The impact of infidelity in dating relationships and the promotion of forgiveness among faithful partners
Kachadourian, Lorig Knar
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The current dissertation examined the impact that infidelity has on faithful partners in dating relationships and whether writing about the infidelity would help to promote forgiveness among these individuals. Two studies were conducted. The first study examined the emotional and cognitive impact of infidelity by comparing individuals who recently discovered that their partner had been unfaithful to individuals who never experienced infidelity. Results showed that faithful partners experienced more negative affect and were less trusting of other people in general, less trusting of future romantic partners and less optimistic that they would have successful romantic relationships in the future compared to individuals who never experienced infidelity. Faithful partners also tended to be less optimistic in general compared to individuals who never experienced infidelity. The second study examined the effects of writing about the infidelity on forgiveness. Individuals who had experienced infidelity and who were currently experiencing distress as a result were randomly assigned to one of two groups: (1) an expressive writing condition in which they wrote about the infidelity on four different occasions for twenty-minutes, or (2) a trivial writing condition in which they wrote about trivial topics for the same time duration as the expressive writing condition. Results showed that expressive writing was not effective in increasing forgiveness. Results also showed that expressive writing was not effective in increasing trust, optimism, relationship trust, and relationship optimism and in decreasing depressive symptoms, anger, and anxiety. Trends in the data suggested that expressive writing may have served to maintain intrusive thinking about the infidelity. Clinical implications of the findings from these studies and directions for future research are discussed.