Love, men and cheating

Apr 14, 2012

The Monogamy Gap: Men, Love, and the Reality of Cheating

Is monogamy for everyone? Is it especially difficult and maybe impossible for men to be monogamous? The pervasive notion that monogamy is the ultimate proof of true love doesn’t really square with the reality that cheating is rampant. And yet, whether gay or straight, the vast majority of relationships start with the belief that monogamy is the desired ideal.

In his new book, “The Monogamy Gap,” sociologist Eric Anderson combined 120 interviews with social science and biology experts and came up with a theory about why men cheat despite their best efforts to be faithful. Monogamy, Anderson contends, is irrational because it denies the reality of a lifetime of sexual urges and cheating is the only way to satisfy sexual desire while staying in a loving relationship with one’s partner. The distance between the monogamous ideal and the biological compulsion for sex is “the monogamy gap,” a term Anderson created to explain why cheating is the rational response to an irrational circumstance.

So, should we all throw in the towel on monogamy? Or is there something about that kind of commitment that we should preserve and honor? Is it even possible?


Eric Anderson, author of “The Monogamy Gap: Men, Love and the Reality of Cheating” (Oxford University Press). Professor Eric Anderson is an American sociologist at the University of Winchester.

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