A study claims to show that men are heartless cheating bastards who don't even feel bad when they stray! Except it sort of doesn't show that at all. Let's dissect.
The NY Post calls the story "Guiltless divorce for serial cheaters," but it's actually a repack of a Men's Health survey showing that 77% of divorced male respondents don't regret their infidelities. Why are the specifics important? Here's Dave Zinczenko's explanation of the results:
Infidelity is more of a symptom of larger issues. For that reason, when the marriage ends, there's some relief on the part of the guy. When infidelity strikes a marriage, but the couple [nevertheless] stays together and works out their issues, that's when remorse sets in: 'Oh, I could have solved this problem in a different way.'
I'm not sure infidelity's always a symptom of larger issues, and neither is Zinczenko — the Men's Health survey didn't address that. What it did address was the feelings of divorced men, which are probably going to be different from those of dudes who are still married. It makes a certain amount of sense: if you cheated, broke up your marriage, and started a new life, then eschewing remorse will probably make you happier. Whether it's true or not, telling yourself that the cheating was actually exactly what you needed will help you avoid cognitive dissonance. But if you stay, then the cheating becomes a mistake, something bad you did to the person who's still your partner. Men (and women) in this situation would likely have more regret.
That said, it would be interesting to see a similar survey done on women. Do women who cheat and divorce jettison regret as easily as the dudes in the Men's Health sample seem to? Women are often judged more harshly for their sexual behavior than men are (it's men, not women, who are presumed unable to turn down a sex partner who's just "too hot" — an excuse used by 17% of the guys in the survey), and it's also a stereotype that women "beat themselves up" over missteps more than dudes do. I'd like to see if women regret cheating more than men do — or if, in fact, both genders learn the defense mechanism of seeing all past choices as the right ones.
Guiltless Divorce For Serial Cheaters [NY Post]