Are People With Avoidant Personality Disorder More Likely To Cheat On Their Partners?

People With Avoidant Personality Disorder More Likely To Cheat by Kajay Williams

Some people are more likely to cheat than others – that’s just the way the world works.

Some people will find it much easier to set aside the boundaries of marriage and embark on more than one relationship than others – but there’s a very good reason why. Recent research has suggested that those with an avoidant personality disorder are more likely to cheat on their spouse.

What is an Avoidant Personality?

An individual with an avoidant personality tends to have a number of very distinctive personality characteristics. They tend to be socially inhibited and may find it difficult to thrive or even function in a social situation. They also tend to feel inadequate and are especially sensitive to negative comments.

But perhaps the most telling characteristic of avoidant personality disorder is that the individual tends to be very uncomfortable with closeness – with anyone, not just their romantic partner, and they also tend to have feelings of isolation. This type of personality stems from insecure and isolating relationships when the individual was younger, or throughout their life.

Generally, people with avoidant personality disorder have a deep-seated need and desire to be liked. They tend to only be friends with people that they can impress or that hold them with high regard, because they are fearful of being rejected.

Because they tend to avoid getting close to people, because of their fear of being rejected, they may be reluctant to get romantically involved with anyone. Avoidant personality types also tend to be more impulsive and less able to rationalize decisions, and they tend to have less self-control.

The fear of rejection can also cause an individual with this type of personality to avoid conflict, too – and they may not tell anyone, even their spouse, about their real desires, wants and needs.

Why Are Avoidant Personalities More Likely to Cheat?

A recent study conducted by Nathan DeWall, psychology professor at the University of Kentucky, has suggested that those with avoidant personalities are more likely to cheat and that they are actually more likely to be accepting of other’s cheating behavior. Those with avoidant personalities are also more likely to spend time looking at alternatives to their current relationship.

Because they are uncomfortable with intimacy, this could lead them to seek out multiple sexual encounters, even if they are already in a relationship. The University of Montreal conducted four studies into cheating and the reasons behind cheating – and taking aside the sexual satisfaction element, the study found that those with avoidant personalities were more likely to cheat.

Geneviève Beaulieu-Pelletier, the researcher behind the study, says…

Infidelity could be a regulatory emotional strategy used by people with an avoidant attachment style. The act of cheating helps them avoid commitment phobia, distances them from their partner, and helps them keep their space and freedom.

Geneviève’s second two studies focused on the motives behind the cheating, rather than who cheated, and both studies showed that the number one reason for cheating, in both sexes, was so that the cheater could put distance between themselves and their spouse and their relationship. This may well be because those with avoidant personalities are afraid of closeness and intimacy, meaning that their relationship could stifle them – so they cheat as a means of getting out of it.

They are also less likely to confide in their spouse for two reasons; one, due to their fear of rejection and two, because they do not feel close enough with their spouse to be able to confide in them. Because they are unable to confide in their spouse, perhaps about their sexual desires or wants, they may cheat in order to fulfil these sexual desires without having to confide in their partner.

Because they are also more impulsive and less likely to try to rationalize their actions, they may cheat simply because they want to. The opportunity for them to cheat might arise, and instead of rationalizing the decision as an individual with a secure personality would, they act first and think later. The impulsiveness seen in those with avoidant personalities could also lead them to cheat on their partner.

Just because an individual has an avoidant personality does not automatically mean that they will cheat, however. The traits mentioned above are typical of those with avoidant personalities, but they are not present in every individual. Equally, research has shown that if an individual with an avoidant personality is highly committed to their primary relationship, they will be no more likely to cheat than an individual with a secure personality.

Kajay Williams, experienced infidelity in his own marriage and has spent countless man hours putting together professional resources to help others deal with infidelity.  He is the creator of Bounce Back from Betrayal.


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13 Responses to Are People With Avoidant Personality Disorder More Likely To Cheat On Their Partners?

  1. Scott June 26, 2015 at 11:57 am #

    Very interesting…

  2. tryingtorecover June 29, 2015 at 6:58 pm #

    My husband had an emotional affair with the same woman on and off for 12 years. Our marriage counselor said he has avoidant (dismissive) attachment issues from his childhood that affected his ability/rationalization to cheat. This article speaks volumes to what our counselor said about my husband and how he could rationalize this affair. He actually used the same words from the article to why he had the affair: “because I wanted to.”

    He stated he didn’t feel comfortable telling me about his feelings despite the fact I am a licensed counselor. He added that he felt like the OW never “judged him”…hence the hypersensitivity to rejection. Interesting enough – every time he would just fall off the face of the earth and stop talking to the OW for several months or years…. which actually made it a stronger bond I’ve learned. This kept a sense of control for him and he was rejected by her- he always did the leaving in a sense.

    I am 9 months into marriage counseling, discovering the affair (on my own) and still questioning whether I should separate and go off on my own. I am giving myself a few more months to sit with ambiguity before making a solid decision. I don’t want to end my marriage out of fear though I don’t want to stay and fall prey to this behavior again. I have a lot to sort out still and I know from my own clinical experience attachment issues takes years to address and it is something that never “goes away” per se.

  3. tryingtorecover June 29, 2015 at 7:02 pm #

    Correction: he wasn’t rejected by her

  4. Dee July 7, 2015 at 4:56 am #

    This is incredible as when I asked my H why he’d had an EA, he replied.”because I fancied her”….and was puzzled as to why I had such a problem with that…

    I too am a Counsellor and yet my H rarely opens up to me either. Perhaps their choosing us as life partners is not such a coincidence?

    • tryingtorecover July 7, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

      I agree Dee about they choosing us- and we choosing them….I realized through my own counseling that I tend to be do-depenedent and focus on helping others at the expense of my own happiness. My work has been hard and a long journey is ahead of me to focus on myself and take care of my well being before others I love.

      My husband had a very similar anti-social response to my question as to why he had a 12 year EA- He stated ” because I wanted to.” I was floored at the level of immaturity, lack of empathy, and lack of thought of long term consequences of this behavior and response. i guess the only thing I untimely appreciated was his honesty of where he was at- and that is a very dark place.

      I learned that my next relationship I need to seek out men who have “secure” attachment styles where I am not replying my own childhood loss and tram and need to care for others. I have faith that I will get there though there will be ups and dons as there already has. I think avoidances choose us and we choose them as well- I agree!

  5. John July 29, 2015 at 6:24 pm #

    I am as described above, and really don’t know what the hell im doing most days. I avoid contact with everyone. I’ve always felt alone and subsequently always felt the need to impress people to make me feel good in some way. I’ve had counselling for the last year and its begging to get on my tits. I need someone to pull my head off my shoulders and give it a damned good shake. My affair started 18 months ago, intent on leaving my wife because I wasn’t happy. Truth be told, I wasn’t happy with myself or the life I had, i never feel comfortable anywhere doing anything, even with my children looking up to me with a question I feel scared and lost. Please if you know a cure or a way to regain control I would like to know, medication? Or is it just counselling?

  6. tryingtorecover July 30, 2015 at 9:52 am #

    I’m a wife of a man who had an emotional affair and a counselor. You need to do many things. First- I’m so impressed that you are aware that you have this problem. There is a lot of work ahead of you and you need to make a huge commitment.

    1. Get a counselor whose expertise is with attachment issues. It seems that you’ve been in counseling fro a year and she either hasn’t picked up on this or you haven’t been honest with her/him so you need a new counselor or time to get honest.

    2. END the affair now. It isn’t about your wife- it’s about YOU. You have childhood issues that have affected your ability to have a healthy marriage. If you continue to have this emotional affair you will stay in this fog and it will preclude you from doing the work you need to do.

    3. You need to get HONEST and begin to be introspective (looking inward) rather than blaming you wife- or others.

    4. Don’t leave your wife- again- not about her.

    5. You feel alone because you have isolated yourself and have fake relationships such as an emotional affair. Part of the work is breaking down the walls with authentic relationships- with your wife and ending phone/inauthentic ones with people such as the OW. This is the vicious cycle. Your creating your loneliness because on a unconscious level your scared that people will leave you so you don’t want to get close.

    6. Start researching Avoidant/Dismissive attachments- learn all you can so that you can approach this head on. This will be something you will have to work on for a long time. Commit.

    7. You can do this! Do this for yourself, your family and your wife. You deserve true authentic relationships. Don’t let your childhood limit your adult life.

  7. gizfield July 30, 2015 at 10:37 am #

    John, I would add one more point, at least in my opinion. You need to confess to someone, preferably your wife, so that you will have accountability for your actions. That will make you less likely to do this again. If you don’t have consequences, you don’t learn anything.

  8. Dee July 30, 2015 at 1:02 pm #

    Good advice given to John by both tryingtorecover and Gizfield. I would heartily agree with both….

  9. tryingtorecover July 30, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

    As much as I agree with confessing to one’s wife gizfield I would recommend connecting with professional help first because a “love avoidant” tends to marry/match with a “love addict”. If this is the case his wife may need support system set up ahead of time and it may require her to be in a counseling session with professional help to guide this process.

  10. Bebeckyb2 September 6, 2015 at 12:17 am #

    My husband shows these traits plus others from other personality types it makes me sad to know he has never loved me or anyone else in his life to live and never trust is sad.

  11. bor March 25, 2016 at 10:37 am #

    John.if you are still around.

    Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love

    This book explains the three types of personality types and includes the survey to fill out for some one you know and yourself. When I did my CS i found her to be an even secure and avoidant traits almost equally. she filled it out for herself she was strongly secure so I don’t know what to make of that. I however was strongly anxious and minor secure. definitely not avoidant. So I can at least see the anger that i now have at her is an attempt to shame and regain her attachment through control. Which is not working. Best books I have read so far are stosney book on betrayal and doing the core values exercise. Showed me I am valuable and I don’t have a problem its my wife that does. The Journey from Abandonment to Healing: Turn the End of a Relationship into the Beginning of a New Life Susan Anderson. inner child and outer child has really help me focus on my emotions and deal with them in a positive way.
    Also helped me see why i am anxious and have abandonment issues. No father for first 10 years of my life, mother divorced when i was two(infidelity on my fathers part that resulted in pregnancy of OW) then he was killed two years later in an automobile accident. My mothers poor choice of boyfriends that physically beat me. A particularly bad one when i was six I feel impacted my life. Up until I was able to put it to rest with EFT in 2015 after d-day. I would also recommend reading about “deconstructing Shadow and constructing shadow” Keith Witt. It will help you be introspective by looking inward and starting the emotional dialog and looking at family of origin issues.

    I can agree with dee and Tryiingtorecoer. see a good counselor to approach this issue and have your wifes attachment style accessed. It is critical. If she is you will have to go outside your current comfort zone to give her lots of attention and affection to help her best recover.

    look at your core values of who you want to be. write it out and be the change you want. It sounds like the core value i would start with is caring, compassionate and loving, living with honesty and integrity.

    good luck

  12. Daisy July 7, 2017 at 11:13 am #

    Does someone with APD cheat only physically or can they do it only in their thoughts?

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