Most people don’t suspect that their partner is going to cheat on them – after all, there is no one single obvious indicator of a cheater. However, there are several different factors that make someone more likely to cheat in a relationship according to both experts and research. Although you can’t always predict when someone is going to be unfaithful in a relationship, it can be useful to know what to look out for when dating someone to ensure you’re in a loving, faithful partnership.
“Certain people are more likely to cheat because of personality traits, learned behavior from role models and due to money, career, social status and the social circles they travel in,” one psychotherapist and relationship coach said. “Any of these, or any combination of these, make cheating an option they could consider, whereas someone with different personality traits, strict values, a simpler lifestyle, smaller social networks, and/or who is satisfied with their primary relationship would be unlikely to consider infidelity.”
Not all people who exhibit these factors will necessarily cheat, so there’s no need to panic just because your partner demonstrates a few. However, many cheaters tend to have the same behaviors or personality traits that often overlap, experts say. Listed below are 6 factors that make someone more likely to cheat, according to several relationship therapists.
Personality Traits That Make Someone More Likely to Cheat
1. They’ve Become Narcissistic – Someone who is a narcissist exhibits extreme selfishness, a need for flattery and attention, and an inability to consider the needs and feelings of others. People with this personality trait are at high risk of cheating, as they often rationalize that their partner does not treat them as they deserve or that they are neglected or unappreciated. They also have little to no capacity to consider the hurt their behavior will inflict on their partner. One study published in 2014 also found that those who exhibit high levels of narcissism — defined as a lack of empathy, an inflated sense of skills, and entitlement — were more likely to cheat.
2. Your Lives Are Not Intertwined – Although it’s good to have your own activities you enjoy, when couples spend a great deal of time apart from each other, they are spending it with someone other than their partner who offers companionship, fun, and friendship. Time with others can weaken the couples bond and increase the bond with these other people. There is also a much greater opportunity to cheat considering the person is alone, often where no one knows them and they have a sense of anonymity.
3. They Have Difficulty Controlling Impulses – Those who crave an adrenaline rush might use cheating to get it. Being with someone who is not only new and different, but forbidden, and avoiding detection can be a thrill ride. They are living on the edge, trying to keep their two lives from colliding. Those who have difficulty with impulse control in particular – whether it be because of ADHD, or experiencing a head injury that altered their personality – might be more prone to cheating as well, because they have a hard time letting a tempting moment pass.
4. They Have A Family History Of Cheating – People who grew up in an atmosphere of betrayal and cheating are more likely both to cheat and to select partners who will be unfaithful. Sometimes, anxiety about being cheated on can actually motivate a partner to cheat. One study published in the Journal Of Family Issues found that participants who experienced one or more parent cheating while growing up were more likely to cheat themselves. While this correlation might not be direct, or definitive, familial experiences can certainly impact how we navigate relationships later.
5. They’re Dependent On Others – A dependent person may be more likely to cheat, as they need affirmation, possibly more than can be gotten from a long-term relationship. As we know, long-term committed relationships take work, and if they are not nurtured regularly, then people, especially dependent personalities, tend to be ripe for attention from someone outside the relationship that is more attentive. That’s exactly why making your relationship a priority, and ensuring everyone feels listened to, is the best way to keep a relationship healthy.
6. They’re Afraid Of Breaking Up With Someone – Some people may feel that a relationship no longer satisfies their needs, but they do not feel like they can assert themselves to bring it to a close. They might then cheat in order to gain a satisfying connection with someone or in secret hopes that their cheating will come to light and cause their partner to end the relationship for them.
Although cheating can happen for a multitude of reasons, and varies based on the circumstances, experts and research have found that people with these traits are more likely to be unfaithful.