It's often possible to get a better idea of what the future might be like, simply by looking into the past. So if you're wondering if
your partner might cheat on you, taking a peek at their experiences, habits, and dating history may help you to better understand them, as well as where your relationship might lead.
If they grew up in a family where affairs were always afoot, they may be more likely to cheat. And, if they're impulsive by nature, or non-confrontational, it also might up the chances. But keep in mind that the nothing's ever set in stone.
"There is no single predictor of cheating that is 100 percent guaranteed," Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of
The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. "Like a health condition, there are risk factors and warning signs. And the more risk factors, the greater the chance of cheating." But that doesn't mean it'll happen.
You can, however, talk about your partner's past, and what you can work on as a couple, because communication will be key. "Your partner needs to know that no matter what the issue is, it is
better for them to talk with you than to cheat," Dr. Klapow says. "The more you both feel open to communicate your fears, dreams, wishes and concerns, the less likely you each are to resolve an issue outside of the relationship."
With that in mind, if any of these things are true for your partner, they may be more likely to cheat, according to experts. So be sure to talk about it as a couple, and come up with a plan to
keep your relationship healthy.
They Grew Up With Parents Who Cheated
If your partner
grew up with parents who cheated or had affairs, they may end up doing the same thing to you, since that's what was modeled to them as normal.
"We watch and we learn, without knowing it,"
clinical psychologist Dr. Perpetua Neo, tells Bustle, adding that what you witness growing up can become an unspoken template for how you view relationships as an adult.
But remember, nothing's set in stone. "Awareness and effort breaks the unconscious script we have in our heads about relationships," Dr. Neo says. So even if their parents cheated, your partner can make the choice to be different, and break the cycle.
They Were Taught Cheating "Just Happens"
Some people cheat as adults because they didn't experience healthy relationship dynamics when they were kids. But some are also taught that cheating is not only OK, but something that's to be expected.
"If that's the case, your partner may be more likely to feel justified in cheating and not see it as much of a damaging act as it is," Dr. Klapow says.
But don't let them brush it off. If cheating was tolerated in their family, it might take them a while to see things differently. And yet, it's definitely possible, if they're willing to try.
They Overshare About Your Relationship
If your partner is in the habit of oversharing about your relationship — possibly by telling a close friend all about your fights, problems, disappointments, and so on — they may have opened themselves up to an affair without even realizing it.
"One of the biggest
precursors to an affair is a crossing of boundaries with an acquaintance, coworker, etc.," relationship counselor Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, director of the Baltimore Therapy Center, tells Bustle. "This includes sharing personal information with them about your relationship — intimate details, for example, or, arguably worse, problems that are happening between them and you."
While it's fine if they occasionally need to vent to a friend, oversharing intimate details not only shows a
lack of respect for your relationship, but a total lack of boundaries. As Bilek says, "If your partner has had problems keeping these kinds of boundaries in the past and has not worked on the problem, this is a red flag for future cheating."
They've Cheated On Partners In The Past
history of cheating is often a good indicator that someone will cheat again, but even more so if they've never felt bad about it. So pay attention to your partner's overall attitude, if you know they've cheated before.
"Watch the things your partner says about cheating — the excuses in the subtext, how they blame the other party (predominantly) and don't take responsibility, or play the victim," Dr. Neo says. While cheating alone is bad enough, it's even worse if they don't take responsibility or show any insight — as that can be a sign they'll happily do it again.
"Sure, things happen that lead to infidelity, but there are people who feel entitled to infidelity," Dr. Neo says. And when that's the case, it might not be a pattern you or your partner will be able to break, no matter how many rules or
boundaries you establish as a couple.
They Cheated As A Means Of Breaking Up In The Past
Many people cheat on their partners, and then decide they'll never do anything like that again. So just because your partner has had an affair, doesn't mean they'll definitely cheat on you.
It may be more likely, however, if they cheated as a way of breaking up — or for some other nefarious reason, beyond just making a silly mistake in the moment.
"It’s the details that are important," Dr. Klapow says. "Did they cheat multiple times? Did they cheat and leave the relationship? Why did they cheat? Was the relationship in trouble? Was it impulsive?"
You can ask them these questions, and see what they say. "Cheating is a
risk factor for more cheating, but cheating once with an attempt at reconciliation that was successful for even a short period of time is a very different (and healthier) story line than multiple cheating episodes," Dr. Klapow says.
They Never Learned How To Deal With Conflict
For many people, cheating becomes an easy way to deal with conflict and other tough situations, instead of expressing themselves or working on the problem with their partner.
So it may be a red flag if your partner has a
history of avoiding conflict at all costs. "These individuals are less likely to initiate conversation with their partners about topics that have the potential to create conflict," licensed psychologist Dr. Danielle Forshee, tells Bustle. "After not communicating about negative emotions or dealing with potential conflict in a relationships, [they] keep it all inside and start to feel more alone in the relationship and hopeless about the relationship. This creates a situation where they turn outward (emotional affair or physical affair) versus inward (toward their partner)."
This may be something your partner needs to work on in therapy, but it can also help to create a relationship where it's safe and
OK to talk about emotions, or to go to each other with problems. It can take some work to build up this level of trust, but it's definitely worth the effort.
They've Broken Promises In The Past
If your partner has a history of breaking promises, it may mean they're more likely to cheat. "Perhaps they are minor, or unrelated to your intimate relationship," Bilek says. "Yet, if your partner is
someone who can't seem to keep their word, or doesn't even put much stock in the necessity of keeping it, that could cause trouble down the road."
Breaking promises, especially things that are very important to you, means they're kind of OK with lying, which is one of the cornerstones of cheating. "Moreover, if you've talked with them about this before and they still demonstrate an insensitivity to your dissatisfaction with their behavior, that is a worrisome sign," he says. It shows they're aware of their bad habits, but are unwilling to change for the sake of the relationship.
They Let Power Go To Their Head
While not all people who hold
powerful jobs are cheaters, if your partner has always held high up positions at work, it may make them more prone to having an affair.
When they're used to being in charge, they're used to getting what they want. And when they're used to getting what they want, they may not be as likely to care about the impact their actions have on your relationship.
In other words, "power can breed a warped sense of right and wrong and a sense of entitlement, which
may increase the chance of cheating," Dr. Klapow says. "Has your partner run a company? Been a celebrity? Had access to lots of money? Been in charge of their family matters?" If so, setting up boundaries early on, in terms of what counts as cheating and what doesn't, can help keep your relationship healthy.
They've Always Been Impulsive
If your partner has a
history of being highly impulsive, they may be more likely to cheat. Think along the lines of following unsafe sex practices, or doing other things detrimental to their health and the health of others. "All of these may be incorporated into their way of managing life and put them at greater risk of cheating," Dr. Klapow says.
They've Never Argued With A Partner
While it might seem nice that your partner has never been an arguer, that can actually be a red flag. "A life of conflict avoidance creates a person that may turn away from you in tough times and seek to get resolution through cheating," Dr. Klapow says.
This is true if they've never argued with partners. But look at their other relationships, as well. As Dr. Klapow says, "Did they tell you that their family never argued, or that they hate conflict and avoid it at all costs?" If so, it may help to tell them that
the occasional argument is actually healthy, as it allows you the opportunity to air your grievances and sort out your differences.
Be sure to protect yourself, if you're worried that your partner may cheat. But also give them space and room to change. By talking about it and keeping an open dialogue, you can adopt healthier habits — and maybe even make
cheating less likely to happen.