Men Will Forgive Cheating…As Long as It’s With Another Woman

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REUTERS/Jasper Juinen

Half of men say they would forgive their partner’s infidelity, so long as it occurred with a woman. (via Reuters)

That’s according to a new study published in this month’s edition of the psychology journal Personality and Individual Differences. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin asked 718 college students to imagine being in a long-term relationship, and then asked participants to predict their reactions to imagined scenarios involving a wandering partner.

(More on TIME.com: Divorced Coupled Remarry After 56 Years.)

Overall, roughly 50 percent of men said they would look past a same-sex dalliance and continue the relationship. But only 22% said they would forgive a woman who slept with another man. According to Jaime Confer, an evolutionary psychologist and the study’s lead author, that greater level of acceptance for a homosexual fling may stem from the fact female mistresses can’t get their girlfriends pregnant. “A robust jealousy mechanism is activated in men and women by different types of cues—those that threaten paternity in men and those that threaten abandonment in women,” she told Reuters. And, yes: Confer believes some men may actually find a lesbian encounter arousing, or, as she says, “an opportunity to mate with more than one woman simultaneously, satisfying men’s greater desire for more partners.”

Women aren’t so forgiving. Twenty-eight percent of women said they would look past their partners’ affair with a woman. And far fewer—only 21% —approved of a man-on-man encounter.

Of course, the homosexual scenarios were imagined and participants rarely had real world experience with that. When researchers asked subjects about their actual experiences, men showed less tolerance of cheating than women. Authors found that men were significantly more likely than women to have ended their real relationships following a partner’s affair.

(More on TIME.com: What Your Brain Looks Like After 20 Years of Marriage.)

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