I'm a Psychologist and These Are 5 Telling Signs Someone Will Cheat

Look out for these clues in your partner's behavior to catch the issue before it's too late.

Sudden expensive and mysterious purchases on their credit card, making more of an effort with their physical appearance, secretive texting—these are all telltale signs of cheating. But according to Charlynn Ruan, a clinical psychologist and the founder of Thrive Psychology Group, it can be very easy to miss the subtler red flags.

Throughout her career, Ruan has treated both people who cheat and people who've been cheated on, giving her unique insight into what drives this behavior. Ahead, she shares five telling signs someone will cheat.

RELATED: I'm a Psychologist and These Are the 5 Telling Signs Someone Is a Narcissist.

1
They're rarely vulnerable with you.

Couple in bed not having sex not talking
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If your partner regularly expresses what they need and want from you to feel happy and fulfilled in your relationship, that's a good sign that they're committed to making it work. But Ruan says cheaters often mask underlying issues they're grappling with, making it difficult for you to detect that something is wrong.

So, when was the last time your partner shared something they're afraid of, asked for help, let you know that you hurt them, or otherwise showed any level of vulnerability? If you can't remember, it might be time to explore why your partner is hiding parts of themself.

If they don't feel safe sharing certain feelings with you, they may cope with their unhappiness by engaging in an affair.

2
They need a lot of outside validation.

Young Woman Taking a Selfie
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A pattern of seeking validation from others—say, by constantly posting sexy selfies or fishing for compliments from mutual friends—can point to self-esteem issues, says Ruan.

Worse, Ruan notes that this can make them more likely to cheat. That's because if they aren't confident, they may seek that out by finding another partner who makes them feel attractive and desirable.

Of course, that doesn't mean that everyone who has low self-esteem will cheat—but it is a risk factor to pay attention to.

RELATED: 5 Questions Your Partner May Ask If They're Cheating, Therapists Say.

3
They don't feel like they're good enough for you.

unhappy young couple fighting
Dragana Gordic / Shutterstock

While it may seem counterintuitive, Ruan says people often cheat when they don't feel like they live up to what their partner needs, deserves, or desires.

Again, this comes back to self-esteem issues. If they never feel like they're "good enough," they might be more likely to cheat with someone they feel is "in their league"—which can give them a much-needed boost of confidence.

At some point—whether in a movie, a celebrity gossip magazine, or in real life—you've probably come across the old trope of people cheating with their nanny or assistant. Ruan says this typically happens when the person doesn't feel like they can measure up to their partner. Having an affair with someone who works for them is a play that can make them feel powerful.

Ideally, Ruan says you and your partner should both feel you've found someone who inspires you to be your best self, but also feel very secure in the value you bring to the relationship.

4
They're overly agreeable.

A happy couple with excited looks on their faces holding a letter in front of their computer, potentially getting a tax refund
Prostock-Studio/iStock

It's great to have a partner whose values and opinions mostly align with yours. However, take note if they seem too agreeable—as in, they never express a different point of view or challenge you in any way.

"Someone who can't speak up or have a constructive disagreement in a relationship may have grown up in an environment where they learned to hide their needs, desires, and their actions," Ruan tells Best Life. "These people are much better at hiding things and much more likely to jump from relationship to relationship whenever the honeymoon period is over and they need to communicate openly and honestly with their partner."

RELATED: 10 Red Flags Your Partner Is Having an Affair at Work.

5
They have poor boundaries.

Clingy woman apologizing to boyfriend or husband
Gorynvd/Shutterstock

Setting boundaries is crucial in any relationship, as they show others what behavior you will and won't accept. So, if your partner has trouble setting boundaries or maintains relationships with people who either have no boundaries or don't often respect them, that can be a glaring issue, says Ruan.

For example, staying friends with an ex isn't necessarily problematic in itself. However, boundaries would be key in this kind of relationship. If your partner's ex frequently acts inappropriately—say, by sharing flirty social media posts with your partner or constantly bringing up positive memories from their dating history—and your partner doesn't say anything about it, that's a red flag that they may be prone to cheating down the line.

It shows that your partner is allowing the lines to become a little too blurry and that they aren't willing to do what it takes to protect your relationship from outside risks.

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Rebecca Strong
Rebecca Strong is a Boston-based freelance health/wellness, lifestyle, and travel writer. Read more