Among the many turmoils a relationship goes through, the breach of trust and disrespect that infidelity embodies is the most devastating. This understanding is largely molded by looking at infidelity from the perspective of the one who’s been cheated on. But we often fail to see this: How do cheaters feel about themselves?
The state of mind of a cheater has been incorrectly stereotyped. They’re touted to be callous people who don’t flinch before exposing their relationship to the risk of destruction and their partner to a lifetime of emotional trauma. But how does a cheater feel after being caught? A recent study has found that cheaters know what they did was wrong, feel bad, and know they have scarred a person for life. However, some still cheat and are able to discount their indiscretions somehow. Furthermore, the research found that it is highly likely for them to cheat again.
Yet, a cheater’s mind is fraught with feelings of guilt, fear of getting caught, and the uncertainty of the future of both relationships. Do cheaters realize what they lost? Do cheaters miss their ex? How can cheating affect the cheater? Let’s find out the answers by hearing the confessions of people who have cheated on their partners.
What Is Cheating?
Before we get to decoding ‘how does cheating affect the cheater?’ and ‘how does it feel to cheat on someone you love?’, it’s vital to define what counts as cheating in a relationship. Broadly, cheating can be defined as a monogamist or mono-amorous person in a committed relationship forming a romantic connection with someone other than their partner.
However, as we said before, when it comes to complex emotional matters, things are hardly black and white. There is often a lot of gray area to navigate. For instance, for some people, even looking at another person as an object of desire is cheating. They may believe that there is nothing called harmless flirting when you’re in a committed relationship.
Related Reading: Confession Story: Emotional Cheating Vs Friendship – The Blurry Line
Likewise, looking through your old flame’s photographs on social media can be considered cheating on your partner. Cheating can be very subjective and how a person defines cheating is entirely up to their perspective on the matter. People could be micro-cheating and treating it as a bit of harmless fun or they could be involved in an emotional affair without even realizing that they are being unfaithful to their partner.
Cheating has taken different forms in the modern age but how do cheaters feel about themselves? This is a very important aspect that determines how cheating will affect a relationship. Unless a person is a seasoned serial cheater, betraying their partner’s trust takes a huge toll on their peace of mind and emotional health long before their transgression comes to light, and even if it doesn’t get exposed at all.
How Do Cheaters Feel About Themselves?
- How does a cheater feel after being caught?
- Do cheaters get their karma? Do cheaters suffer?
- Do cheaters realize what they lost?
- Do cheaters miss their ex?
- Do they feel shame?
- How does it feel to cheat on someone you love? Don’t they have even a tinge of guilt?
Questions like these begin swirling around in our minds when we are cheated on. We hope that by asking the right questions to an unfaithful spouse or partner, we can lessen our pain. When that doesn’t work out, we want our partner to feel the pain that we are going through. In most cases, cheaters do feel remorse for their actions long before they are caught.
Yet, people cheat and continue going down the path of self-sabotaging their relationships, knowing fully well the consequences of their actions. Though cheating is a weakness, it makes people feel powerful and in control of their stories albeit momentarily. Perhaps, it gives them a sense of fulfillment in the moment or infuses a rush of thrill, excitement, and desire in their lives.
Whatever be the reason behind this tendency to play with fire that has the potential of engulfing their entire world and reducing it to ashes, cheaters do suffer emotionally every step of the way. Infidelity can be a lonely experience, which can turn into a tormenting mix of guilt, shame, and fear.
How Do Cheaters Feel When They Get Caught?
One thing all cheaters have in common is that when they get caught and their secret affair gets discovered, most of the time, it is liberating. For all the shame, pain, hurt, and accusations, an affair coming to light also brings with it an end to the secrecy, hiding, and a carefully constructed web of lies to keep one’s partner in the dark. That can be a welcome relief for a cheating partner because most people are aware, at the back of their minds, that a lifelong affair is a rarity and an illicit secret relationship comes with a limited shelf life.
There is no denying that the actions of a cheater have devastating effects on the person who gets cheated on. Meanwhile, this is what happens to the cheater once the affair is exposed:
- The cheater feels compelled to make a choice between their partner and paramour
- The cheater’s perspectives changes about their relationship and the secret affair
- Now, they are a bit glad they don’t have to do things in secrecy anymore
- They will either beg their partner to forgive them or they will be happy that it’s all done and dusted
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.
How do cheaters feel about themselves upon getting caught? No matter how constricted a person feels when cheating on their partner, the discovery of their transgression is never easy to come to terms with. Cheaters suffer consequences and every cheater goes through different stages of guilt during this time, ranging from shifting the blame to their partner to trying to salvage the relationship, slipping into depression over what they’ve lost, and finally, coming to terms with the consequences of their actions.
So do cheaters realize what they lost? They most definitely do. However, by then, a lot of damage has already been caused to all parties involved.
Related Reading: Everything You Need To Know About The 7 Types Of Affairs That Exist
What Is Cheaters’ Psychology?
Basically, four types of mentality lead to cheating:
- First, when you are unable to make a clean break with your current relationship and need either a temporary escape or a way out
- Second, when you have a pattern of self-sabotaging your own happiness
- Third, when the temptation to cheat is readily and easily available and in close proximity, even if you’re happy with your primary partner
- Fourth, when you want a new romance because you feel entitled to it
You might cheat because of the following reasons:
- Deep-rooted insecurities
- Poor attachment styles
- Sense of unfulfillment in your primary relationship
- It’s an escape mechanism
Some cheaters suffer, and feel shame and guilt, for acting out of their insecurities. Some justify everything other than actual intercourse as casual or harmless. Some have no remorse and have all the markings of serial cheaters perspectives. The latter kind must work hard to break the pattern by finding its root cause with the help of an expert counselor or therapist. Strangely, sometimes wives feel guilty when their husbands cheat.
6 Cheaters Tell Us How They Feel About Themselves After Cheating
Do cheaters get their karma? If so, what are the karmic consequences of cheating? Do they feel horrible about themselves for cheating on their partners? How do they go to sleep at night and look at themselves in the mirror? How do cheaters feel about themselves? The mind can truly boggle by a barrage of questions that infidelity can rake up. We’re here to help answer at least a few of those through insights on how cheating affects the cheater from people who’ve lived these experiences first-hand. These are true stories and therefore the names have been altered.
1. “I cheated before my marriage” – Randal
“Brianna and I have been married for 6 years. I was caught cheating. I cheated on her with God knows how many people. But that was before we were married. I immediately uninstalled all the dating sites after the wedding. I didn’t tell her earlier because I thought that it didn’t matter, but I did confess recently, though I still didn’t think my actions were a big deal. I tried to tell her that but she would not listen. Then she asked me something that made me realize where I went wrong.
“She asked me, why did you hide it in the first place for so many years if it didn’t matter? For the first time, I started feeling bogged down by cheating guilt and realized why I hid it from her for so long. I was wrong then and I’m wrong now. I have felt the karmic consequences of cheating long after my transgression. What I feel for her is true love and now she is heartbroken. She gave me another chance and we decided to stay together. I can only hope she will find it in her heart to forgive me completely. Every day, I try to be a better person, and ask for forgiveness in myriad ways. I realize now that cheaters suffer as well.”
2. “I feel horrible about her questioning eyes” – Kayla
“Pi is the only person I’ve ever truly loved. She’s my home. But for years I cheated on her as I felt suffocated by commitment because of my low self-esteem. But then, these affairs started feeling like a burden and I wanted to be released from it. I started having cheater’s regret. I knew I made a mistake by cheating on someone I truly love. So, I confessed everything to Pi and eventually, she forgave me. Yes, I have been an unfaithful partner but she forgave me. However, I couldn’t forgive myself. I cheated on her because of my own insecurities.
“My commitment issues got the better of me and it was the biggest mistake of my life. I am trying my best to fix things. If you ask me how do cheaters feel about themselves, I would just say one word, horrible. I have erased her smile. Every time my phone rings or I get a text, she looks at me with a question in her eyes but she doesn’t say anything. I feel like I’m in the prison of my own guilt. I feel so much remorse. I ruined our relationship.”
Related Reading: The Affair Aftermath – 6 Ways To Get Over Cheating Guilt
3. “Karma got back to me” – Bihu
“When I was dating Sam, I cheated on him with Deb. It went on for a while until I finally broke up with Sam and started dating Deb. Sam was devastated but I didn’t care. It affected me only when I found out that my new partner, Deb, was also cheating on me. It is then that I started to understand how Sam must have felt. When you cheat on someone, someone else will cheat on you in the future. I felt the same pain that I gave someone. That’s cheater’s karma.
“I called Sam to apologize but it was too late. He was already in a happy relationship. My pain of being cheated on was only challenged by my guilt of cheating on Sam. Do cheaters get their karma? If you ask me, I’d say there’s no escaping it. Karma got back to me. The situation was truly sad and taught me a terrible lesson. This is one of the main reasons I tell my friends to never cheat on someone they love, because people who cheat are never the same again. The guilt of their actions haunts them forever.”
4. “I feel guilty when he shows love” – Nyla
“When Prat went to work abroad, I felt very lonely. I couldn’t resist these feelings of loneliness. Roger, my colleague, and I got intimate a few times but we both knew that it was nothing serious. It has been a long time, but now Prat has come back home and wants to marry me. I feel guilty but I don’t know if I should tell him the whole thing. I also can’t say yes to the marriage without telling him anything.
“I feel like I have betrayed his trust and can never have a normal life with him anymore. Every gesture of love he shows me makes me feel more and more guilty every day. I want us to stay together but I don’t know how to deal with my guilt, which leaves me stifled every moment. That’s precisely how cheating affects the cheater.”
5. “My hasty decision ruined everything” – Salma
“My boyfriend, Swarna, was in a relationship with three other girls from my class, or so I was made to believe by one of my friends. I felt insulted and cheated. To get back at him, I went ahead and had a one-night stand. I made one of the classic mistakes in a long-distance relationship of letting distance erode the trust. Later, I found out that my friends were just helping Swarna plan a surprise visit to see me. It was a horrible way to ‘surprise’ me.
“Swarna walked in on me in bed with another person and broke up with me the next day. How could I have ever chosen to hurt him? I ruined my relationship with my hasty vengeance. I begged and wanted us to stay together but that was out of the question. I’ll never get over the guilt of what I did to him. I cannot even begin to explain how I feel about myself after cheating. Do cheaters realize what they lost, you ask? Every single moment. Cheaters suffer a lot, I’d say.”
6. “My wife supported me when my secretary started blackmailing me” – Roman
“I had an affair with my secretary. My wife, mother of my two children: she sacrificed her career to take care of me, my children and my family, and I rewarded her by cheating on her. I neglected her and spent all my time with my secretary.
“I had to tell my wife about the affair when my secretary started to blackmail me. My wife supported me and helped me deal with the situation. But I lost her trust. I’m doing what I can to reinstate love and trust in my marriage but I don’t know if it would ever be enough for her to recover from her heartbreak. I only feel remorse now and nothing else.”
Do Serial Cheaters Feel Remorse?
Serial cheaters are different from one-time cheaters because cheating comes to them pathologically and it is a part of their system. Serial cheaters can keep cheating with a straight face and keep convincing their partners every time that everything is hunky-dory. Serial cheaters are typically narcissists who look at every person as a possible conquest, they are very charming and feel no remorse about cheating. On rare occasions, if they feel guilty about cheating, they quickly brush that aside and get back to their ways. So if you ask serial cheaters how they feel about themselves, chances are they would say they feel great.
- Infidelity and its scope is very subjective for everyone
- It destroys the one who is cheated on, but it can also leave permanent scars on the cheater
- People cheat due to being in an inadequate relationship, their own trauma patterns, low self-esteem, lust and temptation, and a need for escape or novelty
- They might feel liberated once they are caught as they can finally stop lying and keeping secrets
- After the initial thrill passes, most cheaters regret the impact of their actions on their partner, and are forever racked with guilt for having hurt someone they love and respect
- Serial cheaters don’t feel any remorse and are typically narcissistic in nature
If someone cheated on you and you decide to cheat on them with someone else, then trust me, you are not going to heal this way. Cheating is a menace that destroys lives and families. Most of all, it destroys trust in a relationship and your own peace of mind: that is truly a regrettable loss. It takes a toll on everyone involved, including the cheater. If you have been cheating on your partner and don’t know how to put an end to the affair before it’s too late, know that you’re not alone. Reach out to your loved ones. Talk to your friends and extended family for support. Believe that you are capable of mending your bond.
Scores of people battle similar dilemmas and benefit from counseling where they understand how to break problematic attachment patterns. The fact that you want to make amends is a step in the right direction. You can go through this journey with the guidance of a skilled therapist. With licensed and experienced therapists on Bonobology’s panel, the right help is only a click away.
This article was updated in January 2023.
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