The Trick To Predicting Infidelity In A Relationship, According To Psychological Study

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Love is not easy. Somehow the people who love us most end up hurting us the most after we entrust our heart to them. No one goes into a relationship thinking they’re going to get cheated on and have their heart broken. In fact, when the worst happens, the person who got cheated on is often confused, wondering why it happened or what they could’ve done to prevent it.

Usually, people consoling them tell them that there’s nothing they could’ve done and that it all comes down to a moment’s decision. But if that wasn’t true? What if there was a trick to predicting indefinitely in a relationship? A recent physiological study narrowed it down to one overshadowing pattern, that, if identified, could prevent a lot of heartbreak.

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Is Infidelity The Symptom Of Troubled Relationships?

The study authors came to the realization that cheating tends to happen following the decline of a relationship, but they wanted to see if they were right or if there was more to it. This wasn’t a way to shift the blame from the cheater but rather to see if the heartbreak could be prevented and the relationship could be saved before the cheating happened.

a-couple-having-an-argument on outdoor bench
RODNAE Productions / Pexels
RODNAE Productions / Pexels

The answer to that question would also answer whether cheating is a symptom of a troubled relationship or if a relationship is troubled because of cheating.

“Infidelity is largely believed to have damaging consequences for personal and relationship well-being. Yet the empirical literature remains inconclusive regarding whether infidelity leads to relationship problems, represents a mere symptom of troubled relationships, or both,” explain the authors.

The Cheaters Had Something In Common

The study gathered 947 people to analyze, 609 had an affair, and 338 were victims of one to find some answers. Each person was in a committed relationship and had experienced infidelity from one end or the other. The results of that group were matched to a group that had not experienced cheating.

woman and man secretly hold hands on bench
1001Nights / Getty Images Signature Via Canva Pro
1001Nights / Getty Images Signature Via Canva Pro

Each person’s well-being was tracked using self-reporting, overall psychological well-being as well as relationship satisfaction. They found that, as one would expect, no one was satisfied after infidelity. However, what was interesting whas that the cheaters reported lower self-esteem, lower relationship satisfaction, and lower intimacy. The victims reported only lower self-esteem and more conflict. This shows that a lack of self-esteem and fights are the common denominator…

But The Trick Was In What Happened Before The Infidelity

The study found that the dramatic changes to the relationship actually happened before the infidelity had even happened. It turns out that cheating doesn’t come down to a split decision in the moment but is the climax of a gradual decline of the relationship. This is the result of more conflict and less satisfaction over time.


So when people wonder why cheating happens, it usually has an underlying root in the relationship. It’s often a desperate choice based on feeling stuck and not having enough confidence to change or walk away. Instead, the conflicts get worst, and the relationship becomes less and less satisfying till one person breaks. That’s not to justify cheating, but to understand it.

Could Infediblity Be Prevented?

The study found that almost all the relationships’ well-being indicators gradually declined leading up to the affair, with more conflict and less satisfaction being reported by both parties leading up to the event. Does that mean that cheating is preventable?

man looking at woman who is looking at other man
Stocklite / Canva Pro
Stocklite / Canva Pro

The short answer is yes; infidelity is still a choice and not an unavoidable consequence of dissatisfaction. Both parties have the power to walk away. In that same sense, they also have the ability to choose to work through their issues instead. They can try therapy, work on their personal growth, find new interests, go on exciting dates, or seek comfort from loved ones. Basically, there are many choices that should and could come before cheating, even in the most disatisfying of relationships.

No Coming Back From Cheating

The most devasting fiding, however, was the vast majority of relationships in the study did not recover from the infidelity. The odds were lower, though, when it was the woman in the relationship who was unfaithful.

woman-in-white-dress-shirt-and-black-skirt-sitting-on-gray-couch-taking off their engagement rings
Cottonbro studio / Pexels
Cottonbro studio / Pexels

Still, both parties struggled to recover their mental well-being for years after the cheating event. While usually, time heals all wounds., in the case of cheating with lower self-esteem being a factor, it likely only further increased it and created even more dissatisfaction.

The Difference Between Giving Up And Walking Away

Many stay in relationships full of conflict and dissatisfaction with the illusion that they’re fighting for love, and if they fight just hard enough, they’ll eventually find a way. They get manipulated into thinking that walking away from something that is sucking up their joy is “giving up” and that somehow that would make them a failure.

woman hugging man's legs on the floor
Karolina Grabowska / Pexels
Karolina Grabowska / Pexels

However, there is power in knowing when to walk away, in protecting your peace, and in chasing your true happiness. The right person will leave you feeling energized, not depleted. They will never make you question your worth, either.

When To Walk Away

In any relationship, always look at how you feel and ask yourself: does this person make you love yourself more? Do you want to grow old with them?

woman hugging life size teddy bear on bed
Pixabay / Pexels
Pixabay / Pexels

Love is more than just kisses and butterflies, it’s much more than that. If you want to know more on what your birth chart reveals about how you love and what you need out of a partner, check out this personalized report based on date of birth.

For more great relationship advice and tips on how to attain the kind of love you deserve, watch this video from expert, Amy North: Click Here To Watch The Full Video.

Aria Misty

Aria Misty is a recent university grad. She did her undergrad in media, information & technoculture with a Master in Journalism & Communications in 2018.

Aria has a particular interest in all things astrology and spirituality. This is driven by her desire to create healing. In fact, Aria went back to school for A master’s in counseling p[…]