The Components of a Cheater

We’re all familiar with the idea of cheating (and may have done it at least once or twice). Maybe you’ve cheated on a final exam, used cheats in a video game to get a perfect score, or cheated on… your partner.

Being cheated on in a romantic relationship can happen to anyone, no matter how long you’ve been together or how attractive you are. It’s hard to predict whether or not you will be a victim of infidelity… or is it? Let’s dive in today and learn about the motivators, sociosexuality orientation, and personality traits that contribute to someone cheating on their partner. 

First, why are people motivated to cheat? Researchers have identified four potential motivators: sex, dissastifaction, neglect, and anger.

  1. Sex was affected by the satisfaction of sexual needs

  2. Dissatisfaction concerned satisfaction in the overall relationship

  3. Neglect was measured by feelings of emotional distance

  4. Anger concerned whether the participant wanted revenge against their current partner

There were also gender differences, with more young, male participants citing sex as a motivator and more female participants citing dissatisfaction. 

One’s level of sociosexuality is another contributing factor to the likelihood of infidelity. Sociosexuality is a measure of how willing one is to participate in uncommitted sexual relations. It’s intuitive to think that people who have “unrestricted” sociosexuality (ie. people who are more open to having uncommitted sex) are more likely to cheat. The research agrees with this, as unrestricted, higher sociosexuality individuals were found to be more willing to engage in behaviors that were considered cheating, such as going on a date or giving their phone number out. 

Finally, which personality traits is a cheater most likely to have? Using the Big Five Personality Model, it was found that people prone to cheating often have lower Agreeableness and Conscientiousness, but also higher Extraversion, Neuroticism, and Openness to Experience. The combination of having low Agreeableness and low Conscientiousness creates someone who is less worried about upsetting their partner and who has less self-control. On the other hand, high Extroversion, Neuroticism, and Openness to Experience can make someone who seeks out socialization and opportunities to meet new people, who feel less secure in (and worry more about) their current relationship, as well as someone who is more willing to try new and exciting things. 

To be clear, correlation is not causation. Your partner’s dissatisfaction with the relationship or high levels of sociosexuality doesn’t automatically mean they will be unfaithful. People cope in different ways when they don’t feel happy in their relationships. The components mentioned today are not exhaustive, and if you’re interested, we can dive deeper into the multitude of other factors that led to people cheating in a future newsletter.