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Could There Really Be an Infidelity Gene?

Posted on in Divorce

Cheating, Geneva Family Law Attorney, Divorce, GeneticsEveryone has made choices in their lives that they regret. For some, the regrettable decisions include cheating on their partner or spouse despite their love and marital commitment. While infidelity is often cited as one of the most common reasons for divorce, experts offer a wide variety of explanations regarding the motivation behind it.

Married individuals who have been unfaithful usually claim to do so because they are seeking something they feel is missing in their relationships. Whether physical intimacy, an emotional connection, or love that seemed to be absent, most extramarital affairs can be traced to a need that felt unaddressed. However, a surprising number of infidelities occur simply because a married person got curious or bored.

Studies which look at the reasons for infidelity are certainly interesting, but they do not really address the question of what makes a person give in to the temptation to cheat. Every day, adults are faced with impulses toward negative behavior that do not cause them to engage in the action. For example, a stressful day at work or a nagging boss may lead an employee to want to throw his coffee cup at the wall and walk out. Most adults, though, are able to control such impulses based on the realization that such behavior is inappropriate. Similarly, most adults are confronted with the urge to be unfaithful as well, and a large number will never actually do so as they realize the implications of such an action.

What, then, causes some people to act on their impulse to cheat while others are able to let the inclination pass? The answer may be found in the human genetic code, according to a study out of Binghamton University, part of the State University of New York system. Headed by SUNY Doctoral Diversity Fellow Justin Garcia, a team of researchers looked at sexual behavior and genetic profiles in an effort to identify a possible link. Their results suggested that the dopamine receptor D4 polymorphism, or the DRD4 gene, is linked to riskier sexual behavior.

The DRD4 gene has been linked with alcohol use and gambling, so it certainly seems reasonable that other “sensation-seeking behavior” like promiscuity and infidelity could likewise be affected. Uncommitted or illicit sexual activity carries relatively high risk and high reward, in the form of a dopamine release. “What we found was that individuals with a certain variant of the DRD4 gene more likely to have a history of uncommitted sex, including one-night stands and acts of infidelity,” Garcia said. “One-night stands can be risky, both physically and psychologically, and betrayal can be one of the most devastating things to happen to a couple.”

The research, even while establishing an apparent relationship between DRD4 and sexual behavior, did not seek to absolve unfaithful spouses of responsibility for their actions. Garcia pointed out that not all individuals with the DRD4 variant will cheat, and many who have one-night stands or cheat do not have the genotype. “The study merely suggests that a much higher proportion of those with this genetic type are likely to engage in these behaviors,” he concluded.

Finding out that your spouse has been unfaithful can be incredibly difficult and your relationship may not able to withstand the effects. Additionally, Illinois law considers infidelity or adultery grounds for divorce. If you find yourself in such a situation, a qualified lawyer can help you understand your options. Contact an experienced family law attorney in Geneva for a consultation today.

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