A recent study suggests that people with avoidant personality disorder are more likely to cheat and are more accepting of cheating behavior.

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.

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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.

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They’re Less Likely to Confide

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.


    21 replies to "Are People With Avoidant Personality Disorder More Likely To Cheat On Their Partners?"

    • Scott

      Very interesting…

    • tryingtorecover

      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.

      • Crystal

        I believe you will regret anymore effort. He was responsible for what he entered into with you and if he felt he couldn’t or didn’t want that responsibility, he should have communicated that. I doubt he respects his ho, but don’t downgrade to her level in in his eyes. He probably thinks all of this is funny but when you take the power back, he will stop laughing.

    • tryingtorecover

      Correction: he wasn’t rejected by her

      • M

        I would love to chat via email .I suspect I am in the same situation

        • Pablo


    • Dee

      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

        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!

        • Angela

          Look into attachment styles. Personal Development School (PDS on YouTube) offers wonderful resources to understand the dynamics involved. My guess is that you are Anxious Preoccupied (due to the co-dependent trait), and you are married to a Dismissive Avoidant due to his lack of emotional connection of how the affair wouldn’t hurt you.

          “If you don’t get to the core of your childhood wounds, of the fact that you are making decisions and choices out of fear of intimacy or fear of abandonment and rejection, the cycle keeps repeating. “

    • John

      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?

    • tryingtorecover

      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.

    • gizfield

      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.

    • Dee

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

    • tryingtorecover

      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.

    • Bebeckyb2

      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.

    • bor

      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

    • Daisy

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

    • Ina

      I’m sorry to everyone who s on receiving end of cheating emotional or physical tho reading comments above as person who had been high in avoidance and still slip back into strong deactivating when triggered I deeply understand why partners of some commentators above would cheat.
      All I want to say if your reaction is “how dare you? You should ve been do this and this.. and she s a ho, I’ve done so and so for you and you betrayed us…” then this is a reason why your partner found more emotional closeness with another person, if your reaction is “ oh I’m sorry that you felt not accepted in our marriage and felt that you can’t trust me and saw no way out but cheating. I feel deeply hurt” then well may be you have chance to turn it around and work through.

      P. S. Cheating in thoughts, killing in thoughts, breaking low in thoughts doesn’t count and not punished even in court as it is only thoughts lol having feelings/fantasies are not illegal and all human beings do have them.

      • K

        It sounds like you have been hurt by your current partner. But if your current partner was not the cause of your avoidant ways and now doesn’t trust you because of your cheating and lying it’s a you problem 100% and at the end of the day you are the cheater and they did things any person does and you internalized them and related it to your trauma.

      • Hugh Jasol

        You’re, (to be honest and this is just my opinion here)… what I call, a ‘Looney and Cold Menace’. Or you could call it being an ‘Angry-Avoidant’. Sorry to use offensive words here however I am not fond of w=no-good dirty whores. Also I a therapist and thus I cannot diagnose something. so I made up my own words to describe my wife, and you are welcome to apply them to yourself and your peoples if you want. If youre an avoider and you also bidge and complain about everything your husband does even when YOU know it’s insane, and or you bellow like Chewbacca if your husband dares to breathe thats you.
        Re, your Comment – I do agree that the first response you gave is true in terms of that it may be WHY the Sh-tty Partner found refuge elsewhere, And you are right that everyone likely imagines what it would be like with someone else when things get tough. I have thought about cheating on my wife, BUT I HAVEN’T even though I have opportunities and it wasn’t cause they were sketchy girls – they were hot, I totally would have, if not for that PROMISE I made to the ol ‘lady. The ‘one’ – that makes me want to backhand her to the moon even though I’d NEVER actually hit her, makes me wanna cheat – go figure…. she’s been such a looney and or cold bidge for 4-5 years now and nothing else toward me- I was always upset and started screwing stuff up at work so in order to save my mind I experimented with mind exercises and thought experiments (from MIRI and the Lesswrong.com folks – actually some weapons grade ideas they got over there!) and some which I made up myself and now I feel upset by it but it’s not as discomforting. Life now feels and looks like looking into a mirror that you hold a mirror up to and it’s like I deleted too much stuff out of my mind,

        She is also Looney and Cold, like you strike me as – not just avoidant which aren’t insanely angry like she is also… She shuts down and does the avoider classic of ‘fingers in ear and mumble like a tard’ instead of ‘figure out an adult way to solve whatever issue real or imagined has arisen’. Her highly efficient bidgeing strategy which is basically her own self-taught advanced methods of nagging and shrieking could probably have military applications if it were studied by DARPA. And I’m not perfect myself, in fact I feel somewhat schizophrenic at times (not violent- that is entirely different), And I can be a prick, for sure, and I was a drug addict at times although a functional one and never abused her physically even though I definitely did verbally) BUT I gave a shit and would never hurt her intentionally. Those aren’t true for the Cold and Looney set.

        Like Tony Montana said, I got two things in this world, my balls and my word, and I DON’T BREAK EM FOR NOBODY! I made this beeyotch that is allegedly my partner, a promise, that was not to stick my rod in spots she wouldn’t want it going if I were gonna stick it in her again.

        IF i get to that point, I will tell her, nicely – pay attention whores of gutters and other low places:- “Look, I can’t do this anymore, you are a good person but we aren’t going to be able to get past certain incompatibilities and I’m sorry to do this to you but I have to leave this relationship.” What’s that point, well, it could be the point where I meet someone else and cannot resist, OR I decide it’s pointless to continue and want to go find someone else. Since she is so Looney and or Cold and I get that it isn’t a conscious decision to be like that even though it is one to NOT try to fix it – and she is trying – so for now I’m patient, and a good man, but her BS is not going to be tolerated forever…

    • AnonAvoid

      I’m definitely an Avoidant and reading your comment (and everyone else’s) has been very enlightening as to what we are going through as humans on this earth.

      Full disclosure (on this site because it’s anonymous… how avoidant of me…lol) I have cheated on my girlfriend and I found this article because I’m trying to figure out how to deal. She doesn’t know, and unless some very close friends of mine who I have confided in spill the beans….she will never know. I really want to find a way to move forward without telling her, but I know the likely hood of that is pretty much nil. Those are my issues though and I (and those I’ve affected) will have to live with them.

      I shared that just to give context to my mindset and to let you know I don’t consider myself to be on any moral high ground here.

      I’ve read every comment on this post and as I said it has been enlightening. What I’ve seen is multiple people with admittedly different attachment styles (none of those who admitted their style said secure) showing their style in their comment. Something that stuck out is how each has shamed the other styles for their shortcomings while ignoring and downplaying their own.

      I’m replying to you specifically because you are the most recent comment, not to say that you have done anything out of the norm. But I want to point out something in your comment that was interesting to me.

      You said:

      “ And I can be a prick, for sure, and I was a drug addict at times although a functional one and never abused her physically even though I definitely did verbally) BUT I gave a shit and would never hurt her intentionally. Those aren’t true for the Cold and Looney set.”

      You admitted to abusing someone verbally and in the next sentence said you cared and would never hurt someone intentionally. Then subsequently robbed the avoidant style of the same level of understanding and emotional complexity.

      You also said:

      “ Since she is so Looney and or Cold and I get that it isn’t a conscious decision…”

      Which shows that you understand these things aren’t intentional. And from personal experience I can promise it isn’t intentional. When I’m cold with someone, it is only a defense mechanism. I still care but it’s the only way I know how to deal and move forward. Similar to your tendency to be verbally abusive at times. 😜

      Honestly, I do think you know deep down the avoidant is still just like you. But in your hurt you separate and elevate yourself, which we all do and many of the other commenters did the same.

      I also want to add that Ina (the person you responded to) was definitely cold in their comment. So I understand why you responded the way you did. Describing us as cold is just accurate. Lol. But I promise we still care, we just have to figure out how to show it better and contradict ourselves less in our actions.

      (To Ina, the governing laws of the land give very little thought to emotions or empathy. It’s mostly about money and property. So that’s not a good point when considering interpersonal relationships.)

      But all in all, I’m responding because I think the way we talk to and about each other and our shortcomings is just as important as the way we honor each other in our actions. Now as an avoidant, I literally do not feel as hurt by cheating, but I am easily hurt by the hurtful words others use when speaking to me. I’m sure your perspective would be the opposite, which I respect and we could argue about which is worse. But at the end of the day the depth of the impact of our mistakes depends on the person they are impacting.

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