Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and in amongst the romantic gestures, fancy meals, and discount chocolate boxes, it’s easy to forget that not all relationships are perfect – some people will cheat. But are there particular traits that make them do so? Are they simply walking red flags, or are there more subtle indicators that they may one day stray? Let’s see what science says.
They’re a narcissist
The term “narcissism” is bandied about a lot nowadays, but there’s a lot more to it than looking in the mirror and thinking, “Wow, what a sexy and cool individual” every so often. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, narcissism is “too much interest in and admiration for your own physical appearance and/or your own abilities.”
Those abilities might involve someone thinking that they’re amazing in bed – regardless of their actual prowess. 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 over the course of 4 years, measuring their sexually narcissistic traits and tracking their infidelity. The duo found that 5.3 percent of the participants cheated on their spouse, and those who had high levels of sexual narcissism were more likely to be part of that group.
They’ve got too much “alone time” – or their partner has big ol’ balls
While we’re on the topic of sexual behavior, science also suggests that cracking one out on a regular basis might make someone more likely to cheat. Using machine learning, a 2021 study indicated that people who exhibited higher levels of solitary desire – a fancy term that academics use to avoid saying “masturbation” – could be associated with an increased incidence of infidelity.
If someone happens to be the partner on the receiving end of that cheating, research has also found that it could have something to do with having massive balls. Examining 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,” explained zoologist Petter Bøckman 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 up by science?
Although it doesn’t mean for sure that someone will play away, a 2017 study indicated that having cheated previously does make it more likely they’ll do it again in future. Out of the 484 mixed-gender couples analyzed, 44 percent reported cheating at some point during the relationship – and those people were three times more likely to engage in infidelity again.
“The past matters for relationships,” study author Kayla Knopp said in a statement. “What we do at every step along the way in our romantic histories ends up influencing what comes next.”
That being said, let’s end with a little disclaimer. The emphasis here is on “more likely” – “will cheat” isn’t anywhere to be found. If someone happens to fall into one of these categories, it’s not a guarantee that they’ll cheat, merely that research suggests they may be more prone to doing so.
But if they happen to have an overinflated opinion of their sexual abilities, a questionable internet and relationship history, and you have big testicles, maybe approach with caution.
All “explainer” articles are confirmed by fact checkers to be correct at time of publishing. Text, images, and links may be edited, removed, or added to at a later date to keep information current.