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Is Sexual Infidelity Genetic?

“What we found was that individuals with a certain variant of the DRD4 gene were more likely to have a history of uncommitted sex, including one-night stands and acts of infidelity,” noted Garcia. “The motivation seems to stem from a system of pleasure and reward, which is where the release of dopamine comes in. In cases of uncommitted sex, the risks are high, the rewards substantial and the motivation variable all elements that ensure a dopamine ‘rush.’”

Garcia notes that the study may indicate the first biological evidence that explains how some people may be looking for a serious committed long-term relationship, even if they revel in one-night stands. The results also explain how someone could be very much attached to their partner, commit infidelity, and yet still be madly in love with their partner. It may simply all revolve around a DRD4 variation in these people: distinct differences in the internal quest for a dopamine ‘rush’ can happen separately from the drive for commitment.

“The study doesn’t let transgressors off the hook,” said Garcia. “These relationships are associative, which means that not everyone with this genotype will have one-night stands or commit infidelity. Indeed, many people without this genotype still have one-night stands and commit infidelity. The study merely suggests that a much higher proportion of those with this genetic type are likely to engage in these behaviors.”

“One-night stands can be risky, both physically and psychologically,” concludes Garcia. “And betrayal can be one of the most devastating things to happen to a couple. These genes do not give anyone an excuse, but they do provide a window into how our biology shapes our propensities for a wide variety of behaviors.”

What do you think? Monogamy and infidelity can be very tricky topics. One thing’s for sure, the first person to invent an accurate, over-the-counter DRD4 test kit will never have to work again.

Related:
Non-Monogamy: Do Open Relationships Work?

Ask the Loveologist: What Does his Cheating Mean?
8 Animals That Mate for Life

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

125 comments

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1:40AM PDT on Aug 24, 2012

thanks

10:14AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

thnx

6:09AM PDT on Mar 27, 2012

Thanks for the article.

11:46PM PST on Feb 9, 2012

interesting article and comments!

11:45PM PST on Feb 9, 2012

interesting article and comments!

9:54PM PST on Feb 9, 2012

Ya, it's genetic and hormonal. Some people are born with a high Testosterone output. That's the horny hormone. It's not really necessary to do exhaustive studies on this. It's more important to deal with the social consequences. There has been too much sexual repression by religions for centuries causing too much rape and mental instability. Celibacy in the Catholic church was one of the more insane ideas they instituted. Prostitution should be legalized everywhere. Sex should be dealt with in a realistic manner. There should be real sex education in schools, not the stupid "abstinence" BS. The above study is just another faked up study with a small sampling and it's skewed and totally worthless.

4:17PM PST on Jan 12, 2012

Yes genetic..inherently human across the board.."social engineering" is the sickness that grows and grows..highly profitable to the IRS brain dead clones..BOO..hand over yer cash slaves..and you DO..????

12:47PM PST on Jan 12, 2012

For some reason, this made me wonder about those scientists' private lives, I mean...what if they are into adultery and infidelity and now just want to find an excuse for themselves? :/

7:20AM PDT on Mar 28, 2011

The urge may exist - but one need not act on it. That is what separates us from animals.

4:55PM PST on Feb 15, 2011

What a beautiful excuse to give for all the liars/cheaters out there !

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