Is it possible to expect that one (or both) partners in a marital relationship will start a relationship with someone else? The second article is posted on the site IFLScienceResearchers at Tilburg University (Netherlands) have identified a pattern of gradual deterioration in a relationship before an individual has an affair — and that once an affair occurs, the relationship rarely returns to health afterward. Results, published in the journal psychologysuggest that there are clear declines in well-being prior to such a dramatic event, which may help explain and determine why such choices are made in relationships.
“Infidelity is believed to have harmful consequences for personal and relationship well-being,” the authors write. “However, the empirical literature remains inconclusive as to whether infidelity leads to relationship problems, is merely a symptom of troubled relationships, or both.”
With the aim of providing insight into whether relationship problems actually precede relationships or occur most often afterwards (or even both), the researchers analyzed a group of 947 German people (609 who were unfaithful and 338 who were victims of infidelity). They were followed for an average of eight years to show how the events affected their relationships.
Most of these people completed the study to completion. Each was in a committed relationship and subject to infidelity, and another group was matched with individuals who did not. Each person’s well-being was monitored through self-report, including general psychological well-being and relationship satisfaction.
As expected, the results showed that the obvious happens after an infidelity event: People who cheated on their partner reported lower self-esteem, lower relationship satisfaction, and lower intimacy. Interestingly, juvenile victims only reported lower self-esteem and more conflict, but other measures of well-being did not.
However, prior to the events of Infidelity, dramatic changes often occurred in the relationship. Almost all indicators of relationship well-being gradually fell before the relationship. During this period, more conflict and lack of satisfaction were reported by both parties.
After the infidelity affair, most relationships never recovered. However, this has not always been the case with unfaithful women and husbands who have fewer relationship obligations. Another important detail: For years after the event, cases of infidelity were different from most other life events. While most people recover their health after several serious events, people involved in infidelity do not.
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