Saturday, August 19, 2023

15 Warning Traits Of A Serial Cheater – Don’t Be His Next Victim

Some serial cheaters are driven by traits like narcissism or entitlement. Others cheat because they’re bored or have low self-esteem. Some enjoy the thrill of secret affairs, of being sneaky and getting away with it. Some cheat because they’re afraid of intimacy. Then there are those who cheat because they have unmet emotional or physical needs within their relationship. Cheating is a complex topic after all.

Getting caught in the rut of being cheated on repeatedly by someone you love so dearly is only going to take a toll on your mental health and sense of self. To help you protect yourself from womanizer signs, we’re here to shed light on how to deal with liars and cheaters, with insights from forensic clinical psychologist Shincy Nair Amin (M.Phil., Forensic Psychology), who specializes in working with sexual assault victims and sexual offenders, counseling for depression and anxiety, and is a certified life coach.

Who Is A Serial Cheater?

Cheating says a lot about a person, and anyone who has crossed the line of fidelity has a lot to answer for. However, when it comes to a pathological cheater, the pursuit of the forbidden fruit becomes a different ball game altogether.

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A serial cheater is a person in a committed, monogamous relationship who consistently seeks multiple relationships outside. Since they are repeat cheaters in marriage or long-term relationships, they suffer from little remorse and hardly feel guilty for their actions.

That’s because one of the most defining cheater red flags is that they don’t view cheating as a mistake. If you’re looking for serial cheater personality traits, keep an eye out for these:

  1. Cheating is valid: Habitual cheaters in marriage or committed relationships don’t view their transgressions as wrong or hurtful. To them, cheating is valid
  2. I cheat but I love you: Serial infidelity while in a relationship and then going back to tell their partner, “I love you so much”, is one of the telling personality characteristics of cheaters
  3. Guilt-free: A pathological cheater doesn’t experience any cheating guilt. Not for long anyway because in their mind their actions are legitimate
  4. Compulsive cheating: He/she can’t stop cheating. Owing to their low commitment, they feel bored easily, when it comes to staying with one partner for the long term
  5. Lack of personal accountability: A repeat cheater may tell you that this was just a one time thing. But, the reality is that serial cheaters in marriage are people who don’t want to accept responsibility, even if they do everything to make you believe otherwise
  6. Serial adultery is second nature: A pathological liar and cheater, as the name suggests, cheats. A lot. Over the years. Over partners. Over drinks and over business meetings. They might not want exclusivity on the sexual front just because they are already in a relationship

Related Reading: What To Do When You’re In A Relationship With A Womanizer

Serial Cheating Psychology

Now that you understand the serial adultery definition, let’s take a look at the mindset of a cheating wife/husband. Shedding light on serial cheating psychology, Shincy says “Serial cheaters personality disorder is the “repeated pattern of looking out for people for sexual relationships other than their own partner, without knowledge or consent of the present partner.” This behavior can be seen in both males and females.”

As a result, you can find some similarities in the male and female cheating behavior patterns as well as the underlying triggers for their inconsistent behavior in a relationship. “A scientific study conducted on the Spanish population to understand the chronic cheaters psychology especially among adolescents and young adults showed that committing an act of infidelity for either sexual or emotional reasons was related to an increased level of psychological well-being as it raises their levels of self-esteem. 

“It can called the ‘Cheater’s high’, which means emotional and psychological satisfaction from unethical behavior, due to perceived gains (social,  financial or other) like:

  • Increased sense of autonomy
  • A feel-good factor/a sense of thrill from taking risks or getting away with something

If it’s the thrill and gratification keeps them going, why do serial cheaters narcissists get married, you may wonder. Or for that matter, why do serial cheaters want to stay married when they derive their gratification from a series of extramarital liaisons?

Shincy explains,”Interestingly, there are different types of cheaters and not all cheaters cheat for the same reasons. Compulsive cheating disorder is characterized by traits like manipulative behavior, antisocial personality, narcissism/extreme self importance, sociopathic tendencies and others. These can stem from:

  • Mood disorders
  • Sexual addiction/low impulse control
  • Underlying childhood traumas like a broken home, abuse
  • Low self-esteem or feelings of unworthiness
  • Insecure attachment styles

“However, cheating is a violation of trust and most victims of cheating go through emotional turmoil questioning their worth or their fault for the failure of that relationship. But, it has nothing to do with the victim; all boils down to the offender/cheater and their self-destructive tendencies. 

“But, loving a cheater still remains a scarring experience. Fortunately, there are certain womanizer traits or warning signs she has multiple partners to know if a person you’re in a relationship with or interested in is on this spectrum,” she adds.

Related Reading: 5 Excuses Your Partner Gives For Cheating On You

15 Warning Traits Of A Serial Cheater You Should Never Ignore

Exposing a narcissist is not at all easy. “Most common traits of serial cheaters are being less empathetic, disinterested and self-obsessed. Such individuals possess certain attributes that can help you identify a serial cheater in them,” says Shincy. If you can’t shake off the feeling that you’re living with a cheater, pay attention to these tell-tale signs:

1. You’re dating someone who cheated in the past

Dating someone with a history of cheating is a major red flag. Even if they feel guilty, the feeling is fleeting at best. The phrase “once a cheat, always a cheat” stands true in their case. Explaining why it is so, Shincy says, “Serial cheaters are known to exhibit an antisocial or sociopathic tendencies, marked by a constant disregard for rules and loyalty toward everyone in their lives.”

2. Blame their exes way too much

People with compulsive cheating disorder always put the blame on external factors:

  • All of their exes before you were simply not good enough
  • They themselves are harmless and that their past relationships ended because of no fault of their own
  • When they’re caught cheating, they don’t shy away from pinning the blame on their partners either

What do cheaters say when caught? Shincy answers, “A person who cheats in a relationship has a habit of blame-shifting. If you’re looking to identify cheating people, the most common and reliable trait is their tendency to always blame others for their bad behavior or fault. They can make the most impressive mental acrobats to prove that others are responsible for their terrible or miserable actions.”

3. They groom a lot

He might be indulging in a side affair without your knowledge. Men who are serial cheaters are unusually conscious of their looks. Likewise, if your woman is curling her hair more than often or changing her favorite shade of lipstick, there’s a possibility her side beau likes that particular shade.

We may feel it is normal, but it is a warning sign of cheating we all ignore. An unusual focus on looks and grooming habits can indicate you are about to have a heartbreak.

Infographic on serial cheaters personality traits
Classic serial cheaters personality traits

4. What’s with the sudden secrecy, babe?

Lying has to come naturally to a serial cheater. And because smartphones are the holy grail of a person’s interests, purchases, Google searches, the evidence of the lying will be in his gadget. All the secrecy about his gadgets is among the big clues you’re dating a liar:

  • Does he not use his phone much when he is with you?
  • Do calls go unattended?
  • Have his passcodes changed?

Ashlyn, who was married to a cheater, says that his being sneaky in a relationship made her smell a rat and dig deeper. “The repeated adultery signs started becoming apparent when my husband began hiding things from me and then lying to cover his tracks.

Over time my suspicions got the better of me, and one night, I started looking through his phone after he had fallen asleep. Lo and behold, there were not one but three women he was sleeping with on the sly. What causes a man to be a womanizer? I’ll never understand,” she says.

Related Reading:15 Shocking Things Cheaters Say When Confronted

5. Too charming to your friends

Another one of the defining traits of cheating men/women is their inherent charm. They have a way of channelizing it no matter where they are. They can charm your socks off and are socially smooth as butter. And because they like the thrill of the chase, their charm meter is always on.

Sometimes even strangers are taken over by how pleasing they can really be. A serial cheater will not stop at charming just you and strangers. While meeting your friends too, they will talk their ears off, and in all possibility, your friends will love them.

6. No to feeling remorse

Guilt is simply not their thing, and if you wonder why a cheater would cheat again, it is practically this. I mean serial cheaters possibly cannot feel bad otherwise they wouldn’t opt for constant cheating.

The signs he doesn’t regret cheating stem from the adrenaline rush. When something makes you feel so good about yourself, it’s hard to look down upon it. “A serial cheater personality disorder can be identified by their proclivity for risk and sensation seeking. Though this is an exciting trait to fall for and is seen as the foundation of attraction among many young couples, this adrenaline-seeking behavior can seep into the love life and tend to make them cheaters,” says Shincy.  

7. Low commitment

Do they still have Tinder or Grindr on their phone after you have made things official? This means they are not ready to commit fully or at all. They are not really commitment-phobes, but they know that they do not want to commit.

This becomes an even bigger threat to a relationship in these tech-driven times when all the avenues to cheat are just a click away. So, when Paul says he still hasn’t uninstalled Tinder because “it’s a good time pass” and Karen believes him, what she doesn’t realize is that Paul has been sexting two women while in bed with her.

If caught, he may even totally negate your argument that sexting qualifies as cheating in a relationship. Not being fully committed could also mean they have relationship PTSD from the past. But all the signs mixed together can mean trouble.

8. Can manipulate what people think about them

You will have to give it to them, they are smart as hell and can change the way people see them. A little crying, a little laughter, with some emotional manipulation thrown in the mix, and they get away with their actions:

  • They have a way of making people empathize with them despite everything
  • If someone is getting close to catching them, they might start the pity parade
  • They gaslight you by expressing how stressed up they are of late

What do cheaters say, you wonder? Let’s face it – saying “I feel like killing myself” will make everyone worried and the distraction from the truth is granted.

Related Reading: 20 Warning Signs Of A Cheating Husband Which Defines An Extra Marital Affair

9. A bit of a narcissist

They cannot pass a mirror without fixing their hair. They like the world revolving around them. Another sure-shot trait of people addicted to cheating – they believe themselves to be the best. And when they do not get the appreciation they think they deserve for doing the least possible thing, they step outside with their charm to seek it from someone else.

Do guys with low self-esteem cheat? Shincy agrees, “The one thing all cheaters have in common is narcissism. Such people have a tendency to always look for others to feed their egos. Behind the flamboyance, a narcissist is insecure and needs others to make them feel worthy by constant reassurance. Hence, it becomes difficult for them to understand others’ wishes or feel remorse or guilt for their actions.” 

10. A social butterfly

One of the defining characteristics of serial cheaters is their outgoing nature. They like to party, socialize and be the center of attention wherever they go. Partying is second nature to them, and they will indulge in it, with or without you. They mostly have friends to go to parties with. And it’s not just alcohol.

Gambling, substance abuse plays a role in a serial cheater’s life. Why do alcoholics cheat on their spouses? Well, when the inhibitions get lower, things happen. When you get to know them up close, it’s not hard to identify a serial cheater. After all, they are the bearers of relationship red flags. The tricky thing though is that despite seeing the worrying behavior patterns, you may fall for their charming, smooth-talking ways.

11. No control over flirting

How to tell if a man has multiple partners? They flirt. A lot. And say – “It was harmless”. Looking for signs he will never be faithful? A serial womanizer would end up:

  • Buying a drink for a stranger in a bar
  • Paying compliments to your friend for her perfectly sculpted body
  • Casually making physical contact with a coworker
  • Giving a once-over to a ‘hottie’ passing you by in a mall

12. Their friends drop hints

Even serial cheaters narcissists can have a morally-high friend circle. If you have gotten hints from them about your partner being with too many people at the same time, don’t downplay it. Friends know more personal things from the past that you might be privy to in your relationship with a serial cheater.

Related Reading: My Boyfriend Is Flirting Online With Other Girls

They tend to be more subtle about it and might dismiss them as a light-hearted joke (because they don’t want you to break up), but the hints are always present. These could well all be attempts to hide from you the fact that she/he keeps on cheating again and again:

  • Are they wary of introducing you to their friends?
  • Do they try to steer clear of the possibility of you socializing with them a lot?
  • Do their friends’ comments or know-it-all expressions make your partner squirm?
  • Do they jump to change the topic and steer the conversation into safer waters?

13. You get quizzical glances from the opposite sex

Has it happened that you walked in into a party with him and after being introduced as his partner someone kept looking at you quizzically? This is a classic tell-tale sign that the person, maybe someone they were going around with earlier, is trying to fathom what kind of a relationship you share with them now.

Or perhaps, your partner was hanging out with the same group of people with a different ‘partner’ by their side just days ago. Know that narcissists cannot maintain intimate relationships.

14. They are organized

With all the lies, the secrets, the sleeping around, they need to be organized. They are like serial killers who have their kill weapons pre-planned. For serial cheaters, the kill weapon is their mind and they want everything to be like they like them. There is no scope for any mistake.

How to catch a cheater in the act? If you want to truly understand whether your partner displays the personality characteristics of cheaters, study their responses when you ask their whereabouts. A serial cheater will always:

  • Have an elaborate story
  • Complete with hilarious incidents and detailed information about the surroundings and circumstances
  • Have it rehearsed so well, that they’d repeat it word for word, no matter how many times you ask
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15. That unshakable gut feeling

I am not saying you throw your partner out because you have a gut feeling that they’re serial cheaters in marriage or relationships. But don’t ignore it either. Most of the time, our gut tells us things our mind hasn’t quite accepted. Even if you trust your partner completely and your gut does a somersault about the way things are in your relationship, don’t let the feeling go.

Serial cheaters are not common to come by. But if you do end up in a relationship with one, it can wreck you for a long, long time. For their part, they won’t even wince once before betraying your trust and dishonoring the vows of commitment. “Fooled you once, will fool you again and again” – that’s what makes them tick.

“Look out for these characteristics of serial cheaters when you enter a relationship. According to infidelity psychology, men who stray cannot keep a poker face and can be predicted by a decent degree of accuracy. But interestingly, women who cheat are pretty much impossible to read,” advises Shincy. So, if you’re looking for the signs of guilt from a cheating husband/wife, pay attention to the body language.

What To Do If You’re In A Relationship With A Serial Cheater

Now that you know what makes a person cheat, the follow-up question is “Do cheaters change their ways?” Psychologist Nandita Rambhia answers, “Yes. However, it’s not easy and takes its time. Healing and forgiving require a lot of effort from both partners. It can only happen if both feel a strong need to rebuild love from scratch. If this need is strong, sincere, and honest, the chances of moving ahead are high.”

Even research suggests that re-trusting a partner who has caused you emotional trauma – be it through infidelity, lying, dishonesty, or emotional manipulation – requires openness, the intention to cooperate, sharing, and mutual support between partners. How can you forgive someone for cheating? Here are some tips:

  • The process of how to make him stop cheating starts with acknowledging that there is something damaged that needs to be fixed
  • The only way to undo the damage is to make extra efforts to save the relationship
  • Deep dive into why the damage happened and what can be done differently this time
  • Forgive yourself for the shame of staying and take care of yourself
  • To build trust, pick up new hobbies together and schedule weekly date nights
  • Don’t shy away from taking the support of trustworthy people
  • If you still see suspicious behavior in a relationship, make the brave move and walk away

Key Pointers

  • If your SO hides his devices, it’s a major red flag
  • Dating a cheater means you’re dating someone with low self-esteem
  • When someone accuses you of cheating, it’s probably their guilt conscience speaking
  • Seek professional help to fix this bad relationship/li>

The guide on how to prevent cheating in a relationship starts with open communication and accountability from both the sides. Do you notice signs of true remorse in your partner? Most importantly are those signs of remorse backed by concrete actions? In such cases, it helps to seek guidance from someone more experienced, mature, and non-judgmental. If you’re looking for therapy for serial cheaters, our counselors from Bonobology’s panel are just a click away.

Finally, if you have a niggling doubt that something is amiss, keep a keen eye and don’t overlook the subtle warning signs staring you in the face. And once you see your partner displaying more than a handful of signs he will cheat again, sit back, take stock of the situation and decide your future course of action.


1. Do serial cheaters ever feel remorse?

No, if there is one thing serial cheaters are incapable of feeling, it is remorse. That’s because, to their mind, all their actions are justified. It is this mindset that keeps them hooked on cheating over and over again.

2. Can serial cheaters change?

No, chronic cheaters psychology almost always a result of underlying personality disorders such as narcissism. Unless a person recognizes that they have a problem and is willing to seek help for it, they cannot change.

3. Why do serial cheaters want to stay married?

Serial cheaters get and stay married because on some level they too want a companion to share their life with. Even so, he keeps on cheating again and again because of two reasons – they can’t live without it and they know they can get away with it.

4. Can cheaters change?

Maybe. The tips on how to get someone to stop cheating start with seeking therapy for serial cheaters. If he is genuinely implementing those trust-building exercises, it may be one of the signs he will never cheat again. However, if you still notice signs of an opportunist boyfriend/husband, it’s better to walk away, for the sake of your mental health.

5. Why do I attract cheaters?

There’s nothing wrong with you. Stop doubting yourself. You cannot blame yourself for trusting a cheater. Compulsive cheating is very complex and has more to do with your SO’s past and childhood trauma.

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