22.05.2024

Promiscuous men are judged MORE harshly than women

It’s an idea that has prevailed for decades — promiscuous men are admired as ‘players’ while women with several previous partners are condemned as ‘sluts’.

But a new study claims that this so-called sexual double standard is actually a myth.

Contrary to popular belief, scientists from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology say that sexually promiscuous men are actually judged more harshly than women.

‘We haven’t found that women are subjected to the traditional double standards,’ said Professor Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair, an author of the study.

It’s an idea that has prevailed for decades — promiscuous men are admired as ‘players’ while women with several previous partners are condemned as ‘sluts’. But a new study claims that this so-called sexual double standard is actually a myth (stock image)

It's an idea that has prevailed for decades - promiscuous men are admired as 'players' while women with several previous partners are condemned as 'sluts'. But a new study claims that this so-called sexual double standard is actually a myth (stock image)

In their study, the team set out to understand how men and women with numerous sexual partners are perceived.

‘Everyone believes that women are exposed to a greater degree of social control than men,’ said Professor Mons Bendixen, co-author of the study.

‘But that’s not what we found when we asked people how they rate women’s and men’s sexual behaviour.

‘People are far more liberal themselves than they assume society is.’

The study included 900 heterosexual men and women, who were surveyed about how they assess potential partners for someone else, based on their sexual history.

Participants were told the potential partners’ number of previous sexual partners, their history of jealousy, infidelity, controlling behaviour and masturbation practices.

Based on this knowledge, they were asked to rate how much they would recommend the prospective partners for someone else.

The results revealed that people were generally judged more harshly when it came to long-term relationships, although there was no difference between the sexes.

However, when it came to short-term relationships, men with multiple previous partners were found to be judged more harshly than women.

The study also found that women who regularly masturbate are judged less negatively than men.

‘Far from damning women’s use of masturbation, men were very open to it, particularly in short-term contexts,’ said Andrew Thomas, an author of the study from Swansea University.

When it came to short-term relationships, men with multiple previous partners were found to be judged more harshly than women (stock image)

When it came to short-term relationships, men with multiple previous partners were found to be judged more harshly than women (stock image)

‘This is exactly what we’d expect based on evolutionary theory which posits that men will be interested in cues to sexual access.’

However, a history of cheating or controlling behaviour was found to be off-putting for both sexes.

‘Prospective partners with a history of infidelity, jealousy and controlling behaviour are perceived as strongly negative for both sexes,’ Professor Bendixen said.

‘This applies equally to male and female partners.’

The researchers highlight an important caveat – the findings only apply to people we don’t know.

‘We tend to be stricter towards family and close relatives than we are towards strangers,’ the team explained.

‘We want them to find particularly good partners, and this has both biological and cultural explanations.’

WHAT TACTICS DO PEOPLE USE TO STOP THEMSELVES CHEATING?

Researchers at the University of New Brunswick asked 362 heterosexual adults how they had staved off temptations to cheat while in a relationship.

1. ‘Relationship enhancement’

Seventy-five per cent of the study’s respondents, who were aged between 19 and 63, selected ‘relationship enhancement’ as their primary tactic.

This ploy included things like taking their partner on a date, making an extra effort with their appearance around them, or having more sex with them.

2. ‘Proactive avoidance’

The second most-popular was ‘proactive avoidance’, which involved maintaining distance from the temptation.

As well as physically avoiding the temptation, people also avoided getting close in conversation with that person.

3. ‘Derogation of the temptation’

The third and final tactic used by people was ‘derogation of the temptation’, which involved feelings of guilt, and thinking about the tempting person in a negative light.

Participants reported flirting less when they applied the final, ‘derogation of the temptation’ strategy.

But none of the strategies had an effect on the levels of romantic infidelity, sexual infidelity, and whether the relationship survived.

Psychologist Dr Alex Fradera, who was not involved in the research, said the findings show little can be done once feelings of temptation have crept in.

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