Zach Donnenfield | MUSTANG NEWS

Love has always been an inexplicable emotion. Even the great philosopher Socrates and his peers in Plato’s “Symposium” were left ultimately perplexed by the nature of love. Are we, as a species, really meant to only be with one person for our entire lives, especially now that technological advances have allowed us to live longer and connect with more people than ever before?

According to anthropology professor Stacey Rucas, a majority of college students would like to have a committed relationship during their time in school.

“Most people are looking for one person to love,” Rucas said. “According to a number of studies, 60 percent of college students will have a long-term relationship in college.”

With jealousy ingrained into humans’ emotional motherboard, more people naturally tend to focus on one person when it comes to love. Rucas referred to love in three stages: the lust phase, the attraction phase and the attachment phase.

During the lust phase, Rucas said a person is simply experiencing the novelty of their new partner. When they move into the attraction phase, they begin to think about their partner constantly and their decision-making or productivity can be affected. In the attachment phase, Rucas said a person can no longer imagine life without their partner and their partner is always on their mind.

When individuals are in the lust stage of love, the relationship is often polyamorous, or non-monogamous. Prior to becoming exclusive, partners will sometimes date multiple people at a time in order to be able to easily choose the best match. 

“It is possible to love more than one person at a time,” Rucas said. “But generally, the love a person experiences for multiple people is not equal. Generally, they are experiencing different stages of love.”

For example, when a person is dating multiple people, they may feel different levels of attachment to their partners.

However, many adults cross-culturally live in a  pair bond and many cultures accept monogamy as the norm. So why do humans have such an incredible inclination
toward infidelity?

“A person cheating on their partner does not mean that they have fallen out of love with them,” Rucas said. “They still have deep affection for their partner in most cases. Cheating is an incredibly perplexing topic and we simply can’t seem to explain exactly why it occurs.”

It is very hard to pinpoint why people cheat. Perhaps it is because of a person’s desire for independence or novelty. Simply put, it is individual-specific. Additionally, the data are difficult to grasp. According to Rucas, anywhere from a  third to half of all adults commit infidelity, and the number could be even higher because some people may not admit infidelity under any
circumstances.

One of the commonly believed explanations for why individuals cheat is because they may become bored, developing a conscious — or unconscious — need for novelty. This could be the case in many situations, but cannot be generalized to all cases
of infidelity

“Long-term sex with someone you are deeply in love with is much different than casual sex with someone new,” Rucas said. “Different hormones are being produced. Flings are driven by lust, shock and unfamiliarity; naturally, they fade quickly. However, when you have sex with someone you really love, oxytocin is produced. Being the love hormone, oxytocin makes you feel deep affection and closeness, emotions that every human being cherishes and possesses the will to not only work towards, but to keep for as long as possible.”

Looking at the exponential development of technology, there may be a correlation between its advancement and the increasing complexity of cheating. Today, one can interact with more people than ever before, thanks to the internet. New ways of cheating have arisen, such as chatting with someone intimately online, or even watching pornography in some instances. Additionally, dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble have made it easier for people to succumb to temptations.

However, while it has become easier to meet new people and cheat, the appreciation society has for a loyal partner in a temptation-ridden world has increased as well. When a partner wishes to present themselves as an open book, it is truly
something magical.

“Deep love overpowers the need for sleep, food, even sex,” Rucas said. “Without love, what do we really have?”

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