A study purportedly shows that straight men are more likely to forgive a girlfriend's cheating if she does it with another woman. What's behind the idea that girl-on-girl cheating somehow isn't "real"?
First, let's take a look at the study itself. According to The Globe and Mail, it didn't examine actual infidelity. Rather, study authors asked college students to imagine that their partners had cheated. 50% of guys said they'd be willing to stay with a girlfriend who cheated with a woman, but only 22% said the same about hypothetical infidelity with a man. By contrast, 28% of women said they'd stay if their boyfriend slept with another woman, but only 21% would stick around if he did so with a dude. The obvious limits of these hypothetical scenarios aside (who knows what the students would do if faced with these situations in real life?), the study authors trot out the usual evo-psych explanations: guys only care about affairs that "threaten paternity," while ladies are more worried about their male providers running off with other dudes.
But the study — insofar as it says anything at all — may say more about social attitudes than our need to perpetuate our genes. Why do some people still believe that men who sleep with men are 100% gay and definitely going to leave their female partners, while women who fuck women are just going through a phase (interestingly, these are two of nine "myths about homosexuality" that Anna Pulley handily busts over at AlterNet)? And might men's relative comfort with the idea of a girlfriend's homosexual cheating have to do with the idea that girls who kiss girls really just want male attention — or perhaps a threesome? The men's responses may not reflect how they'd actually react to infidelity, but they do mirror the stereotype that women's sexual relationships with other women aren't real or don't matter. As Sarah Schwab's recent essay (wryly titled "Girls Don't Count") on Nerve illustrates, that's far from the case in real life.
Schwab had sex with a married woman, "Celeste," who had an agreement with her husband that she could sleep with other people — as long as they were female. Schwab was looking forward to another tryst, but Celeste had to put a stop to their assignations and spend more time with her husband. The reason:
He was lonely. For Celeste, kissing random girls had increasingly turned into all-night and all-weekend affairs; she had been focusing so much on his permission for her to play with women that she had forgotten her promise to be his wife. Celeste had been missing for two months because she'd been busy rekindling her marriage. "He's the love of my life. If that means giving up a few hot experiences with women, so be it."
It's almost like when it comes to relationships, what matters is not gender or even necessarily fidelity, but good communication and consideration for both partners' needs. Imagine that.
Many Men Will Stay With Girlfriends Who Cheat With Other Women: Study [Globe And Mail]
True Stories: Girls Don't Count [Nerve]
9 Stupid Myths About Bisexuals Debunked [AlterNet]