Infidelity is common in relationships. However, just because something is common does not mean it is natural, inevitable or unavoidable. This truth is a fundamental reason why we wrote our book, Loving In The Grown Zone: to challenge the misguided belief that risking and enduring mistreatment and disrespect is just the price you have to pay for a chance at love.

In the case of infidelity, you can do far better than just trusting your feelings (so not Grown), crossing your fingers, and hoping it doesn’t happen to you. The time to find out a person is no good/is a dog/ain’t loyal is before you surrender access to your body, money, home and/or heart. There are absolute signs that will give a reliable indication of whether a person is likely to cheat, signs you can learn to recognize before you commit sexually, financially or emotionally to a relationship. We’ve identified these seven:

He or she has cheated/is cheating with you. If this is not obvious, it should be. If their value system allows them to cheat on others with you, you would be a fool to believe that they won’t cheat on you with others. And if you are living a lifestyle of infidelity, you will attract those who have that in common with you, while repelling those committed to lifestyles of fidelity.

He or she says they believe in and desire fidelity, but they only practice it conditionally. Most people, when asked, give lip service to fidelity as desirable and right, while condemning infidelity as deceitful and wrong, but too few genuinely believe that fidelity is a realistic, reasonable and achievable standard. As a result, too often, their actions contradict their stated values.  This is especially true with religious leaders, politicians and other public figures.

That’s why it’s important to assess people’s characters not by their words and stated beliefs, isolated actions or how they make you feel, but by examining past and present patterns of behavior, i.e. their lifestyles. People often lie (especially to themselves); patterns never do.

He or she believes infidelity is natural and inevitable; that it’s bound to happen sooner or later, especially under certain circumstances. (These are the people who always want to remind you that “nobody’s perfect” and “everybody makes mistakes”, as if perfection is required to choose a lifestyle of fidelity.) You would be wise to treat this belief as a self-fulfilling prophecy; anybody who expresses it is essentially giving you advance warning that cheating can happen at any time.

In fact, this person has probably already told you (directly or indirectly) the exact situations when you should expect to be cheated on: because they are sexually frustrated or dissatisfied; they are angry (or you are); they are drunk or high; a certain person (or type of person) becomes sexually available; he’s a man and monogamy is unnatural; etc.

Infidelity is never inevitable, nor is it ever a “mistake” or an “accident.” It is a choice (as is fidelity) and is always intentional, even if the cheater doesn’t want to hold themselves accountable for the act. To enter into a relationship with a person who believes otherwise is to volunteer for victimhood.

He or she condones, rationalizes and/or encourages the infidelity of others. They may insist that they will never cheat on you. But listen to their comments and opinions about acts of infidelity committed by others, whether in movies and on TV shows, in the news, or among your family, friends and acquaintances. If you hear things like “I know she’s wrong, but…” or “Look how she’s treating him; can you blame him?” or “Who could resist anyone that fine?,” they are telling you that there are things that would justify them cheating on you.

He or she has cheated in past relationships. Infidelity is a pattern of behavior (again, as is the practice of fidelity); if you’re looking for it, you’ll spot it. If they believe their past acts of infidelity are excusable, then you already know at least some of the circumstances under which they’d feel justified in cheating on you. Too many people get burned because they so desperately want to believe that they will be treated differently, because they are “special” or “The One.” However, a person uncommitted to fidelity on general principle (again, as a lifestyle), will not make an exception for anyone—including you.

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