DALLAS TWP. — Many factors can drive a couple apart, but a relationship scientist and social psychologist’s lecture this evening at Misericordia University will focus on why some are driven to cheat on their partners.
Gary Lewandowski Jr., Ph.D., 36, an associate professor and psychology department chair at Monmouth University in New Jersey, will present “The Dark Side of Relationships: Why Do People Cheat?” at Misericordia at 5 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Lewandowski said he was driven to his area of social psychology after a conversation with one of his college advisers.
“As a lot of college-age males do, I had a lot of questions about relationships — how to get in them and how to get out of them,” he recalled. To his surprise, that sort of human interaction was a course of study that he then pursued as an undergrad at Millersville University and at Stony Brook University for graduate studies.
“Other relationship scientists have been doing this for years. As a subfield, it is newer than other subfields within social psychology,” he said. “It’s a little bit more challenging to find out what helps two people stay in love than it is in other areas of science, perhaps. We have a lot more things to factor in.”
Lewandowski said relationships are often evaluated by individuals based on how much the interaction adds to one’s sense of self and new experiences that may add to personal growth.
Many of those activities are “all of the stuff we naturally do when we’re first pairing up” - going on dates, planning vacations, or taking classes together.
“Something as simple as a weekly or monthly date night would do it for you,” Lewandowski said.
When a relationship doesn’t offer those kinds of stimulation, partners may begin to look for a way to end the relationship. Some see cheating as an easy way out.
”It’s probably the worst possible thing you can do,” he said. “Ideally, they would courteously end the relationship and then pursue others.”
Lewandowski’s talk Monday is the first time that the “dark side” of relationships will be presented. He hopes audience members will find motivation to evaluate their own relationships.
“When people start learning about the science of relationships and they’re presented with scientific, data-based conclusions and facts, it causes them to pause and really evaluate their relationship,” he said.
One important factor to keep in mind: Healthy relationships take some effort.
“I think a lot of people assume that good relationships happen on their own,” he stressed. “You shouldn’t be trying super hard, but it does take some work.” Part of that work is keeping an open line of communications, he added.
Anyone unable to attend Monday’s lecture may want to visit www.scienceofrelationships.com, a website that Lewandowski helped found and where he continues to serve as editor.