Patterns leading to cheating in relationships identified by study
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Cheating has, very unfortunately, been around since the dawn of time and can happen for a whole multitude of different reasons.
While infidelity can seem totally baffling to many, researchers have now identified some elements to the psychology behind cheaters and why they do what they do.
Not only this, the research has even been able to highlight key patterns that can lead to affairs and unfaithful actions in the first place.
The study, first published last year, set out to examine the dynamics of personal and relationship well-being surrounding all things to do with infidelity.
Tilburg University analysed a cohort of approximately 1,000 adults from Germany over an average of eight whole years to observe how certain life events impacted their romantic relationships.
Titled 'Estranged and Unhappy?', the research has offered some interesting findings.
Sexual infidelity, which the study refers to as 'extradyadic sexual involvement', is said to represent one of the 'most condemned' relationship transgressions.
The authors begin: "Infidelity is largely believed to have damaging consequences for personal and relationship well-being."
For anyone who has ever been cheated on - this definitely hits home.
The longitudinal study sought to figure out whether cheating is the direct cause of relationship problems or if it is just a response to a problem already present within the relationship.
While it's true that unfaithful partners can experience 'lower psychological well-being' with feelings of guilt, stress over concealing the betrayal and a skewed image of their own morality - researchers noticed another very interesting pattern.
Through carefully studying of the group for nearly a decade, researchers found that infidelity may well actually represent a consequence, rather than a cause, of relationship trouble.
It reads: "By showing that well-being starts to decline before infidelity happens, this study provides a differentiated view on the temporal dynamics of infidelity."
Cheating, it examines, could instead be a way to measure if the relationship was unsatisfactory in the first place.
Researchers admitted that this question has been 'subject to theoretical debate for decades' now.
The study also found that while the obvious emotional effects occur in the cheater after the infidelity takes place - lower self-esteem, lower relationship satisfaction and lower intimacy - other measures of well-being did not decrease for the victim.
Interestingly though, when major life events took place within the relationship - both parties reported more conflict and less satisfaction leading up to the event.
Unlike the reports after cheating, the data found that nearly all relationship well-being indicators ended up declining in the lead up to the affair.
For the majority of the test group, which consisted of 947 people (609 perpetrators of infidelity and 338 victims), the relationships never fully recovered after infidelity took place.
However, unfaithful women and couples with lower relationship commitments had a much better shot at working things out.
The psychological study also concluded with the observation that most of the group were able to recover their well-being after a whole host of dramatic life events but the people involved in infidelity never recovered.
Researchers highlighted that, while the findings were pivotal in better understand relationship dynamics, the research still remains 'inconclusive'.
"The empirical literature remains inconclusive regarding whether infidelity leads to relationship problems represents a mere symptom of troubled relationships, or both," authors explained.