, since it is not known, the respondents reporting EDS have no reason to leave, nor do their partners. Conversely, we suspect that those reporting partner EDS did discover it, and this increased their odds of leaving. I think that future research with couple-level data could test our explanation and I’d be quite interested in the results. Unfortunately, the data on EDS are really limited.

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