Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Counseling and Human Development

Degree Program

Counseling and Personnel Services, PhD

Committee Chair

Leach, Mark

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Barbee, Anita

Committee Member

Cunningham, Michael

Committee Member

McCubbin, Laurie

Committee Member

Mitchell, Amanda

Author's Keywords

self-forgiveness; infidelity; relationship satisfaction; relationship maintenance; intrapersonal healing; interpersonal healing


While a plethora of research studies exist regarding victims’ healing processes post-infidelity, almost no empirical data is available regarding perpetrators’ healing processes post-infidelity. In recent years, researchers have found that self-forgiveness after an interpersonal offense can aid individuals in healing intrapersonally and interpersonally. Self-forgiveness research even suggests a connection between genuine self-forgiveness and relationship satisfaction. The current study set out to explore the possible intrapersonal and interpersonal healing effects of self-forgiveness after participating in infidelity. For this study, individuals who participated in infidelity within the past two years and are still with the partner they betrayed were recruited. With support of affect theory of social exchange, a path model was hypothesized showing potential connections between self-forgiveness, intrapersonal affect, relationship closeness, relationship maintenance behaviors, and relationship satisfaction. Path model analyses revealed that genuine self-forgiveness was positively related to positive affect, closeness, positive maintenance behaviors, and relationship satisfaction. Simultaneously, pseudo self-forgiveness and self-punitiveness were positively related to negative affect and negative maintenance behaviors, and inversely related to closeness and relationship satisfaction. Limitations, future directions, and practical implications of the study findings are discussed.