Researchers have found that women who have been cheated on usually emerge from the experience with “a higher mating intelligence” and therefore are better off in the long-term.
The findings come from an online survey conducted by researchers at Binghamton University and University College London comprising of 5,705 participants in 96 countries. The study, published in the Oxford Handbook of Women and Competition, was the largest ever into breakups, and looked at the long-term effects of mate loss as previous research has only ever focused on the short-term consequences of breakups.
The researchers found that women who have “lost” their mate to another woman will experience a period of post-relationship grief and betrayal.
However, having been through the experience, she will be better at detecting these traits in future mates that indicate “low mate value” – making her a winner in the long-term.
It’s not so good for the “other woman” because she’s now in a relationship with someone who has a demonstrated history of deception and infidelity, therefore in the long-term she “loses”.
The researchers looked at how happy men and women were before, during and after a breakup. The study found that if a woman is cheated on, the lessons she learn are “evolutionarily adaptive” and she can also experience personal growth beyond mating, into other aspects of personal development.
Lead researcher Craig Morris said that women respondents explicitly state that they are ‘better off now’ after being cheated on more than men do.
“In fact, women speak of the breakup experience almost exclusively in the past tense whereas men often use the present tense,” he said.
“Women report that they are more attuned to cues of infidelity, dishonesty, and other ‘low mate value’ signals following having their mate ‘poached’ by another woman. Women also report that they are now more aware of their female friends’ and associates’ behaviour regarding their significant other,” Morris said.
He said that the findings could help women cope better with when going through the emotional trauma following a breakup.
“They can learn that they are not alone””that virtually everyone goes through this, that it’s okay to seek help if needed and that they will get through it,” he said.