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Money, Sex, and Infidelity: Who is More Likely to Cheat

This article was written by in Family and Life. 8 comments.


The results of a study at Cornell University show that in a long-term relationships such as marriage or cohabitation of over a year, income disparity within the couple increases the likelihood of infidelity. The headlines of the study speak more to the data that show men who earn less than their wives are five times more likely to cheat. Women who are financial dependent on their husbands are more faithful.

Like most surveys, the results depend on the participants being truthful about their thoughts and actions, and not everyone may be willing to admit to cheating on their spouse. Nevertheless, the researchers believe the study is accurate even if some of the answers were not fully forthcoming.

weddingNote that the study doesn’t claim a causal relationship between income disparity and infidelity, just a correlation. Relationships may be stronger when both individuals have a similar level of income. While I often hear that opposites attract, what’s true for charged ions does not always translate to humans. It’s easier to form a partnership in life when a couple can agree on major life goals and a shared attitude towards building wealth or paying off debt.

It’s probably not the income disparity itself that correlates to increased infidelity. If someone feels inadequate in one situation, they might seek to compensate in another. This could explain why men cheat when they earn less than women, but the study also shows that men have an increased likelihood of infidelity when they earn significantly more than their partners. Other studies have shown that wealthier men and women have more sex than their less wealthy counterparts.

The results of the survey shouldn’t concern anyone. There is more that goes into infidelity than differences in income. Every relationship is unique.

Are you in a relationship where your partner earns significantly less or significantly more? Has this caused any difficulty? Readers, feel free to share your stories, anonymously if you like.

Photo: KRO-Media
Husbands Who Earn Less Than Wives Are More Likely To Cheat, Whitney Blair Wyckoff, NPR, August 16, 2010
More Money, Better Sex, MarketWatch, February 10, 2007

Updated September 23, 2010 and originally published August 18, 2010. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Guest

I make triple what my wife makes and I cheat on her without her knowing. Even if she knew, she’d still stay with me. Money is power, my friends.

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avatar Gregory771

That’s because you are a loser, guest. (and someone who brags about bringing
home ‘triple what my wife makes’ probably isn’t doing that well). Cheaters cheat, honest
people don’t.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,373 (Platinum)

And then when she leaves you for someone who makes nine times what she makes, at least you won’t be disappointed.

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avatar JoeTaxpayer

Jane makes 10% more on average (and no, it doesn’t bother me. I wish it were 100%, I’d be happy to quit), and I’m not inclined to cheat. Although I have her explicit permission to sleep with Erin Burnett if she’d have me. My wife has a good sense of humor, and just like any crush on an actor/actress isn’t threatened by my Financial Gal crush.

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avatar Financialsamurai

Donno how to use this comment system Flexo… i’ve got to retype all my data each time and it says ” Warning: A browser setting is preventing you from logging in. Fix this setting to log in”

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avatar Financialsamurai

It’s the temptation of the rich spouse that drives someone to do what they willl…. and take the other for granted. I can see that.

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avatar snowy

Don’t worry Gregory, the first “guest” is far more likely to be an underemployed 24 year old who can’t get a date.

I out-earn my husband by 2-3 to one but haven’t exactly found this to be an unusual circumstance in our social circle, where most of the women are highly educated. There are no “inadequacy” issues here, although I can see that if you’re earning the big bucks in a way that requires a lot of hours and travel that may be problematic for the relationship.

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avatar Anonymous

Poor old Guest. What a fool! I left my ex- for a man who earned about 100 times less than he did. And if you’re only earning nine times what your wife earns, I can guarantee my ex- earned more than you do.

Eventually a woman learns some things are more important than money. ;-)

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