Infidelity is one of the most distressing things you can experience in a relationship. Everyone knows this. And yet, men and women continue to cheat all the time: A recent YouGov poll revealed that a full fifth (21 percent of men and 19 percent of women) of the American adult populace has cheated on a partner. (And that doesn’t account for those who have cheated but will never, ever admit it—a figure that even science can’t measure.)
1. They Want To Be A Better Partner
2. They Have a Suspicious Partner
“We can’t go on together, with suspicious minds,” sang Elvis back in 1969. The King had it right—and, if you’ve been cheated on before, it’s especially understandable that it left a mark. But constantly suspecting that your partner is up to no good is likely to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
“If you start questioning them about whether or not they are cheating, confronting someone with no proof will make them uncomfortable and put them on the defensive,” spiritual counselor and relationship expert Davida Rappaport told Bustle. “Once you start doing that, your partner may decide to cheat after all, simply because you are treating them as if they were cheating.”
3. Infidelity Runs In the Family
A study published in 2017 revealed that people whose parents cheated were twice as likely to cheat on their spouse than those whose parents had been faithful. The authors noted that “parental infidelity sends memorable messages to offspring about the greater acceptability of infidelity,” messages that are “internalized and used to construct offspring’s belief systems.”
4. A Big Birthday Is Approaching
A 2014 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that people were more likely to cheat in the years before a new decade (i.e., 29, 39, 49, and so on). It turns out that the likelihood of a man committing adultery increases with age, especially once they hit a point at which they feel like it’s their last opportunity to sleep with other women before they’re officially decrepit.
5. They Have Long Ring Fingers
People who have longer ring fingers than pointer fingers are more inclined to cheat according to a study conducted by the University of Oxford. It’s a consequence of more testosterone exposure in the womb. Interestingly, this is true for both men and women.
6. Their Friends Cheat
If your friends get divorced, you are more likely to get divorced. If your friends earn more, you’re more likely to earn more. So it should be of little surprise to learn that social networks also affect infidelity. According to M. Gary Newman, psychotherapist, rabbi, and author of The Truth About Cheating, 77 percent of cheating men also have cheating friends. Now, that doesn’t mean 77 percent of men with cheating friends cheat, of course. But if your partner isn’t bothered by his friend’s cheating, it could be a red flag.