Are you vulnerable to an affair? Any relationship can suffer from infidelity, but there are some factors that make cheating more likely. Let’s take a look at what they are.

Marriage vs. Cohabitating

Did you know that a study by Pepper Schwartz and Philip Blumstein showed that long term married people are less likely to cheat than long term cohabitating couples?

That’s right. The saying that marriage is just a piece of paper isn’t all that accurate. Those who value trust and commitment are less likely to violate their values. When there is no commitment ritual, there may be no emotional commitment either.

Does One of You Deal with Stress Through Sex?

If one of the people in a partnership deals with stress through sex, this could spell trouble. Perhaps this is where the saying, “Once a cheater, always a cheater” comes from. If we seek comfort from others, this makes us vulnerable to affairs.

When we have other coping skills, we are less likely to choose flirtation and sex as a way to distract ourselves or feel better.

Long Separations

Couples who don’t spend time together don’t grow together. When your partner isn’t available to talk to, relax with, or snuggle with, the bonds can weaken. Relationships are living things. They need attention to thrive. You don’t have to be in a long distance romance to have long separations.

For example, did you know that during pregnancy and just afterward is peak time for an affair? Yes! While the mother and father-to-be may be in the same place at the same time, often men feel divorced from the pregnancy and child rearing process. These feelings of being left out can create vulnerability to an affair.

Dr. Willard Harley recommends that couples have 15 hours of connected time each week at avoid this. That may sound like alot, but we spend almost three times more than that at work. Surely our primary relationship is as important as our job.

Emotional Separations

It’s normal for relationships to ebb and flow. Sometimes we are closer to our partner than at other times. However, if these low periods create feelings of emotional separation, this can make us vulnerable to affairs. Here are some things that can cause us or our partner to withdraw:

  • not feeling heard or seen
  • not getting domestic support
  • feeling over burdened financially
  • missing out on physical or emotional intimacy
  • feeling verbally, emotionally, or physically abused
  • not being loved in the way you receive it
  • not spending time together doing things you both enjoy
  • having differences in opinion about what the boundaries of the relationship are
  • compromises that create either a winner and a loser or a lose/lose situation
  • being left out of decisions that affect you
  • feeling that one is separate from the other’s family
  • enduring complaints, criticism, and defensiveness

Affairs in committed relationships are rarely about sex. They aren’t usually about trading up either. Everyone wants to feel valued, loved, and important. When we stop projecting love to our partner, and stop feeling it from them, it can feel pretty lonely. This can make us vulnerable to an affair.

The best way to avoid this is to have open and honest communication and check in periodically. Maybe you do a weekly or at least monthly date night to have alone time together.

Then you can also do a quarterly “How are we doing?” check in to air any grievances. When you take care of things when they are small, they never have a chance to become big.