Betrayal and individual resilience: when the burden of infidelity suffered is easier to overcome
Betrayal is one of the most difficult events in couple’s life to face and also one of the most common. An estimate shows that around 20-25% of these episodes occur during the wedding (Laumann et al., 1994) and that a higher percentage (75% of cases) is observed, however, during romantic dating (Shackelford, LeBlanc & Drassn 2000).
Advertising message The discovery of infidelity suffered is commonly experienced as a painful transgression to the relationship of trust established in the couple and leads the betrayed person to experience anxious or depressive symptoms (Bird, Butler, & Fife, 2007), as it is widely believed to believe betrayal as a highly harmful event for the couple and as a signal that the romantic relationship may not have the basis for continuing (Shackelford et al., 2000). The awareness of having wasted time in an unauthentic relationship and the social pressure to build the family, could affect the mental health of these subjects, who see the certainties and projects built up to that moment collapse.
The present study (Shrout & Weigel, 2020) therefore aims to explore the relationship between negative cognitive assessments experienced following betrayal and the levels of stress associated with the individual’s mental health outcomes, as well as the role that self-esteem plays in this relationship. To assess the variables under investigation, online questionnaires were administered to individuals who reported having been betrayed in the past 3 months. The sample, made up of 148 mainly female subjects, therefore answered a series of questions that made it possible to evaluate the causality and perceived responsibility of the unfaithful partner through the Relationship Attribution Measure (Fincham & Bradbury, 1992), through the Break- Up Distress Scale (Field et al.,
Advertising message The results obtained show that the attribution to the partner of the causality and responsibility of the betrayal is connected to the stress experienced as a consequence of the event, which in turn turns out to be able to exacerbate the depressive and anxious symptoms. Furthermore, self-esteem has been found to moderate the relationship between negative cognitive assessments, stress associated with infidelity and ultimately a person’s mental health.
In conclusion, the data available to us allow us to identify an indirect relationship between the negative cognitive assessments and the depressive and anxious symptoms experienced subsequently, in addition to highlighting an important role played by self-esteem. In fact, it has been shown that a positive perception of oneself can be considered a protective factor, capable of providing the individual with the adequate resources to face and overcome the consequences that betrayal can have in terms of mental health, thus allowing to increase the resilience capacity of the individual.