There's actually a psychological benefit to being cheated on — here's why
- Being cheated on can feel like the worst thing that ever happened to you.
- But according to research, it probably benefits you in the long run.
- While you grow from the experience, the real loser is the person your ex ran off with.
A break-up never feels good. In fact, some research has shown that psychologically, the trauma can feel like physical pain.
It's even worse when your relationship ends because you were cheated on. People cheat for a whole range of reasons — maybe they're not getting what they want from the relationship and seek it elsewhere, or maybe they're just insecure. Whatever the reason, if you're the one who's been cheated on, it can be hard to see the bright side.
But according to one study, there might actually be a benefit. An unfaithful partner probably feels like the worst thing ever at the time, but after a while, those who were scorned are probably the winners.
The researchers surveyed 5,705 people from 96 countries about the dynamics of their break-ups. They were asked to rate how painful their break-ups felt, on a scale of 0-10, zero being not painful at all, and 10 being unbearable.
Results showed that overall, women take the break-up harder, but they get over it in a much healthier way. They tend to cry, dwell on it, and talk about it to their friends, but then they move on. Men, on the other hand, have a habit of sweeping things under the carpet, and not actually dealing with the negative emotions properly.
The results also showed that when someone's partner went off with someone else, they go through a period of growth, and end up benefitting more from the break-up.
For starters, they are no longer with someone who didn't treat them properly, but they also gain a better perspective when entering future relationships. In fact, after six months, women who were cheated on had higher emotional intelligence and higher self-confidence, while men who had been cheated on developed "stronger personalities."
The real loser in the situation, the authors wrote, is the "other woman."
"Evolutionarily, sexual promiscuity is often a short-term strategy, for while at that moment a woman may have 'won the battle' by accessing additional resources, building future intersexual alliances, or successfully poaching a mate, she could be 'losing the war' by engaging in reputation-damaging behavior that will reduce her ability to acquire a long-term mate of high quality in the future," the researchers said in the study.
In other words, the woman who the man cheated with may have won him in the short term, but in the long run, she did you a favour.
So although it may hurt at the time, it's important to focus on the fact being cheated on is probably a blessing in disguise. Not only did your partner show their true colours, but you'll benefit psychologically, too.
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