5 Early Signs A Man Is Going To Cheat On You (Even If He Hasn't Yet)

Photo: conrado / Shutterstock.com
Man with guitar whispers to woman

Many people come to me asking if there are any early signs that a man is going to cheat. Often, this is because they have been cheated on in the past and want to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is complicated.

Why? Because I believe that, by and large, people do not intend to cheat.

People don’t go looking for an affair partner, but circumstances connect them at a moment in their lives where they are vulnerable. What begins with a friendship and sharing intimacies they don’t share with their partner gradually morphs into feelings of lust and love and an affair begins.

That said, I do believe that some people might be more prone to cheating, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

The reasons for this increased tendency to cheat can be helpful signs that the man you like may end up being a cheater. 

Knowing those reasons is very important. Here are five of them.

RELATED: 7 Dangerous Lies People Tell Themselves To Justify Staying In Toxic Relationships

5 signs a man might cheat on you

1. He has cheated before.

Has your man cheated before?

When you first met and you confided in each other about past relationships, did he disclose that he had been unfaithful in the past?

Is it something that you have largely ignored, hoping that things would be different this time?

Whether someone cheats once or many times, oftentimes, once someone cheats, it becomes habitual. Why? Because, for many people, cheating is a coping mechanism.

A few years ago, I was recounting my romantic life to a new friend. Over the course of my story, it occurred to me that I had cheated on every serious relationship I had had. I hadn’t noticed it when it was happening but looking back it became very clear.

I dug deep into why I cheated. I did so because I was scared that I would be left as my father had left me. I believed that, if I cheated, I was the one who would be in control of who left who. If I cheated, I could get ahead of a man leaving me and causing me the deep pain my father leaving me caused.

Habitually cheating did prevent me from the pain that I was scared of but it also prevented me from having the healthy relationship I wanted.

I have been with my boyfriend for five years now and the idea of cheating on him makes me sick to my stomach. Coming to terms with the fact that I was a chronic cheater, and why, helped me face my demons and be ready for a commitment, once and for all.

RELATED: If You Constantly Have These 5 Feelings, You're In A Toxic Relationship

2. His father cheated.

My parents both cheated, and from the age of 7, I knew about it.

By the time I was of age to have romantic interests, cheating had been normalized for me. It was for my siblings as well. Cheating was as much a part of a relationship as holding hands.

Kids learn from their families — both good things and bad — by watching. Watching my parents cheat, I believe, led me to be a cheater as well.

Scientists have done studies about fathers and sons who cheat. They discovered that, for a variety of reasons, sons of fathers who cheat are prone to do so as well. Much of it has to do with socio-economic backgrounds and roles within the relationship o family. 

But, some scientists believe, it has to do with genes. Much like red hair or mental health conditions or cancer, parents pass down traits and tendencies to their kids through their genes. Perhaps, some hypothesize, that includes the propensity towards infidelity.

I know that in my family, bipolar disorder, thyroid cancer, and infidelity have been passed down from generation to generation. (I am sure there are good things too but those rarely get analyzed.)

So, judging by my family, and the Kennedys and the Windsors et al, there is a definite probability that the propensity to cheat might be inherited, whether because of an example or genes.

RELATED: The Difficult Truth About Moving On From A Toxic Relationship

3. He has impulse control issues.

Another sign that a man is going to cheat on you is if he has impulse control issues.

Again, while I believe that very few people go out there with the intention to cheat, for those people with impulse control issues, the tendency to fall into an affair would be greatly increased.

I have a client who has ADD and really struggles with impulse control.

He tries to keep a schedule but gets easily distracted and does something else instead. He needs to stay away from gambling because he overdoes it. Ice cream is his mortal enemy because he can’t stop at one bowlful.

He is simply incapable of resisting impulses and, unfortunately, many of those impulses lead to negative outcomes – not finishing chores, high credit card debt, and weight gain.

When a woman at my client's office started showing interest in him, he brushed it off at first — he was married, after all.

But, after weeks of getting to know her, talking, and flirting, when he was presented with the opportunity to take their relationship to the next level, he could not resist.

Before he knew it, he was in a full-blown affair with his co-worker. Much like eating too much ice cream, he just didn’t know how he had gotten there and how to change it.

So, if you see that your man has issues with impulse control, that might be a sign of a man who will cheat.

RELATED: 5 Disturbing Signs Of A Toxic Relationship You Should Never Ignore

4. He is depressed and/or anxious.

As I said before, I believe that cheating is a coping mechanism.

When people are in bad places in their lives, whether they are depressed or anxious or struggling with work or marriage, they often turn to vices to self-soothe.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all turn to yoga and meditation and exercise when we are in a bad place? Instead, we often turn to booze, sugar, and sex — sex with people we shouldn’t be having sex with.

Why? Because the sex (and the booze and the sugar) takes us out of our heads, away from our struggles, even if just for a little while.

When you are having an affair, you are living in a bubble. All of the worries of the outside world disappear when you are in this bubble. Spending as much time in this bubble becomes hugely important because you are happy there. All of your worries melt away and you can feel good about yourself.

Furthermore, orgasms produce dopamine, a chemical with anti-depressant qualities, that can last for many hours. Therefore, if you are struggling with depression or anxiety, the act of sex might actually make you feel better, at least for some period of time.

Is your man someone who struggles with anxiety and depression? Doing so doesn’t automatically mean that they will cheat but it could be an indicator that, if they are given the opportunity to do so, they just might – for self-preservation if for nothing else.

RELATED: 14 Signs You're In Denial About How Your Toxic Relationship Is

5. If your relationship started as an affair.

All of my clients who are having affairs tell me that their affair partners are their soul mates – that they have never met anyone who understood them or sees them or loves them the way their affair partner does. And the sex — is always amazing.

And my reaction — Sorry — you are just two people having an affair, in a bubble. This is not the stars aligning to make the greatest love of them all.

People don’t like to hear that but it’s true.

Every affair exists in a bubble. In that bubble, the troubles of the world disappear. Discussions about kids’ schedules, bickering about money, sexual dissatisfaction and underwear left outside the laundry basket just don’t exist. What does exist is love and romance and sex and secrets.

How fun is that?

The issue is that, once the affair changes from an affair to a real-world relationship, that bubble bursts. Lovers who once felt completely connected find that the real world challenges their relationship, the one that they believe was cosmically pre-ordained.

And, as a result, that relationship falters.

If your relationship started as an affair, particularly if your partner was married and you were the other woman, then chances are very good that your partner will cheat again.

Unless he has done some serious work, once the relationship falters, a man just might look outside his relationship for comfort. Why wouldn’t he? It worked before.

After all, as the old saying goes, "If a man marries his mistress, he is creating a vacancy!"

Cheating is not inevitable

Again, while the five things I have listed above are definitely signs that a man might cheat on you, they don’t necessarily mean that your man will, in fact, cheat.

There are many men who don’t want to be like their father, who regret cheating before and are determined to never do so again. Who struggle with mental health or impulse control issues but seek proper treatment. These men are, more likely than not, less inclined to cheat.

That said, take note of the above signs as you enter into your relationship. Any, or all, of these signs, could be great big red flags that you shouldn’t ignore if you want a long, healthy relationship without infidelity.

And that is the goal, isn't it?

RELATED: 15 Signs You're Stuck In A Soul-Sucking, Toxic Relationship

Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. She works with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and their world.