Sit down and ponder about time when you felt betrayed in relationship. What went wrong in your perception? What wrong did the person do? Did confession happen? How did you feel? Why do you think you felt that way?
Dr Dylan Selterman in his research paper, wanted to figure out some of the reasons why people think that some relationship betrayals are bad.1 His research focused on moral judgment, which is what happens when you think that a person’s actions are wrong, and moral reasons, which are the things that explain moral judgment. For example, you may hear a news report about a violent shooting and say that it’s wrong (moral judgment) because people were physically harmed (moral reason). Or you may hear about a politician who secretly helped a foreign adversary and say that’s wrong (moral judgment) because the politician was disloyal to his country (moral reason).
On the similar way majority of people often think that sexual infidelity (cheating) is morally wrong. In addition, majority of them also think that confession to partner after cheating, or to confession to friend/priest after hooking up with their ex-partner is good for purification as telling truth is morally good, and so is resisting the urge to have affairs (if you’ve got a monogamous relationship). Those are all moral judgments. Dr Dylan Selterman studied the moral reasons for those judgments, and propounded moral foundations theory (MFT).2 According to MFT theory people have a lot of different moral concerns. People prefer to minimize harm and maximize care, to promote fairness/justice and liberty, to respect authority figures, to stay loyal to your social group, and to stay pure (i.e. avoid degrading or disgusting things).
Do you think morality is relevant to cheating or confessing? It is believed that loyalty and purity are the key reasons why people make those moral judgments, more so than if someone was harmed. Lest us consider a situation that your partner tells you that he had sex with another person, this might make you feel very hurt. What if he didn’t tell you, and you never found out? You might be happier in that case; however, something still bothers you and you want to know the reasons about your partner’s betrayal. Even if your partner’s confession causes pain, it’s worth it to confess, because the confession indicates loyalty and purity.
It has been found that people have a lot of different moral concerns related to relationship behaviors. It is strongly recommended that people talk openly with their partners, friends, and family members about the different moral concerns they have. The open communication about moral concerns may help people resolve relationship conflicts.
Dr R K Suri, Chartered Psychologist & relationship consultant has been advocating about open communication as a strategy for resolving relationship issues.
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