Is the definition of a cheater as simple as ‘someone who has sex outside a relationship’? No, it is way more complex. There are various types of cheaters and the reason why they cheat varies from one type to another.
It could be narcissism or entitlement, or it could be boredom or low self-esteem, people who cheat are driven by different reasons, depending on the personality types of cheaters. Some people cheat because they consider it a game and some cheat because they are given a guarantee of confidentiality and so they don’t fear getting caught.
Some cheat because they fear intimacy and others cheat due to unmet emotional or physical needs in their current relationship or marriage. Also, a lot of people cheat just because lying gives them a kick or because they can’t conform to the idea of monogamy and want variety.
Reminds me of the movie Last Night, which deals with the inner working of a marriage with both partners tempted by different forms of infidelity when they spend a night apart following a fight. But what are these different forms of infidelity? Let’s dig in on the types of cheating.
The 7 Types Of Cheaters – And Why They Cheat
Psychotherapist Esther Perel points out, “The reason for divorce nowadays is not that people are unhappy but because they feel they can be happier. We live in an era where leaving is not a shame. But overstaying when you can leave is the new shame.
“But if divorce or breaking up is not ridiculed anymore, why do people still cheat? Maybe a shocking incident like the death of a close one shakes them and forces them to raise questions about their own relationship or marriage. They ask themselves questions like…Is this it? Is there more to life? Am I ever going to feel love again? Do I have to continue for another 25 years like this?”
Related Reading: When Is It Time To Divorce? Probably When You Spot These 13 Signs
As Esther points out, infidelity is much more complex and deep-rooted than it seems on the surface level. And so, to understand the reasons behind cheating, it becomes essential for us to understand the different types of cheaters:
Someone who constantly self-sabotages is first on the list of types of cheaters. He/she is just too scared to break up so ends up doing things that would force their partner to call it quits. Subconsciously, this type of cheater fears rejection and hence pushes their partner away. Also, they regularly cause drama in the relationship so that they get constant reassurance from their partner.
Moreover, they have a deep fear that their independence might get compromised in a committed relationship. So, to still feel free enough or liberated enough, they resort to self-destructive behavior like cheating.
Why do they cheat? It could be a courage deficit or the fear of being abandoned. The moment things start getting deeper in a relationship, the fear of this type of cheaters takes over and they go into self-destruction mode. It could be that they have an insecure attachment style.
2. Types of cheaters – The wounded one
Why a cheating person shows no remorse? Reminds me of Kris Jenner, who had cheated on her husband, Robert Kardashian. Referring to the guy she had cheated with, she confessed in her book, “He kissed me and I kissed him back… I hadn’t been kissed like that in 10 years. It made me feel young, attractive, sexy, and alive. Along with these feelings came a wave of nausea. I actually wanted to throw up at the same time. Because it dawned on me that I had not felt that way with Robert for years.”
This type of cheating is rooted in a lack of love and childhood trauma. ‘Wounded’ cheaters are those who have fallen out of love with their partners. They cheat not because they want sex only but mainly for attention, importance and the feeling of being special.
Related Reading: 9 Psychological Facts About Cheating – Busting The Myths
For example, Carol was tired of doing what was always expected of her. She was tired of being a good mother, a good wife and a good daughter. She just wanted the adolescence she never had. She wanted to feel alive. She was not looking for another person, she was just looking for another self. That is why she resorted to cheating.
3. Serial cheaters
Serial cheaters are compulsive liars. The phrase, “once a cheater, always a repeater”, applies to them. Among the different types of cheaters, they’re the ones who have the skill, practice and experience to avoid getting caught. They constantly text other people, swipe dating apps and engage in hookups.
Why do they cheat? Having variety brings thrill and adrenaline rush to them. Their commitment issues are so deep-rooted and self-esteem so crumbled that they fill that ambiguity and incompleteness by doing something that is ‘forbidden’. To avoid feeling what they are feeling, they keep wanting what they can’t have. They almost get a kick out of being rebellious and breaking norms.
In fact, a study points out that getting away with cheating makes people feel good. It is called the ‘cheater’s high’. Doing something that’s unethical and prohibited makes people put their “want” self over their “should” self. So, their whole focus goes toward immediate reward and giving in to short-term desires, instead of thinking about long-term consequences like diminished self-image or risk to reputation.
4. The vengeant type
Revenge cheating is a thing? Yes. People do the strangest things to seek revenge. In fact, comedian Tiffany Haddish, admitted, “My boyfriend cheated on me on videotape on my birthday. I felt like he had pooped on my soul, so then I decided to poop in the sole of his shoes.”
If people defecate in sneakers for revenge, it’s not surprising that they cheat for revenge, right? Someone who cheats out of vengeance is one of the cosmopolitan types of cheaters. In fact, my friend Serena’s partner cheated on her and so she slept with his best friend to get back at him.
Serena resorted to retaliatory infidelity to give her partner a taste of his own medicine. In her head, she justified it because she wanted to make him feel the way that she had felt about being betrayed. This type of cheater acts out of anger and a ‘tit for tat’ attitude.
Related Reading: 5 Confessions Of People Who Had Revenge Sex
5. Emotional cheater is one of the types of cheaters
What are the signs an affair is turning into love? The American singer Jessica Simpson confessed in her memoir Open Book that she had an emotional affair with co-star Johnny Knoxville, during her marriage to Nick Lachey. She wrote, “I could share my deepest authentic thoughts with him and he didn’t roll his eyes at me. He actually liked that I was smart and embraced my vulnerabilities.
“First off, we were both married, so this wasn’t going to get physical. But to me, an emotional affair was worse than a physical one. It’s funny, I know, because I had placed such an emphasis on sex by not having it before marriage. After I actually had sex, I understood that the emotional part was what mattered…Johnny and I had that, which seemed far more of a betrayal to my marriage than sex.”
As she pointed out, an emotional affair starts as a friendship outside a relationship or marriage but then grows into a deeper intimate connection involving long vulnerable conversations. It may or may not lead to a physical affair.
Why do people resort to emotional infidelity? Maybe because they feel lonely and unheard in their relationship or marriage. Emotional cheaters could be one of the cosmopolitan types of cheaters with emotionally unavailable or workaholic spouses.
6. Unusually high sex drive and low self-control
Haruki Murakami writes in his novel, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, “Sex drive’s decent energy. Y’ can’t argue about that. Keep sex drive all bottled up inside and you get dull-witted. Throws your whole body out of whack. Holds the same for men and for women.”
So, having a sex drive isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, a study points out that not all people with strong sexual desires are prone to infidelity. But, the ones among them who have low self-control are likelier to cheat.
7. Online cheating
Finally, the last on the list of the types of cheaters are the ones who engage in online affairs. It could be sending DMs on Instagram, posting comments on Facebook or swiping and sending nudes on Tinder to strangers. They may or may not carry this forward to real life.
In fact, a study found that of 183 adults who were in a relationship, more than 10% had formed intimate online relationships, 8% had experienced cybersex and 6% had met their internet partners in person. More than half of the sample believed an online relationship constituted unfaithfulness, with the numbers climbing to 71% for cybersex and 82% for in-person meetings.
So, the ones who engage in cyber affairs definitely constitute the types of cheaters. Why do they cheat? It could be low self-esteem and the need to be validated. Or it could be boredom or an attention-seeking tendency.
To conclude, Esther Perel in her TED talk Rethinking Infidelity…a talk for anyone who has ever loved emphasizes, “At the heart of an affair lies a longing and yearning for emotional connection, novelty, freedom, autonomy, sexual intensity, a wish to recapture lost parts of ourselves and an attempt to bring back vitality in the face of loss and tragedy.”
Regardless of the types of cheaters and whatever the reason behind cheating, the guilt of betraying and the trauma of being betrayed cause a lot of emotional damage. To heal from it and regain trust can be an uphill task that may require professional help. Our counselors from Bonobology’s panel can aid you with this. Feel free to reach out to them.