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Arlene Lugo
March 17, 2015
HD 487A Reflective Study: Research 1

The driving force behind my study is to answer the following research question, How
does being in an unfaithful relationship affect a womans self-esteem? This question relates to
my life because I battle daily with the distress of being cheated on. Over a decade later, these
events still have a lasting effect that still follows me.
The lowest point in my life was finding out my boyfriend of 4 years, with whom I had a
child, was cheating on me. My world literally turned upside down. Emotions of fear, pain, and
rage continuously took over me throughout the day. I played out scenarios in my head: Do I
leave him? Do I sweep it under the rug? Who can I talk to? Who cant I let find out? In times of
need I have a superior support system. My family has been there for me whenever Ive needed
them. But, through this painful and tragic situation I found it too humiliating and overwhelming
to reach out to my family or my friends. I suffered in silence.
I would sit in my car parked in a random parking lot and cry, cry until I was all cried out.
I recalled clues and moments of doubt that I dismissed, and began to wonder what I was
thinking. When the truth finally came out, I was conflicted, suffering from the pain of the truth
but also a sense of relief. It validated what I intuitively suspected for months. Finding out the
truth offers little relief, it opens up the doors to more doubt and mind racing suspicion. Was I in
love with a fraud? Could I ever trust someone enough to let my guard down again? Could I trust
another man ever again? These questions raced through my mind as I tried to find my sanity.

The breach of trust set me on a downward spiral. I ate to cope with the pain, I ate a lot. I
had the number to my local Chinese food restaurant on my cell phone. I would call to place a
pick- up order and sit in my car devouring large amounts of food to cope with the emptiness I felt
inside. I became an emotional eater, if I cried I needed food to deal with the pain, and after
dealing with the pain, I needed food to comfort me.
The extra weight joined the bandwagon of emotional distress. I found myself back into
my maternity clothes months after already having my baby. Strangers would ask, When are you
due? Utterly embarrassed of the weight I had gained, I would ramble off some nearby date.
They were strangers, they did not need to know my truth. I felt fat and unwanted. In the mirror I
saw a deteriorating version of what I once was.
When trying to restart my life and join the dating scene I had difficulty. I was heavily
guarded and afraid of exposing myself to the possibility of being hurt again. I was hesitant and
afraid of allowing myself to love, so I would abandon boyfriends before they could abandon me,
or I just would not fully get involved into the relationship to begin with.
I also went through a phase of being boy-crazy. I became desperate for attention and felt
extremely lonely. I became promiscuous because I thought I could fulfill the unwanted and
unlovable yearnings with sex. The psychological release was far more gratifying then the
physical one. I felt empowered, the thrill of being reckless, spontaneous and desired was
invigorating. However, I mistook this affection for love. I quickly regained sight of who I was
as a person, and refocused my goals around myself and my daughter.
I have now been in a stable relationship for 10 years. We have 2 daughters together and
he has taken in my eldest as his own. It has taken a lot of patience, perseverance and

unconditional love to get to where I am today. I continue to battle with food dependency issues,
a distorted self-image and attachment insecurities. The road was extremely bumpy and
sometimes I felt like I was in a dense fog and could not see the cars ahead of me. But I rode it
out, and learned I could find love again, and I was just as worthy to receive it.
There are not many situations in life to compare to being cheated-on, ones that are as
complicated and mentally exhausting. It is a life altering traumatic experience. With all the
negative affects that have occurred and were discussed, my self-image has plummeted as a result.
During the course of this research I would like to explore the self-image that other
women have after being in an unfaithful relationship. In surveying participants I would seek out
patterns of key issues of low self-esteem, including feeling inadequate, unlovable, unworthy or
In venturing down this road I hope to learn how women cope with being in an unfaithful
relationship. Who do they lean on for emotional support? Is the way they view themselves
affected by these events? This is an important issue to pursue because many women feel
secluded and lack emotional support. Data collected will show that these women are not alone.
Many can sympathize and understand the hurt, emotions and painful experiences. After being in
an unfaithful relationship many women develop low self esteem that eats away at their wellbeing.
The most effective way to gather the data needed to conduct this study is by interviewing
the participants in person. Individual interviews at a neutral location will allow the contributor to
feel relaxed and honest. Partakers will share more information when someone is asking

questions in person as opposed to them writing down answers and submitting them. Being in the
moment gives me an opportunity to ask follow-up questions or get clarity of a response.
I feel in-person interviews will also offer me the opportunity to take note of body
language and raw emotion. Capturing non-verbal ques is not possible in online or over-thetelephone interviews. If the contributor tenses up or appears to be uncomfortable, I will be able
to pace the line of questioning and perhaps sipping on coffee as we go can help ease the
interview process. With me facilitating the interview I will have my partakers focused, so I can
control the flow of the interview. Selecting a convenient evening when the participant has ample
time to chat will allow for a smoother course of action.
It is critical that I select participants who are willing to divulge their personal stories to
get subjective data. I will present my research question as well as asking these follow-up

How did you feel when you found out your partner was unfaithful?
How does it affect you in relationships now?
If you are still together, how did that event affect your ability to trust your partner again?
As a result have you developed any insecurities about yourself?
Did you have a support system? Who did you talk to?
Critical Assessment of Research Design
The interviews will be conducted in different locations, depending on the participants

availability. This mainly will be in semi-private environments. A coffee shop gives us the ability
to blend in as other chatting acquaintances carry on. A limit we may face is if the partaker gets
emotional and holds back raw emotion to avoid drawing attention from others. The participants
that I will interview have not had conversations with me involving this line of questioning so we
may face difficulty with the partakers feeling uneasy discussing such a sensitive topic.

Projected limitations would include only interviewing heterosexual females, and having
an established friendship with these women. They may be reluctant to fully disclose information
since they are either a family or a close friend. Variations in data collected could result from
cultural differences, religious affiliation, and financial stability. I will collect the data in a nonjudgmental fashion. I plan on asking the questions and dictating their responses, with notes of
non-biased observations of body language. I will conduct these interviews and exclusively use
only data collected during these interviews. Setting aside any preconceived notions about their
relationships, I will listen without passing judgment. I will avoid steering the conversation,
instead I will be an active listener, speaking only to ask one of the 6 questions or to clarify a