Typically, recovery after being cheated on can be incredibly difficult, but some new research is heartening — and it shows you may be luckier in the long run. In the largest-ever study on relationship dissolution, researchers from Binghamton University and University College London conducted an anonymous online survey of 5,705 participants in 96 countries. Their theory was that, when cheated on, we develop “higher mating intelligence” and are more likely to better detect cues in future partners that may show “low mate value.” So although it may be initially devastating, it could be that when someone cheats on us, we learn something really important and will be better off for it in our future relationships.
The news isn’t so good for mistresses (or misters?) — the people who our partners cheated with. These people, the proverbial “other woman” is now in a relationshipwith someone who has now has proven to be deceptive and unfaithful. So in the long-run she essentially ‘loses.'”
I don’t like the idea of comparing women as winners and losers, or shaming people who have cheated, but it is nice to think that there are some benefits that come from being a hurtful situation like infidelity. We often speak in terms of “good life experience,” but without any concrete data to back it up. Now, research shows us that we are genuinely better off without them. And the benefit isn’t limited to future relationships, the study discovered it affects how you grow, too:
“… there are consequences of female intrasexual mate competition that may be both evolutionarily adaptive and also beneficial in terms of personal growth, and that may expand beyond mating and into other realms of personal development”
Good news, right? Here’s what else we know about how cheating and how it affects relationships:
1. It May Be In Your Alleles
Research has shown that, when it comes to our dopamine receptors, there’s a short allele and a longer allele variant. The weird thing is, while only 20 percent of those with a short allele variant have cheated, 50 percent of those with a long allele have cheated, and they’re more likely to engage in risky behavior generally. So it may partially be in our dopamine receptors.
2. Or Maybe It’s Just Not Natural
As much you might want to think being bonded together is the most natural thing in the world— especially if you’re currently in a loving relationship — we may need to face up to the idea that it might just not be the case. Dr. Barash tells Bustle, if “a Martian zoologist were to come to Earth, he or she would conclude without a doubt that human beings are not monogamous.” So maybe it’s natural to want to cheat. I’m not saying it excuses doing it, but it might be an explanation.
3. You’re Allowed To Be Jealous
As the research shows, being cheated on can actually lead to better things later in life, but you need to get over the feelings of jealousy and paranoia first. The best way to do this? Acknowledge it. Licensed psychotherapist Vanessa Marin tells Bustle:
“You can’t prevent yourself from feeling jealous, but you can prevent yourself from acting out on that jealousy. As you’re talking yourself through a jealous experience, tell yourself, “it’s understandable that I’m feeling jealous. But I’m promising myself right now that I’m not going to act on my jealousy.””
So be aware that it might be difficult at first, but keep your jealousy in check or don’t date until you’re able to. But remember, once you’ve got it under control, you’re in a better position for future dating. You’ll get there.
Originally posted on Bustle