Whoever coined the phrase “once a cheater, always a cheater” may not have known just how right she or he was. People who cheat once are likely to cheat again, but it may be far more than just a bad habit.
According to a new Australian study from the University of Queensland, certain people may have a genetic profile that makes them more likely to cheat on a romantic partner.
The Queensland researchers performed their study with almost 7,500 pairs of Finnish siblings, both identical twin pairs and other sibling pairs. The goal of the study was to determine how strongly genetic makeup influences the likelihood of engaging in “extra-pair mating.”
Siblings who grow up together will have largely the same environmental influences during childhood and adolescence. However, while identical twins have exactly the same genetic material, other siblings of the same sex share only 50 percent of their genetic material.
The researchers found that identical twin siblings were much more likely to display similar behavior when it came to fidelity or infidelity, while the behavior of other siblings was much less likely to predict the behavior of their sibling pair.
Furthermore, while non-twin siblings of the same sex still showed some correlation in their extra-pair mating activity, male-female sibling pairs demonstrated almost no correlation when it came to cheating.
Genetic Test for Cheaters Is A Long Way Off
Unfortunately, the possibility that we may be able to evaluate a partner or future partner for cheating potential is still just a dream. While the fact that siblings who share more genetic material are more likely to show similar relationship behavior suggests a genetic component to infidelity, the identity of the genes involved and even the number of genes that may play a role remain a mystery.
The odds are against there being a specific “cheating gene.” It is more likely to be a variety of genes that contribute to the personality profile of someone who is more likely to stray from his primary romantic relationship. Future studies in this area may combine data on cheating behavior with genetic analyses that look to isolate certain genes or gene groups common to cheaters.
This means that there is unlikely to be one gene or even a number of genes shared by every single cheater. This study also made no distinction between serial cheaters and individuals who (so far) have been unfaithful on only one occasion or with one person. There are many reasons people cheat on partners, and future research may find that there are genetic distinctions between serial cheaters and one-time cheaters, just as there appear to be between non-cheaters and cheaters.
All of these obstacles and potential variations mean that a genetic test for cheating partners may not just be a long way off—it may be fantasy.
How Does This Knowledge Affect Our View Of Cheaters?
So, is this information of no use if it can’t be used for screening purposes? Or worse, could it be used by serial cheaters to justify their behavior and allow them to deny responsibility for their actions?
Well, such a defense, if it can be called that, is a double-edged sword. Cheaters may argue that they are not to blame if their genes predispose them to cheating, but keep that predisposition in mind when you consider whether you believe you can trust a cheater in the future. If they want you to believe that they truly can’t control themselves or cannot change, there is no way that they can be trusted, since there is help through counseling and/or sex addiction treatment.
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