A website to facilitate marital infidelity in the UK has released a report suggesting that infidelity is good for one because it promotes weight loss. They claim that the majority of their users have shown an overweight loss, but their data cannot be used as causation data because we do not have a direct link between the act of infidelity leading to the weight loss. There is merely a correlation between infidelity and weight loss–it possible that there are other explanations for the weight loss that coincide with the infidelity.
A number of health and relationship experts have suggested that the stress of the affair is actually the cause of the weight loss. However, I think their blanket dismissal that there is something positive going on is as unscientific. Stress as frequently leads to weight gain, so why the trend toward weight loss in this sample. In their responses they have almost all put a moralistic spin on their argument (instead of a strictly scientific one).
Clearly the website has an agenda (business) in spinning the results they way they do, but so do the relationship experts (morality). The argument put forth by the website that the affairs reduce the discomfort of an unhappy marriage is as plausible as the relationship experts’ claims. I find it equally feasible that a satisfying sex (love?) life–including simply increased novelty–can promote better health. In fact there is a lot of scientific evidence to support this claim, to which many of these same experts would refer in their advice giving.
I do not promote infidelity–largely because of the stress that it can cause, but also because it is incongruent with the morality and self-concept of most of the people who engage in infidelity. However, I also define infidelity as a violation of the expectations of the relationship, and NOT non-monogamy. It would be interesting to see in what ways stress and sexual satisfaction each independently mediated the relationship between “infidelity” (and possibly non-monogamy) and weight loss.
Check out the discussion on the Huffington Post here