Roses are red، violets are blue، sugar is sweet، but will he cheat on you? Is your "committed" partner predisposed to searching for affection or adventure with someone else? Researchers believe that they've found a way to tell. We are living in an age of sexual liberation and shifting values when it comes to long-term relationships and romantic commitment.
We are now، more than ever before، starting to speak out in favor of polyamory، the practice of being in a consensual relationship with several partners at once.
Some people will even argue that monogamy is an artificial concept، owed to our species' "strategic behavior" at a time when we needed to ensure economic stability for both ourselves and our children.
However، the current trend of seeking different partners to suit our different needs، just as we have different friends for different social contexts، is not everyone's cup of tea. Most of us not committed to singlehood are still in monogamous relationships and expect to be our partner's only focus.
But long-term monogamous relationships have many perils، including habit، boredom، decreased libido، and the worries of a shared everyday life.
And after all، if you're wondering how you're going to pay this month's bills، whose turn it is to do the dishes، and whether or not to have pasta for dinner، little space remains for that sense of giddiness and adventure that marks the early "honeymoon phase."
Eventually، we may begin to worry that daily wear and tear is taking its toll on our romantic bond and that one of us might stray toward a different lover. However، some of us appear to be more likely than others to go and seek affection elsewhere.
Are they able to look away? Jim McNulty، Andrea Meltzer، Anastasia Makhanova، and Jon Maner — all of whom are from Florida State University in Tallahassee — say that they may have found a way to tell who is most prone to having a wandering eye and an unsteady heart.
Their findings، now published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology، suggest that it may all be down to how much beauty the eye of the beholder is willing to take in.
The researchers worked with 233 newlywed couples، whom they followed for a period of up to 3.5 years. During this time، the couples provided information about the evolution of their relationship.
The partners all reported their sense of marital satisfaction and long-term commitment، and they were required to tell the researchers if they had strayed away from the marital bed and whether they remained in the marriage by the end of the study.
The team focused on two psychological predictors of infidelity، which the scientists termed "attentional disengagement" and "evaluative devaluation" of potential partners.
In other words، they aimed to see whether or not the subjects would be able to ignore an attractive stranger's physical charms، and whether they would be disposed toward downplaying a potential romantic partner's physical attractiveness.
In order to test for these two predictors، McNulty and team showed the participants photos of very attractive individuals of the opposite sex، alongside pictures of people with average looks، and studied their instinctive responses.
'Spontaneous and effortless' tendencies Perhaps intuitively، the researchers concluded that those participants who were able to turn their attention away almost immediately from the photo of an attractive person were 50 percent less likely to cheat on their partner than those who took longer to enjoy the sight.
Similarly، those participants who readily evaluated the physical charms of attractive individuals as low had a higher likelihood of staying in their marriage — and their marital bed.
"People are not necessarily aware of what they're doing or why they're doing it،" says McNulty، speaking of the two predictors.