Relationship Fitness

P20 E2: Societal Norms and Gender Roles that Impact Infidelity

In the realm of relationships, infidelity remains a complex and often contentious issue influenced by a myriad of factors including societal norms and deeply ingrained gender roles. The podcast “Relationship Workout for Men,” in its insightful season 20, episode two with Nihinlola Olowe, a psychotherapist from Lagos State, Nigeria, sheds light on how these elements shape perceptions and behaviors surrounding infidelity.

Nihinlola points out that societal norms and gender roles have significant roles in reinforcing behaviors related to infidelity, particularly within the context of African cultures, although these patterns are also echoed globally. Traditionally, the man is often seen as the head of the family—a role imbued with authority and decision-making powers that extend to financial responsibilities and beyond. This central position often implicitly grants men certain “rights,” including the leniency to engage in infidelity, while women are held to a markedly different standard.

Using a real-world example from her clinical experience, Nihinlola discusses a male client who openly justifies his infidelity as a rightful extension of his role as the family patriarch. However, when posed with the scenario of his wife committing infidelity, the client’s response starkly highlights the double standards: such an act would lead to immediate separation, justified by the notion that while men can exercise discretion in their marital fidelity, women must remain above reproach. This dichotomy underscores a profound societal hypocrisy where behaviors tolerated and even expected in men are simultaneously condemned in women.

Moreover, Nihinlola explores how these societal expectations are embedded within daily social interactions and judgments. She points out that actions considered benign for men, such as socializing late or dressing freely, are often subject to harsh criticism when performed by women, especially those who are married. Such norms dictate not only acceptable behavior but also attire and social engagement, reinforcing a rigid framework of expectations for women.

This societal double standard is deeply rooted in the perception of gender roles where masculinity is associated with dominance and liberty, and femininity with compliance and restraint. The consequences of this disparity are significant, affecting how infidelity is perceived and addressed within different genders. For men, societal norms often provide a shield of impunity, emboldening them to declare infidelity as a right without societal reproach. In contrast, women who commit infidelity face severe societal backlash, often leading to shame and the need for secrecy.

In conclusion, what is needed is a broader discussion on the need for societal evolution when it comes to infidelity. By examining the underlying gender biases and societal expectations that condone infidelity in one gender while condemning it in another, Nihinlola encourages a reevaluation of our cultural norms. True equality in marital expectations and responsibilities requires dismantling these outdated norms and fostering a culture of mutual respect and equality, irrespective of gender.

Listen to the Episode

Nihinlola Olowe is a seasoned psychotherapist with expertise in counseling psychology, offering specialized services in trauma, behavioral modification, and psychological testing, among others. She provides tailored therapy to a diverse clientele, including traumatized children, professionals, families, and couples, as well as individuals facing fertility issues, using a compassionate and scientifically rigorous approach to promote emotional and behavioral recovery.

Scroll to Top
Powered by

More Fun, Less Drama