Men with Lower Incomes than Female Partners More Likely to Cheat

“Girly jobs” won’t only get you a husband – they’ll get you a husband who’s less likely to cheat on you (maybe).

New research suggests that men who are financially dependent on their wives or live-in girlfriends are 5 times more likely to cheat on them – 5 times more likely!

On the contrary, women who are financially dependent on their male partners are more faithful.

Why the discrepancy?

Well, although it seems rather counter-intuitive for a person to cheat on the partner who supports them, it can be argued that men choose this route as a means of demonstrating their “manliness” that is called into question with their lower pay check. 

Men as Breadwinners

According to the author of the study, Christin Munsch, men who earn less than their female counterparts challenge “the traditional notion of men as breadwinners.” Without ownership of this role she argues that a man’s gender identity is threatened which leads him to cheat.

Given this argument, the more economically dependent a man is, the less he is able to fulfill his role as a breadwinner, and the more likely he is to cheat. 

 However, on the flip side, Munsch also finds that the more economically dependent a man’s female partner is on him, the more likely he is to cheat.
 So even if men earn a lot more than their partners – and fulfill their roles as breadwinners successfully – they are still inclined to cheat.

When Don’t Men Cheat?

The study’s author argues that the partnerships with the least amount of cheating occur with couples who earn the same amount of money or when men only earn slightly more. 

Now, I don’t want to paint men as sex driven, cheating machines. Even the study’s author admits that infidelity was minimal in the data she examined.

In fact, only about 7 percent of men and 3 percent of women cheated in the six-year period she analyzed, but when the cheating did occur there was a dynamic at play between financial independence and infidelity.

Either extreme – earing a lot less or a lot more than their partner – seemed to increase the likelihood of men cheating.

Women on the other hand were more faithful when financially dependent on their partners, but nothing was said for women’s infidelity should they earn a lot more than their male partners.

Are women who earn a lot more than their husbands cheating on their cheating spouses?

Why hasn’t this trend been examined? I imagine too that there are differences in the trends of economic independence and infidelity for same sex couples.

With so many questions left unanswered I hope to hear more from Munsch on this trend.

What do you think – is there a correlation between economic independence and infidelity?

Photo by cliff1066 used under a Creative Commons license.


suheyla c.
Süheyla C7 years ago

Thank you for sharing with us.

Fa'izah J. A.
Jauharah Andrews7 years ago

I couldn't vote in the poll since I don't think money or the lack of it is a factor in cheating by men nor women. For that matter, the presence or absence of children doesn't matter either.I really think it has to do with ego and a need for attention and the inability to value another person as well as the inability to love oneself.

Even when a man has a good woman who is devoted to only him, if the man wants to cheat he will. Sadly the same applies to women.

As to the point that men who don't feel like they are the breadwinners cheating; there's a solution to that. If the man feels he isn't making enough then he needs to do whatever he can (legally) to increase his earnings and by the same token the woman should appreciate what he does provide or work collectively with him to attain the material things they want in life without emasculating him nor should the man make the woman feel bad for her higher income.

Philippa P.
Philippa P7 years ago

Men and their egos.

Lika S.
Lika P7 years ago

I'm only going to buy the argument of men who make less than the woman cheats if they have no children. Because if they do, I don't see where being a house-husband and father could bring time to cheat. If so, whose running the household and raising? Someone has to...

Brenda Marie C. C.

Thanks for the post.

Hanan W.
Hana W7 years ago

For some reason, I am not surprised....

Ruth Barrett
Ruth Barrett7 years ago

I wonder if people of lower socio-economic status are more likely to cheat in general, something to do with less stable upbringings and higher stress? I would suggest that it goes the other way too - that men with very high incomes and high status are also more likely to cheat, given the highly publicised "Tiger Woods" types.

Kris B.
Kris B7 years ago

Hard to believe this is a valid study.

Walter G.
Walter G7 years ago

If the issue is income difference, what is this marriage doing in existence in the first place? This is one of the factors obsolescing marriage.

gail d.
gail dair7 years ago

thanks for post