One moment it’s there. The next, it’s gone. Leaving you void. Empty.
The sound of something breaking. Shattering. You look down to find the thousand pieces of your heart. You want to reach down, pick it up. Reassemble it. But you can’t. Any attempt will leave you with new cuts. New sounds. So you just stare, heartless and empty, wondering.
Were there signs along the way? Did you push them into it? Did they ever care for you in the first place? Or was it a purely selfish move?
No matter the reason, it won’t mend what’s broken.
You may never truly understand, but here are five reasons why they might have cheated on you (and why future significant others might cheat as well).
When I first met my ex-wife she had been dating the same guy since high school. We attended the same college while he lived several hours away. We talked some the first year we met an obvious connection present. However, I didn’t want to push anything while she dated him. Not that I knew him or even knew what he looked like. A faceless barrier between me and her. So we spent time together, but nothing more.
After the summer break, she returned to college, announcing she’d broken up with him. Things progressed quickly from there. Barrier gone, we jumped right into a relationship both of us had known we wanted.
Problem was she hadn’t actually broken things off with him. She wanted the intimacy not allotted to her with a distant boyfriend and yet didn’t want to break it off. I didn’t discover until months passed and she came clean.
We started our relationship with one person cheating. It ended much the same way.
I had a close friend, married to her second husband when I met her. I later learned she’d cheated on her first husband with this man. It didn’t surprise me when she started to cheat on him with someone else. What took me by surprise was just how upset the second husband was. Karma takes no prisoners.
Most relationships beginning with cheating tend to end the same way.
That’s not just from my own personal experience and from friendship relationship insights. It’s a proven fact. According to a study conducted by the University of Denver, someone who reported cheating during their first relationship was over three times likely to cheat during their subsequent relationship.
I tend to not bring up parents and relationships with parents for at least several dates. I discovered to avoid this kind of questionnaire very early on in life. In the seventh grade, I had a major crush on this girl. Ever the shy early-teen boy, I had absolutely no idea how to approach a girl or what to talk to her about. It’s something I’ve only slightly grown better at. For whatever reason, the two of us were talking and I asked about her mom. She said her mom had died at an early age. The conversation ended right there, as did any kind of confidence in talking to her further.
The following year, I made the same mistake, and the same answer came out. Even since that double-whammy, I’ve sworn off asking about parents. If someone wants to talk to me about my parents then I’ll proceed in kind, but until that happens I avoid parental talk.
It is, however, a good idea to eventually dive into a person’s relationship with their parents. As you learn more about your significant other you’ll likely learn more about their parents as well.
Why is any of this important? You know that old saying, “like father like son”? Well, there’s truth in the saying. Children pick up a number of traits from their parents, including how to treat a significant other.
That former friend I mentioned earlier who had cheated on her first husband with the eventual second? Yup, her mother had cheated on her father (although she assumed the reverse was true as well).
This isn’t just a one-off kind of example. Back in 2011, a Czech anthropology study found that individuals whose parents were unfaithful were more likely to repeat the same actions. They also found that getting away with infidelity became an addictive-forming habit, so the rate of cheating would increase.
In other words, you don’t need to dive right into the relationship history of your significant other, but it is a good idea to keep an open ear and keep it in mind should the topic ever come up.
I have special bonds with my closest friends. These are individuals I turned to above everyone else. Chances are you have a group of friends you choose to spend time with above just about everyone else. When it comes to group activities, doing things on the weekends, or just hanging out and watching TV, these are the people you turn to.
Your significant other has these kinds of friends as well. It’s another step in strengthening your relationship when meeting friends. Perhaps you started out on a single date over drinks or dinner. Your dates began to expand, taking on more robust activities. Eventually, you were introduced to friends. It’s letting you into her or his inner circle.
The thing about friends is you generally hang out with people who are like-minded and share similar traits. It’s what helps you bond. These bonds aren’t always the healthiest. Because people who cheat are more likely to have friends that cheat.
New York Times bestselling author M. Gary Neuman is a licensed family counselor practicing in Florida. In fact, he’s the Florida Supreme Court certified family mediator. He wrote a book titled “The Truth About Cheating.” Within the book, he underlines the fact that 77 percent of documented cheaters have close friends who also cheat.
Mostly because if someone has a friend who cheats they know they will be accepted by their friends if they partake in the same actions. As you spend time with your significant other and learn about their friends you’ll probably be let in on some relationship talk. If there are friends who cheat don’t automatically take it as a red flag, but keep it in mind.
I’m the kind of person that thinks a bit of jealousy is fine in a relationship. I don’t mean the over the top, “you can’t ever hang out with that person you’ve known for 20 years because you might sleep with them” jealousy. But a subtle riling up in the chest is fine as long as it doesn’t manifest into make-believe thoughts.
I keep returning to this example, but it illustrates so many of the “going to cheat” boxes. I once asked my old friend what she would do if she caught her husband cheating. She said she’d leave him. That was in the midst of her admitting she’d been cheating on him, which struck me as very strange.
Perhaps it shouldn’t have.
Gleeden is a European dating website designed by women to promote extra-marital dating. The service regularly conducts in-depth surveys of its users to find out relationship details and how to make services “better” for its users.
In one survey of over 8,000 users, it found that over 80 percent of users said they monitored their partner’s social interactions (both in-person and through social media) and over 60 percent of them said that if they discovered their spouses were cheating they would end up leaving them.
Their own cheating led them to be extra sensitive to the signs of someone else cheating. It caused users to look through phone records and to lean heavier into jealousy traits.
These jealousy traits tend to develop and grow more intense the deeper into a relationship, so if you’re with someone who’s extra jealous from the start it might not be a sign, but if you’re with someone who develops these traits, or who suddenly begins to question your whereabouts or your own commitment, it absolutely is a red flag.
Back during my married days, there would be times I’d find myself doing something while my wife was on the phone. During the course of her conversation, my ears would perk up due to something she said. Something I knew to be a lie. After she’d hang up she’d usually give me a look, roll her eyes, and offer reasoning as to why she fibbed.
We all fib. Most people tell white lies to just make certain conversations easier or to protect the feelings of someone else. But then there are lies that don’t need to be told. Almost as if someone is lying just to lie. I don’t know why it didn’t dawn on me at the time, but with all the little lies, I should have started to look inward and consider what she was lying to me about.
According to Jason Whiting Ph.D.’s Psychology Today article titled “How Pathological Lying Can Ruin Your Relationship,” he discusses how a single lie can multiply over time. Chronic liers often will lie at times that seem unnecessary, as they do not benefit from the lie. And, over time, someone who habitually lies will become convinced they deserve what they are lying about. In the words of George Costanza, “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”
It’s difficult to be in any kind of intimate, long-term relationship with a chronic liar as you simply can’t trust what they say. Those who do end up in such relationships and knowingly remain with their partners typically have come from previous bad relationships and are convinced it’s what they deserve. Often the cheating, lying partner will feed this belief.
But the truth is we all deserve a trustworthy mate. If you are in a relationship with a chronic liar you absolutely deserve better, regardless of your past.
These are five scientifically proven red flags to someone cheating. However, nothing is foolproof. Just because someone’s father cheated doesn’t mean they will. Just because someone’s friends cheat doesn’t mean they will. And even if they have cheated in the midst of a relationship in the past doesn’t mean they will do it again.
But a red flag is a red flag. So if you see one don’t ignore it. One red flag might not mean anything, and you shouldn’t let it automatically destroy a potentially healthy and long-lasting relationship. However, a trail of red flags usually leads to something. So keep your eyes open and remember: you deserve to be happy.