3. Understanding infidelity

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Infidelity may be considered as opposite to monogamy (having a sexual and emotional relationship with only one partner) and both are only one aspect of how humans conduct sexual and emotional relationships. For this reason, in order to understand infidelity, it makes sense to consider broader theory on human mating behaviour including theory on monogamy.

Researchers who have tried to explain mating behaviour in humans have considered what can be learned from three overlapping sources of data:

  • the mating behaviour of other animals, in particular apes
  • evidence and hypotheses about the impact of the evolutionary history of human beings
  • evidence of historical and contemporary cultural variation in human attitudes and behaviour around mating.

These strands of theory and research are further discussed in the next sections. Continue to Section 3.1 The evolution of monogamy.

3.1 The evolution of monogamy