Thanks to dating sites, we have a great way to gather data about the human condition without having to write grant proposals to the National Science Foundation. I first became aware of this bastion of data when OK Cupid announced that older women benefit from showing cleavage in their photos, but younger women don’t. I immediately started showing more cleavage at work because we know that people want to do business with people they want to date, and men think women who look datable are actually harder workers.

Now the site that specializes in matching married people looking to cheat, AshleyMadison.com, has released its list of the most adulterous professions based on the 1.9 million people who are registered on the site. (via BoingBoing)

Here’s the list:

For Men:
1. Physicians
2. Police Officers
3. Lawyers
4. Real Estate Agents
5. Engineers

For Women:
1. Teachers
2. Stay-at-home Moms
3. Nurses
4. Administrative Assistants
5. Real Estate Agents

This list looks mostly right to me. It is a list of men who like power but do not have access to a lot of women. Physicians, for example, would lose their license hitting on a patient, so it’s nurses or drug company reps. (Not that physicians aren’t notorious for hitting on drug reps.) There are other types of men who love power and are notorious for cheating–politicians and traveling sales guys come to mind–but they have such widespread access to women that they don’t need the web site.

But the number five slot looks wrong to me. Engineers make the top 5 I think, only because it's a trendy, online resource. I actually think that with more data we’d find that engineers cheat less (reasoning: Engineers generally skew toward Asperger’s on the autism scale, which is why Microsoft is known for great insurance coverage for Autism spectrum disorders. Besides, people with Asperger’s have a hard time lying.)

As for the list of women, it is, with the exception of the number five slot, filled with jobs that are about nurturing and care taking. Which makes me think that a) the life of a nurturer is not as fulfilling for women as the world thinks, and b) masseuse would be on the list too if it weren’t that they probably fall under the category of people who cheat but do not need the site to have access to people to cheat with.

We can also use this list to reaffirm stuff we already know but choose to ignore:

1. Stay away from career paths with an end game of getting power or being famous. Because those careers are largely unfulfilling. The goal of having regular sex is fulfilling. But, according to David Blanchflower, economist at Dartmouth, power and fame do not give you more regular sex, they give you more choices, and we know from Barry Schwartz’s book, The Paradox of Choice, that more choices does not make us happy. Even for sex partners.

2. Taking care of people all day is unfulfilling. Few people can cope with being the caretaker all the time. We already knew, from a study by Pew, that most mothers would like part-time work rather than being at home with kids all day or having work outside the home all day. Now we also know that women do not feel fulfilled being the caretaker all day at work.

3. Work is most fulfilling when it is meaningful and engaging. Caretaking is meaningful, but not always challenging enough to be engaging. The fight for power is usually challenging and engaging but seldom is it inherently meaningful. So when you choose a career, try to get both.

And, beware, because not being honest about fulfillment is dangerous: if you end up lying to yourself about your career, you could end up on AshleyMadison.com, lying to yourself about your marriage as well.

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  1. Marissa
    Marissa says:

    I’d love to see a list of professions where women are most likely to cheat on their husbands. In my crowd of working moms who mostly earn more than their husbands, and my Chicago-based BFF (I’m from there) who is in the same situation, many of her mommy/wife friends are in long term adulterous relationships.

  2. Jonha @Happiness
    Jonha @Happiness says:

    Penelope,

    I am 21 and not looking to get married anytime soon, haha. Meaningful and engaging, it should be difficult to find, yet possible.

    You always have lines that really struck me.”The problem is that you know what to do and you don’t do it.”

    Jonha

  3. Michael Clancy
    Michael Clancy says:

    The best advice I give to my peers is to find a way to make your hobby lucrative and you will never work a day in your life. Personally, I love website design so I don’t ever measure how much “time” i focus on web design. I found a company that I’m involved in that allows me to make a living off of web design. Hence, I am making money for something I would be doing anyways in my off time if I were doing something else. In my view, I don’t work. I just get paid to do something I enjoy.

  4. Zeni
    Zeni says:

    Great article and discussion. I have gone through a Technical College Diploma and a University degree and it is just personal determination that keeps on pushing me ahead into where I would like to end up.

    I feel encouraged when I read other stories of how people have ended up in a fulfilling career or started a business that they have always wanted to achive.

    I have a family member who was passionate about hair dressing, he went against the trend of family members becoming lawyers and doctors. Completed his studies in Hair Dressing/Hair Salons and open one up. Now that is pure passion in action.

  5. John P.
    John P. says:

    So where does the alarming number of female teachers having sexual relations with their underage students factor into the equation?

  6. Hadley Earabino
    Hadley Earabino says:

    As a life coach who specializes in relationship coaching, I see this phenomenon over and over again in my clients. Men who are so identified with their social selves–the part that goes for the power and the money–that they lose sight of who they are, and end up numb and vulnerable to cheating. It’s almost like these men cheat in order to feel something, anything, besides the awful numbness that comes from chasing power and money. Very poignant post. Fascinating about the Ashley Madison stats!

  7. Mo
    Mo says:

    If I’m happy with my career I’ll be happy in life. At the moment I’ve just started with my career ( Designer ) working for an agency. I’m hoping in the future to work for myself as I find this a hobby not a job.

  8. Micronet MGR-16SS32A
    Micronet MGR-16SS32A says:

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  9. Shawntel
    Shawntel says:

    Your comment about “masseuses” is completely ignorant. Massage Therapists are often trained professionals that work with personal trainers, physical therapists, or chiropractors. They do work with people the same way any of these other professionals do and it can be very fulfilling. Helping people who are in pain due to injuries, arthritis, compressed nerves, muscular imbalances, under stress, or who benefit from simply having the company of a nuturing person. Massage has bad connotations because of people like you who have no critical thinking skills.
    You’re obviously more sexist than insightful. Why would you want to keep stressing the differences between men and women? That just creates a hostile and sexist environment. Stress the equality. Or better yet, actually realize that people are just people regardless of the sex roles they’re forced into.

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