Stealing someone else’s partner makes for an awkward “how we met” story, and yet more than half of relationships begin this way, according to one estimate. But a new study published in the Journal of Research in Personality suggests that these may not end up being the greatest relationships.
The people who’d abandoned one committed relationship for their current one were “less committed, less satisfied and less invested in their relationships,” the authors write. Christian Jarrett, a psychologist and author of the new book Great Myths of the Brain (excerpted here), summarizes the findings on the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest:
An initial study involved surveying 138 heterosexual participants (average age 20; 71 per cent were women) four times over nine weeks. All were in current romantic relationships that had lasted so far from 0 to 36 months. Men and women who said they’d been poached by their current partner tended to start out the study by reporting less commitment to their existing relationship, feeling less satisfied in it, committing more acts of infidelity and looking out for more alternatives.
What’s more, over the course of the study, these participants reported progressively lower levels of commitment and satisfaction in their relationships. They also showed continued interest in other potential romantic partners and persistent levels of infidelity. This is in contrast to participants who hadn’t been poached by their partners - they showed less interest in romantic alternatives over time.
The researchers admit that more study is needed to better understand relationships that begin this way, but it seems like we’ve got some more scientific evidence behind the saying, Once a cheater, always a cheater.