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As a child, it’s your worst nightmare to have the two people who love you the most tell you they don’t love each other anymore.
As we get older, though, we’re more likely to start seeing our parents as people, and be more understanding of their decisions.
This is particularly true if one or both of the parents were unfaithful.
When we’re very young, it can be almost impossible to imagine how our parents could be happier with different people, but as we grow up, we realise that they might still be working life out too.
However, whenever it happens, something still sticks. According to one study from 2015, published in the Journal of Family Issues, children who had one parent cheat on the other are more likely to be cheaters themselves.
Researchers asked 294 student participants to complete a survey to see whether people were more or less likely to cheat when their parents had had affairs.
33% of participants answered that their mother or father had cheated on their other parent. Dads were slightly more likely to have been the one to mess around.
Meanwhile, about 30% of the participants in the survey said they had also cheated on a romantic partner.
The researchers found that those who had unfaithful parents were twice as likely to have had a parent who had also cheated – 44% versus 22%.
Having unfaithful parents didn’t affect the way students viewed cheating overall, though. Children of cheaters were apparently no more accepting of the idea, if we are to believe their answers, so what exactly accounts for this increase in them being unfaithful isn’t certain.
The researchers concluded that family experiences are related to infidelity behavior, so this could be through indirect influence, such as one parent having a clear fear or commitment, or constantly highlighting the importance of independence.
The reasons people cheat also differ greatly. Some research has shown that women are more likely to look elsewhere when they are searching for comfort, whereas men stray when they aren’t having enough sex in their current relationship.
Another study also showed that higher intelligence means someone may be less likely to want to cheat on their partner. However, as the research showed, this doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t do it.
If you’re with someone whose parents are divorced, don’t panic. The increased probability of cheating is just another risk factor in the already complicated world of dating. Equally, if you’re the child of divorced parents, and you have no intention to cheat, you’ll be fine, too.