Jealousy Conflict between Sexes

It has often been speculated, and some evidence suggests, that men and women differ in the elicitation of Jealousy: Men appear to be more likely than women to become upset over threats to sexual exclusivity, whereas women are more likely than men to react negatively to potential loss of partner time and attention. Both adaptionist and traditional social learning theories have been used to explain these apparent gender differences.

Jealousy Conflict between Sexes

According to the theory of evolved sex differences in Jealousy, the challenge for women to ensure paternal investment increased their jealousy response to emotional infidelity. In contrast, paternal uncertainty exerted selective pressures that distressed men more by sexual infidelity. Several studies have investigated whether the effect of these sexually dimorphic selection pressures can be detected in contemporary human populations, with conflicting results.

To date, no genetic information studies on sex differences in Jealousy have been conducted. Gender differences in Jealousy are a well-established finding that shows that men (compared to women) find the sexual elements of infidelity more distressing. In contrast, Women (compared to men) find the emotional factors more distressing when cheating.

Types of Jealousy Experienced by Both Sexes

Jealousy is an emotional state that arises in response to a perceived, potential, or actual threat to a social relationship posed by a third party. Romantic Jealousy is specifically aimed at securing and maintaining existing partners and relationships and competing with actual or potential rivals. The involvement of an outside couple can put an existing relationship at risk, and thus both parties may lose their current partner, relationship, resources, status, and other assets. Allies of the secondary couple attached to the relationship, such as the partner's friends and family.

Although there are many forms of Jealousy, there are two main types: normal and abnormal. Dr Gonzalez-Berrios describes six main types −

  • Rational Jealousy − when there is a sincere and reasonable suspicion, especially when you love a partner and fear losing them, Jealousy can occur, reasonable Jealousy.

  • Jealousy of Power − This type of Jealousy stems from personal insecurities. People can be jealous of someone who has what they want.

  • Jealousy in Love − This can stem from an actual or imagined threat to a romantic relationship, leading to jealous thoughts or reactions.

  • Sexual Jealousy − People can become suspicious when there is concern that a partner is unfaithful and engaging in physical infidelity.

  • Family Jealousy − This often happens between family members, such as siblings. For example, when a new baby is born, siblings may feel jealous when parents pay attention to the new baby.

  • Pathological Jealousy − This is irrational Jealousy. Feelings of being unwell can result from an underlying mental health disorder such as an anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or schizophrenia. Signs of pathological Jealousy can include extreme insecurity and a desire to control and manipulate.

An Evolutionary View of Sex Differences in Jealousy

In species with female internal fertilization, males risk reducing paternity and investment in rival gametes if Their mates have sex with other males. The offspring of these species are not at risk of reduced motherhood due to unfaithful mates, but they do run the risk of diverting the commitment and resources of the mate to rival offspring.

Evolutionary psychologists argue that at least some sex differences in human behaviour and psychological predispositions, especially those related to mate search and choice, are due to selective pressures of intersex selection and intra-domestic competition caused by some adaptation challenges. These challenges include identifying valid reproductive partners for both sexes, reducing paternity uncertainty for men, and securing parental investment from partners in children.

Men and women face different challenges due to higher male fertility rates, leading to gender disparities in parental investment. Sex-selection "solutions" to these sex-specific challenges are thought to be responsible for psychological predispositions related to mating and sex roles.

Although different theories of evolutionary psychology differ in their emphasis on different processes of sexual selection (e.g., male-male competition or intersex selection), all argue that sex differences are ultimately produced by selection for genetic traits rather than non-hereditary processes such as social learning. This is supported by the strong consensus in behavioural genetics that almost all human psychological and behavioural traits have a significant genetic influence. In addition, men and women face different sex-selection pressures due to different sex-specific rates and costs of reproduction.

For example, the heritability of prosocial sexuality (interest in casual sex) was higher in females than males, suggesting that genetic factors influence female sexual limitations. This emphasis on genetic influence is often confused with genetic essentialism (that is, seeing superficial traits or social phenomena as determined by "genes", which make up fixed "natures" of organisms and social categories.

Contrary to this false impression, contemporary evolutionary psychologists actively reject genetic essentialism by acknowledging non-environmental inputs, heredity, and phenotypic flexibility in human life-history strategies. Sex differences in mating as a reflection of functionally distinct "modules" without considering the possibility of Sex differences in mating may be the right strategy for the different environmental challenges faced by each sex. More recent evolutionary accounts of sex variations and mating differences have considered factors such as active sex ratios, pathogen pressures, available resources, cultural context, and juridical.

Studies have shown that more men than women feel sexual infidelity more distressing than emotional infidelity. In contrast, more women than men find sexual infidelity more painful and emotional distress than sexual infidelity. Some evolutionary psychologists have suggested that this sex difference can best be conceptualized as reflecting evolutionary differences in parental investment that create a specific need for male paternity and male investment needs in children. However, a small group of men reported that emotional infidelity was more distressing than sexual infidelity.

It is important to note that some of the gender differences seen today are due to gender roles in society as well as a range of other factors (e.g. access to social and political power, heritage) patriarchy, etc.). They note that more minor sex differences are shown in societies with higher rates of gender equality values.


Studies worldwide have reported that men are more jealous of sexual infidelity than emotional infidelity. Women are the opposite: they are more jealous of emotional infidelity than sexual infidelity. Experts often point to an evolutionary cause for this gender difference: men can never be sure they are the father of a child, while women are more concerned with having an actual father faithful to take care of the children.

Updated on: 19-Apr-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started