If you're a person who dates, you've probably heard the phrase, Once a cheater, always a cheater, at least once, and probably in some sort of slightly judgmental and cautious tone. And then, because it's hard to admit that people we like might be shitty before really giving them a chance, you probably responded, "But they're different!" Not to be be bearer of bad news here, but a new study adds some evidence to the theory that someone who cheats is likely to cheat again.
Published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, the study examined what researchers call "extra-dyadic sexual involvement" (ESI for short, fancy lingo for "cheating") among 484 unmarried people who'd been in at least two relationships over the course of five years. That participant group was made up of 329 women and 155 men. The researchers had a few main questions: Does engaging in cheating once increase someone's likelihood to do it again? And does dating someone who cheated lead to dating another person who will cheat on you again?
What researchers found was, yes, when people reported cheating in one relationship, they were much more likely to report cheating in another one—about three times as likely. They also found that people who knew their partners were cheating were more likely to figure out subsequent partners were cheating. This was especially true for just pure suspicion of someone cheating, so if anything, take comfort in the fact that you're not alone in your dizzying paranoia, I guess. Participants in the study who said they suspected previous partners of cheating were more than four times as likely to report they thought subsequent partners were cheating, too.
Naturally all of this isn't to say that the person you just started dating and are super psyched about is definitely going to cheat on you. People are capable of change (or so I hear).
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.