Infidelity in a relationship can be devastating, shattering trust and connection. While those who cheat may have their reasons, the characteristics of a cheating woman are often obvious, if assessed with some degree of attention and awareness. There are many cheating personality types, and while it’s hard to say that women who cheat can be recognized by two things or three things, there are behavioral patterns and character quirks to look out for.
So, how do you recognize the characteristics of a cheating woman? And to what degree is it fair to assess that a woman is cheating based on these characteristics? Is a woman who has cheated before necessarily going to cheat again?
It’s hard to ask these questions if you think your partner bears any characteristics of a cheating woman. It’s even harder to take a long, hard look at her and at your relationship and see a possible cheater. But it’s also important that you have awareness and know what’s going on.
For more insights, we talked to psychologist Juhi Pandey (M.A, psychology), who specializes in dating, premarital, and breakup counseling, and sought her expert insights on some specific traits of a cheating woman.
How Common Is Cheating For Women?
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The norm across most known data is that men are more likely to cheat than women. However, a study shows that this can vary according to age. In the 18 to 29 age group, women were slightly more likely to indulge in infidelity than men (11% vs 10%).
Interestingly, infidelity for both men and women increased during middle age, and women in their 60s report the highest rate of infidelity (16%), which then takes a sharp dip in their 70s and 80s. On the other hand, the infidelity rate among men in their 70s is the highest (26%) and remains high among men ages 80 and older (24%).
There’s a chance that women might cheat but talk about it less, which would mean there’s no record of their indiscretions. Also, women often face harsher repercussions if their infidelity is discovered. Losing a marriage, custody of children, financial support, etc. may just be some of the consequences women face for extramarital affairs, along with the massive social stigma of being a ‘fallen woman’.
“It’s fairly common these days for women to cheat on their partners as much as men,” Juhi says, “Women may cheat due to various reasons – not getting enough attention from the primary partner, being unhappy in the relationship, or being sexually dissatisfied in the current relationship.”
While the numbers show that cheating is still more prevalent among men, there could be a good deal we still don’t know about women and their proclivities toward infidelity.
17 Characteristics Of A Cheating Woman
Characteristics of a cheating woman can be fairly easy to pinpoint, albeit somewhat generalized. But again, it’s tough to see a loved one in such clinical terms. Even so, we’ve rounded up some traits of a cheating woman to look out for if you suspect your partner of being unfaithful:
Related Reading: Confessing Cheating To Your Partner: 11 Expert Tips
1. She’s become emotionally distant
“One of the fairly common characteristics of a cheating woman is that she is no longer emotionally connected to you, her primary partner. Even if she is physically present in the same room, you’ll feel that she isn’t involved in the conversation and isn’t really there. In other words, she becomes an emotionally distant spouse,” says Juhi.
When a woman is cheating on you, even if the affair is mostly physical, her mind will be elsewhere and she will seem constantly preoccupied. She’ll be less involved in everyday conversations and the little things that make up a committed relationship and it’ll be obvious that even when she’s responding or participating in things, her mind is otherwise occupied.
2. She’s out of the house a lot more
How can you tell if a female is cheating? She’ll be out of the house a whole lot more than she was before. Now, this is not to say that every woman who goes out is cheating on her partner, but there will also be hints in the way she hurries out at odd times. So, before you start thinking of infidelity recovery stages, consider this.
“To spot a cheating woman, you’ll notice that she has a way of conveying that she needs to be out of the house. She’ll hint or straight-up say that there’s not much excitement at home or when you are with her. Alternatively, she may find other excuses to be out of the house – a sudden unexplained errand or work-related outing, etc.,” Juhi says.
Related Reading: 11 Signs Of Emotional Cheating, With Examples
3. Unexplained late-night phone calls/texts
Again, to assume that late-night calls and texts are one thing all cheaters have in common would be generalizing to a large extent. However, it can’t be denied that communication of this sort abounds when infidelity is prevalent, leading to trust issues.
“Maybe she’s busier with the phone than usual. Or, maybe she’s hesitant to take calls when you’re in the same room. Or, she could be giving secret little smiles of pleasure while texting, and when you ask her about it, she shrugs it off,” Juhi says.
This is a tricky situation to be in since the most obvious solution might be to check your partner’s phone. This could lead to further trust issues between you and her, and make it even more difficult to heal your relationship.
4. She looks for reasons to fight/argue
The best of relationships go through ups, downs, and arguments. There are even situations where fighting sustains a relationship, as it airs out issues that have been festering for a while. But when a woman cheats on you, she might try to assuage her guilt and confusion by picking fights for no reason.
“Since there is more disconnectedness and emotional detachment, there tend to be more arguments, which further widen the communication gap between you,”
Juhi says. Communication issues in relationships are often signs of a deeper problem, and in this case, it could be that your partner feels guilty about her infidelity, or she’s trying to push you away and get you to leave her so she feels less guilty.
5. She’s cheated before
Among the traits of a cheating woman is that she’s done this before. It’s what she does. She cheats, shows remorse, promises to do better, and then goes ahead and does it again.
“I was with someone who had cheated on her previous partner. It was nice to believe that she wouldn’t do it with me because I was ‘the one’, but that wasn’t how it worked. She ended up cheating on me as well, several times,” says Jamie.
It’s not as though serial cheaters can’t change and settle into a committed relationship, but if cheating has become a way of life for them, it’s difficult to get out of it. Mind you, cheating is always a choice, so don’t fall into the habit of accepting that your cheating partner “just can’t help it”.
6. She’s got commitment issues
You might think this is the same as being a serial cheater but there are subtle differences. A woman with commitment issues isn’t necessarily a cheating spouse, but these issues could definitely contribute to her infidelity as and when it occurs.
A commitment-phobe will fear getting into a long-term relationship for various reasons – loss of autonomy, trust issues, childhood trauma or abuse, and so on. Therefore, as one of the cheating personality types, a woman who does not want commitment may use infidelity to keep from getting too close to a partner.
Among the characteristics of a cheating woman may be a deep sense of insecurity over her ability to build and sustain a lasting relationship. It’s possible she doesn’t trust herself or her partner, and therefore, cheating and flitting from one relationship to another is her way of coping.
7. She’s a narcissist
Being with a narcissistic wife or husband is exhausting. And, a narcissist who is also cheating on you becomes a whole other story to live out and handle. Of the various cheating personality types, narcissism ranks right up there, due to the self-obsession and self-congratulatory traits these people tend to display. When you spot a cheating woman who is also a narcissist, one thing that’ll stand out is that she thinks she can get away with it.
Narcissists have an exaggerated sense of self-admiration, so they assume that their partner either won’t know what’s going on or will easily forgive a cheating spouse because they don’t want to lose their cheating partner. Narcissists also have little remorse or shame for their actions, so infidelity may come easier to them.
8. She accuses you of cheating on her
Blame-shifting is definitely one of the characteristics of a cheating woman. To shift suspicion and accusation away from herself, she may turn the tables and accuse her partner of cheating on her instead.
“This was a mind-game my ex-partner played all the time. Anytime I tried to confront her about her infidelity, she would turn around and accuse me of sabotaging the relationship and cheating on her instead. It was gaslighting in a truly toxic form, and really messed with my mind,” says Thomas.
Mind-games like gaslighting in relationships are a great way to show yourself as innocent and utterly devoid of blame, and also make your partner uncertain about their accusations. And if there is one thing all cheaters have in common, or at least most of them, it’s convincing others of their innocence.
9. There’s a change in her sexual appetite
Of all the characteristics of a cheating woman, it would be prudent to look out for a sudden switch in sexual appetite, whether it’s an increase, a decrease, or just a change in how she approaches physical intimacy.
She could start behaving as though your touch is anathema to her, with even a touch on the arm causing her to instinctively move away. When it comes to intimacy, she could start making frequent excuses and reasons to keep away, even suggesting sleep divorce to ensure there’s no physical connection between the two of you.
Alternatively, she could suddenly seem more interested in new and fresh ways to get sexually intimate, and increased physical intimacy, as though eager to practice new tips and tricks in the bedroom. Either way, you will notice changes in her fixation (or lack thereof) with intimacy.
10. She constantly plays the victim
It’s easier to play a victim than a perpetrator of infidelity. After all, who would you rather be – someone who has hurt and shattered a partner or spouse, or someone who’s been hurt and victimized their entire lives. The latter does bring you more goodwill and sympathy, doesn’t it?
Related Reading: 11 Smart Ways To Catch A Cheating Wife
One thing all cheaters have in common is that their go-to defense mechanism is to make themselves out to be the wronged party. If their infidelity is found out, they’ll immediately resort to all the ways they’ve been unhappy in the current relationship and refuse to take any accountability. Even otherwise, if they’re criticized in any manner, their first reaction will be to act as though it’s never their fault.
11. Her self-esteem is low
Dating a man with low self-esteem, or a woman, would mean that a person needs constant validation from external parties. Infidelity, or bouncing from one love affair to another, is one way of constantly grasping for this elusive sense of self.
How can you tell if a female is cheating? If her self-esteem is consistently low and she looks outside herself for validation and to feel good, there’s a chance she sees romantic entanglements as a way to shore herself up, to make herself feel good. Also, it’s possible that being in one relationship dissatisfies her because she feels she’s not getting enough compliments or validation from it, and so, she starts looking elsewhere.
12. She normalizes cheating
“I was with someone for two years and I thought she was really cool because she calmly talked about being with other people and didn’t seem to mind if I happened to mention that I found someone else attractive. It was only later that I realized it wasn’t just talk. She wouldn’t see cheating as hurtful or a betrayal because she was justifying her own infidelity,” says Ryan.
Remember, being honest about polyamory or an open relationship is very different from talking about cheating as though it’s perfectly acceptable. Cheating, by definition, is going behind someone’s back and taking advantage of their trust. So, if someone you’re dating is going on about how humans weren’t meant for monogamy, take the discussion further and see whether they’re looking to cheat or change the terms of the relationship.
13. She’s been lying to you
There’s a reason that the terms lying and cheating are so often used together. Again, it’s tough to say that women who cheat can be recognized by two things, etc. but there’s an excellent chance that she lies, not just about the infidelity, but about other things as well.
Related Reading: What To Do When Someone Lies In A Relationship
When a woman is cheating on you, she’ll lie about where she was, who she was with, and why she was out late. She’ll make constant excuses about being late, making mysterious phone calls and so on. And, if you accuse her of lying, she’ll probably gaslight you and accuse you of not trusting her.
14. She’s rarely happy around you
If the woman you’re with displays a constant sense of dissatisfaction and melancholy over a prolonged period of time, there’s a chance she’s looking for happiness and fulfillment outside the relationship.
One of the characteristics of a cheating woman could be that no matter what her current partner does, it’s not what she wants and she’s just not happy. This could stem from specific instances of being neglected in a relationship, or it could just be general unhappiness or a need for a change.
A lack of compatibility and happiness can’t always be rationalized. A woman who is unhappy in a relationship may initially feel she should stick it out in hopes that things will get better, but ultimately, her dissatisfaction, whether physical or emotional, may manifest in cheating.
15. She refuses to discuss the future with you
She tells you she loves you, but when it comes to planning beyond the next weekend, she shuts down immediately. Now, we’ve already talked about commitment phobia being one of the characteristics of a cheating woman, but in this case, it’s not just your shared future she refuses to discuss.
Related Reading: 25 Questions To Ask Before Marriage To Be Set For The Future
“I had a relationship that I thought was long-term. But I soon realized that every time I broached the subject of a future – a weekend away, meeting the family, and so on, she always brushed it off, saying she didn’t even know where she would be next month. I later found out that she was seeing someone else on the side,” says Deb.
Maybe you can’t assume that women who cheat can be recognized by two things specifically, but a flat or a vague refusal to talk about a future can certainly be a sign.
16. Her need for attention is immense
Cheating in a romantic relationship can stem from an intense need for attention, to always have the spotlight focused on you. A woman who cheats could be doing so because she enjoys being the center of everyone’s focus and needs to feel important at all times.
Now, we all like attention, and a healthy relationship is one where both partners get their deserved share of being in focus. But when you can’t accept that a relationship goes through periods where you won’t always be front and center, and your response to that is to cheat, that pretty much spells doom for the relationship.
17. She’s easily bored
Boredom in a relationship is common enough, especially if you’ve been together for a while. But a relationship sustains when it’s mutually understood that a relationship goes through ups and downs and that sticking it out is what counts.
One of the characteristics of a cheating woman could be that she lives for the beginning of relationships when everything is fresh and interesting. As soon as it goes beyond that first blush of passion and romance, she gets bored and starts looking elsewhere for another new beginning, and so on. She’s not looking to settle down or settle in – she just wants the good stuff at the beginning.
There’s no exact formula to tell whether or not a woman is cheating on you. When a woman cheats on you, it may not be obvious at all. Alternatively, she could have some of the characteristics mentioned here but may not be cheating on you at all.
“Women may have extramarital affairs but still be in love with the primary man in her life. And if and when the primary partner realizes or changes, chances are that a woman may go back to her primary partner,” Juhi concludes.
To spot a cheating woman is one thing, to confront her with it is quite another. You need to ensure you have solid proof before getting into a fight and doubting her faithfulness. And if it turns out that she is cheating on you, ensure you have a plan and a support system in place to deal with it. You may want to consider therapy, in which case, Bonobology’s panel of experienced counselors is just a click away.
Dealing with a cheating spouse or partner is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, even if you’ve scoped out all the characteristics of a cheating woman. Be strong, but remember to also be gentle with yourself. It often takes two to break up a relationship, but there’s no doubt that a cheating partner needs to take accountability. We hope you figure it out. Good luck.
A woman can cheat due to boredom in her current relationship. She may also cheat due to her needs not being met in her current relationship because she’s lonely or she’s in an abusive relationship or marriage. Alternatively, it could be an insatiable need for attention and validation that makes her cheat.
Yes, a woman can cheat and still be in love with her current partner. If you’re in a long-distance relationship, maybe she needed someone to talk to and got involved in emotional infidelity. Maybe she’s just seeking physical gratification elsewhere. Or she could be contemplating an open relationship or polyamory.