By Sara Hendricks
What things influence your partner to cheat? Feeling a lack of admiration in a relationship can sometimes lead to cheating. According to relationship expert Susan Winter, one of the most common — and, in many cases, unexpected — things that lead a person to cheat is feeling a lack of appreciation and admiration in a relationship.
It is pretty difficult to determine if a partner is going to cheat on you before it actually happens.
Sure, there may be a few obvious warning signs when the actual act of cheating is underway — like seeing some texts from a suspicious number or noticing that they’ve been spending a lot of time with their ex — but there is no single characteristic or trait that automatically labels someone a cheater.
There may, however, be some overlapping behaviors that could influence someone to cheat. INSIDER spoke to relationshipexperts to find out what might lead a person to cheat — and what you can do about it.
1. Feeling a lack of appreciation and admiration
According to relationship expert Susan Winter, one of the most common — and, in many cases, unexpected — things that lead a person to cheat is feeling a lack of appreciation and admiration in a relationship.
“Most people wrongly assume it’s because the sex is bad or there is no sex, but when someone doesn’t feel valuable, this is the number one reason [why they cheat],” Winter told INSIDER.
2. Being insecure
Another reason why someone might cheat is because they are insecure.
“Usually, in this scenario, the partner that wants to cheat is seeking out confirmation of their desirability,” Winter told INSIDER. “And they use the reinforcement of a new person to bolster their own self-confidence.”
3. Lack of sexual confidence
Dr. Paulette Sherman, a New York City-based psychologist and author of “Dating From The Inside Out,” told INSIDER that insecurity is especially dangerous when it is tied to sexuality.
“If someone lacks sexual confidence, they may feel a need to seek someone out on the side,” Sherman told INSIDER. “Because this person doesn’t know their sexual history, they feel less pressure with that person in terms of performance anxiety.”
According to Winter, people who are bored in a relationship might end up cheating, even if they hadn’t necessarily planned on it.
“Boredom that meets opportunity for adventure and excitement often leads to cheating,” Winter told INSIDER. “Sometimes, cheating is not a conscious directive. It’s happenstance, and all the factors just come to the surface.”
This is not to say that someone should get a pass for infidelity simply because they were “bored,” of course, but it does offer an explanation as to why some people may feel compelled to cheat.
5. Parental infidelity
Another factor that make a person more likely to cheat is if they have seen a decent amount of cheating from the people around them — particularly if it was in their own family.
It may seem counterintuitive, but people who know that their parents have cheated in a relationship “may have a more lax view of infidelity,” Sherman told INSIDER, citing a Texas Tech study that determined that cheating tends to follow an intergenerational pattern.
“I’ve had a lot of clients who deal with cheating, and one thing I’ve noticed [as an influence for cheating later in life] is parental infidelity,” Sherman told INSIDER. “Even if they weren’t fully aware of it at the time, or don’t approve of it, in a weird way it kind of becomes a model for relationships later in life.”
6. Hanging onto unresolved resentment
Most relationships have a small amount of conflict — you know, like disagreements over dinner, movies, and travel plans.
But if you find that your partner tends to hold onto their grudges more than the average person (like constantly referencing small arguments you thought had been resolved weeks after they originally occurred) they might be more likely to cheat.
“This has a lot to do with appreciation and admiration,” Winter told INSIDER. “These people feel the need to ‘win’ everything, so they might end up cheating.”
7. Being “love-starved”
One of the sneakier signs of cheat potential is someone who, according to Winter, feels as though they aren’t receiving enough love in their relationship.
“This is often overlooked,” Winter told INSIDER. “I’ve heard a lot of guys [who experience this] say that they are on the verge of cheating. Sex, to some people, feels like love, so they go and seek that out.”
Obviously, feeling “love-starved” isn’t an excuse to cheat. But it is something to be aware of, just in case you notice that your partner starts to exhibit these signs.
8. Having a career with a lot of power, influence, and travel
According to Winter, there are a few careers that can make cheating easier.
“If you have a lot of money, power, and influence, this makes it easier to cheat,” Winter told INSIDER. “Also, if your career allows for great mobility and world travel, it makes it easy to hide affairs.”
Sherman echoed the idea that travel in a career can lead to cheating in a relationship, saying that flight attendants and pilots sometimes find that they have marital issues because it’s harder to spend enough time with their spouses.
Are all actors, musicians, politicians, pilots, and people who travel for work are automatically cheaters based on their profession alone? No. But these careers do offer more opportunity to cheat, so if your partner has one of those careers, and exhibits some other cheating red flags, it might be helpful to have a talk with them about what you expect from a relationship.
9. A power imbalance in the relationship
If a relationship has some lopsided power dynamics — like one person making significantly more money than the other, or having more freedom in their daily life — the person who feels they have less power may be more likely to cheat.
“If there’s a power imbalance in the relationship, cheating could be about revenge,” Winter told INSIDER. “The partner who feels as though they have no power will often seek it in some covert way, just to mentally feel in power.”
This is especially true when it comes to money within a marriage — according to Sherman, people who are economically dependent on their spouses are more likely to cheat.
10. They’ve cheated before
One of the surest ways to tell if someone is going to cheat on you is to see if they’ve done it to someone else.
“The old cliche is true,” Sherman told INSIDER. “It’s pretty hard for a leopard to change its spots.”
This checks out — according to a study from University of Denver, people who have cheated in a previous relationship are more than three times as likely to cheat in subsequent ones.
Does this mean that you should break up with your partner immediately as soon as you find out that they cheated on their seventh-grade boyfriend 15 years ago? Probably not. Cheating isn’t commendable, obviously, but doing it once or twice doesn’t condemn a person to a lifetime of infidelity, and it is certainly possible to have cheated on someone without ever doing it again.
All the same, if you are dating someone who you know has cheated on a previous relationship, you might want to use a little extra caution.