When it comes to infidelity, Italians do it better – apparently
Marcello Mastroianni is gone, and after him, the reputation Italians have always enjoyed as great charmers, has also begun to decline – if research is to be believed. Rather less flatteringly though, when it comes to cheating, Italians are second to none.
“We are a republic founded on adultery”, claims Guia Soncini, columnist, broadcaster and witty observer of social change and modern manners. Soncini knows a thing or two. The 41-year-old journalist, who has never tied the knot, admits she’s had a series of liaisons with married men. This ‘expertise’ forms the basis of her book, I mariti delle altre (“Other Women’s Husbands”, which is enjoying its third reprint since it was published by Rizzoli in 2013).
Soncini begins by recalling the infidelity of her own father, and how he used to tell the family that ‘he was going for a long walk’, whilst in reality, he was visiting his mistress – a nurse. After 15 years her mother finally found the courage to kick him out. He left the house baggage and all, and fled to his ‘nurse’ who turned round and said: ‘I don’t want you. I already have a boyfriend. I only enjoyed the sex’. Cheating is only another way of having fun, according to the book; Prince Charming can never be another woman’s husband. And in case you’re wondering, everybody has a lover, adds Soncini. Or at least, everybody needs a lover. ‘Being faithful for 20 years is like a slow painful brain death’, she said during an interview with The Times. Are we Italians more unfaithful than people from other countries, then? Not really, she says. The fact is that we handle it better than others, that’s all. It’s because we accept that marriage has little to do with romantic love; and cheating is what keeps a relationship alive. Even better is when the physical act has not yet taken place, and providing this ‘yet’ lasts forever. With the help of examples taken from movies and books, Soncini explains what we – and Rhett Butler of “Gone with the Wind” – know perfectly well. It’s desire, not sex, that makes us tick.
Are women more unfaithful then men? No, but they are better at hiding the evidence. They are smarter than men at using technology; nowadays you can’t go “for a long walk” without your smartphone giving your location away. Women know how to delete risky texts, how to deceive Whatsapp, how to dodge any pesky radar for a couple of hours. Men are a little clumsier and risk being caught more easily. And according to a study published in the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour, scientists from the University of Queensland discovered that being unfaithful is in our DNA and therefore transmissible from father (or mother) to child. Soncini ends by noting that in this entire quest for extramarital adventure, the only real problem are the Italian men, who apparently prefer ‘mamma’s’ lasagne rather than raunchy sex. Marcello, we miss you.