People who have cheated in the past are three times more likely to be unfaithful in their next relationship, research reveals.
Many people keep repeating the same patterns in relationships.
Fully 44% of people in the study reported cheating on their partner during their current relationship.
Almost one-third said that they had knew their partner had cheated on them in the past.
Both men and women were equally likely to report cheating and being cheated on.
Those who have been cheated on are particularly alert for the signs, being four times more likely to suspect their current partner.
The study’s authors write:
“Our results indicated a threefold increase in the likelihood that a person will engage in infidelity if they already have a history of engaging in extra-dyadic sexual involvement [infidelity], and a two-to fourfold increase in the likelihood of having an partner engage in infidelity if a person knew about or suspected infidelity from a past relationship partner.
These findings suggests that previous engagement in infidelity is an important risk factor predicting engagement in infidelity in a subsequent relationship.”
The results come from a survey of 484 people who were asked about their relationship history going back five years.
They were asked whether they had cheated in their current or on a previous partner, as well as the same information about their partner.
Although 44% reported cheating in their current relationship, people in the study were unmarried and the rates are lower among married people.
One fascinating nuance was that the people who had cheated were no more likely to be suspicious of their current partner than those who hadn’t.
The authors write:
“Prior infidelity emerged as an important risk factor for infidelity in next relationships.
Individuals with previous partners who have engaged in infidelity may be at increased risk for partnering with individuals in later relationships who also engage in infidelity because these individuals may be more likely to contribute to relationship contexts associated with higher risk of infidelity.”
It is not true that cheaters always cheat, though, they write:
“…although a history of infidelity may be an important risk factor of which to be aware, it is not necessarily true that someone who is “once a cheater” is “always a cheater.”
Understanding what distinguishes those who experience repeated infidelity from those who do not remains an important next step…”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior (Knopp et al., 2017).