Betrayal of any kind in romantic relationships and marriages can have a major impact on the relationship. It can challenge the integrity of the relationship. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a minor act of betrayal or something very significant.
One of the most prominent acts of betrayal in marriages and romantic relationships is infidelity. If the risk of cheating is very high in an intimate relationship, it can inflict significant damage to one or both partners involved and also negatively impact the relationship.
And here’s the thing about infidelity: every couple and every individual has their perception and understanding of infidelity. Infidelity is of many types. Infidelity in marriage can manifest in different ways.
It can be an emotional affair of one or both partners with other people. Infidelity can be in the form of a sexual affair with an outsider. It can be a one-time occurrence or habitual.
This article has categorized these risk factors into individual risk factors for cheating in romantic relationships and relationship-oriented risk factors of infidelity.
So, if you wish to find out whether you or your partner are at risk of cheating, just continue reading!
Risk factors for cheating in romantic relationships
Infidelity is, unfortunately, a common occurrence. It is not something that is specifically restricted to heterosexual relationships. It’s been reported to occur in homosexual relationships too.
People of different age groups, gender identities, sexual orientations, unfortunately, engage in infidelity. It doesn’t matter whether the couple is married, just dating, engaged, or in an unmarried romantic relationship. Infidelity is unfortunately very common and frequent.
The risk of cheating can be understood by analyzing the different factors related to infidelity. The factors contributing to marriage infidelity may be subtle or they may be quite direct. It’s important to have the eye to identify these factors.
Most couples steer away from openly speaking about infidelity because they probably don’t feel safe enough. It’s not just that. There may be a host of personal or individual factors that may increase the risk of cheating.
So, in understanding the risk factors that impact infidelity, it is essential to understand that these factors may be divided into two major categories, namely, risk factors related to the romantic relationship and individual risk factors.
These two types of risk factors have been discussed in the following section.
The risk factors that impact the risk of cheating in romantic relationships and marriages
As mentioned earlier, the best way to understand the reasons for cheating is by dividing the risk factors into two broad categories. They have been listed as follows:
Individual risk factors
Risk factors related to the relationship
Several risk factors have been delineated under the aforementioned broad categories.
● Individual risk factors
These are the risk factors that are specific to one or both of the individuals involved in a romantic relationship or marriage. These are factors that are not related to the relationship, but dependent on those who are in the relationship.
The 8 individual risk factors have been listed as follows:
1. The younger the age of the individuals involved in a relationship, the higher the risk of infidelity
Age is a big factor, especially in heterosexual relationships. If people commit to long-term relationships from a very young age, there is a prominent risk of cheating. Why so? This is because there is a gap when it comes to adequate experience as well as wisdom.
If you or your partner are quite young, then it may be quite common to have feelings or thoughts of attraction related to people who aren’t your significant other. This is where the importance of healthy mentoring relationships comes into the picture.
2. Certain personality types are more likely to engage in infidelity than others
There is a certain personality who just tends to be more gullible to the desire to cheat. The risk of cheating is quite high for individuals with a narcissistic personality type. How? It’s because narcissists experience a strong attraction towards those who flatter them. They may also love the thrill of the chase.
Other than that, individuals who generally have a loose moral compass are also at a higher risk for engaging in infidelity. In case you notice that your partner has a generally seductive way of carrying themselves, it’s another risk.
Watch out this take on personality types and infidelity:
3. Genetic factors or a history of infidelity in the family
Although this does seem quite uncommon, it isn’t. If you or your partner have a family history of cheating, you or your partner may be more prone to cheating. Growing up in a family environment where a child witnesses infidelity impacts the child.
For this child, infidelity may be normalized to a certain extent, at an unconscious level.
4. Unhealthy attachment styles increase the risk of infidelity
The type of attachment style an individual has plays a big role in determining their risk of cheating. People who have avoidant attachment styles or dismissive attachment styles are at quite a high risk for engaging in infidelity.
5. The overall self-concept of an individual is important
Self-concept is a broad term encompassing a person’s belief system about themselves, their understanding of their potential and capabilities, and so on. In particular, if a person is highly insecure with low self-esteem, they’re at a higher risk of being disloyal in a marriage or relationship.
If you’ve had a difficult childhood or your partner has had a difficult childhood, it may put either or both of you at a higher risk of cheating in your relationship. An upbringing ridden with traumatic events (which may or may not involve witnessing infidelity) may turn out to be one of the reasons for extramarital affairs.
7. Addictive tendencies put people at a higher risk of infidelity
If you or your partner find yourselves quite dependent on substances like drugs or alcohol, it’s quite risky. This is especially relevant for alcohol. People who drink very regularly may be doing so in social settings such as nightclubs, bars, or restaurants.
Alcohol is infamous for lowering one’s inhibitions. This can lead to situations of infidelity.
8. A personal history of cheating in past relationships
Has your partner confessed about one or more incidents in their past relationships where they’ve cheated on their ex-partners? If so, then you should be on the lookout. A history of cheating in previous romantic relationships puts a person at a significantly higher risk of cheating in their current relationship.
When it comes to understanding the reasons for cheating, there are a lot of factors that are dependent on the nature of the romantic relationship that comes into the picture. These have been listed as follows:
1. Lack of compatibility in the relationship
If you’re with someone very different from you and not in a way that you complement and supplement each other, the degree of incompatibility in the relationship may be quite high. This can make one or both partners dissatisfied with the relationship. This may lead to instances of cheating.
If you and your partner have completely different sex drives, it can cause issues in your conjugal life. If you wish to have sex 4 to 5 times a week but your partner wants to have sex once a week, it may tempt one partner to cheat.
4. Polar opposite lifestyles
If the people involved in a relationship or marriage have completely different lifestyles, it may become a major problem. If the working schedule and hours for both partners differ significantly, they will hardly get to spend any time together. This can cause a lot of issues in the relationship.
Relationships and marriages where domestic violence is a common occurrence will be at a very high risk of infidelity. One or both partners may actively seek intimacy and comfort outside the relationship.
6. Area of residence matters
For couples who are married or unmarried couples who are living together, where you live matters. Couples who reside in metropolitans or other urban areas of residence may be more likely to cheat because the people living in these areas are more open-minded about infidelity.
Even if it’s not domestic violence, very frequent arguments and explosive quarrels in a relationship is not a great sign. Although it is okay to have conflicts, if it happens too often or it’s too intense, it’s not a good sign.
8. Lack of communication in the relationship
Although it is difficult to talk about your temptations with your partner, it is important. Couples who do not communicate openly about their desires, thoughts, and feelings may be more prone to cheating.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.