9 factors that prove whether YOUR partner will cheat

9 factors that prove whether YOUR partner will cheat
Published 12 months ago on Mar 14, 2023

Slightly nervous about that new job your partner’s just started? The one that seems to include lots of after-hours drinking and work trips that sound more play than work?

Turns out you’re right to be alarmed – it’s entirely possible to be ‘infected’ with infidelity.

A new study (conducted in Israel) posed the question 'Is infidelity contagious?’ and the answer was a resounding ‘Yes!’.


Seeing other people cheat reduced the participants commitment to their current relationship, as well as their desire to resist temptation.

This confirms what behavioural psychologists have always known: never underestimate the power of situational forces.

If cheating is acceptable in your workplace or friendship group, having your own affair feels far more comfortable than if affairs are frowned upon.

What your friends and workmates get up to is the first of nine factors that can accurately predict who is likely to cheat and who isn’t.

How many do you – or, more alarmingly, your partner - tick?

Having friends who think it’s OK to cheat

'I’m a banker. I can’t think of one person in the company – male or female – who is faithful to their partner. You’d be ridiculed for it.'

We are all highly susceptible to social norms: affected by the opinions and behaviour of the people around us.

Wanting to fit in starts early. It’s why, as a kid, you agreed to shoplift some cosmetics for your more wayward mates, even though you knew it was wrong and your parents would kill you if they found out.

As adults, we have more of a sense of who we are and our own moral code – but we’re still influenced by our peers.

If, as a couple, you’re surrounded by other happy, long-term couples, your chances of making it long-term rise sharply.

If your friends all start breaking up, you are also at risk. You’re seeing first hand that it’s possible for people to leave and instinctively appraise how happy you are in your own relationship.

Same goes for infidelity. The study found when people see others around them cheating, they aren’t as inclined to use ‘relationship-protection’ strategies.

These are things like avoiding people you’re attracted to or deliberately looking for faults to make them seem less attractive.

Their parents had affairs

'I remember my Mum shouting at Dad for cheating when I was about five. They always made up. I grew up thinking that was what all men did.'

If you come from a family with a history of affairs, you’re a bad risk because you’ve ‘learnt’ that’s what people do in relationships.

Our reaction to cheating parents goes one of two ways.

You despise people who cheat and spend your life trying not to become like them (often avoiding relationships completely or developing severe jealousy issues). Or you despite cheating but deal with the constant terror of ending up like the devastated parent by becoming the more ‘powerful’ one.

If someone’s going to be hurt – and kids of parents who’ve had affairs usually believe this is inevitable – it might as well NOT be you.

We aren’t responsible for the family we’re born into. But, like it or not, how they behave affects us for life.

Culture also plays a big part in deciding who cheats.

In France, having a mistress or lover is seen as ‘normal’. In some Mediterranean cultures, it’s done for men to sleep around.

Their personal value system allows it

'I would no more cheat on my husband than rush out onto the street completely naked. I made a vow to forsake all others and that’s what I do.'

Some people remain faithful to spouses who’ve been dead for a decade. Others believe affairs are justified under certain circumstances (if they fall in love with someone else).

Our personal value systems are pretty much formed by our 18th birthday. Whether we’re going to be lazy or an over-achiever, high on motivation or a procrastinator, kind or cruel, patient or snappy.

By then, we’ve also developed a belief about being faithful. Whether you think it’s possible (those pesky parents again) and whether you think monogamy is ‘natural’ (any evolutionary scientist will tell you we are designed to sow our seed with many, not one). Where you stand on the ‘what they don’t know won’t hurt them’ philosophy, is also significant.

They have certain personality traits

'I don’t like the feeling of being really in love – I feel vulnerable. Better to be the first one to cheat than the one who is devastated by it.'

Past research has shown that several personality characteristics make cheating more likely to happen.

People with neurotic partners – those who have a general tendency to negative emotions like anxiety, depression and self-doubt – are more likely to cheat.

Men with narcissistic wives were also more likely to cheat on them. Meanwhile, women who are highly extroverted – outgoing, social and high energy - are more likely to cheat on their husbands.

The more religious you both are, the less likely it is either will step outside the marriage.

Attachment styles also come into play.

We all have a certain attachment style, a way of relating to romantic partners, which is formed by how we were parented and our lifelong experiences of relationships.

People with avoidant attachment styles – who are uncomfortable with intimacy and don’t want to depend on others or have others depend on them – cheat to distance themselves from the primary relationship.

You’re going through a rough patch

'I had a one-night-stand after a huge fight with my girlfriend. I was so angry at her and convinced we were over. I’d never have done that if we hadn’t fought.'

Some people cheat even when extremely happy with their partner but, for most, it’s more likely to happen when things aren’t great at home.

If you’re constantly arguing and not getting your emotional or sexual needs met by your partner, that attractive colleague is going to be even more appealing.

Beware the new ‘friend’ that your partner’s suddenly talking about and enthusing over: they might be having an emotional affair that’s threatening to tip into a physical one.

They drink a lot or take recreational drugs

'I have a two-drink limit rule if I go out without my partner. It’s the only way I know I will behave myself.'

You don’t have to be a couple’s counsellor to figure this one out. A partner who drinks heavily is more likely to play away simply because their judgement is impaired.

Stupid things seem like terrific ideas when you’re drunk.

You’re more likely to succumb to instant gratification, rather than think through the consequences of your actions. Not to mention suffer from ‘beer goggles’ (a real thing): finding people you wouldn’t usually look twice at, impossible to resist.

There’s a reason why party drugs like Ecstasy or ‘Molly’ (MDMA) are nicknamed ‘Love drugs’: you can form intense, intoxicating bonds with strangers in minutes.

Coke addicts aren’t the most trustworthy: the drug induces narcissistic behaviour, feelings of superiority and strong sexual desire. The perfect blend for infidelity to thrive.

They’re good looking

'I haven’t had one instance of anyone eyeing me off or trying to tempt me to cheat on my boyfriend. It’s easy for me to stay faithful. My very attractive best friend is hit on all the time. I’m glad I’m not her, to be honest.'

Very attractive people don’t just get lots of attention, they are constantly told they look good. 

This means their self-esteem is often based on looks rather than other lasting qualities like personality, intelligence or kindness. 

When their looks face, they’re even more susceptible to cheating, wanting reassurance that they are still physically attractive.

They travel a lot for work

'I’m away four days out of every seven. I lasted a few years before I did what everyone else in the company does but I now also have two relationships on the go.'

Temptation. Opportunity. Boredom.

The magic threesome that tempts those otherwise unlikely to play away. Add the sexual frustration that results, and the risk rises to sky high.

Your partner never has to leave town? Don’t feel too smug just yet. The type of job they have is also a factor.

They work in a in high drama profession

'At work, I’m God because I’m saving lives every day. At home, I’m just the husband. This is why surgeons, who should know better, drink, smoke and cheat. We’re trying to find that addictive high away from work.'

People in high-drama professions (like ER doctors and stockbrokers) live life on the edge and are drawn to the excitement of an affair.

If you’re fed a diet of high stimulation, the normal hum of everyday life as a long-term couple feels like boredom not pleasant contentment.

For all professions, the more money you have and the higher your status, the more likely you are to cheat. 

You’ve got more opportunities (high income usually means after work dinners and travel), you’ve got the cash to rent hotel rooms and an inbuilt excuse for being late or away (‘I wouldn’t make the big bucks without being permanently on call, honey’).

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