New study identifies patterns that lead to infidelity in long-term relationships

New study identifies patterns that lead to infidelity in long-term relationships
Khloe Kardashian reflects on Tristan Thompson's infidelity

A study has identified gradual declining patterns in relationships prior to one person having an affair. Suggesting clear decreases in well-being within a relationship occur prior to an affair taking place.

The study, published in Psychological Science, also claimed that once an affair has taken place, a healthy relationship is unlikely to re-emerge afterwards.

"The empirical literature remains inconclusive regarding whether infidelity leads to relationship problems, represents a mere symptom of troubled relationships, or both", the authors write.

In the words of Bruno Kirby in When Harry Met Sally: "Marriages don't break up on account of infidelity. It's just a symptom that something else is wrong."

But is he right?

The study, hoped to offer insight into whether relationship problems exist before affairs or if they largely occur as a result of them. Researchers from Tilburg University analysed a large cohort of around 1,000 German adults; following them for roughly 8 years to show how events impacted their relationships.

Each person was in a committed relationship and had experienced infidelity (either as perpetrators or victims), and another group was matched to them that had not.

Well-being of the participants was tracked using self-reporting, including overall psychological well-being as well as relationship satisfaction.

Results showed that those who cheated on their partner reported lower self-esteem, lower relationship satisfaction, and lower intimacy. Whereas victims reported only lower self-esteem and increased conflict.

Almost all relationship well-being indicators gradually declined leading up to the affair, with more conflict and less satisfaction being reported by both parties.

The majority of relationships did not recover after an affair occurred. However, there were anomalies when the unfaithful person in the relation was a woman and with couples with lower relationship commitments.

"By showing that well-being starts to decline before infidelity happens, this study provides a differentiated view on the temporal dynamics of infidelity," researchers added.

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