Article title: Infidelity’s aftermath: Appraisals, mental health, and health-compromising behaviors following a partner’s infidelity
Infidelity occurs in many romantic relationships. Infidelity, which is an emotional, sexual, or romantic involvement that violates an existing relationship’s commitment norms can have damaging effects on the relationship and both partners. In particular, noninvolved partners (i.e., the partners who were cheated on in the relationship) often experience a range of emotional and psychological distress following infidelity, including depression, anxiety, decreased personal and sexual confidence, and decreased self-esteem.
Given the prevalence of, and stress caused by, infidelity in romantic relationships, understanding the emotional and physical impacts of infidelity on the noninvolved partner is imperative. This study extended the literature on the health consequences of noninvolved partners after infidelity by applying a stress framework to understand the impact of appraisals on perceived mental health and health behavior outcomes. This study may help inform clinical work recognizing that infidelity affects their physical health behaviors as well as mental health.
Guided by transactional stress theory, this research investigated the role of appraisals in noninvolved partners’ mental health and health-compromising behaviors after infidelity. Responses from 232 college students who were recently cheated on revealed that negative appraisals (partner blame, self-blame, and causal attribution) had indirect effects on health-compromising behaviors through mental health (depression, anxiety, and distress). Moderated mediation analyses revealed that gender altered the indirect effect of partner and self-blame on health-compromising behaviors through mental health. Men’s health-compromising behaviors did not differ based on their appraisals or mental health. However, women who reported negative appraisals and high levels of mental health consequences engaged in more health-compromising behaviors. These findings suggest that perceptions of a partner’s infidelity are important, and that those perceptions affect noninvolved partners’ mental health and physical health behaviors.
Infidelity’s aftermath: Appraisals, mental health, and health-compromising behaviors following a partner’s infidelity
M. Rosie Shrout, M. Rosie Shrout
First Published April 21, 2017
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships