20 Things That Make Your Partner More Likely to Cheat
Spot it before it’s too late.
Relationships end for all kinds of reasons. Infidelity is one of the most common, if not the primary instigator. And as much as we'd like to think we're more sophisticated and proactive about partnerships, the motivations for one partner stepping out on another boil down to the time-worn issues couples have been having for generations. These are key things that make your partner more likely to cheat, according to the experts who've unfortunately seen it happen again and again.
"I often tell my clients you should never stop dating each other no matter how long you have been together," says Kimberlin Shepard, LMSW, an individual and couples therapist in New York City. "It is human nature to crave being desired and pursued and if these are not being fulfilled within your marriage, I often see partners seeking this elsewhere."
"When partners don't express their feelings, concerns, or desires, it creates a distance between them," says Bayu Prihandito, a life coach at Life Architekture. "Encourage regular check-ins with each other. Discuss your day, your feelings, and any concerns that might be on your mind. Don't ignore them or think they're not important."
"While it might seem like a good idea to avoid arguments, not addressing issues can lead to a buildup of resentment over time," says Prihandito. "Instead of avoiding conflicts, address them in a constructive and empathetic manner. Understand that disagreements are natural, but it's how you handle them that matters."
"In our work as divorce attorneys, we see too many cases where someone's misperception that their spouse is cheating will ultimately lead to their partner withdrawing emotionally," says Meghan Freed, a divorce attorney with Freed Marcroft in Hartford, Connecticut. "We've all tried to 'prove a negative' before, and know it's aggravating and upsetting. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for the person who was originally falsely accused to in fact engage in physical or emotional infidelity. This occurs when the couple doesn't address, alleviate, and move past the mistrust. In other words, if both parties don't address it in a healthy manner, misplaced mistrust can lead to actual cheating."
"Not following the plan you and your partner have developed for how you will operate on important topics, such as how money is spent, can result in people feeling a lack of confidence in their partner, which can result in the desire to bond with others," says Laurel Steinberg, Ph.D., a psychologist in New York City. "Instead, always follow through on what you've agreed to do."
"An increasing issue I've observed is that financial difficulties can strain relationships and sometimes lead to infidelity," says UK-based therapist William Smith, MSc, MBACP. "The way forward here is joint financial planning and open conversations about money. Cultural beliefs about finances can vary significantly between partners, and acknowledging this can be helpful."
"Dissatisfaction in the sexual aspects of a relationship can lead to infidelity,' says Smith. "Courageously engaging in open dialogue about sexual needs and desires is key. If this feels challenging, consider seeking professional guidance."
"When individuals grapple with a persistent sense of inadequacy or a lack of self-worth, they often find themselves in a vulnerable position. This vulnerability can manifest as a relentless need for validation from external sources, particularly from people outside of the current relationship," says Aliyah Moore, Ph.D., a relationship expert and certified sex therapist. Her advice: "Rather than seeking external validation, invest your energy in cultivating self-confidence and self-esteem. This involves acknowledging your insecurities and working on self-improvement. In a loving relationship, create a supportive environment where both you and your partner validate and uplift each other. Initiate honest conversations about your insecurities, fears, and vulnerabilities, strengthening the emotional bond and trust between you two."
"Not confiding in one another can lead people to outsource and find someone else to confide in," says Steinberg. "In times of crisis, consider your partner to be part of the solution and confide in them."
"Respect is a crucial factor when it comes to strengthening your relationship and bonding," says Dr. Sarah Boss, clinical director of Balance. "An absence of this factor can lead a person to look outside the relationship to feed their soul with due respect and admiration."
"If someone has a history of cheating in the past, it's more likely they'll cheat again," says Pareen Sehat, MC, RCC, a registered clinical counselor in Vancouver, Canada. "As the old saying goes, a leopard can't change its spots. These people might struggle with commitment and loyalty or enjoy playing with people's emotions."
"Lopsided power dynamics can push a partner into infidelity," says clinical sexologist Rachel Sommer, Ph.D. For instance, a partner who significantly makes less or is not as free in their daily and professional life might cheat on their significant other as revenge. It's a mental reward that makes them feel in power." Her advice: Rebalance that power. "Communication is the best way to address power imbalance with your partner. Understand your implicit biases and be open to input from your partner. Most importantly, show respect throughout the conversation and appreciate their efforts towards making the relationship positive."
"Not just physical, but emotional intimacy is also important. When partners don't connect on a deeper level, it can lead to feelings of loneliness, even when in a relationship," says Prihandito. "Spend quality time together. This doesn't mean watching TV side by side, but truly being with each other. Maybe trying to cook together or going for a walk can help strengthen the bond. Also, think of turning off your phone or any distractions to keep yourself fully in the present moment with your partner."
"Most people have non-existent boundaries in their relationships," says Sommer. "The vagueness creates room for misunderstandings and temptations that some partners may use to have emotional or sexual relationships with someone else." Her advice: "Setting and respecting boundaries early is the best way to enhance trust and fidelity in a relationship. Healthy boundaries create mutual respect by highlighting each other's expectations and spelling out straightforward ways to respect personal space and comfort."
"Over time, partners might stop appreciating each other's efforts and give little attention. This can lead to feelings of being undervalued," says Prihandito. "Small gestures, like leaving a note or planning a surprise evening date, can go a long way in making your partner feel valued and seen."
"When partners become emotionally detached over time, it can create a void that some individuals seek to fill elsewhere," says Moore. "This sense of emotional disconnection can lead to infidelity as they look for the emotional intimacy they no longer find within the relationship. Her advice: "Instead of allowing emotional distance to fester within your relationship, take proactive steps to reconnect with your partner on an emotional level. Make time for deep conversations, sharing your thoughts, feelings, and experiences with each other regularly."
"Often, individuals engaged in attention-seeking behavior may not even realize they've crossed a line," says Moore. "They may view their actions as harmless or innocent compliments and gestures of friendliness. Instead of relying on attention from individuals outside the relationship, prioritize quality time and emotional connection with your partner."
"Having a pattern of flying off the handle in response to something your partner says to you" can be an infidelity trigger, says licensed professional counselor Margaret Stone, MS, LPC. "If you become emotionally dysregulated when your partner tries to tell you something, your partner is going to be less and less likely to tell you things in the future. This leads to an emotional disconnection between you and your partner, and it is within this emotional disconnection that cheating is able to occur. Her advice: "If you notice your partner has a habit of exploding when you talk with them about something difficult, have a conversation about what you are noticing. Let them know how their communication style is making you feel, and ask them what you can do to help them communicate more calmly."
"We live in a modern world where couples have their own interests and desires. Those may be the same as their partner, but they may not. If your partner isn't interested in what you're doing, or you don't reciprocate with the same curiosity, there is a greater chance of both physical and emotional infidelity," says Hope Mirlis, a premarital counselor based in New York City.
"We tend to take for granted the usual chores that have to be done by someone in order for our lives to run smoothly. Rather than taking these things for granted, look for something every day that deserves recognition and appreciation. Say thank you or I appreciate you for preparing a good meal, mowing the lawn, seeing that the car is serviced as needed, folding the laundry and putting it away," says relationship coach Nancy Landrum. "Just because you take on these duties as a share of the partnership tasks doesn't mean you don't need appreciation for doing them!"