We often hear about the signs of cheating, the red flags of a cheater, and things along that line, but what if I told you that science had recently unlocked the patterns that they believe may lead to infidelity?
In the study, they discovered a pattern of gradual relationship decline that unfolds before one of the partners begins an affair. Unfortunately, once an affair takes place, it can be very hard to undo the damage caused. One observation noted in this study was that before an affair takes place, there is a massive drop in well-being, which could help us to understand why people make such a bad choice as unfaithfulness.
The study was published in Psychological Science, and its intention was to understand the relationship dynamics surrounding infidelity.
“Infidelity is largely believed to have damaging consequences for personal and relationship well-being,” write the authors.
“Yet the empirical literature remains inconclusive regarding whether infidelity leads to relationship problems, represents a mere symptom of troubled relationships, or both.”
This study set out to find out which comes first, relationship problems or infidelity that leads to relationship problems. In order t understand this subject matter, they analyzed a large group of around 1,000 German adults and followed them for 8 years to understand how certain events can impact relationships.
They tracked the participant’s well-being by using self-reporting, including overall psychological well-being as well as their personal satisfaction in their relationship. In their findings, they observed that people who cheat tend to have lower self-esteem and lower relationship satisfaction. Additionally, cheaters struggle with intimacy. Their victims also reported lower self-esteem and more inner conflict, however, their feelings of well-being did not decrease.
What was interesting, was before cheating transpired there were typically dramatic changes in the relationship, and well-being indicators would gradually decline in the months and even years before
Unfortunately, most relationships did not make it through the affair and even worse, many struggled to recover from the pain of the event.