IT may be little comfort, but women whose partners cheat on them are likely to be better off in the long run.

The largest study of break-ups caused by infidelity found that the lessons learned helped women pick a better partner.

The heartbreak of unfaithfulness left them with a 'higher mating intelligence' that helped them avoid cheaters.

It seems they become better at spotting clues that suggest their partner may cheat, and are better at sensing when he is going to be 'poached' by someone else.

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But the 'other woman' gets a partner with a track record of being deceptive. In an anonymous online survey of 5,705 adults in 96 countries, reported in the Oxford Handbook of Women and Competition, teams from Binghamton University in the US and University College London looked at how happy men and women were before, during and after a break-up.

Professor Craig Morris, of Binghamton University in New York, said more women than men claimed to be 'better off' after they were cheated on.

He added: "Women report that they are more attuned to cues of infidelity, dishonesty, and other "low mate value" signals following having their mate "poached" by another woman.

"Our thesis is that the woman who "loses" her mate to another woman will go through a period of grief and betrayal, but come out of the experience with higher mating intelligence that allows her to better detect cues in future mates that may indicate low mate value."

Hence, in the long term she "wins".

'The "other woman", conversely, is now in a relationship with a partner who has a demonstrated history of deception. Thus, in the long term she "loses".'