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News that Ashley Madison had to create over 70,000 fake female profiles to meet demand calls an old ditty to mind:

Hogamus Higamus
Men are Polygamous
Higamus Hogamus
Women Monogamous

Ashley Madison learned that men and women are indeed different. This fact is backed up by an impressive array of science on sex difference coming to press over the last fifteen years.

One major study found that of those in steady relationships, one sex was, on average, four times more likely than the other to say they “certainly would” be willing to engage in casual sex with someone they just met. For those who were single, they were six times more likely to say this. Guess which sex was which.

Another investigation by evolutionary psychologists conducted across fifty-two nations, six continents and thirteen island nations involving 119 scholars reports that the male preference for greater sexual variety is, as they explain, “cross-culturally universal” and “true regardless of statistical techniques used . . . regardless of the participant’s current relational status or sexual orientation.” The desire for more than one sexual partner is:

  • Eight times greater for men than women in North America
  • Nearly seven times greater in East Asia
  • Six times greater in South America and Western Europe
  • Five times greater in Southern Europe, the Middle East, South Asia and
  • Four times greater in Eastern Europe, Africa, Oceania

On average, men are nearly three times more likely than women to report being “strongly seeking” more than one sexual partner “in the next month.” Scholars in Australia discovered that only 4 percent of women engage in extra-marital affairs without any desire for that relationship to grow emotionally. Men and women are different.

What about when you double up this heightened male interest for greater sexual variety in a same-sex relationship? Scholars have examined this, finding that only a third of committed homosexual male couples had agreements on strict monogamy and truly honored them. The other two-thirds had mutually established ground rules for extra-curriculars or regularly failed to adhere to their commitment to monogamy. In fact, in the openly non-monogamous relationships, the frequency of sex outside the relationship in the last year ranged from zero to an extreme of 350 occurrences, with a median of eight hook-ups over a twelve month period. Even the couples who pledged true monogamy, the range was from one to sixty-three “slip-ups” with a median of five. The corresponding numbers for men in heterosexual marriages are microscopic in comparison. Women settle men down. Other men do not.

Meanwhile, in line with the general female nature, long-term lesbian relationships are not only not sexually adventurous but also highly likely to suffer from the death of sexual interest over time. It is common enough to have earned itself a name and diagnosis.

The Ashley Madison business model relied on our acceptance of a lie: When it comes to desire, men and women are the same. Its marketing relied on the claim that if one cloaked the transaction in secrecy, women would be more than happy to seek illicit sex. Even as it gathered more and more evidence to the contrary, Ashley Madison asked us to believe that men and women weren’t that different. Now we know what they did.

Glenn T. Stanton is the director of global family formation studies at Focus on the Family.

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