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Marital Infidelity: The Experience of Men and Women

What Infidelity Means

Infidelity is considered an unforgivable betrayal. However, not all behaviors considered unfaithful affect the person who suffers them in the same way. Therefore, to have a better understanding of unforgiveness according to different extradyadic behaviors, two studies were designed. The results showed that a sexual and technological behaviors were less frequently forgiven and promoted a more intense negative affect, b anxious attachment was predictive of unforgiveness for sexual and technological behaviors, and c negative affect mediated the relationship between anxious attachment and unforgiveness for sexual and technological behaviors. These findings and their possible implications for romantic relationships are discussed.

An unexpected finding in Study 2 was that mediation was not significant for avoidance motivation. Some research suggests that the stimulus that prevails in people suffering infidelity is retaliation or revenge against the partner because, in this way, the offended person fights the pain he or she experiences as a result of the betrayal Fitness, ; Morrissette, Such a response could be appreciable in people with high anxious attachment as a result of the fear they show of their partner rejecting or abandoning them for a third person Marshall et al.

Meanwhile, motivation for avoidance would be more oriented toward acceptance and reinterpretation of the situation that occurred in order to give new meaning to the event Strelan and Wojtysiak, This could be related to a greater extent with one of the stages of the infidelity healing process Fife et al. However, more research is needed in this area to clarify the role of motivation for avoidance in people with anxious attachment who have experienced infidelity, as well as to examine if this motivation could be a step in the process of healing from the infidelity.

Although this work complements existing findings and contributes to improved understanding of unforgiveness in light of infidelity, it is not exempt from limitations, which will attempt to be resolved in future research. Despite being a non-experimental study, the data obtained were correlational and, therefore, could not indicate causal relationships or be generalized to the total population.

Future studies could replicate these findings to determine whether they can be generalized beyond the Spanish context. Future studies could also test these results by intentional sampling to select and compare different groups e.

In addition, future studies might consider other variables to help understand the present findings and could be substantial for both relationship processes. For instance, research has shown that people who have an unrestrained sexual orientation perceive certain extradyadic behaviors as less indicative of infidelity Mattingly et al. For its part, the level of commitment can also influence the perception of extradyadic behaviors as indicative of infidelity.

In this sense, studies have revealed that a high level of commitment is related to more restrictive behavior toward infidelity, and greater perception of extradyadic sexual behaviors as indicative of it e. The results of these investigations are mainly focused on sexual and technological behaviors e. Similarly, several studies showed that the higher the level of commitment, the greater the likelihood that the offended person forgives his or her partner after a transgression e.

However, the path by which both variables are related seems to be inconclusive. Empirical evidence has revealed that the level of commitment may be affected by the degree of shock that people experience after infidelity Marcussen et al.

Accordingly, the overall level of commitment may not be as explanatory of forgiveness as the level of commitment reported after the act of infidelity Heintzelman et al. Future research could shed light on the association between commitment and forgiveness when faced with infidelity, as well as examine the role played by the different extradyadic behaviors in that relationship.

Ultimately, another variable that could influence our findings is accommodation. Moreover, given its close relationship with commitment e. Through accommodation, people restrain their likelihood of engaging in destructive responses after a conflict with their partner. Furthermore, it is likely that people who show higher levels of commitment will accommodate themselves and use more constructive rather than destructive strategies when a conflict arises between both members of the relationship e.

In this sense, the perception of a certain extradyadic behavior as indicative of infidelity could originate a conflict in the relationship—mainly in the offended person. Thus, people with high levels of commitment would show a greater willingness to adapt and use constructive strategies to face the problem with the transgressive partner and achieve a positive result for their relationship e. However, could this happen in the case of extradyadic behaviors of a sexual and technological nature?

Furthermore, what if the commitment has been affected by such extradyadic behaviors? Further research is needed to address this complex relational process. In short, the studies described in this paper contribute to an improvement in the knowledge of the infidelity research field, showing that sexual and technological behaviors are considered more indicative of infidelity, and that technological infidelity can be as harmful as sexual infidelity, shedding light on the relevance of social networks and the Internet for the life of relationships.

Likewise, the results provide evidence that unforgiveness—specifically motivation for revenge—can be considered by people with high anxious attachment to their partner to be an effective coping mechanism to counteract the negative affective state resulting from such betrayal.

However, unforgiveness, in turn, is a significant source of stress and anxiety. In this regard, the results could also have implications for intervention because therapeutic practice focused on infidelity takes into consideration the option of forgiving as a means through which the physical and emotional well-being of the couple and of the person who suffers the betrayal can be restored, especially in people with anxious attachment to the partner, who may require more attention given the behavioral characteristics they exhibit in their relationships.

The datasets generated for this study are available on request to the corresponding author. This research was carried out in accordance with the recommendations of Human Research Ethics Committee of the University of Granada. Participants provided informed consent in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. ABM-M carried out the studies.

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Dating infidelity behaviors reasons and consequences

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In addition, having already been unfaithful to a partner and less satisfaction with the marital relationship were predictive variables for infidelity. In Brazil, in the online study conducted by Haack and Falckewith Brazilian internet users, the participants justified their acts of infidelity with reasons such as: curiosity to try other relationships, weariness in the primary relationship, lack of love, lack of commitment, anticipation of possible betrayal of the partner and revenge.

Also with a Brazilian sample, Goldenberg found differences in the position of men and women regarding the reasons for betrayal. The women, however, blamed their partners for committing infidelity. The men said they committed infidelity due to physical attraction, desire, passion, opportunity, being seduced, male nature and instinct. The women mentioned dissatisfaction with the partner, lack of love, increasing self-esteem, revenge, and not feeling desired by the partner.

The reasons for infidelity are extremely varied, however, there is a common point among the studies. Although the results of the studies are not conclusive, personal, relational and contextual factors are generally perceived as being involved in the act of infidelity. Although infidelity is a prevalent phenomenon in relationships and entails high levels of suffering, including culmination in divorce, the efforts to better understand this issue are still evident and need to be examined more deeply and in a more systematic way.

From the ecological perspective Brofenbrenner,it is understood that infidelity is permeable and related to personal, relational and contextual factors. In this way, this article aims to contribute to the investigation of the experience of infidelity in a Brazilian sample by describing how men and women, cohabiting or married, experience infidelity, with regard to the frequency, types of behaviors and reasons for seeking a relationship outside the primary relationship.

Participants of the study were people, women The study was disseminated nationwide by online invitation through e-mails to Brazilian Universities. Thus, the survey had participants from all five regions of Brazil, with the majority of the participants from the Southern Region Only respondents who were aged over 21 years and that had been living with their partner for at least six months were included in the study. All the participants answered the question in the affirmative: "Have you been unfaithful to your current partner?

In this sample, Regarding the educational level, Regarding the personal income, Considering religious practice, Sociodemographic and Relationship Data Questionnaire. Developed for this study in order to characterize the sample investigated regarding variables related to personal characteristics age, schooling, religion, etc.

This questionnaire had an open question to evaluate the reasons for the infidelity: "Describe why you betrayed your partner". This instrument evaluates 23 behaviors of infidelity and their incidence in the current relationship, such as "To exchange sexual caresses with the person", "To be in love with the person", "To flirt with the person".

The RDAS-P is an instrument composed of 14 items measured on a Likert type scale of 6 points, which make up three subscales: satisfaction, consensus and cohesion.

Satisfaction evaluates the perceived stability in the relationship and how conflicts are dealt with. Consensus measures the degree of agreement regarding couple matters and cohesion assesses the frequency of positive interactions of the couple.

Subscales can be summed to form a total score representative of marital satisfaction ranging from 0 to 69, with higher values indicating greater satisfaction. The Cronbach's alphas of the American validation study were 0.

In this study, the exploratory factorial analysis maintained the same factorial structure as the original scale, with Cronbach's alphas of 0. To ensure data confidentiality and anonymity, the participants were invited to participate in the online survey through the Qualtrics database www.

The invitation was made through social networks, Twitter and University newsletters and by sending emails to contact lists. In addition, this study used the snowball effect, asking the participants themselves to forward and disseminate the study link. In the invitation, the participants received information about the study objectives and the inclusion criteria. Those who agreed to participate, when accessing the link, read and accepted the Consent Terms.

Data were analyzed based on descriptive analyzes of frequency, means and standard deviation of the variables collected in the study considering the results for men and women. To analyze the relationships and differences between the groups, Spearman's correlations, analysis of variance ANOVA and Chi-squared tests were performed. Regarding the qualitative data, content analysis Olabuenaga, was carried out starting from the categories established a posteriori from the reading of the data and the revision of categories published in articles of the area.

The Kappa index was measured from the sum of responses of the category divided by the number of judges and multiplied by In this step, a Doctor of Psychology, two doctoral students in Psychology and one Psychologist participated as judges. The answers that did not obtain this index of agreement were evaluated by a judge with expertise in the area. To understand how infidelity was experienced in the couples of this sample, Table 1 presents the values for the variables related to infidelity with calculations of the differences for men and women.

According to the results presented in Table 1the analyzes of variance did not show significant differences in any of the variables that assessed infidelity in the behavior of men and women.

The mean of the marital adjustment for the women of the sample was Regarding the first infidelity in the current relationship, It should be noted that in this sample, the mean length of living with the partner was That is, people who were unfaithful more often every day presented lower levels of marital satisfaction than those who been unfaithful less frequently in the previous year. By grouping people who had committed infidelity by age ranges, the following could be seen regarding the incidence of infidelity: 21 to 30 years In this sample, the majority of respondents who committed infidelity were concentrated in the range of 31 to 40 years.

With regard to the behaviors of infidelity, the participants indicated, from the list of 23 behaviors measured by the IBQ, those that had occurred in their current relationship. Those that had happened received a score of 1 and those that had not a score of 0. The mean of infidelity behaviors that occurred in this sample was Table 2 shows the means for the men and women. The most frequent infidelity behaviors for women were " Getting dressed up and wearing nice clothes to meet the person" Flirting with the person" Hiding from your partner messages exchanged with the person" Expressing sexual attraction for the person and not for your partner" Exchanging sexual caresses with the person" Being in love with the person" Kissing the person on the mouth" The women presented a mean of For the men, the most frequent behaviors were "1.

Having sex with the person" Seeking to carry out activities to spend more time in the presence of the person" Erasing messages of sexual content exchanged with the person" The men presented a mean of When considering the 23 behaviors, a significant difference was found between the men and women for two of the behaviors: "1. The unfaithful subjects were asked to evaluate, from the aspects presented, what they sought in the extramarital relationship and what they recognized having in their relationship.

Both genders reported that what they found most in the current relationship was companionship The subjects were questioned as to why they were unfaithful. A total of responses were analyzed, and these were broken down into units of analysis responses of the women and of the men.

The categories were established a posteriori from the reading of the information given by the subjects who answered the questionnaire and the articles published in the area. Based on the ecological perspective Brofenbrenner,three axes that make up the conjugal relationship provided the starting point, these being: the individual spouses, the relationship and the context.

A lack of reasons for the infidelity was reported by only 7 of the participants. This axis includes responses that relate to the subject involved in a relationship of infidelity. This axis of analysis grouped seven categories:. Lack of affection, loneliness and insecurity: in this category, the person attributed the infidelity to feeling needy, lonely or insecure. The participants reported " lack of love"; "lack of affection"; "feeling alone"; "doubt", "insecurity ".

In this sample, 22 7. Personal characteristics: This category includes reasons for infidelity related to certain characteristics of the subject who committed the betrayal, such as immaturity, mental illness, impulsivity.

Examples of responses from this category were " I consider myself to be immature", "I am bipolar, it was in a manic phase. After I started the correct treatment it didn't happen again ". In this category, 10 3. Sexual need: the responses of this category are related to feeding an indiscriminate need for sex, to having an impulse to be unfaithful and to feeling passion.

Some of the examples of responses in this category were " The fire of the flesh", "Sexual need", "Passion", "Impulse ". A total of 18 5. Desire or physical attraction: including responses related to attraction and desire for a specific person, as well as a need to feel attractive to the other person. Some of the examples in this category are " Feeling attraction", "Feeling appealing to someone else. To evaluate my power of seduction, attraction and conquest ".

Seeking freedom, adventure and valorization: the people mentioned seeking their own space or feeling valued through another relationship, seeking an increase in self-esteem and self-confidence, seeking new experiences and seeking novelty, curiosity and adventure as reasons for infidelity.

A response example of this category was: " To have my private life, also on the sexual side, without my partner being in all places of my life", "To escape in search of valorization", "Desire to have sex with another person without compromising my relationship", "To experience an exciting relationship ". Of the participants, 21 Emotional involvement: the person attributed the infidelity to extramarital emotional involvement, seeking love and affection in this new relationship, in addition to feeling passionate about this other person.

Many of the participants referred to emotional involvement as one of the reasons for the infidelity. Examples of responses are: " I fell in love with someone else, but I'm still in love with my husband", "I fell madly in love with someone else", " I was caught, hooked by another man In this sample, 31 Beliefs and rules: the person who committed infidelity attributed the act to personal beliefs about polygamy or rules that the couple agreed about extramarital relationships.

For example: " I do not believe in monogamy ". A total of 7 2. This axis had The category "physical desire or attraction" was the reason for infidelity most used as justification by women, followed by "emotional involvement". This axis includes contents that refer to aspects of the companion and the marital relationship established. Revenge, anger, or hostility: the people named anger, hostility, or revenge for infidelity of the partner as reasons for their own infidelity. For example: " Because he betrayed me first", "Because he cannot stay faithful, I get upset and I get back at him", "anger ".

In this sample, 8 2. The presence of violent behavior, rudeness, excesses of jealousy, dissatisfaction with the physical aspects or lack of empathy on the part of the partner are other behaviors that are part of this category, in which infidelity is attributed to the way the companion treats the person who committed infidelity.

In this category, 72 Sexual dissatisfaction: infidelity related to sexual dissatisfaction with the partner. My distinct desires in relation to sexuality, greater than hers ".

A total of 24 participants 7. Even though it was the most frequent in both sexes, there were differences in the means of responses of the men and women. Alcohol use: being drunk or under the influence of alcohol when committing the act of infidelity.

For example: " Because I had drunk a lot ". A total of 6 1. Escape from problems: the people committed infidelity as a way of escaping from everyday problems, such as work-related problems: " Escape from problems [mainly financial]accumulation of stress", "Various external problems ". Two female participants attributed this factor as a reason for their infidelity.

The respondents mentioned "Opportunity", "Occasion". For example: " The relationship was just starting, it was still unstable. There was a period of physical distance for professional reasons we lived in different cities for a long time ", "Because he travels a lot for work and I stay home alone", "I travel alone, I went out one night and I had drunk a lot ".

Regarding this reason, 25 8. The reasons related to the context were the least cited by the participants as reasons for the infidelity In fact, the reason "escape from problems" was only mentioned by two women.

In this axis, there was no difference between the men and women in any of the categories. The results show that in considering all loving relationships, men and women are unfaithful to the same extent, evidencing certain changes in relation to the phenomenon in the present times.

Regarding sexual, emotional and virtual behaviors linked to the breach of an exclusivity agreement, the results also revealed that there were few differences between men and women, except for sexual infidelity behavior and virtual sexual infidelity.

In these cases, men showed more behaviors of exchanging sexual caresses and masturbation over the internet when compared to the women. However, in the other 21 sexual, emotional and virtual behaviors, there was no difference between the genders. Thus, if in the past there was talk of higher rates of sexual infidelity in men and emotional infidelity in women, these data show another scenario where men and women presented similar infidelity behaviors.

A closer look at the results of the women reveals that the most frequent infidelity behaviors among women were more subjective and discrete and may sometimes not even have been perceived as infidelity. However, for men, the behaviors were more explicit, there being more protagonism of the subjects, that is, they could more clearly be considered infidelities, such as kissing, exchanging sexual caresses and flirting, while the women showed greater discretion in their infidelity behaviors, such as wearing nice clothing and hiding certain messages from the partner.

Regarding sexual behavior, the men and women did not complain about the lack of sex in their relationship and did not seek sex in the extramarital relationship. On the contrary, both men and women revealed that they sought affection, understanding and attention in the extramarital relationship and reported not finding these feelings in their conjugal relationship.

In this way, neither the men and women in this sample had the sexual need or dissatisfaction in their relationship as their main reason for infidelity. Both reported dissatisfaction with the relationship, although the mean of the women for dissatisfaction with the partner or the relationship was higher than that of the men in explaining being unfaithful to the partner. Considering that the boundaries between infidelity behaviors among men and women are increasingly blurred, the common idea that when men do not find sex at home they seek it elsewhere is out of date.

Thus, even if men are satisfied with their sexual life with their partner, they may commit infidelity due to the pursuit of something new, freedom and adventure, and it may even be a way to compensate for affective dissatisfaction in their relationship. Women, in turn, are also motivated by sexual factors such as desire and attraction for the other. In this sample, both men and women were motivated by factors of dissatisfaction with the relationship and sought affection, understanding and attention, expressing that their partner was not providing satisfactory levels of attention and intimacy.

The infidelity began most frequently between the 2 nd and 5 th years of cohabitation and decreased throughout the relationship. In addition, lower levels of marital adjustment were found in those with higher frequencies of infidelity. These results lead to the association between infidelity and the level of maturity that is expressed in the age and in the length of relationship that can decrease the infidelity behavior. Thus, when couples deepen their level of knowledge, both personal and relational, they may present greater resources to cope with the difficulties of the relationship, which reflects in better levels of marital adjustment.

In this way, it can be thought that infidelity can be used by some as a way to address difficulties in the relationship, such as an escape from problems and seeking satisfaction in another relationship, leading to the idea of infidelity as a symptom of low marital adjustment. It can be seen that the studies of the 's and 's tended towards a dichotomy between sexual and emotional infidelity and different results for men and women.

The current results demonstrate that we are dealing with a phenomenon that encompasses a complexity of behaviors: emotional, virtual and sexual.

Dating infidelity has negative impacts on the betrayed partner. (Shackelford intentions a pivotal role as the proximal cause of behavior. (see Ajzen, However, not all behaviours considered unfaithful affect the person who in Romantic Relationships Experiencing Infidelity: Negative Affect and Anxious .. However, to date there are no known studies that considered the relationship of. Roscoe B, Cavanaugh LE, Kennedy DR. Dating infidelity: behaviors, reasons and consequences. Adolescence. ;23(89) [PubMed: ].

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