Serial cheaters regularly practice infidelity with all their partners. They may be addicted to the thrill, enjoy the validation of being able to “pull” multiple people, or be unable to control their wandering eyes and the temptation of cheating.
People like this often get pretty good at hiding their awful actions, but they share some everyday activities that mean you can spot them if you know what to look for. Serial cheaters display these seven behaviors before revealing themselves intentionally, accidentally, or due to complacency.
1. Serial Cheaters Are Secretive Around Devices
There’s nothing wrong with wanting privacy and having boundaries about that privacy. But there’s a significant difference between reasonable privacy and excessive secrecy. A few warning signs of extreme secrecy are:
- Hiding phones, laptops, and other devices so a partner won’t even see them.
- Saving specific contacts under cryptic nicknames or fake names.
- Visibly hiding device screens whenever a partner is passing nearby them.
- Sleeping with devices completely protected by holding them, putting them under pillows, or locking them away.
- Refusing allows a partner to touch, see, or pick up a device.
- Lying about calls, messages, and other forms of communication received on devices.
- Bringing their devices everywhere they go, never leaving them alone for a second.
Do note that there’s a line here to draw. Some people may be uncomfortable with anyone (their partner or anyone else) seeing what they’re doing on any device. There could be many good reasons why someone has higher privacy needs than others. And some serial cheaters are good at appearing secretive, so you let your guard down, so this isn’t always an accurate sign.
Simply put, your unique relationship determines where the boundaries are. Communication and firm boundaries are essential in establishing what is and isn’t acceptable. A serial cheater will find ways to break boundaries and get around established “rules” in their relationship.
2. They Blame Their Exes For Everything
It’s always a red flag when someone says all their exes were 100% of the problem in their past relationships. It shows a lack of ability to reflect and see the common denominator – themselves! They also thrive in toxic relationships that give them an “excuse” to be unfaithful.
Serial cheaters tend to have a long string of exes, as infidelity is one of the most common reported causes for a relationship’s end. They will likely find a way to blame their former partners for:
- Having “trust issues” that made them “crazy,” forcing the cheater to end the relationship
- Being overly controlling of them by instating boundaries that counter infidelity
- Being easy to play or being too naïve or gullible, meaning they deserved, to some degree, what happened to them
- Attraction to “toxic” partners like the cheater, thereby setting themselves up to get cheated on
Of course, all of those things are not true. In reality, cheaters need to deflect responsibility and blame for their actions onto their exes. If not caught in the act, they’ll call their former partners crazy. If caught, they’ll deflect to reduce the negative implications on their character – or remove some responsibility.
3. Serial Cheaters Don’t Seem Ashamed Of Their Past Infidelity
Many people say, “once a cheater, always a cheater,” and there’s a good reason. Anyone who has cheated once is much more likely to do it again. That’s because of the well-studied effects of cognitive dissonance. To reduce the emotional impact of knowing they cheated, serial cheaters will trivialize and minimize the consequences and effects of that infidelity. This means they’re likely to do it again, as they now see it as a less harmful event.
This is why cheaters often don’t feel that ashamed of the infidelity they perpetrated in the past. They’ll talk about these events and say they won’t do them again, simultaneously speaking as if they are proud of their cheating. They may even sound bored or unmoved by their actions. Or they might get angry that it’s brought up since it’s something so trivial to them. This is how you know someone is a serial cheater who hasn’t changed their ways!
Of course, this is not to say that people can’t learn, grow, and change. But there’s an important note here: they must have changed, not just gotten sneakier. They also might overcome surface-level issues but not the underlying roots behind their infidelity.
A cheater takes a lot of effort to manage and correct the behaviors that led to the initial disloyalty. A past cheater who will not cheat again could be uncomfortable or ashamed of their past betrayals with past relationships. A serial cheater will lack that shame because they’re pushing it down with cognitive dissonance.
4. They Lie By Omission
Serial cheaters find all sorts of ways to avoid both being discovered and taking responsibility. This means that instead of directly lying – something that is a negative, malicious behavior and is easier to detect – they’ll leave things out and hide things instead. This action means a serial cheater might:
- “Forget” to mention potentially incriminating things, such as someone messaging them flirtatiously. They insist that it meant nothing if caught, hence their forgetfulness. This allows them to blame their partner for being overly suspicious.
- Choose not to tell their partners about things in their life, such as the parties they go to or the people they hang around. If caught, they may talk about their privacy or accuse a partner of being controlling.
- A cheating partner might stop talking about their everyday lives so they can leave out stories about their day that involve the people they’re cheating with. If asked to speak more about their life, they may complain about being smothered or pretend not to remember their day.
Lying by omission gives serial cheaters plausible deniability for potentially suspicious activity. It’s easy to gaslight a partner when you haven’t been caught doing anything wrong, and serial cheaters are experts at using this as a manipulation technique.
5. Serial Cheaters Accuse You Of Cheating
A serial cheater often accuses their partner of cheating out of nowhere, sometimes based on nonexistent threats. Research shows that unfaithful partners are more suspicious of the loyalty of their partners. This shows itself in ways like this:
- They cheat when going out, so they don’t want their partners to go out.
- They’ll hide things constantly, so they always think their partner hides something from them.
- Their roaming eyes are aware of attractive people’s wealth, so they’re more insecure with their partners.
- They notice their partner being checked out by others because their attention is often on other people.
- They would cheat on people in their lives, so they’re suspicious of the people in their partner’s life and try to cut their partner off from their support system.
- They’ll happily hook up with anyone who flirts with them, so they hate when someone flirts with their partner.
- Their lifestyle is so entangled with cheating that they can’t imagine a life that doesn’t involve it.
In other words, projection is strong with serial cheaters. The way that they think has thoroughly polluted their perspective on the world. They believe their partners could and would do the same things they do. This makes them irrational, excessively jealous, and easily angered.
6. They Shower You With Sudden Bursts Of Affection
Serial cheaters are cheating – and they’re doing it often. They may cool their infidelity down now and then, but they eventually end up drawn back into their old ways. That’s why they’re called “serial” cheaters, after all.
A serial cheater will often feel somewhat guilty for their behavior. Even with how much they trivialize or minimize it, some of them know that it is wrong. To assuage their guilt and shift feelings of the responsibility away from themselves, they’ll try to “make up” for their cheating without their partner realizing what they’re doing.
Serial cheaters may also do this to divert suspicion away from them. They hope their excessively loving behavior will charm their partner, so they get lost in the affection and don’t think about potential infidelity.
This is often why a cheater buys their partner expensive or grand gifts after cheating. It’s a way to overcome their own conflicted emotions. These forms of affection will often be substantial and over-the-top compared to their usual shows of affection.
7. They Overshare When Cheating
This seems like a counterintuitive trait in a serial cheater. After all, wouldn’t they want to be secretive, not overly open? There’s a reason for this, though – and it’s called selective oversharing. It’s a practice used by many people who have something to hide, including kids with overbearing parents and criminals taken in for police questioning.
What is selective oversharing? Simply put, it’s the act of sharing a lot to an extreme extent to paint a picture of honesty and openness. Selective oversharers will:
- Go into extreme detail about various events that they’re describing
- Choose to talk about embarrassing or potentially shameful things about themselves
- Overpower conversations when they’re able to gain a reputation for being a chatterbox
- Share uncomfortably private or secret facts or thoughts about themselves or their lives
When someone is talking about things like this, it’s hard to view them as deceptive or unfaithful because they seem to have nothing to hide. But, in reality, they’re doing this to distract their partners by focusing on unimportant and non-incriminating events. Meanwhile, they’re hiding many other things and keeping them quiet as their partner is lulled into a false sense of security.
Final Thoughts On Some Behaviors Serial Cheaters Display Before Revealing Themselves
Serial cheaters are good at covering their tracks but are also often complacent due to how normalized their infidelity is to them. That’s why you can sometimes catch a serial cheater based on their behaviors. While one of these behaviors may not be a definite sign of infidelity, a partner who shows many of these behaviors is likely to be a serial cheater.