While there are always a lot of factors at play, when it comes to infidelity, there are quite a few personality traits that can mean a person will be
more likely to cheat. After all, our "personality traits play a significant role in how we behave, how we see the world, and how we treat others," Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford, PhD, MFT, CRS, CMFSW, tells Bustle. And in some cases, these traits may make it easier for someone to go behind their partner's back.
For example, if they happen to crave admiration, they may have a hard time resisting the urge to look for attention
outside of their relationship. And the same is true for other traits, including a lack of empathy, poor impulse control, or an inability to tell the truth.
"Individuals with these character traits are less likely to consider the implications of their behavior [or] understand the impact [they are having on] others," Dr. Bates-Duford says. They might be more concerned with meeting their own needs, than taking a second to think about their relationship.
Of course, if someone has these qualities, it definitely doesn't mean they're guaranteed to cheat. It always comes down to the individual and the circumstances — and people always have a choice. But experts say some of the traits below can set the stage for cheating, and
increase the chances of infidelity.
Narcissistic personality traits — such as having an intense need for attention and/or admiration — can make someone more likely to cheat. "It can be alluring and intoxicating to feel irresistible,"
Karin Draper, LMFT, tells Bustle. "And for those especially susceptible to this, they may be prone to seek this out or to engage in behaviors that will continue fueling their own desirability to others, especially if they are feeling unacknowledged or bored in their long-term relationship."
They Struggle To Express Their Needs
If someone isn't able to talk about their needs, or ask for what they want within their relationship, they may find themselves reaching out for support and connection with others — and possibly even cheating as a result. "This situation is ripe for infidelity, especially if someone comes along who naturally seems to 'get you' more than your partner," Draper says.
They Lie About Small Things
It makes sense that if someone is willing to lie about small things, they may be more likely to lie about bigger things, such as cheating,
Michelle Terry, MA, LMHC, tells Bustle. And this can show itself in the form of inaccuracies and little white lies.
"Keep an eye out if you notice your partner changing their story frequently about events that have happened and how they respond if you notice it," Terry says. If they get upset easily, or don't want to talk about it, it could be a red flag.
They Tend To Avoid Conflict
While it's never easy to address conflict in a relationship, being willing to do so is an important part of keeping things healthy. And that's why, if someone tries to avoid arguments at all costs, it can cause things to go downhill.
"This trait can lead to infidelity when the conflict and issues within the relationship add up, when the individual continues to avoid how they actually feel about themselves and/or the partner surrounding this conflict, and when a new person in their life is attractive, is interesting, and is not tied to conflict whatsoever," Draper says. "Furthermore, it's easier to continue to make decisions that eventually lead to an affair when a person remains avoidant."
A lack of empathy is another trait that falls under the narcissism umbrella, and may be a factor in a person's ability to cheat.
"When we have empathy it can be a safeguard for not moving forward with something because we can [see] how it can impact someone we care about,"
psychotherapist Devon Jorge, MSW, RSW, tells Bustle. "But with narcissists, [...] they're just more concerned about meeting their needs than they are about the people they love."
While most people like to have new and exciting experiences, some folks positively crave them. And in some instances, that can make them more likely to look for attention outside their relationship.
"People who have been having difficulties controlling their impulses always have the need to try something new and different," Schweyer says. "They can't resist the temptation [to cheat] because they want to find out 'what it feels like' to be in a particular situation."
And, it can be exciting for them to meet new people and put themselves in situations that may not be the healthier for their relationship.
They Often Feel Insecure
Not everyone who feels insecure will cheat, but it can make it more likely in some circumstances. For example, "being insecure can cause relationship problems in more ways than one," Schweyer says. "For some people, if they aren't secure in their partner and relationship, they would want a backup plan just in case their partners would leave them."
Other times, insecurity can cause them to look elsewhere for attention, Schweyer says, almost like a reflex. And especially so if they feel like their partner isn't giving them enough time and attention.
They Don't Take Responsibility
Cheating can occur when someone struggles to take responsibility for their lives and their actions, which Terry says can stem from an
external locus of control, "meaning they think that what happens is caused more by things outside of their control than within their control."
This is when people say things like, "It wasn't my fault" or "I couldn't resist," Terry says. "They might not view cheating as a conscious choice and instead view it as something that 'just happens.'" And thus find themselves in this situation more often than not.
They Don't Learn From Their Mistakes
If someone has cheated in the past, the likelihood that they'll do it again is pretty darn high. And this is especially true if they do not have regard for the feelings of others, minimize their own actions, and lack accountability, Dr. Bates-Duford says.
This shows that they haven't learned from their mistakes, or are simply unable to, thanks to certain personality traits. If they can't see the role they played in the whole scenario, it'll be tough for them to prevent it from happening again.
That said, not everyone who has these traits will cheat. It always comes down to the individual, and often includes other factors. It can be helpful, though, to spot certain habits and know how they might impact a relationship, including how they
could lead to infidelity.