By: April Carson
A new study has uncovered some startling patterns about how infidelity happens in committed relationships. The findings show that certain behaviors, such as not sharing details of a partner's life with them or withdrawing from conversations, can significantly increase the risk of an affair.
The new study has also found that there is a pattern of slow deterioration in the relationship before one person strays – and that once infidelity happens, it is very rare for the relationship to become healthy again. The study's findings suggest that people experience a decrease in well-being before making dramatic decisions in relationships, which may help professionals understand why such choices are made.
The authors of the study believe that understanding these patterns can help people identify when their relationship is starting to deteriorate, and it could also be used to create better interventions to prevent affairs from occurring. Ultimately, this research could be valuable in helping couples recognize signs of trouble and address them sooner instead of later – as it appears that once an affair is in progress, it's more difficult to save the relationship.
The authors assert that infidelity is commonly seen as having negative repercussions for both an individual's happiness and the health of their relationship.
Although there have been many studies done on infidelity, we are still not sure if it is the cause of relationship problems or simply a symptom.
The study hoped to offer insight into whether relationship problems actually precede affairs or whether they mostly happen afterward (or even both). To do this, researchers from Tilburg University analyzed a large cohort of around 1,000 German adults and followed them for an average of 8 years. By doing this, the team was able to show how events impact people's relationships over time.
In total, 947 people completed the study (609 perpetrators of infidelity and 338 victims). Everyone in the study was in a committed relationship and had experienced first-hand what it is like when someone cheats on them. Another group that had not gone through this experience was matched to them.
We tracked each person's well-being by having them self-report, which included both their overall psychological wellbeing and relationship satisfaction.
The findings indicated that those who cheat on their partner have deteriorating self-esteem, relationship satisfaction, and intimacy. Curiously, the victims only reported lowered self-esteem and more conflict but other measures of well-being were not affected.
Overall, the study concluded that there are patterns of behavior and communication that can lead to an affair in a committed relationship. Factors such as decreased intimacy and communication, increased conflict and dissatisfaction within the relationship, and lowered self-esteem on the part of the cheater were all associated with affairs.
However, prior to the events, there were often sudden changes in the relationship. Nearly all indicators of relationship wellness gradually declined leading up to the affair; both parties reported more conflict and less satisfaction as time went on.
In the aftermath of the event, most relationships were not able to be salvaged. This was especially true for unfaithful women and couples who had lower relationship commitment levels.
It is common for individuals to bounces back after enduring tough life events; however, people who have been cheated on did not recuperate in the same way. In nearly all cases, the victims of infidelity reported significantly more distress and turmoil than those who have not experienced such a betrayal.
The study was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. Researchers concluded that in order to prevent an affair from occurring, couples should be aware of the factors contributing to a decline in their relationship health.
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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