Cheating is complicated, and no one incident is going to force her into another man’s bed. But there are some specific things that might make her more likely to go home with that other guy instead of sticking with you.
That’s what a survey from online pharmacy Superdrug Online Doctor in the U.K. found, after they asked 2,000 Americans and Europeans to spill what’s most likely to make them stray.
So what’s going on? If her ego suffers as a result of these behaviors, she might be tempted to look elsewhere to build herself back up—before she even considers the consequences of what she’s doing, says relationship therapist Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D.
The good news is, many of the triggers are well within your control. The bad news is, you might already be doing them.
So while there isn’t really any way to predict for sure if she’ll be faithful, there are some clearcut signs that she’s not happy in the relationship, the survey found. Here are the top five reasons women cheated or were tempted to cheat—and exactly what you should do about it.
not paying attention to her
Why it’s a problem: Not getting enough attention from their partner was the top reason women reported cheating or being tempted to cheat. That’s because relationships are all about companionship, says licensed marriage therapist Moushumi Ghose, author of Classic Positions Reinvented. When you stop paying attention to her, she might start to wonder what she’s getting out of staying committed to you.
“If your partner is not paying attention to you, you are not building a connection, not staying connected, and then the purpose of the relationship is diminished greatly,” she explains. (Should you tell your partner you cheated? We explore.)
Your move: Tell her three positive things about her every single day, suggests Ghose.
“Letting her know you see her can make a huge difference in how she feels not just about you, but about herself and the relationship,” she adds.
And no, you don’t have to rattle them off all at once. In fact, you shouldn’t. Instead, spread them out throughout the day, and let them flow naturally.
Plus, it’s the little things that mean the most, says Hokemeyer.
“Leave a note under her pillow. Acknowledge one piece of her wardrobe—her shoes, her earrings, the color of her lipstick. Bring her a cup of coffee in the morning. Send her a text during the day that says you’re thinking of her,” he says.
not there for her
Why it’s a problem: To understand why it’s an issue, you first need to understand what “being there for her” means in the first place. Basically, you need to have her back, especially when things get rocky, explains Hokemeyer.
“Being there for her is important because it shows her you’re safe and supportive when her world gets chaotic, stressful, and overwhelming,” he adds.
Unfortunately, sometimes words are worthless. She needs to feel that you’re there for her through your actions, he says. If she doesn’t, she might turn to another guy for that comfort instead.
Your move: “The easiest way to let your partner know she is supported is to be present,” says Ghose. “Make eye and body contact when she speaks and ask questions that suggest you are genuinely interested in what she has to say.”
It also means you might have to do things you don’t always want to do. “Do the very thing she wants that make your toes curl in your shoes. Push through your resistance to say, ‘hell no!’ and do it,” says Hokemeyer.
It’s as simple as cleaning up the kitchen (even though you hate doing the dishes) before she gets home from a late night at work, or visiting her parents with her when you rather be anywhere else for your vacation.
she has doubts about the relationship
Why it’s a problem: Feeling doubt about your relationship comes down to whether or not she still trusts you, explains Hokemeyer. If she doesn’t trust you, she might start to feel vulnerable. Most doubts are filled with insecurities, anger, and resentment. She might turn to another guy to escape these feelings.
This loss of trust can happen for lots of reasons, adds Ghose. Maybe you’ve been arguing more than usual and you said something that really rubbed her the wrong way, she saw you looking at another woman, or she caught you in a few white lies. As a result, she might start to check out emotionally—say, by not engaging in arguments or discussions or by spending less time at home.
These relationships doubts can manifest themselves in withdrawal, where she’s stepping away from your relationship to make herself feel more in control, rather than breaking the entire thing off, says Ghose.
Your move: “The best way to find out if she has doubts is to start focusing your attention on her reactions to you. How does she respond to your touch? Does she roll her eyes when you tell her you love her or find her attractive? Is she questioning your actions, diligently following your whereabouts and demanding accountability?” explains Hokemeyer.
If so, the best way to win her back is by earning her respect again. To do that, you need to act with respect yourself: Show up on time when you make dinner plans, follow through on your promise to mow the lawn on Sunday, be present in your relationship by asking her about her day every single day, says Hokemeyer.
It also helps to acknowledge any recent mistakes you’ve made, says Ghose. This way, you’re at least showing her that you’re aware you might have wronged her in the past, and that you want to move forward in the right direction.
other guy is really attractive
Why it’s a problem: It’s your worst nightmare: She leaves you for a Charlie Hunnam doppelganger. But it can happen. Being attracted to the opposite s*x is just a part of being human. (Here’s why you really don’t need to worry about it most of the time.)
“Humans do a good job pretending we’re civilized, but the truth of the matter is we’re a shower and a shave away from primal beasts,” says Hokemeyer. “Physical attraction is baked into our DNA. It’s part of our life force that defines our very survival.”
But looks may only play a small part in the equation, says Ghose. “A woman needs to feel sexy, too. If her partner does not appreciate her looks, or does not tell her she is sexy, this may send her hormones raging in another direction. This is also multiplied if her partner criticizes her, makes her feel small, or tries to demean her,” she explains.
Your move: Appreciation is key here—but you have to be specific. Tell her she is sexy. Tell her how hot you really think she is. Better yet, show her just how much she turns you on.
That means you have to pay close attention to what she needs in bed, so prioritizing her climax by focusing on foreplay is important, even if you tend to finish first, says Hokemeyer. (For a step-by-step guide on giving her the best climax she’s every had, check out How to Pleasure a Woman, the Men’s Health guide to becoming a master lover.)
Why it’s a problem: Boredom can be dangerous for your relationship because she might feel like the best of what you have to offer is long gone—and that can be terrifying, says Hokemeyer.
“In reaction to this terror, we act out in dangerous and irresponsible ways to recharge our lives,” he says. “s*x outside our primary relationship is exciting because it’s dangerous, irresponsible, and forbidden.” (Here are five signs you bore her in bed.)
Your move: Switch things up. Doing something new stimulates your central nervous system, which pumps out hormones that make you feel excited, Hokemeyer explains.
So go on a hike, spend a day at the lake, go see a foreign film, or visit a part of your town that you haven’t seen before—do anything that gets both of you out of your normal routine, says Hokemeyer.
You can also try being direct: “If she says she is bored, ask her what would make her life more exciting,” says Ghose.
A word of caution: Her boredom can often be out of your control, and can fall directly on her not being satisfied with her own life. In the end, sometimes that’s a problem only she can sort out.“You may not be able to change this one, and that is okay,” says Ghose. “Not all relationships were meant to be.