Profile of a Cheater
To cheat or betray someone will trigger different responses in people, feelings of frustration or guilt are common. What personality traits or feelings are experienced in someone who is a serial cheater, or someone that had a slip?
According to studies, men and women cheat for the same reasons, romance, lack of affection, personality traits like extroversion, impulsivity, high sensation-seeking, and high socio-sexual orientation. Standards concerning cheating are rather permissive, couples are more permissive and there is less of a taboo to open relationships or polyamorous bonds, where someone consciously can have several romantic partners. This is not the case for most couples, who expect at some point mutual sexual and emotional closeness.
According to experts men and women display different feelings when they betray their romantic partner. Men tend to feel a mix of infidelity and guilt. This guilt is increased if there is a religious background or any neurotic tendencies. The association between infidelity and guilt is mediated by the concept of sin. Social judgment is another important ingredient in the mix when a cheater is male, however it is more accentuated in women, they feel they are going to be harshly judged because of their infidelity. Men and women tend to use more economic and energetic resources on the cheating partner, which can increase guilt for not providing everything to spouse or children.
Women tend to see infidelity as a romance, feeling they deserve romance because they feel loved and sexy. Men and women can feel trapped into boring, lack of affection, emotional and physical support, loyal, and honest relationships. Both share a common basis that infidelity often goes along with anxiety and stress. Men often feel of everything is in control but anxiety in women and men can be suspicious and a warning sign. The fear of being caught is the reason for this anxiety.
A fundamental feeling that can arise when infidelity occurs is frustration. Frustration from having a family, spouse and kids, a life, and feeling a void, not feeling at ease with the family situation and not being able to open up emotionally. They often feel frustrated because they cannot do simple things like being in public, having dinner out, or go to the movies. There is a kind of rush in being a cheater and this can be addictive as adrenaline. Some people make the act of cheating something pathological and they become serial cheaters, they create an addiction of not being caught, the emotion of hiding and having another one.
It’s uncommon for serial cheaters to attend therapy or counseling. Many times the one who is being betrayed is the one to seek help. Its difficult to overcome infidelity issues in any relationship, however in all cases therapy or counseling, individual and marital, are helpful to learn possible solutions of the situation, focusing on things the couple have in common. In some cases serial cheaters go to therapy looking for help to stop the cycle because of side effects or they might come to therapy because of doubting their relationship, in any case it is the most valuable thing to do.
Profile of a Cheater
By: Andres Carvajal
Edited By: Stephanie Dawson
Donohew, L. D., Zimmerman, R. S., Novak, S. P., Feist-Price, S.,&Cupp, P. (2000). Sensation-seeking,impulsive decision-making, and risky sex: Implications of individual differences for risk-taking and design of interventions. Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, 28, 1079–1101.
Whitley, B. E. (1998). Factors associated with cheating among college students: A review. Research in Higher Education, 39, 235–274.