Will I Cheat If My Parents Are Divorced?

Office CoupleThere are a number of really creative and, well, lame excuses for cheating. One that might bear a bit of examination is the idea that having your parents divorce might make you more likely to cheat. It sounds a heck of a lot more convincing than “I thought she was you,” anyway.

On the surface, it sounds like another lame cop-out, but could there be some merit to the idea that divorce dooms our future relationships? Divorce is a stressful event in the lives of everyone involved, and the scars are bound to show themselves later in life.

Do people with divorced parents have trust issues?

So the two people you love and trust more than anyone else in the world as a child suddenly tell you that they don’t love each other anymore and you won’t be living with the two of them at the same time anymore. That wouldn’t affect your ability to trust someone again, would it? It might even make you lose your faith in love or marriage in general, therefore allowing you to cheat without feeling that you’re really endangering anything sacred.

If your parents have a bitter divorce, the trust issues go even deeper. Now you get to hear the two people who you love and look up to tearing each other down, making both seem, well, mortal in your eyes. Such a crash can make you lose faith, and you may just find your faith lacking when you’re trying to decide if your partner is worth staying faithful to when you’re an adult.

If cheating caused a parental divorce, are the offspring more likely to cheat?

Children learn a lot from their parents and, as any parent knows, they learn more from a parent’s actions than from their words. If a parent cheats and the child knows about it, that child is learning that cheating is normal adult behavior. If you get divorced because of cheating, chances are that your child will find out about it. Somewhere down the line the child will grow up and subconsciously be thinking “My dad cheated—what’s wrong if I do it too?”

This can work in an opposite way, too. Kind of like the child of the alcoholic who sees booze ruin his family and swears to never take another drink, a child who sees his parents get divorced because of cheating might just learn the lesson her parents didn’t.

Does growing up in a single-parent household make someone more likely to cheat?

There have been many studies that show all sorts of nasty side effects that come from living in a single-parent household—everything from an increased likelihood of drug abuse to an increased chance of being abducted by aliens. The bottom line is that children need a healthy environment with good role models, and if one parent isn’t a good role model, the child might be better off without them. The same goes for keeping kids from growing up to be cheaters.

If a boy grows up with a single mother but he has a good male role model, like an uncle, a big brother, or a teacher or something, he’ll probably grow up just fine. If there are no men in his life at all, or if the men in his life are nothing but a parade of scuzzy one-night stands, that boy may grow up to have some major problems, especially including issues with women, and cheating may be the least of them. The same holds true for any combination of single parents and kids—there needs to be a good role model to fill in for the missing parent or else there will be issues down the road.

Shouldn’t people be responsible for their own actions?

For every psychological explanation for a negative behavior, there is someone standing on a soapbox shouting that people need to take responsibility for their own actions. There is truth to that too, and for every person who had divorced parents and then went on to cheat 300 times, there is probably another who stayed faithful their whole life.

People do make their own choices and, while a divorce or other traumatic childhood event might push someone in a particular direction, it does not mean that they are destined to go that way with no hope of change. A person whose parents divorced might feel drawn to cheat, but if they are strong-willed enough or have enough love for their partner, or even fear of the consequences, they may well be able to stay faithful.

Divorce takes its toll on families in many ways, and it might just be possible that causing children to grow up to be cheaters in relationships is one of them. Whether trust issues, learning cheating behavior, or not having a good parental role model of one sex or the other, there is clearly damage done to children by divorce, and unless they are able to overcome it, they might be destined to become cheaters as adults.