Shrout and her colleague found a connection between mental health and health-compromising behaviors. Experiencing greater depression, anxiety, and distress after being cheated on were associated with an increased likelihood of engaging in a variety of health-compromising behaviors.
“As we expected, people who experienced more emotional and psychological distress after being cheated on engaged in more risky behaviors,” Shrout told PsyPost. “They were more likely to eat less or not eat at all, use alcohol or marijuana more often, have sex under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or over-exercise. Being cheated on seems to not only have mental health consequences, but also increases risky behaviors.”
“We also found that people who blamed themselves for their partner cheating, such as feeling like it was their fault or they could have stopped it, were more likely to engage in risky behaviors. However, blaming their partner for cheating was not directly related to risky behavior involvement. It was interesting to find that these effects were stronger for women than men.”
“This gender difference is consistent with previous research showing that women experience more distress after being cheated on,” Shrout added. “We think this is because women typically place higher importance on the relationship as a source of self and identity. As a result, women who have been cheated on might be more likely to have poorer mental health and engage in unhealthy, risky behavior because their self-perceptions have been damaged.”
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