Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Good Guys Win ...

by Zinta Aistars

Again, another article this morning in my health and science batch of newsletters that I receive at work, beginning of my day. I skim for interesting headlines. Yet another headline about men cheating and the various causes. I wince and roll my eyes. I've had enough dealing with cheaters for one lifetime. The damage caused to relationships, families, health, is far reaching and horrific. Gee, it's good to be a singleton again!

Enough already, I say. But the blurb below the headline catches my eye. Something different here. "Men more likely to cheat if they are economically dependent on their female partners, study finds. The more economically dependent a man is on his female partner, the more likely he is to cheat on her, according to research to be presented at the 105th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association."

There's a twist. The article goes on to say that while men are more likely to cheat on top earning women, women are less likely to cheat on top earning men. One would understand from this that men still and ever want to be heads of households, in the traditional role of provider and protector, while women still either respect their men in these roles ... or perhaps are simply more dependent on them, especially when children are involved. I have read enough studies, after all, about women who are in their 40s and 50s being more inclined to divorce than men, once they achieve financial independence and the children are raised. And, once older women set out on their own, they are likely to continue to choose the life of independence.

Then the scale tips again. If men make TOO much more than their partners, they are off to chase skirt again. Too much of a discrepancy, apparently, is not good, either. The ideal, the article states, is that "Men were the least likely to cheat when their partners made approximately 75 percent of their incomes." Mutual respect and equal partners? I like the sound of that.

Can't say any of this was particularly surprising to me. What did raise my eyebrow, however, was another statistic. A happy one!

"Putting all of these numbers in context, Munsch said that very few people cheat on their partners (or report doing so in a survey). An average of approximately 3.8 percent of male partners and 1.4 percent of female partners cheated in any given year during the six-year period studied."

Hurrah! The good guys win! Nice guys are everywhere! And we nice girls really, really appreciate them.

Yet there I was, initially wincing at the headline, thinking there we go again. More of this, again. People hurting people, families breaking apart, heart breaking and shattering on every corner, in so many households. After all, isn't that the impression we all get when we watch the media? When we read those headlines? When we talk to each other socially? You would think Bad Boys abound, and that the women who wish to tame them are everywhere. The truth is quite different than the media would portray. Most of us respect our mates and remain faithful. We may argue ... but at night, we kiss and make up. Those who do not are the very slim exception to the rule, and more a case of a individual's faulty character and weakness than a matter of "boys will be boys."

Yet this is far from the first time I have seen such encouraging and positive statistics. I've been noticing them more and more lately, including a recent article in Women's Health, Is Fidelity Obsolete? with the answer being: no. It is just a myth of the media, a false impression given by all the questionable sites available on the Internet. Looking back on my own experience, too: the good guys, the nice ones, are in abundance. Break ups are more about different dreams and goals, personality clashes, or a variety of other reasons. It's not always about the man leaving his longstanding and loyal but aging wife for the pretty, young thing. In fact, it almost never is. Marriage is still alive and well, and most of us are still very appreciative of our mates.

So I read the article and smile, and I decide to take note. It's like listening to the evening news. If that's all you see, you would think the planet was seething with war and tragedy and evil. There is plenty of that, far too much of it. It is crucial, though, to pause and step back, consider the bigger picture here. What is that cliche about bad apples? We tend to remember that one sour and wormy bite more and longer than we do that bite of luscious and sweet fruit.

Nice guys win. Less than four percent of you suck.

Now, about that need to be top dog ...

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