Cheating — we all know it’s a terrible thing to do and to experience, but what makes people do it in the first place?
Is it that they lack a moral compass, or is it much deeper than that? Read on to these 15 surprising things cheating says about a person:
1) They’re unhappy in the relationship
If your first thought on reading this heading is, “Well, that’s no excuse!”, you’re right. It’s not an excuse, but it is a common reason that cheaters admit when they get caught or ‘fess up.
Instead of leaving the relationship respectfully, some people instead seek comfort in the arms of some else.
They might have an emotional affair, or just sexual, but either way, their unhappiness shows through these acts of infidelity. With that in mind, here are seven types of different cheating to check out.
If your partner has cheated on you and claimed it’s because they were unhappy, it’s natural to wonder why they didn’t just speak to you about their misery first.
That’s a valid thought….unfortunately though, unhappiness can lead to a breakdown in communication, affection both physical and verbal and can lead to resentment and frustration.
The bottom line is:
Some people make the (right) choice of trying to work through the unhappiness, or by leaving the relationship. Others, aka cheaters, will use it as an excuse to play away and then turn the blame onto the unhappy relationship when they get caught.
2) They feel insecure
If you’re not giving it to them in spades and buckets, they’ll soon be looking for validation elsewhere.
So where might this insecurity come from?
- From childhood — maybe they were deprived of love and attention as a child, or they might have faced some form of abuse
- They haven’t healed from a destructive past relationship
- They’ve picked up insecurities from seeing others in toxic relationships
The sad truth is, cheaters who cheat because of insecurities are trapped with their demons. They may want to do the right thing, but there’s an urge, a need, to feel the validation they so crave.
Even to the point where they jeopardize a perfectly happy relationship.
3) They have commitment issues
We’ve all met a commitment-phobe at one point or another — they seem great until the relationship starts heating up, and then they dash for the door.
And sometimes that door leads to another person. This is a destructive behavior because deep down these people crave love and affection. They crave security.
But their phobia is stronger than that desire, and until they face their fears and hangups over being committed to one person, they’ll keep repeating this painful cycle.
And here’s the saddest part:
Commitment-phobes aren’t born this way. Studies have shown that those with poor attachments during childhood are more likely to cheat as adults.
This is because they might have:
- Been in the care system and moved multiple times (never building a strong attachment to any parental figure)
- Experienced abuse or neglect as a child
- Grown-up with narcissistic parents or parents with addiction
- Been in a household where abuse/toxic behaviors are prevalent (even if not aimed directly at said child)
So if your partner has cheated and claims it’s because they fear settling down and committing, it’s worth encouraging them to speak to a therapist.
Without professional help, they will end up ruining close relationships, never escaping their traumatic childhood.
4) They’re emotionally immature
Being emotionally immature is kind of the root of why people cheat — they’re unable to handle the commitment and responsibility that comes with being in a relationship.
And since they don’t have the maturity to deal with it, they look to escape and that generally takes the form of messing around in secret.
Their emotional immaturity means they struggle to understand the feelings of other adults — you can think of them as children in that sense (who act out of impulse rather than rationality and consideration).
This often means that they struggle to take accountability for their actions.
Even though they cheat, they still see themselves as the victim. They won’t accept their role in breaking up the relationship or hurting their partner, and that can be very tough for their SO to deal with.
5) They’re downright selfish
Selfishness can also come under the large umbrella of emotional immaturity, but it can also stem from having a strong sense of entitlement.
They put themselves first, in every situation. They are willing to hurt those they claim to love if it means satisfying their needs.
A selfish person won’t just cheat though, there will be plenty of other warning signs that come before that. Just look at how they treat people daily, their interactions will give away this cruel trait.
And the worst part?
A selfish person usually has one set of rules for others and another for themselves. They would hate to be cheated on, but since that doesn’t apply to them, they’ll happily do it to others.
Talk about hypocritical!
6) They have low self-esteem
Low self-esteem and insecurities walk hand in hand. And does low self-esteem and cheating.
People who lack confidence will sometimes cheat because they want to “get there first”.
Essentially, they reject their partner before their partner can reject them. It’s almost like a defense mechanism against getting hurt.
A highly destructive and damaging defense mechanism.
Their low self-esteem means they become extremely dependent on the relationship. It becomes part of their identity. But they become so attached that they then fear that relationship ending.
It’s a sad story all around because they don’t realize that every time they ruin a relationship or the trust of a loved one, their self-esteem sinks even lower.
Again, this is another cycle that will repeat itself until the person takes control of their emotions and mental health, invests in healing, and seeks support.
7) They’re capable of lying
This is an obvious one, but if the cheater doesn’t own up to their infidelity straight away, they’re clearly comfortable with keeping a secret.
And not only that, but depending on the length of their affair, it’s probable that they’ve become expert liars to hide all the evidence.
Think about it like this:
It’s not just hiding the fact that you’re meeting up with someone else, it’s all the text messages, phone calls, and receipts from dinners out.
Not forgetting the changing of clothes to get rid of lingering perfume/aftershave smells!
Nowadays, it’s a lot easier to cheat online which opens up a whole new dimension to being unfaithful.
All of this takes work. A careless, clumsy person wouldn’t get away with cheating unless they get their act together and plan every move they make.
After all, part of the thrill for a cheater is sneaking around and staying one step ahead of their (sometimes) oblivious partner.
But just because they’ve taken to lying like a duck takes to water, that doesn’t mean they can get away with it – check out these signs that your boyfriend is cheating.
8) They act on impulse
If a person is unable to control their impulses, they may be more likely to cheat.
The thing is, not all affairs are planned out with plenty of forethought — some are spontaneous experiences that even the cheater couldn’t have anticipated.
Only a small percentage of affairs last for a long time.
Now, lacking in impulse control might just be a trait of someone’s personality, but it could also stem from a mental health issue, also known as Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD).
That doesn’t mean that everyone with APD will cheat, but they might be prone to it.
The truth is:
Anyone who lacks control over their impulses generally doesn’t give much thought to the consequences.
They may get caught up in the moment on a night out, and without even considering their partner at home they’ll act on their desires.
They are driven by their emotions and desires.
This also comes under the umbrella of being emotionally immature, as they base their decisions on instant gratification (and in this case, outside of their committed relationship).
9) They lack self-respect and respect for others
If they lack self-respect…
They’ve stopped believing in themselves. They feel worthless. Even if you’re the best partner in the world to them, they’ll look down on themselves.
This negative attitude towards themselves means they’ll jeopardize their lives because they don’t feel that they deserve it in the first place.
Or, going back to points we’ve already covered, their low self-esteem makes them seek validation and attention from others.
If they lack respect for you…
They don’t care about your feelings. They don’t feel the need to honor their commitment to you, because (as horrible as this sounds) they just don’t see you as “worth it”.
And truthfully, cheating is a sign of disrespect in both aspects.
A person who can put you through that emotional turmoil and pain surely doesn’t give a thought to how their infidelity will affect your life.
It’s important to remember that this is not your fault. Even if you’ve done something to earn the disrespect of your partner, the mature thing would be for them to walk away from the relationship.
But to get up to hanky panky behind your back — there’s never an excuse for that.
10) They enjoy the thrill
Some people just get a kick out of doing things in secret. Sneaking around, playing with fire, getting close to being caught but then evading the truth one more time.
The risk is what turns them on as much as getting physical with someone else.
And thrill-seekers like this will usually take risks in other areas of their lives, too. They’re reckless, and they feed off the excitement that comes with deceiving their trusting partner.
Do they always do it intending to hurt you?
Not necessarily. A lot of the time, it’s due to them not stopping to think of how their actions will affect you.
Like those who lack impulse control, thrill-seekers of this nature rarely consider the consequences. They act first and think later.
11) They lack decision-making skills
For some people, crossing the line and being unfaithful to their partner is a big no-no.
They wouldn’t even entertain the entire of it, never mind actually going through with it. They stand firm in their decision to be loyal.
On the other hand, we have people who lack decisiveness.
Their moral compass of what’s right and wrong doesn’t kick in when they’re faced with a steamy situation involving someone outside of their relationship.
- A woman comes face to face with an ex after a few years…the emotions come flooding back and before she knows it, they’re hooking up behind her husband’s back.
- A man is away on a work trip when a colleague starts flirting and acting seductively. He knows he should say no, but in the moment he doesn’t know how to…
You get the gist. In every scenario, this indecisiveness plays a role. And quite often, if alcohol is in the mix, it may be even harder to make good decisions.
This article gives a few insights into how alcohol and cheating share a link, and how addiction can encourage infidelity.
12) They lack appreciation and gratitude
When you get to the bottom of it, betraying the trust of someone you love shows that you don’t appreciate their faith in you.
You don’t appreciate the emotions and time they’ve invested in you.
You don’t have gratitude for all they’ve done to support you on an emotional, even physical level.
This is a sad truth about cheating — when you’re on the receiving end of it, it can feel like your partner truly doesn’t care about you or value you.
But know that this is their problem, not yours — even the most loyal, caring, supportive partner can be overlooked and betrayed if their partner lacks appreciation and gratitude.
And when you flip the tables, sometimes a person cheats because they don’t feel appreciated by their partner.
Just as they crave affection and admiration, they may also yearn to feel appreciated. If they don’t get it from their partner, they’re more likely to start looking elsewhere for it.
13) Their love isn’t sincere
No matter how many times a cheater apologizes, tells you they love you, begs for your forgiveness, one thing is clear — their love isn’t as sincere as you thought.
Especially if they cheat multiple times.
I think we can all agree that mistakes happen, and even though it’s not condonable (and is a break-up-able offense) if they slip up and admit it straight away, their feelings may be genuine.
Even so, they’ve crossed the line.
But for cheaters who have long-lasting affairs with other men or women, or who have multiple one-night stands, it’s obvious that your emotional well-being isn’t a priority for them.
After all, isn’t love about having each other’s backs? Looking out for one another, staying loyal, and trusting each other?
Cheating doesn’t have a place in love.
No matter how much a cheater “regrets” their decision and professes their love, where was it when they were getting down and dirty with someone else?
And even if they use the excuse of, “I did it because we’d argued!”, or, “I thought we were on a break” (shout out to Ross Geller there) it’s not good enough.
Even if you’re on rocky grounds with someone, if you love them you won’t add more hurt into the mix.
14) They’re in the habit of cheating
It may be a case of habit rather than a thoughtful decision to play away and two-time on their partner for those repeat offenders.
They may have grown up seeing terrible role models. Parents who cheat on each other and continuously take each other back. Friends who regularly slip their wedding rings into their pockets or handbag on a night out.
They might have bounced from relationship to relationship behaving this way. Maybe they got away with it sometimes.
Other times they might have been forgiven over and over again, giving them the idea that it’s acceptable to cheat.
But regardless of their experiences in the past, if they claim to love and care for you but can’t break this terrible habit, you shouldn’t be under the illusion that they’ll suddenly change.
Unless they take themselves off to therapy and get to the root cause of why they struggle to stay faithful, they’ll keep repeating these behaviors regardless of who they’re with.
15) They’ll do it again
And finally in our list of surprising things cheating says about a person, is the probability that they’ll do it again.
Once a cheater, always a cheater, as the saying goes.
Or better yet — a leopard never changes its spots!
As I’ve just mentioned though, this can be possible with the intention and hard work put into changing this negative trait, but it won’t happen overnight.
And if your partner doesn’t acknowledge that what they do is wrong, there’s very little chance they’ll stop cheating.
So if you’re faced with a cheater, you have two options:
- Stick with them, help and support their change and rebuild your relationship together with the help of a professional.
- Accept the fact that they might never change and move on with your life, even if they are adamant they won’t do it again.
And just to add the final downer on the situation, one study found that there’s a whopping 350% chance a cheater will stray again. So, the odds are against you on this one…
The best thing to do is go with your gut instinct.
If you truly want to give them another chance and you believe they’re sincere with their apology, take the risk for love. You might regret it if you don’t and always wonder “what if”.
But if there’s a niggling voice in the back of your mind that doesn’t trust your partner won’t do it again, why take the risk and go through the heartbreak all over again?
If you need more facts to help you make your decision, these infidelity statistics (2021) will tell you everything you need to know.
From the points above, it’s clear that in many cases cheating behaviors can come from a range of causes — from childhood insecurities to toxic role models.
But one thing that can’t be emphasized enough is how cheating reflects him/her, not you.
But I get it…It’s so easy to blame yourself when someone appears uninterested in staying committed.
You can easily spend nights wondering where you went wrong. What you did to deserve this. What you could have done differently.
The truth is, you couldn’t have done anything to prevent this. Unless you’re a terrible partner who never pays any attention to your SO, but even in that case, the right thing to do is to break up, not cheat.
And finally, knowing that once a cheater, always a cheater, should hopefully signal a red flag for future relationships.
If you’re getting to know someone who hasn’t been faithful in the past, you might want to proceed with caution!