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Bonny Albo

Can You Predict Cheating?

By June 11, 2012

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A study titled, "Premarital Precursors of Marital Infidelity" discusses what behaviors a dating or engaged couple would be more likely to exhibit while still dating, so as to predict their potential for infidelity when married.

The study tested over 70 couples in the first year of marriage, using behaviors exhibited before marriage to demonstrate how likely cheating might occur. Men and women responded quite differently in the study. The men who cheated were more likely to:

  • ... feel negated and/or invalidated by their female partners;
  • ... be dissatisfied sexually; and
  • ... offer significantly less positive reinforcement to their partner as compared to the non-cheating control group.
The women who cheated in the study were more likely to:
  • ... also offer significantly less positive reinforcement to their partner as compared to the non-cheating control group;
  • ... feel nullified both towards their partner and by their partner; and
  • ... both be the target of and speak to their partner using significantly more negative communication tactics than the non-cheating control group.

The results of this study tie nicely into a book called, "How To Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It," by Dr. Patricia Love and Dr. Steven Stosny (Compare Prices). The title may lead you to believe that its contents are more suited towards married couples than those still dating, but the advice given throughout the book offers just as much useful information to those in long term relationships. The book explains how to avoid the issues that the predicting infidelity study points out, in ways that are unique, well explained and informative (although some are far from easy).

But, what do you think? Can a study predict cheating in long term relationships? Do you find the answers given by the study participants accurate, based on your own dating and relationship experiences?

References: Allen, E. S., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., Markman, H. J., Williams, T., & Melton, J. (2008). Premarital precursors of marital infidelity. Family Process, 47(2), 243-259'

June 4, 2008 at 12:53 am
(1) Merlin17 says:

I have not read the book, but contrary to your summary I see quite a bit of similarity between the markers of infidelity for men and for women. The common denominator seems to be a lack of affection and/or trust. From my experience, I believe sexual frustration is an important motivating factor for women as well, but the source of the frustration may be the man’s failure to treat the woman with compassion and understanding.

June 8, 2011 at 10:32 pm
(2) Jeff says:

I don’t think you can predict cheating. It all really depends on a persons history, upbringing and what may have happened to them recently. I’d like to believe people don’t intentionally go out to cheat. People cheat because something in their current situation isn’t working. I think for men it would lean more towards the physical and for women an emotional disconnect. Ultimately, I think if X,Y,Z are met on a person’s list of needs they wouldn’t give in to temptation.

June 9, 2011 at 12:44 pm
(3) Pulseguy says:

Yes, I think one can somewhat predict cheating. Perhaps not with 100% accuracy, but with a fair degree of accuracy.

1. Has the person cheated before? If so, unless he or she lost something incredible valuable as a result, then it is likely the person will cheat again.

2. Is the person emotionally needy? If so, yes they are more inclined to cheat.

3. Does the person crave attention? Same as above.

4. Are they scrupulous with their word? People who tend to lie, tend to cheat. And lying is more than just being able to make factual statements. Are their words consistent with who they appear to be? Do they give little excuses? “Oh, sorry I’m late. Traffic was terrible.” Yeah sure. Traffic held you back 3 minutes and you’re 30 minutes late. When they speak do they convey who they are and what they think and feel, or do they obfuscate?

5. Have they made strong commitments in other areas? If they have, this shows they can make a good strong commitment. It can be in any area. For example, do they have hobbies they have really put some time into? Have they developed parts of themselves to a high level?

6. Are they disciplined? Can they resist temptation in other ways? There was a study that showed the one thing that indicated future success in a child was the ability to put off immediate gratification. A child was left in a room with a candy. It was okay if he ate it, but if he waited one half hour a person would return and he would then be given five candies. The children that could put off instant gratification were as a group far more successful decades later than those who couldn’t. I would think there is something similar with cheating.

June 10, 2011 at 12:57 pm
(4) Averylargenewt says:

I completely agree with pulseguy. Almost all of the research I’ve done has a list of typical traits to be on the lookout for. I had seen these signs such as canceling dates, less available, not answering the phone, elusive and so on. The real kick was we had been off and on where she said she joined a dating site later to find her on another one as well. I asked her about it and her response was “How did you find me on there? Were you looking for me?” Of course I had a number of red flags going off, but to be honest I really was head over heels for this girl despite that she was a hypochondriac and to say her place was a disaster would be an understatement. The last day together of handing each other our things, I told her that I learned a lot and had a better understanding on what I was looking for. Her response (after months of claiming to be “the most honest person I would ever know”) was “I learned you were right. Dating multiple people doesn’t work.”

I later asked her about this because it was completely contradicting and indeed explained a lot. Of course her response was “I don’t remember saying anything like that.” Of course there is a lot more to the story and situations that showed warning signs like her bringing up her ex accused her of cheating as well.

Regardless, I’m still pretty torn up about it since the chemistry, passion and seemingly all aspects of our personalities meshed so well.

June 10, 2011 at 11:41 pm
(5) jestero says:

very true and thoughtful statements.also though, this article has helped me very much. my girlfriend was exibiting multiple number of those actions and ones you mentioned above as well. i sat her down and asked her about it because i had been suspicious for a while already and as it turns out, she admitted that she had been going to other guys for her emotional needs and had more than once thought about actually cheating. i think we’ve benefitted from this article in that now that i know somethings wrong, we can fix it together instead of the negative feelings that would have come from her cheating. thank you bonny!!!

June 12, 2012 at 5:16 am
(6) Grace@RomanceNeverDies.com says:

Hi Bonnie,

Unlike the ending to your short movie script (please do continue with it as I’m intrigued to know where you would go with it) I’m not sure you can always predict these things. That said some of the problems pointed out by the study do make sense. But then I wander if they’re not all “well der” kind of points. Namely that, of course if you have sexual compatibility issues from the start and/or feelings of inadequacy you’re always going to feel like the grass is greener elsewhere and be more receptive to approaches. Simple psychology that “well if I’m not appreciated here maybe someone else will appreciate me.” Some couples never resolve those issues and try and blank them out assuming marriage will somehow magically resolve them. Unfortunately any issue like this that drags on and festers is only likely to lead to trouble in the future – literally a case of kicking the can down the road.

It is an interesting read and worth sharing with any couple who recognize such feelings in their relationship. I’ll tweet this out.

Have a great day lovely lady

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