The phrase “once a cheater, always a cheater,” is almost widely accepted, but when it comes to serial cheaters, the cheating often doesn’t stop.
Serial cheaters are exactly what their title describes: a person who cheats not only once, but multiple times within a relationship, across relationships, or both, said
Claire AH, a Toronto-based matchmaker.
“It’s a pattern of cheating as opposed to a one-time thing.”
A recent interview with psychiatrist Dr. Susan Edelman in Elite Daily revealed the reason serial cheating becomes too complicated is because we still don’t have a collective definition of what cheating is.
“It’s tricky, because what constitutes cheating? Sexting? Being secretly active on a dating site? Lap dances? Kissing,” she told the site. “There’s also a difference between emotional infidelity and sexual infidelity, though the latter is commonly taken as the blanket definition of cheating.”
The site also notes serial cheating is more common than we think. One study from the University of Denver found people who cheated on their partners were three times more likely to cheat again.
“They aren’t all alike. They might be narcissistic or sociopathic. They might have childhood issues where they feel unworthy of love and avoid intimacy. Maybe they have issues with sexual addiction,” Edelman said.
How do you recognize a serial cheater
Claire adds it’s hard to pinpoint the behaviours of a serial cheater because no one cheater is the same.
“That said, a few things could help tip you off. Are there major changes to conflicts in your relationship without other explanations, either more conflicts stemming from irritability or fewer conflicts padded with gifts? Do they seem to suddenly have a very different attitude towards privacy, having you over, scheduling, finances, or sex?” she explained.
“Do they accuse you of cheating? None of these are fool-proof signs, but major shifts in these areas may indicate issues worth exploring regardless of whether or not they’re cheating.”
Being cheated on makes it very difficult to trust your partner if you choose to stay together, but it also makes it hard to establish trust in future relationships, or even in other aspects of life, she added.
“It can also be quite a blow to self-esteem and just the general sense of order in the world, which can necessitate some time off from dating and relationships to try to square how the experience of being cheated on can impact your concept of self and your worldview.”
If you find out your partner cheated, start by discussing the issue face-to-face — as difficult as this may be.
“Discuss it openly and try to get a sense of why it happened,” she continued. “You may be able to come to an agreement about how to identify when their triggers come up in your relationship and find a mutually-satisfactory way of dealing with it. That said, you might also decide that it’s not in your best interest to pursue the relationship any further.”
You should also consider individual or couple’s therapy, possibly take some time apart to reevaluate things or decide that you’d prefer to end the relationship. “Sometimes you can cycle through some or all of these options.”
She added serial cheating can also be a sign your partner may be into non-monogamous relationships, something that only should be explored if both people are on the same page.
“Given that cheating is more about violating trust and mutually agreed-upon boundaries over purely having sex or romantic feelings towards someone else, you can cheat even within a non-monogamous relationship.”
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