When you think back on previous partners, you may never quite remember your third date, your first fight, or even where you went on your first trip together. But, if you were cheated on, you’ll always remember where you were when you discovered the heart-wrenching news — a park bench, scrolling through a Facebook feed, rummaging through a nightstand drawer.
Now, a new study brings credibility to something everyone who has gone through the difficult experience already know: being cheated on can really impact both your physical and mental health. As expected by anyone who’s gone through this kind of heartbreak, researchers found that there was a link between being cheated on and psychological problems like depression and anxiety.
Perhaps more surprisingly, they discovered that those who blamed themselves for being cheated on had a higher likelihood of partaking in “risky health behaviors” like developing eating disorders, drug and alcohol use, exercising too much and more. Interestingly, these findings were stronger for women as compared to men.
Additionally, the study found that those who blamed their unfaithful partner seemed less likely to engage in these risky behaviors than those who took the burden of blame themselves.
To conduct the research, a team of scientists at the University of Nevada, Reno, looked at 232 college students who had been cheated on by a partner (or ex!) in the previous three months. The results were published in the prestigious “Journal of Social and Personal Relationships” with the study title “Infidelity’s aftermath: Appraisals, mental health, and health-compromising behaviors following a partner’s infidelity.” The average age for the study was 20; it’s unclear how similar their results would be replicated if the study were conducted on an older demographic.
If you or someone you know has been cheated on, consider seeing a therapist or reading books like It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken to help you through the recovery process.