‘Once a cheater always a cheater’: Why infidelity happens more than once, according to science


According to a recent study, someone who cheats will most likely cheat again. Learn more about the science of infidelity, below.

Cheaters will always be cheaters, or at least this is what a recent study claims. This is because “the brain adapts to dishonesty”, which results in a person feeling less and less guilty as they lie and cheat repeatedly.

According to the study, repeated dishonest acts blunt the amygdala, or the part of the brain which is negatively affected when we lie. Each time we lie or cheat, its response weakens.

In an interview with Elite Daily, the study’s co-author and researcher of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, Neil Garrett said that their findings will be further tested on relationships to see if a “similar mechanism could apply.”

“The idea would be the first time we commit adultery we feel bad about it. But the next time we feel less bad and so on, with the result that we can commit adultery to a greater extent,” he said.

Cheaters become repeat offenders because they’re numb to guilt

photo: pixabay

“What our study and others suggest is a powerful factor that prevents us from cheating is our emotional reaction to it, how bad we feel essentially, and the process of adaptation reduces this reaction, thereby allowing us to cheat more,” he continued, adding that serial cheaters become repeat offenders because they have adapted to the pattern and no longer feel bad about infidelity.

Back in 2014, a study from Denver University claimed similar findings. Based on data on 484 unmarried couples, gathered over 5 years, researchers found that 32 percent of couples reported their partner had cheated over the course of the study. What’s even more alarming was that 45 percent admitted to cheating more than once.

Those cheated on found themselves dating cheaters again

Another finding in the research suggested that the partner who was cheated on will most likely date a “philanderer” again.

22 percent of those who broke up with unfaithful partners ended up dating cheaters again, according to the study.

“Perhaps some people are very limited in their partner pool, based on social, economic, or geographic constraints, and don’t have the freedom to select more reliable partners,” muses study author Kayla Knapp. “Or maybe they learn that sexual infidelity is acceptable or expected based on past experiences.”

Though these studies are well researched, they shouldn’t be used to make hasty generalizations as it’s always fair to give someone the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps people can really change and there is no exact science to explain why there are rare cases of cheaters becoming faithful.

But this is worth noting, if only to protect those who have been cheated on repeatedly by helping them make informed decisions when choosing a potential partner. There is a reason cheaters cheat, and it’s often because they no longer find reasons why they shouldn’t.