Cheating rarely happens out of the blue, but instead is something that can simmer in the background of a relationship, given certain circumstances. It's also hardly ever one partner's fault, but instead can be a result of letdowns in a relationship, such as a series of small
mistakes that can lead to cheating.
These might include littles lies, ongoing breaches of trust, mini letdowns, and a lack of intimacy that leaves one or both partners feeling unloved, misunderstood, or unheard. And while cheating obviously isn't the healthiest response to a
lack of connection in a relationship, it's often all someone can think to do.
So, instead of allowing small mistakes to chisel away at the health of your relationship, it can help to keep an eye out for red flags, and figure out ways — along with your partner — to
keep your connection healthy.
effort to be happy and healthy," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "It’s easier to proactively avoid the pitfalls that lead to cheating," instead of allowing these issues to pile up to the point it seems like a good idea — or the only way to handle a problem.
Read on for a few everyday mistakes that can
make cheating more likely to happen in a relationship, according to experts, as well as how to avoid them.
Keeping Concerns To Yourself
If something crops up in the relationship that makes you feel uneasy — maybe an
ex comes back into the picture, or a story doesn't add up — the last thing you want to do is ignore it.
"You need to trust your gut,"
certified sex educator Lindsay van Clief, tells Bustle. "When something is said, or when something happens and you feel uncomfortable, you need to say something. Don't just brush it off."
It's much healthier to tell your partner and get it off your chest. By sweeping problems under the rug, it will only allow the concern to fester, and that can
drive you apart.
Letting Each Other Down In Small Ways
It's fine to occasionally drop the ball in a relationship. But if you
consistently let each other down, it will start to chip away at your connection.
"Not telling the truth, talking behind your partner's back, not holding their intimate conversations sacred — all of these betrayals
diminish trust in the relationship and can lead a partner to go astray," Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle.
In order to keep a relationship healthy, it's important to be on the same team, and to make trust and
respect a top priority.
Not Making Time For Intimacy
take many forms, including going on dates, holding hands, and having sex. Without these moments, your relationship can start to fall apart, because this is what "strengthens the emotional and physical bonds," Dr. Klapow says.
By regularly glossing over these important moments, it can be tempting to seek attention elsewhere. So make sure you
create time for each other, while also making space for either of you to speak up, if certain needs aren't being met.
friendship with an ex is anything but platonic, it can easily turn into something more — especially if you or your partner are keeping them in your life "just in case."
"A back-burner relationship is keeping in contact with someone [...] just in case your current one doesn’t work out," Bennett says. "While it was mostly platonic interaction, if [someone] keeps in contact with a lot of former dates and exes, it’s a red flag."
different from everyday friendships, and can whittle away at the trust, security, and intimacy of your relationship.
While it's fine (and healthy) to have the occasional argument, what you
don't want to do is bicker with each other all day long.
"Most couples argue occasionally, but if you spend the majority of your time together fighting — this can have an extremely detrimental impact on your relationship," Amica Graber, a relationship expert for the background checking site
TruthFinder, tells Bustle.
And this is especially true if the
arguments turn toxic. "Watch out if arguments descend into name-calling and cruel behavior," she says. "Once a relationship becomes saturated with contempt, it's hard to save. It's common for people to cheat as a way of ending the relationship."
Not Making The Relationship A Priority
Deciding to be in a relationship certainly doesn't mean giving up your social life, or other outside interests. But it does mean
striking a balance between going out and spending time with your partner.
"If someone is constantly partying with their single friends, and barely making time for their relationship — both partners are likely to drift apart, leaving the door open for someone else to make a move," Graber says.
Taking Each Other For Granted
It can be so easy, once you've been with someone for a while, to start
taking them for granted. And yet this is another mistake that can leave the door wide open for cheating.
"Nobody likes to feel like they're being taken for granted," Graber says. "Complacency can create a silent rift in the relationship where one party starts looking outside of the relationship to fulfill their needs."
Spending Too Much Time Together
It is possible to spend
too much time together. And this can result in one or both partners feeling smothered — which can make cheating seem like a good idea.
"What happens when there’s simply too much closeness, and you don’t have space to be your open person? This can [...] lead to cheating,"
clinical psychologist Daniel Sher tells Bustle. "Why? Because cheating is a powerful statement of your individuality and separateness."
But that doesn't mean it's the only (or healthiest) way to go about it. "If you feel that your partner needs more closeness than you can give, it’s important to assert yourself and help them to understand where you’re coming from," Sher says.
By taking time for your own needs, and allowing your partner
space for theirs, you'll actually be making the relationship stronger.
Crossing Boundaries Online
It's obviously fine to have a life online, where you connect with friends. But if you or your partner are constantly crossing the line when it comes to the types of convos you have, it might
impact your relationship.
"Whether you connect with an ex-partner, find a new friend, etc., it may be very easy to get lured into emotional cheating," relationship expert and
spiritual counselor Davida Rappaport, tells Bustle.
To prevent this from spinning out of control, chat with your partner about
how you want to define cheating, and what's OK to do online — and what isn't. That way everyone will know what the relationship "rules" are, so nobody's feelings get hurt.
breakdown in communication can create a rift in your relationship, and that can make all forms of cheating more likely to happen.
As Rappaport says, "If you find that you are no longer on the same page as your partner and one or both of you stop making an effort to clear up any misunderstandings [...] this can lead to one partner cheating because they
feel left out and frustrated."
But it doesn't have to be that way, of course. "If you both keep working toward clear communication, you might be able to get back on track, even if that requires
seeking a couples counselor," she says.
It's healthy to have
expectations in a relationship, but not to the point where one person feels controlled. "[This] partner may end up feeling annoyed and angry at the person they’re with, leading them to be distant," Holly Zink, relationship expert for Safeguarde, tells Bustle. "If this level of control persists, the partner may confide in another."
If your partner has a friend they like to confide in, that's great. But if they're doing so at the expense of your relationship, or they're leaving you in the dark as a result, it can quickly
escalate into emotional cheating.
Instead, "find a therapist or family member if you truly need to vent away from your partner," Bennett says. While also finding a way to keep each other in the loop.
Invading Each Other's Privacy
It might not seem like a big deal for your partner to peek at your phone, or for you to scroll through their emails. And yet, this is a huge breach of trust that can
damage your relationship.
"This can lead to cheating not of the person you are checking, because they may never find out, but of the person investigating,"
relationship coach Vikki Louise tells Bustle. "What you are doing is giving in to your initial seeds of doubt. The more you act on them, the bigger they grow," and before you know it, the doubt grows so big that cheating can seem like the next logical step.
Cheating can happen for so many reasons, but keep in mind it's not always one person's fault. If you and your partner allow these everyday mistakes to happen on a regularly basis, it can start to impact your relationship — and may even eventually
lead to cheating.