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Being cheated on is a painful emotional and psychological experience. But it turns out the experience can also have a physical impact on you as well.

A new study, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, confirms that being cheated on and who you blame for the cheating can play a major role in whether you engage in risky health behavior.

Researchers from the University of Nevada, Reno surveyed 232 college students who had been cheated on in the past three months by partners they’d dated for an average of 1.76 years.

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One of the findings revealed a connection between mental health and health-compromising behaviors. People who experienced greater emotional distress after being cheated on 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,” M. Rosie Shrout, the study’s corresponding author, told PsyPost.

However, the study found that how you perceive the cheating can affect the likelihood of these 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,” Shrout told PysPost. People who blame their partners for cheating were not as likely to be involved in risky behavior, the study found.

It turns out, gender also plays a role in how a person reacts to being cheated on, with women being more strongly affected. The researchers believe this is likely because women tend to experience more distress if they’re cheated on and typically place higher importance on the relationship as a source of self and identity. This can lead to a poorer state of mental health that results in an increased likelihood to partake in the aforementioned risky behaviors.

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The researchers did note that participants of the study were young adults in dating relationships, with an average age of 20. While they stand behind the findings, they want to continue the research with older married adults who have children, own a home together or share finances. 



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