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If you knew a potential boyfriend was going to cheat on you, would you date him? Probably not. But we can’t predict who will be faithful and who won’t be ahead of time.
Or can we?
According to a study examined in an article by Albright psychology professor Dr. Gwendolyn Seidman, we’re actually surprisingly good at determining others’ personalities from just a “thin slice” of behavior, and one of our talents for making accurate snap judgments is in detecting infidelity.
Being able to spot a cheater requires picking up on certain behaviors; the kinds that make you stop, think, and take it slow with a guy. It is the totality of specific behaviors that will give you the best (or maybe the worst) impression of a prospective partner, says FBI criminal profiler Mary Ellen O’Toole.
“What frequently happens is that a person gets involved with another who has preexisting traits and characteristics that make cheating likelihood for them,” says O’Toole. “However, we frequently refuse to see this behavior or call it the way it is.”
It may be harder to spot a potential cheater as early as the first date, but there are key indicators that may help. For starters, pay attention to how protective he is of his phone, or his incoming phone calls and text messages. Also, guys who cheat typically have vague explanations for their behavior, and especially their absences.
“If you just started seeing someone, and you call him with no response [but later] he says he was ‘just chilling’ as opposed to something specific like ‘helping my friend move,’ he could be seeing someone else,” says psychotherapist Kimberly Moffit.
“If you notice inconsistencies in what he says about how he spends his time, money [or] activities, and what is really going on, that can also be a sign,” adds therapist and author Dr. Sheri Meyers.
Other characteristics that Meyers labels as red flags include the following: never giving you his complete attention; seeming too friendly with other women; hustling you to go home with him on the first date; and even excessive alcohol consumption.
Most importantly, you should pay close attention to how he treats others, because that is ultimately how he will treat you. Remember, behavior speaks louder than words, so even if you ask specific questions, the answers will not always truthful.
According to O’Toole, “if you are going to become involved with someone, you need to know about the five main areas of their life: social, occupational, family, personal and secret.” And the best way to accomplish that, aside from an honest discourse, is through observation.
While it may be easy to get wrapped up in if your new date could be a cheater, the experts agree that this should not be the first thing you look for in a date. Pay attention to how you initially feel around him.
“Don’t get so caught up in catching him in a lie or tracking his movements that it takes precedence over everything else,” says Moffit. “All relationships require trust.”
That said, just be aware of who you’re getting involved with before getting too involved. Don’t let the chemistry get the best of you.
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