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Left to Stew: Is Infidelity a Health Issue?

Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson at Twilight press conferenceR-Patz, K-Stew, Stewpatz, Pattinwart. Whatever you planned on nick-naming Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson’s relationship, it looks like the only word being thrown around now is “over.” But what is it about cheating that makes it so prevalent, and what’s the science behind it?

We’ll shed some twilight on the issue.

The Numbers of Cheating

The idea of cheating has always consumed and captivated our society. Every time a new celebrity is caught, weeks of pop culture talk and water cooler gossip center on who was at fault and how it went down. But it turns out, if we looked at ourselves a bit more, we’d see that the problem is overwhelmingly common . . . even outside of tinsel town.

According to a study by the University of Montreal’s Department of Psychology, the probability of someone cheating during the course of a relationship varies between 40 and 76 percent.  That means at least more than a third of happy couples will, at some point, stray a bit off path. And that stray isn’t always so public.

It’s estimated by the BBC documentary, Human Instinct, that about one in ten children are being raised by men who are unaware that they are not the father.  The film goes on to look into the phenomenon of women cheating specifically during their ovulation cycle. Researchers believe that it can come down to instinct, with a woman being attracted to another man because his genes could mean healthier, stronger children.

But that doesn’t seem to be the reason for Kristen’s oh-so-public displays of affection. So what else could it be?

Avoidant Attachment Styles

In September of 2008, the University of Montreal’s Genevieve Beaulieu-Pelletier, a PhD student, wanted to know if the type of commitment a person has with his or her loved one has any correlation with infidelity. Specifically, she targeted avoidant attachment styles; or men and women who are uncomfortable with intimacy.

In multiple studies of adults aged 23 and 27, the results were the same . . . people with avoidant attachment are more likely to cheat.

Beaulieu-Pelletier believes it is a regulatory emotional strategy used by these men and women. Simply put, it distances themselves from commitment. The study also revealed no differences between men and women. Contrary to the popular belief, infidelity doesn’t seem to be more prevalent in men.


Regardless of the reason, another celebrity couple has hit the dust. The public burnout and sordid details have made for another fascinating case study. But at the heart of the matter, it always ends up being the same story. Someone messed up, and someone found out.

Let’s just hope a new moon is on the horizon for Robert Pattinson.

Cited Sources

"Infidelity Dissected." N.p., 08 Sept. 2008. Web. 06 Aug. 2012. <http://www.nouvelles.umontreal.ca/archives/2007-2008/content/view/1629/124/index.html>.

"Infidelity 'is in the Genes'" BBC News. BBC, 30 Oct. 2002. Web. 06 Aug. 2012. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2369357.stm>.


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