Cheating can happen for an almost-infinite variety of reasons, but there are some variables that can make a person more likely than others to be inclined toward infidelity. If you're wondering how to predict cheating, you likely won't find any concrete answer. But you can explore your partner's past to understand their predispositions better.
All sorts of people end up being the exception to the rule. Many people who may seem prone to infidelity may respond to these factors by being extra-loyal. But someone who's more likely to cheat may have experienced some things in their past that led them to believe cheating is an option. Immediate signs, like having a partner whose friends are OK with unfaithfulness, or dealing with an issue of jealousy, may mean that cheating is on the horizon. But if you're not quite there yet, and are simply curious, there are other things to look out for.
Of course, no single factor can guarantee that a partner may become a cheater. But even if you are not suspicious your partner is cheating, it can be an interesting thought experiment to start to understand why some people may be more inclined to cheat.
Here are eight fascinating things from someone's past that may determine if they cheat or not, according to experts.
Those With A Fear Of Abandonment
If your partner has, for whatever reason, experienced a pattern of life events that have led to a fear of abandonment, they may be more predisposed to cheating.
"Those who have been abandoned by their parents or experienced the divorce of their parents [may] develop a fear of abandonment which predisposes them to cheating," Schwartz says. Talk to your partner about how they view relationships and commitment, and they may be able to give you some insight on how they view this issue.
Someone Who's Been Emotionally Abused
Of course, not all victims of emotional abuse will end up cheating. But there are certain narratives of abuse that may end up becoming a factor in whether or not someone ends up cheating in the future.
"Someone who has been emotionally abused, either by parents or family as a child or later on by a violent or abusive partner [may be] more predisposed to cheating," Schwartz says. "This psychological problem may lead to the development of fear and need of protection, which is often looked for in multiple partners." It may also look like form of self-sabotage. If your partner has been emotionally abused in the past, however, it's important to show them love and support, and not automatically assume that they cannot be faithful.
Editor's Note: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.
Having Had Negative Role Models
Just because someone's parents cheated does not mean they, too, will cheat. If they see the cheating parents as a role model, however, and praises or makes excuses for their harmful behavior, then that may be a bad sign.
"If they had a role model growing up who cheated it could go one of two ways," psychotherapist Dr. Kathryn Smerling, tells Bustle. "They could emulate that behavior because they were taught it was OK, or they could do the opposite as a result of seeing their parent in pain as a result." The important factor to look out for, then, is how your partner reacted to this childhood experience.
Struggling With Friendships
Familial and romantic relationships are not the only relationships relevant in the world of a cheater. Being able to observe how your partner views friendships can also be an important indicator on their potential predisposition to infidelity.
"Not having many close relationships could be a sign that someone may cheat in a relationship," health and wellness coach Caleb Backe, tells Bustle. "Whether it’s a turbulent relationship with their mom or not being able to stick to one friendship — these are all signs that they [may not] find it particularly important to bond or be tied down to one person." It's important to discuss with your partner what your expectations are in terms of partnership and loyalty so that nothing is unclear.
They Have Been Cheated On
Similarly to having been a cheater, having been cheated on may cause someone to be more inclined to cheat in the future. Not everyone who's had a partner cheat will react this way, but the feelings of distrust that arise can cause problems.
"Many people who cheat [...] feel unworthy of love and do anything they can to sabotage their relationships and are not aware of their own actions and how they may disrupt the flow of the relationships," life coach Nina Rubin, M.A., tells Bustle. "They may have also been cheated on and have grown accustomed to this way of behaving." If they're dealing with this reaction, they may be more likely to cheat.
They Have A Streak Of Risky Behavior
This predictor does not mean that someone who loves roller coasters is more likely to cheat. Instead, experts suggest that some of the same traits that lead to cheating may lead to other reckless behaviors.
"I think that certain people are more prone to cheating because some people are more prone to risky behavior," Dr. Smerling says. "This takes place in a variety of contexts, not only in a relationship. People who cheat may have traits of entitlement, narcissism and low empathy. They are not aware of how deeply their partner will be affected and if they do realize it, they don't care. It's the elicit thrill that drives them." So if your partner has a history of risky misbehavior, they may also be inclined to misbehave in the form of infidelity.
They've Dealt With Low Self-Esteem
If you know that your partner has had a lifelong struggle with self-esteem issues, then it's possible that they may end up being more likely to cheat in the future. Different forms of low self-esteem lead to different reactions, but one particular reaction is staying in relationships past their expiration date, sometimes to the point of infidelity.
"Those who suffer from low self-esteem or continue staying in a relationship that’s no longer fulfilling are more predisposed to cheating," Schwartz says. "[...] This leads to frustration, and cheating is something they do to deal with their disturbances and disappointments." Therefore if someone with this kind of low self-esteem stays in a rocky relationship because they worry they don't have an out, then cheating is a possibility. Not all kinds of low self-esteem lead to this, and it can be prevented by ending the relationship before things get really bad.
Cheating is remarkably common. There is no one way to tell whether or not it will happen in your relationship. But exploring your partner's past, and more importantly, how they've reacted to the events of their past, may be able to provide you some insight into their commitment to fidelity.