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How do cheaters feel about themselves? 20 things you need to know

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Being cheated on feels terrible.

How does it feel for the one doing the cheating?

Honestly, it depends. Here’s a no-nonsense look at exactly this issue.

How do cheaters feel about themselves?

1) Getting caught can actually feel liberating

Many cheaters actually feel a sense of relief when they get caught.

All the lies are now over, and there’s nowhere left to hide.

They can’t even hide from themselves.

Their bad behavior and sneaking around has now caught up to them and they’re faced with a very simple choice:

  • Leave their partner for the new person
  • Try to be forgiven and start over
  • Break up with both people and start from scratch

As Stotropama Mukherjee writes:

“Getting caught brings a cheater face-to-face with clear choices ahead of them:

“Surviving the affair and rebuilding the relationship (provided their partner is willing to give them another chance), starting a new life with their affair partner, or leaving behind both relationships and turning over a new leaf in their life.”

Getting caught is obviously scary, depressing and unwanted.

But at the same time, it makes a cheater feel that their situation is clarified.

2) Cheaters tend to react with extremes

On the other side of feeling relieved at getting caught and justifying it or using it as the excuse to exit an unsatisfying relationship…

Some cheaters are the opposite.

They feel horrible about getting caught and use it as evidence that they are a bad person who doesn’t deserve to be happy.

And who isn’t good enough for their partner.

Or they try to make penance with endless apologies.

As Dr. Karen Finn outlines:

“At one extreme, he/she may deny their responsibility for causing the pain and blame their spouse for forcing them to cheat.

“At the other extreme, they may feel they deserve the punishment, accept it as just, and live out the rest of their lives as a mere shadow of their true selves.”

3) Most cheaters care less than you imagine

While some cheaters feel terrible about what they are doing, as a general rule they are individuals whose ethical spark has already been dimmed before they decided to cheat.

The truth is that most cheaters care less than you imagine.

If you feel horrible about cheating on your partner, there’s a simple cure:

You don’t do it.

Even when you really want to.

Those who habitually and regularly cheat tend to be of the other kind.

They’re cynical about love, they’re narcissists, they’re professional victims or they’re basic con men and con women.

They tend to feel like crap about themselves and have a victim mentality, but they often have a big empathy gap when it comes to how their actions affect others.

They do what they want, when they want, because they can.

Whether they get caught or not becomes more of a logistical issue.

Because morally they’re already checked out.

4) Cheaters tend to have addictive personalities

Many cheaters feel terrible about themselves on a deep level. They don’t necessarily feel tortured about cheating, because they’re already deeply miserable and addictive individuals.

In fact, the link between addiction and cheating has been well established in numerous social sciences studies.

Cheaters tend to be people who are trying to fill a void, but are never satisfied.

An unending desire to fill the empty space inside leads them to constantly seek out novel sexual and romantic experiences.

But they come back empty-handed every time.

As Nextep rehab facility writes:

“The link between cheating and addiction is both real and unfortunately very strong… If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, cheating can be the proverbial last straw.”

That’s the problem right there: the more compassion you show for a repeat cheater, the more they tend to abuse it and cheat on you again.

But shutting them down can also be so hard, especially when you have feelings for them.

5) Cheaters tend to be freeloaders and users

In many cases, cheaters are people who are using us.

Whether it’s for comfort, sex, money or emotional stability, they feed off our energy and then play around on the side when they want.

Getting cheated on is not your fault, by any means.

But blaming yourself for it is a very bad sign.

The truth is, most of us overlook an incredibly important element in our lives:

The relationship we have with ourselves.

I learnt about this from the shaman Rudá Iandê. In his genuine, free video on cultivating healthy relationships, he gives you the tools to plant yourself at the center of your world.

He covers some of the major mistakes most of us make in our relationships, such as codependency habits and unhealthy expectations. Mistakes most of us make without even realizing it.

So why am I recommending Rudá’s life-changing advice?

Well, he uses techniques derived from ancient shamanic teachings, but he puts his own modern-day twist on them. He may be a shaman, but his experiences in love weren’t much different to yours and mine.

Until he found a way to overcome these common issues. And that’s what he wants to share with you.

So if you’re ready to make that change today and cultivate healthy, loving relationships, relationships you know you deserve, check out his simple, genuine advice.

Click here to watch the free video.

6) Cheaters often come from broken homes

Feeding right into the victim narrative is the added issue that many cheaters come from broken homes.

They often grew up without a father or mother, or in abusive or substandard conditions which cause significant psychological damage.

Of course many people who grow up in such environments don’t cheat on those they love.

But the point is that cheaters often have a shocking sob story which they love to tell people when their poor behavior gets exposed every so often.

They revert back to poor me, because that’s the inner narrative they run on.

7) Cheaters are full of excuses

One feeling which characterizes cheaters is entitlement.

Cheaters feel that their life’s problems and frustrations entitle them to do what they want.

They may feel a twinge of guilt or sadness about cheating, but their main feeling is one of why not.

Thinking of a partner in tears or a broken relationship isn’t enough to stop them.

They want instant gratification and pleasure right now, as soon as possible.

They’ll think about the consequences later (read: never).

8) Cheaters tend to have high time preference

Time preference is a psychological term referring to people’s desire for quick gratification.

Those with high time preference want to get their object of desire as soon as possible, despite any drawbacks, and despite potentially much more meaningful rewards later on.

As Austrian school economist Murray Rothbard explains:

“Time preference is the insight that people prefer ‘present goods’ (goods available for use at present) to ‘future goods’ (present expectations of goods becoming available at some date in the future).”

Cheaters have an extremely high time preference.

They hate to feel down and unsatisfied. They want their itch scratched as soon as they feel even the very beginning of it.

They want to have sex at even the first twinge of horniness.

They want emotional connection and comfort at the first symptoms of detachment and miscommunication in their current relationship.

They have no interest in delaying pleasure or putting a relationship first when their desires come calling. Instead, they want to just recklessly follow their genitalia wherever they lead.

Even if it’s to STDs and breakups. So be it. They want what they want now.

9) Cheaters are ruled by their impulses

Along with high time preference is a general unaccountability.  Cheaters often feel like they are a puppet on somebody’s strings.

But the strings are their own.

They just can’t – or won’t – take steps to control their impulses.

These are the kind of people who sit down with a mega-family-pack size of high trans fat potato chips as a snack and simply can’t stop reaching in and stuffing them in their face until the bag is scraped completely clean.

I’m not pointing any fingers, either. I’ve been there and my obesity can attest to that.

But the point is that when you have very low self-control you tend to hurt yourself and those around you.

10) Cheaters feel fundamentally alone

The irony about cheaters is that they often feel very alone.

They may believe that they’re soulmate passed them by and now they have a “right” to treat others as disposable objects.

Leaving aside the enormous damage this does, it’s also a toxic, self-fulfilling prophecy.

It’s one that all of us can fall into all too easily:

Cynicism, hopelessness and self-entitlement that causes us to hurt others without a care in the world.

One of the solutions is to have some faith and really try to find your soulmate.

But that can be a daunting assignment.

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11) Cheaters see themselves as the good guy

Part of the narrative in which the cheater is justified and a victim is that the cheater tells him or herself that they just “slipped up.”

Often, this will be enough to wriggle out of their first one or two instances of cheating.

They’ll throw out lines like:

  • “I was drunk.”
  • “I was so depressed.”
  • “I grew up in such a negative home environment and never learned what love should be.”
  • “I don’t know what I was thinking, he/she completely seduced me and tricked me into it!”

These narratives are as much to justify to themselves as to any other person they’re explaining to, including a partner.

As psychology professor Benjamin Le explains:

“The authors of a new study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships propose that cheaters feel bad about their indiscretions, but try to feel better by reframing their past infidelities as uncharacteristic or out-of-the-ordinary behavior.”

12) Some cheaters feel guilty if their partner still loves them

By now it should be clear that all cheaters are different. They all react in different ways.

These 21 things you need to know are just the top 21 most common emotional realities found in many cheaters.

And for the repentant cheater one of those issues they have is that they feel awful when their current partner gets intimate.

The guilt over cheating makes them feel they are fake or unfairly receiving love.

As a result they may become very detached or even hostile.

This is basically a form of self-sabotage where the cheater busts up their current relationship because they’re too scared to fess up but they also feel unworthy.

13) Some cheaters use infidelity as a weapon

Let’s not forget the angry cheaters.

These are the folks who use infidelity as a weapon.

They don’t get seduced on a Friday night out with colleagues or after messaging the wrong person on social media.

They carefully and strategically plan infidelities and use them as booby traps (no pun intended) in order to hurt and emotionally maim their significant other.

They not only want to get caught, they want it to be in the most humiliating and hurtful way possible so that their partner feels puny, unworthy and destroyed.

If someone is cheating for this kind of reason, they’re often a sociopath or else they are highly passive-aggressive.

Instead of trying to ruin someone’s life, why not just break up already?

14) Some cheaters escape relationship issues through cheating

When a relationship is in trouble it’s no fun for anyone involved.

Cheaters take the easy way out.

It’s the equivalent of emotional denial:

When you have a difficult or painful emotion…

Instead of facing or accepting it, you simply watch porn, take drugs, drink, or go start a fight.

Instead of dealing with faultlines in his or her relationship, the cheater just hits the eject button and goes off to get flooded with dopamine and sexual distraction.

It’s a cheap trick with real emotional damage attached.

15) Some cheaters just aren’t satisfied with the sex

It’s an awkward subject, but sex is also a big motivator in why some cheaters cheat.

Sometimes they’re just not satisfied with the loving they’re getting from their partner, so they go searching for some new sexual partners.

Cheaters often cheat on the person they’re cheating with as well, and so on.

It’s a cycle of dissatisfaction that doesn’t really stop until the cheater gets caught or burns out from all the inner emptiness.

As astrologer Adrian McKinney puts it:

“Put it simply, they feel bored with all the love making with their partner; hence, they end up wanting new experiments that is not in the relationship.

“It depends, but it could be because of the feeling of sex, the style of sex, the type of sex, or the frequency of sex.”

There’s no easy answer about what to do here, and your partner being bored with sex is not necessarily you’re fault at all.

If you’re the cheater who’s unsatisfied with sex, just know that reacting impulsively to this causes a lot of harm and generally won’t give you what you’re seeking, apart from a few moments of fleeting pleasure.

16) Some cheaters are stuck in avoidant attachment style

The avoidant attachment style is a common psychological issue that some people suffer from in relationships.

This means that they react to intimacy by detaching and running away.

Early childhood trauma is often at the root of this, and it can be devastating for relationships.

Avoidant people often end up partnered with anxious people, those who anxiously seek validation and love.

The anxious person then can’t get enough validation, while the avoidant can’t get enough distance.

The result, sadly, is often that the avoidant partner ends up cheating:

A way of fleeing the intimacy that scares them, while also fulfilling their temporary desires.

17) Some cheaters are starving for more validation

On the other side, some cheaters are the anxious type. They feel that their avoidant partner isn’t giving them enough attention, and they seek it elsewhere.

They try to find it in the arms of strangers, but end up disappointed.

This then causes them to double down, chasing more intimacy and encounters that they hope can give them the validation they crave.

This is quite a trap.

Because here’s the thing:

Even if the anxious person’s partner is not avoidant, no matter how much love they show it’s almost never enough for the anxious individual.

This leads to a very difficult situation to work out. If you don’t feel you’re worthy of love and use that as an excuse to cheat it’s one of the saddest things in the world.

18) Some cheaters feel enlivened by the danger

On a basic level, some cheaters also feel enlivened by the danger.

Having a steady romantic partner more or less bores them. The sex bores them, the intimacy bores them, the conversations bore them.

They want to have sex with someone they’re not supposed to…

Care about someone unexpected and unstable…

Talk to somebody they shouldn’t even be sharing the same room with.

The lure of the forbidden fruit is a very strong psychological motivator and can be very difficult for some to resist, especially cheaters with addictive tendencies.

19) Some cheaters are too scared to break up

Some cheaters do feel real regret about what they’ve done and wish they weren’t engaging in infidelity.

What makes this kind of cheater keep going, is usually that they are timid and scared of a conflict.

They want to avoid unpleasantness, so they don’t communicate with their partner.

They cheat on him or her instead.

It’s far from a solution, and it often only makes things worse. This shows how having an unhealthy relationship to fear and trying to push it down or make it go away only makes it stronger.

20) Not all cheaters feel the same

As I mentioned earlier, every cheater is different. They are often tied by traits they share in common, but a lot depends on the situation and the person.

The cheater’s actions may be the same, but their mindset and ethical code differ from person to person.

Some may be in a monogamous relationship but truly believe that cheating is fine and not a big deal.

Others may be ethically strict and believe cheating is always wrong, but have a poor relationship to discipline.

“What a cheater feels depends on their personal moral code and whether and to what degree their behavior strays from it. It also often depends on their ability to imagine how they’d feel if the roles were reversed,” notes relationship writer Barrie Davenport.

That’s exactly it:

Regardless of how a cheater feels, his or her regret depends a lot on the ability to feel empathy and put themselves in somebody else’s shoes.

Calling out cheaters

It’s important to call out cheaters.

When you give a pass to bad behavior you let yourself and everyone else down.

Unless your girlfriend or boyfriend is fine being cheated on, they should have broken up instead of being unfaithful.

That much is clear.

What’s also at issue here is what you do next:

Make sure that you don’t let this victimization define your life.

There are better days ahead, and people you will meet who will respect you in the way that you deserve.

Can a relationship coach help you too?

If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.

I know this from personal experience…

A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.

If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.

In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.

I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.

Click here to get started.

Written by Paul Brian

I’m a multimedia journalist with experience in print, photography, video, and online. My passion is reporting on individuals, faiths, nations, and situations that impact us all on the journey of life.

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