Does Sexual Abuse Lead to Infidelity?

There are many factors in a person’s history that might make them more likely to cheat, but it’s usually not as simple as A leading to B. While the most common cause of cheating is emotional disconnection within a relationship, there are certain events in one’s past that can make them more prone to going astray.

PTSD Resulting from Abuse

Post-traumatic stress resulting from abuse often has the side effects of numbness and avoidance, which can cause victims to seek stimulating encounters outside their intimate relationships.

Whether the abuse was suffered during childhood or later in life, intimacy issues can develop, which can lead to addictions and risky sexual behaviors. Drugs and alcohol are often used to deal with the shame related to abuse, and that shame can also cause someone to pull away from a partner and seek an outside relationship as a distraction.

Witnessing a Family Member Cheat

Infidelity is unfortunately a pattern that can be passed down through generations; not genetically, but children tend to repeat the actions of their parents regardless of the lessons they are taught.

Social learning theory dictates simply that people learn by watching other people. Certain studies have found that offspring of unfaithful parents are 2.5 times more likely to cheat on their partners, even if the parental behavior was absorbed as being acceptable on an unconscious level.

Cheated on in the Past

The insecurity one suffers after being cheated on can have lasting implications:

  1. One pattern that sometimes plays out, is that the person who was cheated on is so paranoid it will happen again, they attempt to beat their partner to it and sabotage the relationship by cheating themselves.
  2. This can be prevented by establishing trust within the relationship so both partners are secure and less likely to look for reassurance elsewhere.

Mental Illness and Psychological Issues

Bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder are risk factors for cheating, as well as narcissistic traits. A grandiose sense of self-importance, a need for excessive admiration, a sense of entitlement and a lack of empathy are all narcissistic traits that can lead to cheating.

While none of these factors should be used as an excuse for infidelity, they can shed light on how the situation came to be, and how to get to the root of the problem.