New research provides a better understanding of the relationships between self-esteem, psychological well-being, and infidelity during puberty. While the results are preliminary, they suggest that the commission of infidelity could contribute to the development of personal growth.
The new study appears in the journal Psychological Reports.
Ana M. Beltrán-Morillas, who has a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Granada, carried out the research with several colleagues to better understand intimate adolescent relationships. Although numerous studies have examined the causes and consequences of infidelity in adulthood, relatively little is known about infidelity in the adolescent stage.
“We were mainly interested in this topic because puberty is a time of significant change when people try to forge their personal identity and meet their needs for intimacy. During this time young people look for new sensations, feelings and behaviors to consolidate their identity, which makes it difficult to commit to a relationship, ”explained Beltrán-Morillas.
“Our interest in this topic was further fueled by previous research that showed that adolescents experienced positive emotions after infidelity, even though they did not see it as acceptable behavior. With this as a starting point, we decided to investigate whether adolescent infidelity can positively affect the psychological well-being of adolescents. “
In the study, 346 teenagers from six high schools in Granada, Spain, were asked to tell their romantic partners the reasons for their infidelity, such as: B. Wanting to have more sex or feeling like they weren’t spending enough time together. State what kind of emotions they would experience if they were unfaithful to their partner. They also performed a self-esteem assessment and overall mental well-being measure.
The researchers found that adolescents who cited sexual and emotional dissatisfaction as reasons for committing infidelity also tended to report less negative emotions due to infidelity. This, in turn, was linked to higher self-esteem and greater mental well-being.
But when it came to approving neglect and anger as reasons for committing infidelity, the researchers found no similar relationships.
“The main conclusion that can be drawn from our research is that infidelity – although commonly viewed as intolerable and adamant behavior – can sometimes be positive and positive for the personal growth of adolescents as they research sensations and novels need feelings, ”said Beltrán-Morillas to PsyPost.
“In addition, our findings could be aimed at promoting appropriate sexual and affective education to improve adolescents’ social and romantic relationships and increase their emotional and psychosocial well-being.”
But like all research, the study has some limitations. Since the study was correlative, it cannot establish any causal relationships. In addition, “there are still questions to be clarified, e. B. Whether same-sex couples in adolescents differ in their motivations for infidelity, the role of adolescent sexual activity in unfaithful behaviors, or the parental attachment style in the practice of infidelity, “Beltrán-Morillas said.
“As the Belgian psychotherapist and writer Esther Perel emphasized in her lecture“ Rethinking infidelity ”, affairs in general are always connected with longing and longing for emotional connection, autonomy, freedom, novelty, sexual intensity, the desire, lost parts of oneself or attempts to regain vitality in the face of loss and tragedy, ”added Beltrán-Morillas.
“Therefore, when referring to infidelity, one should also consider the perspective of the person who practices it, since infidelity does not always arise from a desire to look for another person. Instead, it can arise from the desire to seek another identity and find yourself. “
The study “The Relationship Between Motivation to Commit Infidelity and Negative Affects and Self-Esteem: How Romance Cheating Can Signal Positive Well-Being in Adolescents” was written by Ana M. Beltrán-Morillas, Maria Alonso-Ferres, and Marta Garrido-Macías , Laura Villanueva-Moya, M. Dolores Sánchez-Hernández and Francisca Expósito.