21 Telltale Signs Of A Serial Cheater

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Although being deceived can be traumatic, you must objectively assess the situation before taking any action. Was it an oversight, a one-time occurrence, or will it happen again, or are you dealing with a serial cheater?

When you commit to an exclusive relationship, you trust the other person and agree to be faithful and committed to them. However, when your partner betrays or cheats on you, it distorts your self-esteem and confidence. As a result, you may find yourself torn between giving them another chance or ending the relationship.

You don’t have to wait for your partner to cheat again to determine whether they’re a serial cheater. This post describes who counts as a serial cheater and what character traits you should be aware of.

Who Can Be Called A Serial Cheater?

Serial cheaters are people who cheat several times in an exclusive relationship or monogamous relationship. It is a pattern of cheating that can be seen whenever this person has a committed relationship. Infidelity can be physical or emotional. Serial cheaters do not have their partners’ consent, and they keep their partners in the dark about their unethical behavior. Unlike a one-time cheater, serial cheaters cheat to satisfy their needs. It is challenging for them to change their behavior since they are confused about why it is a mistake.

There may be several reasons for the behavior of serial cheaters:

  • They may be narcissists or sociopaths. They think they are above everyone and easily ignore others’ feelings.
  • They may have seen repeated unfaithfulness of people close to them, reinforcing their belief that cheating is acceptable.
  • They may be people who deliberately destroy interpersonal relationships because they sincerely believe that they are not worthy of love. This belief may be caused by childhood trauma or abuse.
  • They may be sexually addicted. They cannot control their sexual urges despite severe consequences.

21 Signs Of A Serial Cheater

These cues will help you determine if you have a relationship with someone who would break your heart repeatedly.

1. Is a consummate liar

Serial cheaters tend to often fall into many tricky situations. They master the art of lying to wriggle out of these situations. If you are dating a serial cheater, the person would be a consummate liar. Watch out for a web of lies they weave. Your partner may lie about their whereabouts, messages on their mobile phones, and even their past. The moment you start asking questions, they will evade you or tell you further lies.

2. Keeps things from you

When you are in a relationship, you want your partner to be transparent, trusting, and honest. However, serial cheaters maintain secrecy. They don’t want you to know that they are dating other people and hide anything that would make you wonder. You will never know all that is going on in their heads. They cover their tracks well. If you ask questions, they avoid them or become defensive. You cannot extract complete truth from them.

3. Possessive about their phone

Serial cheaters are possessive about their mobile phones. They maintain secret relationships and chat and call clandestinely. A look at their mobile phones is likely to reveal their cheating behavior. Therefore, if you are dating a serial cheater, you most likely do not have access to their mobile phones. You will find them typing on their phones late at night or sneaking out to answer calls. Everyone values privacy, but if a person is secretive and becomes nervous every time you touch their phone, you are likely dating a cheater.

4. Reluctant about commitment

Whenever you start talking about commitment, does your partner put you off? Do they postpone an official announcement with constant excuses? These things indicate that you might be dating a serial cheater. Serial cheaters are flighty with strong commitment issues. They are used to dating multiple people simultaneously and enjoy unbridled freedom. For such people, commitment is like a prison sentence.

5. They never feel guilty

Serial-cheaters are sociopaths who don’t feel sorry or remorseful for deceiving and hurting people. As a result, they can break multiple hearts without feeling guilty. Even if they do something wrong, they do not accept it. They are good at manipulating and blaming others. If you insist too much, they may offer an insincere apology. They are usually people who have little ability to be empathetic. It is almost impossible for such a person to put themselves in another’s shoes, to feel another’s pain.

6. They are self-centered and conceited

Serial cheaters are highly self-centered. They have an inflated sense of self-importance and believe that they are better than others. Because of this sense of superiority, they think they are above everyone else and have the right to cheat. These people seek admirers continually to feed their need for adoration. If your partner exhibits such narcissistic behavior, you are likely dating a serial cheater.

7. They are charismatic and outgoing

Serial cheaters are good at the art of charming people. They are good at entertaining people and earning their trust. Such skills come in handy when finding their targets. They are too slick and smooth and know how to lie to hide their true selves. If your partner always avoids showing vulnerability or discussing the past, then be conscious. You might be the latest target of a serial cheater.

8. They have been in a series of short-term relationships

Serial cheaters are fickle and avoid settling with one person. They enter into relationships and leave when they feel bored or get caught. Long-term relationships are not their cup of tea. If you look at their history, you will find a series of short-term relationships. If you ask about their past, they give you vague answers.

9. They do not keep their promises

Serial cheaters are high on promises and low on fulfilling them. Their words do not match their behavior. They promise you the moon to keep you happy and distracted but do not fulfill even simple commitments. They may miss the significant events in your life or disappear when in trouble. Genuine partners keep their word, care for you, and respect you, while serial cheaters try to fulfill only their particular needs. They may promise you they will never break your trust, but they betray you eventually.

10. They tend to flirt

Serial cheaters find it challenging to control their flirtatious nature even when you are around. They openly flirt with others, including your friends. At parties or events, you may have noticed them joking around with the opposite sex. If you catch them flirting, they laugh it off or provide excuses.

11. They are mostly busy

Juggling between multiple people is a difficult task, requiring a lot of time management and planning. Serial cheaters rarely spend time with one person. If they consider another person is a better prospect than you, they give that person more time. If your partner cancels the plans frequently and does not answer your calls or text messages, it may be a red flag. Although they may be genuinely busy, if this happens often, you need to investigate.

12. They bad-mouth all their exes

Your partner may have been in a bad relationship. In this case, some suppressed anger is natural. But it is unhealthy to always blame an ex for the relationship failure. Serial cheaters are experts in transferring blame. A stable person will admit his failures in a broken relationship. It is likely not the truth if your partner tells you that all their exes were insecure, volatile, abusive, or possessive. Although it is understandable if your partner has some hard feelings about exes, if they blame every one of them, chances are your partner is at fault.

13. They accuse you of infidelity

Serial cheaters don’t trust anyone because their actions make them think that no one is trustworthy. They seek others’ appreciation to boost their ego because, deep down, they are insecure. They might accuse you of adultery. Their behavior makes them more suspicious and prone to jealousy. Another reason they may accuse you of being unfaithful is to hide their affairs. It is a classic case of “it’s okay for me, but not for you.” If you ask questions about their cheating, they will be defensive and transfer the accusation back to you. Such behavior is a clear red flag.

14. Their behavior keeps changing

One moment, they ignore your phone calls and text messages and cancel plans, while the next moment, they act like the perfect partner, showering you with gifts and paying complete attention. They continuously oscillate between these two ends of the spectrum, making you frustrated. They don’t give you enough time when they are busy flirting with others but will turn on the charm when they need you.

15. They don’t own up to their actions

Even if they are caught, serial cheaters don’t readily accept responsibility for their actions. They might blame external factors such as another person, alcohol, childhood issues, or other reasons to gain sympathy. They might even see you as responsible, blaming you for their deeds. You might be accused of not giving them time, not appreciating them enough, not understanding, mistreating them, or controlling them. Accepting mistakes is the first step towards reform. If someone can not own up to their actions and never think they are wrong, it is a huge warning sign you are dating a serial cheater.

16. They don’t think cheating is wrong

One-time cheaters who make a mistake admit that cheating is wrong. They regret their actions. However, serial cheaters do not think cheating is a big deal. Their sociopathic tendencies allow them to see cheating as normal. Serial cheaters expect you to accept their transgressions and move past them quickly. You might even see them arguing about it, claiming that “monogamy is unnatural.”

17. They are adrenaline junkies

Cheating involves a considerable risk of discovery. Serial cheaters take this risk because they enjoy taking risks and living on the slippery slope. They get quickly bored after dating a person for a while. They are adrenaline junkies who indulge in extreme sports, gambling, risky financial decisions, and driving above the speed limit. All adrenaline junkies may not be cheaters, but it is best to keep your eyes open if you are dating a compulsive thrill-seeker.

18. They strive to look good

Whether it’s a large event or a trip to a grocery store, serial cheaters always try to look their best. They groom themselves to perfection when they go out in public places. You will find them staring into the mirror, hoping to impress their new prospect. They think they can attract and earn the appreciation of the opposite sex with their good appearance. Although everyone wants to look great, if your partner is obsessed with their appearance, it can be added to the other warning signs.

19. They are always unsatisfied

Compulsive cheaters are never satisfied with life. They are continually striving for something more and something different. Even if they have everything, they seek a better car, more money, bigger houses, more praise, higher success, or fame. You may shower them with love and attention, but they always desire more. Serial cheaters often seek validation to boost their ego. Even if their partner gives them constant happiness, they will seek more from other sources as it is never enough. They are often discontent and unhappy with what they have or don’t have.

20. They don’t like being alone

Serial cheaters are social creatures who want to be surrounded by people. They need admiration and devotion to feel good. Loneliness is their greatest enemy, so they keep jumping from one relationship to another. They want to avoid facing their insecurity and the hurt caused by reckless behavior. If your partner mostly avoids being alone by flitting between relationships, it is a huge red flag.

21. They have cheated before

You must have heard the saying, “Once a cheater, always a cheater.” Research has shown that those who cheated before are three times more likely to cheat again (1). If your partner has cheated in the past, there is a chance that he or she might cheat again. They may swear that they will never deceive you, but see if their words translate into action. Do they feel guilty about what they do? Do they take responsibility for their actions? Is there any improvement in their behavior? If the answer to these questions is no, they will likely do it again.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What personality is a serial cheater?

There isn’t a specific personality style for serial cheaters. However, it’s considered that certain personality types, such as narcissists and sociopaths, are more likely to be serial cheaters.

2. Can a serial cheater ever change?

A serial cheater cheats repeatedly and usually feels no remorse. They lack the motivation to change themselves or understand their flaws. Hence, the prospects of a serial cheater changing are low.

3. What is the main cause of cheating?

There’s no one reason why people cheat. Some may cheat due to the feeling of disconnection with their partner, difficulty committing to one person, or unmet sexual desires. On the other hand, some may cheat because of low self-esteem or a desire to get revenge on their partner. Thus, the reason why a person cheats varies from one person to another and is often situational.

Serial cheaters are often manipulative and excellent people-charmers capable of hiding their hideous nature behind appeasing activities. They never seem to count their blessings and always want more. Cheaters seldom own up to their promises and never fall short of excuses to delay commitment. They will never allow you to look into their mobile phones and lie about anything and everything. They may even accuse you of infidelity to hide their affairs. They are usually seen flirting with others and seldom apologize when they hurt you. Look for these signs before you get involved with such people to save yourself from the pain and agony of broken trust and toxic relationships.

Key Pointers

  • Serial cheaters tend to lie and get defensive if you ask questions to clarify their relationships.
  • Trust and transparency may not be seen in relationships with serial cheaters since they keep things from you.
  • Serial cheaters are possessive about their mobile phones and are seen chatting most of the time.


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Shikha Thakur

Shikha is a writer-turned-associate editor at MomJunction. Having done a certification in Relationship Coaching, her core interest lies in writing articles that guide couples through their courtship to marriage and parenthood. She also specializes in baby names. Being a postgraduate in Human Resources from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, she likes understanding people and their relationships. This reflects in her relationship... more

Sharon Gilchrest O’Neill

(Ed.S., LMFT)
Sharon Gilchrest O'Neill is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and family business consultant, who has earlier been a graduate instructor/advisor, an organizational learning consultant, and hospice volunteer. With experience working in the private as well as corporate setting, Sharon helps her clients think creatively and build upon their strengths. Previously, she trained Russian psychiatrists in Moscow in the skills... more