In any of its forms, infidelity can have severe consequences on the health of a marriage, and for many couples, it may ultimately lead to divorce. Financial, emotional, or sexual infidelity may be a root cause for trust issues between partners or, in some cases, an effect or symptom of such a problem. In many situations, cheating occurs somewhat unexpectedly, leaving the relationship shaken and partners wondering why it happened. Researchers, however, may be closer to establishing some explanation for this kind of behavior, and the answer may be hidden in our DNA.
A study conducted at Binghamton University, State University of New York, examined sexual behavior and relationships in young adults, while taking into account a particular gene in the DNA of each subject. Specifically, the research looked at the effects of a variant of the dopamine receptor D4 polymorphism, or DRD4 gene, on subjects’ actions and attitudes. The DRD4 gene has been previously associated with sensation-seeking behaviors involving alcohol and pathological gambling, and researchers found similar links to infidelity and promiscuity.
“What we found,” said lead author Justin Garcia, “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.” He indicated that the behavior seemed to be driven by the dopamine rush of high-risk, high-reward activities. The research, however, did not look to excuse unfaithful partners on the basis of genetics, instead pointing out that the DRD4 variant did not always cause infidelity and that many without the gene engaged in similar behavior.
A separate study, which examined an entirely different segment of the human genetic code, also suggested that unfaithfulness may have some roots in DNA. Researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia looked at variants the arginine vasopressin receptor 1A, or AVPR1A gene and possible links to human sexual behavior.
The research team discovered, similar to the Binghamton study, that certain variations of the AVPR1A gene were more prevalent among subjects who committed acts of infidelity. Interestingly, however, the effect was limited to women and no such link was suggested between the gene and male behavior. The research acknowledged that while infidelity among men may have an evolutionary explanation, similar behavior among women is not yet understood very well.
Regardless of genetic inclinations, acts of infidelity can destroy trust and devastate a marriage. If your spouse has been unfaithful to you and you are considering divorce, understanding your options is the first step. Contact an experienced Kane County divorce attorney today for a free consultation.