A new study published in Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology sheds light on the types of infidelity that people consider to be the gravest and most unforgivable.
“Infidelity caught my attention because it is a fascinating phenomenon that is widespread in different cultures,” said study author Menelaos Apostolou, associate professor at the University of Nicosia.
The researchers asked 447 people from Greece and the Republic of Cyprus to give their reactions to different scenarios of infidelity. Of the total sample, 35.8% were married, 31.5% were single, 26% were in a relationship, 6.3% were divorced, and 0.4% were widowed.
Having an emotional and sexual relationship with someone else has been classified as the most difficult and least forgivable act of infidelity. Using online services like live sex shows and going to a strip club, on the other hand, were seen as the least serious and most forgivable acts.
In the middle, from least to most forgivable, we had a one night stand, an emotional relationship with someone else, feelings for someone else, and someone paying for sex.
“Our results showed that sexual infidelity was associated with more negative reactions and a lower likelihood of forgiveness than emotional infidelity. One reason is that sexual infidelity leads to pregnancy and, therefore, can potentially have more serious negative outcomes than emotional infidelity, ”the researchers wrote.
“Not all infidelity is created equal. More serious actions are more likely to trigger a severe response and are less likely to be forgiven. For example, if your wife finds out you are going to a strip club, she will be less upset and more likely to forgive you than if she finds out you have another girlfriend, ”Apostolou told PsyPost.
The researchers also found that participants who were older and had a history of infidelity were more willing to forgive than participants who were younger and had no such past experience.
Apostolou and his colleagues also found that women were more responsive to infidelity than men, but women were also more willing to forgive their partners. “One possible reason for this is that women are more emotionally involved in a relationship than men, which in turn makes them more likely to forgive their partners,” the researchers said.
“Infidelity is a complex phenomenon for which there are many things that we do not know,” said Apostolou. “One limitation of the current study is that people have reacted in hypothetical scenarios and therefore may act differently when these scenarios actually occur. One way for future research to remove this limitation is to examine actual cases of infidelity and the reactions of the parties involved. “
The study “Responses to and Forgiveness of Infidelity: Examining Severity, Length of Relationship, Gender and Past Experience Effects” was written by Menelaos Apostolou, Anna Aristidou and Christina Eraclide.