by Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil

A new gene discovered by scientists is being called the “infidelity gene,” but what does that actually mean, and is the name truly rooted in the scientific discovery?

Scientists at Karolinska Institute have found a link between a specific gene and the way men bond to their partners. This is the first time that a specific gene variant has been associated with male bonding, but the effect of this variation is relatively small, and it cannot be used to predict with any real accuracy how someone will behave in a future relationship.

Hasse Walum, postgraduate student at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and his team found that men who carry one or two copies of a variant of a particular gene linked to hormone receptors — allele 334 — often behave differently in relationships than men who lack this gene variant.

According to the study, the incidence of allele 334 was statistically linked to how strong a bond a man felt he had with his partner. Men who had two copies of allele 334 were also twice as likely to have had a marital or relational crisis in the past year than those who lacked the gene variant. There was also a connection between the men’s gene variant and how happy their partners were with their relationship.

“Women married to men who carry one or two copies of allele 334 were, on average, less satisfied with their relationship than women married to men who didn’t carry this allele”, says Hasse Walum.

A related study was carried out several years ago, in which researchers focused on women who were twins and found that if one of a pair of twins had a history of infidelity, the chances her sister would also stray were about 55%. It found the tendency for both twins to be either faithful or unfaithful was strongest in identical pairs – who have identical genes.

The executors of the study stressed that genes alone did not determine whether somebody was likely to be unfaithful – much could be boiled down to social factors as well.
I’ve found similar things throughout my years as a therapist and believe that certain people ARE genetically predisposed to have a more difficult time being faithful. Of course there are other factors at work here – like if you grew up in a home where one of your parents was unfaithful, or if you move in circles where discreet infidelity is somewhat accepted. But some people must fight against infidelity like others fight against alcoholism or anger.

This doesn’t mean they get a free pass. The key is to acknowledge this about yourself and keep fighting AGAINST however you have to – through therapy, support groups or counseling.


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