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How to Prevent Infidelity and Adultery

How to keep your husband, wife, or lover from cheating.

A few months ago, I wrote an article about prayer as a useful way to prevent infidelity and adultery in relationships. As a result, I received some requests for additional techniques to increase a partner's fidelity and prevent them from cheating. So, if you would like to prevent infidelity or adultery in your relationship, then continue reading below.

I did a bit more digging in the research. Techniques to reduce infidelity are known as "Mate Guarding" or "Mate Retention Tactics" in the psychological literature. Evolutionary psychologists have been hard at work identifying and studying these techniques. If you learn a few, then your relationships might just be a bit more secure too!

Mate Guarding and Mate Retention Techniques

An extensive investigation on mate guarding and retention tactics was conducted by Buss (1988). Buss (1988) conducted two separate experiments in the investigation. The first experiment attempted to categorize different types of tactics. The goal of the second experiment was to determine the effectiveness of each tactic.

From the first experiment, Buss (1988) found 104 behaviors performed by both men and women to guard or retain their mate. Those behaviors were categorized into 19 separate "tactics." At the most basic, tactics were either employed to keep the individual mate faithful themselves (Intersexual Manipulations) or to ward off potential rivals who might try to steal them (Intrasexual Manipulations). The full categorization of the techniques was as follows:

Intersexual Manipulation Tactics - tactics performed on the mate.

  • Direct Guarding - behaviors that control the mate's behavior directly.
  • Vigilance - keeping track of the mate, checking up, and spying.
  • Concealment - keeping the mate away from others.
  • Monopolization - taking up all of the mate's time and staying close.
  • Negative Inducements - behaviors that reduce a mate's motivation to cheat.
  • Threaten Infidelity - flirting with someone to make the mate jealous in return.
  • Punish Infidelity Threat - yelling at or ignoring a mate who is flirting with a rival.
  • Emotional Manipulation - crying, pleading, or making a mate feel guilty.
  • Commitment Manipulation - asking for a greater commitment to reduce cheating.
  • Derogation of Competitors - pointing out flaws in rivals.
  • Positive Inducements - behaviors that increase a mate's motivation to stay faithful.
  • Resource Display - buying the mate something nice.
  • Sexual Inducement - increasing sex or sexual behaviors with the mate.
  • Enhance Physical Appearance - looking good for the mate.
  • Emphasize Love and Caring - sharing love and affection with mate.
  • Submission and Debasement - changing or giving in to please a mate.

Intrasexual Manipulation Tactics - tactics performed on rivals.

  • Public Signals of Possession - behaviors that show the person is "with" that mate.
  • Verbal Signals - claiming mate as girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, etc.
  • Physical Signals - holding hands, kissing, sitting close, etc.
  • Ornamentation - giving mate clothing or jewelry to wear to show relationship status.
  • Negative Inducements - behavior that reduces a rival's motivation to cheat with mate.
  • Derogation of Mate to Competitors - telling rival that one's mate is not appealing.
  • Intrasexual Threats - threatening or confronting rivals.
  • Violence - physically assaulting a rival.

In the second study, Buss (1988) focused on perceptions of the effectiveness of each mate guarding behavior. From the participants' rankings, the researcher found that some behaviors were more effective in preventing infidelity than others. Tactics such as emphasizing love and caring, enhancing physical appearance, resource displays (for men), and sexual inducement (for women) appeared to be the most effective techniques to keep a mate faithful.

In contrast, techniques that were violent, negative, or directly controlling tended to be less effective. Thus, partners were able to keep their mate from cheating primarily by positive inducement — motivating them with various rewards to stay faithful.

Preventing Adultery and Infidelity

When individuals try to prevent a lover or spouse from cheating, they often jump to negative, controlling, and possessive behaviors. Some snoop and stalk. Others become needy, controlling, and jealous. Yet others threaten, beg, or plead. As we have seen above, all of those are indeed techniques used to guard a mate — but they are NOT the most effective. In fact, they might be counterproductive to a happy, loving, and successful relationship.

Thus, it is better to keep a mate from cheating by increasing their motivation and desire to stay. Essentially, rather than trying to control or punish a partner away from infidelity, it is more effective to reward and encourage their faithfulness and love. Particularly, the following behaviors can help:

  1. Emphasize Love and Caring - By far, the most effective behaviors reported, used by both men and women, were those that communicated love and care. Sometimes, these demonstrations were verbal declarations of love and care. Other times, they were physical signs of affection. In either case, they increase a partner's feelings of connectedness and attraction - reducing the likelihood that they might cheat. So, to improve the fidelity of your relationship, build a greater connection with your lover (for more, see here), share your gratitude with them (see here), and be physically affectionate (see here).
  2. Enhancing Physical Appearance - Men and women also found that improving their looks helped keep their partner's attention. Some made themselves up a bit. Others got some new clothes. Overall, the physical improvement helped keep their lover's eyes on them — and away from the rivals. Thus, to keep a partner paying attention to you and only you, it helps to improve your appearance (for more, see here).
  3. Rewarding Them - A thoughtful gift, or a bit of sexual attention, tended to keep partners happy and faithful too. Thus, an individual who rewarded a mate's faithful and affectionate behavior, with the occasional night out or romantic gesture, was successful in keeping them happy (particularly true for women). Similarly, the individual who rewarded a mate's loyal and considerate behavior with some sexy response was successful in keeping them happy (particularly true for men). Therefore, to keep a partner satisfied and faithful, it is important to reward them (for more, see here) and attend to their needs for romantic gifts (see here) and sexual fulfillment (see here, here, and here).


Preventing infidelity or adultery can be a concern in monogamous relationships. Often, individuals use negative, controlling, or emotionally-manipulative tactics to keep their lover faithful. Unfortunately, those behaviors are often not effective and may be counterproductive. Rather, keeping a partner faithful is best accomplished by increasing their motivation and desire to stay with you. Show them that you love and care for them. Improve your appearance to keep their attention. Reward them and attend to their need for romance and sex. These tactics will help keep them from wandering...and make your relationship more satisfying and positive too.

Until next time...happy dating and relating!

Dr. Jeremy Nicholson
The Attraction Doctor

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© 2014 by Jeremy S. Nicholson, M.A., M.S.W., Ph.D. All rights reserved.


Buss, D. M. (1988). From vigilance to violence: Tactics of mate retention in American undergraduates. Ethology and Sociobiology, 9, 291-317.

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