Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and between the romantic gestures, fancy meals, and discounted chocolate boxes, it’s easy to forget that not all relationships are perfect: Some people will cheat. But are there certain qualities that drive them to do so? Are they simply running through red flags, or are there more subtle clues that they might wander off one day? Let’s see what the science says.
They are a narcissist
The term “narcissism” is thrown around a lot these days, but there’s a lot more to it than looking in the mirror and occasionally thinking, “Wow, what a sexy and cool individual.” According to the Cambridge Dictionary, narcissism is “too much interest in and admiration for your own physical appearance and/or your own abilities.”
Those skills may mean that someone thinks they are great in bed, regardless of their actual ability. This is known as sexual narcissism and a 2014 study found that people with high levels of it are more likely to stray.
Researchers James McNulty and Laura Widman followed 123 newlywed couples, some for four years, measuring their sexually narcissistic traits and documenting their infidelity. The duo found that 5.3 percent of participants cheated on their partner, and those with high levels of sexual narcissism were more likely to be part of that group.
They have too much time for themselves – or their partner has big balls
While we’re on the subject of sexual behavior, science also suggests that engaging in it regularly can make a person more likely to cheat. Using machine learning, a 2021 study indicated that people who showed higher levels of solitary desire — a fancy term academics use to avoid the word “masturbation” — could be linked to an increased incidence of infidelity.
If someone happens to be the partner who is the victim of that cheating, research has also shown that it may have something to do with having huge balls. In studying male primates and their female partners, researchers have found that “we can determine the degree of fidelity in the female by looking at the size of the male’s testicles,” zoologist Petter Bøckman explained in a statement.
“The less faithful the female, the larger the male’s testicles.”
They’ve cheated before
You’ve probably heard the phrase “Once a cheat, always a cheat,” but is it backed by science?
While it doesn’t guarantee someone will cheat, a 2017 study indicated that cheating before increases the likelihood that they will do it again in the future. Of the 484 mixed-sex couples analyzed, 44 percent reported cheating at some point during the relationship — and these people were three times as likely to commit infidelity again.
“The past is important for relationships,” study author Kayla Knopp said in a statement. “What we do at each step in our romantic history ultimately influences what comes next.”
That said, let’s end with a little disclaimer. The emphasis here is on “more likely” – “will cheat” is nowhere to be found. If someone falls into one of these categories, it is no guarantee that he or she will cheat. Research only shows that he or she is more inclined to do so.
But if they think too highly of their sexual abilities, have a questionable internet and relationship history, and you have large testicles, maybe be cautious.
All “explainer” articles are confirmed by fact checkers to be correct at the time of publication. Text, images and links can be edited, deleted or added at a later time to keep the information current.