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London - Women would rather their partners had a fling than form an emotional bond with another woman, according to research.

In a study, two-thirds of women said emotional attachment was more hurtful than extra-marital sex.

But for men, just a third said that their partner forming an emotional bond with another man was more painful than having a passionate affair with them.

Nearly 500 participants in the American study, which was published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, were quizzed on different scenarios of emotional and sexual infidelity, and asked which would be more hurtful.

Generally, women found that their partners’ emotional transgressions were more hurtful than cheating on them physically. It was the opposite for men.

Lead author Dr Gary Brase, from Kansas State University, said evolutionary psychologists believed the difference was down to men facing a problem of “paternity uncertainty”.

“Men can never be absolutely certain that an infant carries their genes,” he said. “This prospect should make men differentially sensitive to sexual infidelity on the part of their mate.

“Women, on the other hand, confront a potential problem of ensuring continued paternal investment by the sire of their child. This possibility should make women differentially sensitive to emotional infidelity.” - Daily Mail