Serial Cheater: 43 Signs & Traits, Why They Cheat So Often & What to Do Next

It’s easy to say that serial cheaters can’t help themselves, but of course, they can! Perhaps it’s the thrill and the drama they enjoy while wreaking havoc. 

We can all agree that nobody wants to get cheated on in a relationship. It’s unpleasantly dramatic, it hurts, it breaks trust, and of course, it ends relationships. And if by chance you find out that the person you’ve been seeing is a serial cheat, that should be an instant red flag for you to keep away.

The serial cheater introduces a whole new level to infidelity. Because while cheating once is bad enough, cheating on someone in numbers that they can’t get away from is despicable.

But the question here is, why? Why do serial cheaters do what they do? What are their reasons and motivations? [Read: What is cheating in a relationship? The painful types and ways to set boundaries]

What is a serial cheat?

Serial cheats are people who have a penchant for infidelity. They enter relationships but don’t really care for the basic fidelity rule.

Serial cheaters cheat multiple times within a relationship and have previous relationships that ended due to their constant unfaithfulness.

In this case, “once a cheat, always a cheat” is very true. [Read: Fool me once, shame on you – How to not be fooled again]

Key serial cheater signs – How to know if you’re in a relationship with one

Unless you’ve talked about being in an open relationship, most people will not be down with the idea of their partner sleeping with other people behind their back.

If you’ve gotten yourself into a relationship with a Casanova-type character, not only should you get an STI test, but you should also get yourself out of that relationship.

But how do you even know you’re dating a serial cheater?

There are always signs. And once you know the serial cheater signs, it’ll be easy to spot them. [Read: To cheat or not to cheat – A guide to make up your mind]

1. They’ve cheated on you before

Okay, just because someone cheats it doesn’t mean they’ll do it again. However, it does increase the odds.

You need to do some digging and find out how many relationships your partner’s been in and why they didn’t work out. That’s how you’ll find the truth. 

If they have a pattern of regularly cheating on partners, well, you have yourself a serial cheater. And it’s unlikely that they’ll change their ways for you. [Read: 18 ingenious ways to catch a cheating partner in the act]

2. They fear or shy away from intimacy 

Maybe when you two have sex, they only like doggy style. Now, that’s not a bad thing, but it is when you want to have an intimate experience.

If they’re avoiding intimate sexual positions and moments with you, it’s because they’re scared of opening up and becoming vulnerable to you.

This also means that they’ll develop feelings and they don’t want that. After all, that kind of creates a hole in their plan of cheating with whoever they want. [Read: Being sneaky in a relationship – Is it really such a bad thing?]

3. They have many friends of the opposite sex

You can have many friends of the opposite sex and it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re sleeping with them. 

But, if your partner is hanging out mostly with people of the opposite sex, well, there’s usually a reason. It might be totally innocent but if you notice this sign along with others, then you might want to turn on your wariness radar to watch out for a serial cheater. 

4. They haven’t committed to you 

If you two have been “together” for a while but they’re not willing to commit, it’s because they don’t want to. It’s really that simple. They don’t want to be taken off the market because they’re still looking around. 

Now, if you’re happy with that because you don’t want to be tied down either, go for it. But, if you want more, then you’re probably looking in the wrong place. [Read: Talking vs Dating – How to tell them apart and know your exact status]

5. You don’t really know much about them 

It’s like you know them but you don’t really know them. You two haven’t actually had a deep conversation about anything. 

Maybe you mentioned your traumatizing childhood, but your partner hasn’t whispered a word. That’s because they’re holding large portions of their life and experiences back. 

Serial cheaters don’t want to share because they’re not being true to you. You can’t fully open up to someone when you’re hiding things, can you?

6. They like taking risks

A serial cheater loves to take risks. 

We mean, isn’t cheating behind your partner’s back a risk? Of course, it is. Taking risks is thrilling, it’s living on the edge.

So, if your partner is known as a bit of an adrenaline junkie, then be cautious. [Read: 20 veiled signs your boyfriend is cheating already]

Of course, just because your partner has shown an interest in skydiving at some point, perhaps on their bucket list, doesn’t mean they’re about to cheat, or have done.

But if risky behavior and a lack of following rules are in their blood, you might want to keep an eye on that. 

7. You don’t have fights

No one likes to fight, but it’s actually crucial in a relationship. People disagree, and that’s totally normal. When you fight, it brings the relationship closer together. If you and your partner aren’t fighting, or if they’re not responding to your concerns, it shows that they don’t actually care.

We fight because we feel passionate about something. We care about something and we want to make things better, usually the relationship. 

If there’s no fighting, that doesn’t mean it’s all harmonious, it means there isn’t much emotion there. Of course, you shouldn’t be at each others’ throats 24/7 either, but occasional arguments are very normal. [Read: Why fighting in a relationship is important and how to do it right]

8. Their habits change 

If all of a sudden their regular daily habits and routines change, you should be suspicious. If you’re not sure about any of the other signs on this list, pay attention to this one.

People’s actions always expose the truth. And though they may be hiding what they’re doing to you, you’ll be able to notice what they’ve stopped doing. 

Human beings are creatures of habit and nobody is so spontaneous that they do something totally different every single day, or stop doing the things they have always done all of a sudden. At least, not without reason. [Read: How to get over someone cheating on you and repair the damage]

9. Your sex life isn’t what it used to be

The sex you used to have with your partner was sensual, hot, and passionate. Now, it’s dry and dull. What a switch, right? 

Well, that’s not because they’ve lost their libido. It’s because they’re being hot and sensual with someone else. Things like this just don’t switch without reason.

But, don’t panic if this is the only reason you can agree with. It’s normal for sex to become boring or a bit samey when you’ve been with someone for a long time.

It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a serial cheater or that they’re getting it from someone else. It could be that they’re tired or stressed out with work. [Read: How to spice up your sex life in 30 super sexy ways]

10. It’s all about gift-giving

Getting a surprise gift every now and then is great. However, those gifts can be given just to mask what they’ve been doing behind your back. 

If your partner is loading you up with gifts all the time, it’s probably because they’re feeling guilty. [Read: Emotional cheating and the bad things it can do to you]

11. Their apologies lack real meaning 

If you catch them cheating on you, they’ll most likely apologize. 

However, apologizing is easy. What’s hard is making it genuine. You need to look at the substance within the apology. 

Did your partner just say, “sorry” and walk away? Yeah, they don’t care. Or, did they just say that it didn’t mean anything and refuse to meet your eye at the time of saying it? 

You can easily figure out whether someone’s apology is genuine or not by watching their body language – it never lies. [Read: 28 heartfelt ways to say you’re sorry and apologize to someone you love]

12. “Work” becomes a priority 

Ah yes, the classic “I have to stay at the office a little longer tonight” routine. Please, do not fall for this shit. Okay, there are some people that do actually have to stay at the office longer than expected, but for many people, it’s an excuse. 

If all of a sudden their job replaces you, well, it’s probably not work that they’re doing. [Confession: I cheated on my boyfriend and feel a lot better!]

13. They love the chase

Do you remember what it was like before you were dating? 

The cat and mouse game that you both played? Maybe you played a hard game and your partner loved it. But now that they have you, it’s a different story. 

Some people are totally addicted to the thrill of the chase. When a relationship settles down, that first flourish of excitement abates.

Most of us don’t mind because it’s replaced by something else, something much better. But, for those who are addicted to the first chase, it’s simply not enough. [Read: Why are men so addicted to the high of a chase?]

14. Their long-term relationship history doesn’t exist

They may have dated a couple of people, but other than that, nothing. Not a single committed relationship that’s lasted longer than three months.

Now, if you’re nineteen, that’s not a big deal but if you’re in your late thirties, that’s a warning sign – a big one. Maybe they’re not serial cheaters, but it could mean they have commitment issues. [Read: Getting back with a cheater – Is that even possible?]

15. They accuse you of cheating

If you have done nothing to make them think that you’re cheating, they’re doing this to deflect the issue back on you. It’s classic defensiveness and it’s a HUGE red flag.

A serial cheater will be as calm as anything when confronted because they’re so used to it. But rather than smother you with niceness, they’ll turn it around and try to make you feel bad instead. They’re gaslighting you!

16. They’re preoccupied with their appearance

While everyone wants to look good, there is a line that most people don’t generally cross.

There’s nothing wrong with looking after yourself and choosing a nice outfit, but if your partner is obsessed with how they look, they either have issues or they want to look their best for the other person. [Read: How to look fabulous and appealing when trying to get attention]

17. They flirt often

They can’t help themselves. When they talk to another person, their flirty nature comes out. It’s almost like it’s an ingrained part of their personality but in truth, it’s because they’ve got so used to doing it.

If a person can’t help but flirt, you have to ask yourself what they do when you’re not around.

18. Your friends and family raise concerns

Sometimes it’s hard to see what’s right in front of you, especially if there are feelings are involved. So, if your friends and family raise concerns about your partner and their possible cheating ways, don’t dismiss them.

While it’s possible they’ve made a mistake, they’re more likely to have carefully watched your partner and arrived at this conclusion for a reason. [Read: Help! My friends don’t like my boyfriend]

19. An ex has warned you

Be careful with this one, but don’t push it aside completely. If your ex is keen to get you back, for sure they might jump on the slightest thing your current partner does. But if they’re actually more of a friend these days, listen to them.

It’s possible they’ve seen your partner doing something they shouldn’t, or they’ve heard something you wouldn’t be privy to.

20. They downplay cheating

They try to make out that cheating isn’t a big deal. They’ll also have a pretty fluid idea of what cheating is, so they can bend the rules to suit whatever they feel like doing.

However, if you turn the tables and see how they feel about being cheated on, rather than cheating on someone, you’ll hear a different story! [Read: 20 signs he wants to cheat with you]

Serial cheater traits

Generally speaking, a serial cheater has a set of traits that makes them almost predisposed to this type of behavior. It’s these traits that make it entirely possible for them to cheat time and time again, probably while avoiding any guilt.

They include:

1. Narcissism

2. Vanity

3. Sociopathy [Read: Am I dating a sociopath? 26 warning signs, effects, and ways to get over it]

4. Low self-esteem

5. Severe trauma

6. Flaky and inconsistent behavior

7. Poor impulse control

Just showing one or two of these traits doesn’t necessarily mean your partner is going to cheat on you, but a few ticked off the list does increase the likelihood of serial cheating. [Read: What causes narcissism? the facts and theories to read a narcissist]

Why do serial cheaters cheat?

If you think about it, cheating is actually bad for the cheater in many ways, yet they still do it. So what drives them to keep taking that risk?

1. Because they can

Commonly, serial cheaters do what they do because they can and they don’t care. Some serial cheaters are people who are too good–looking, too rich, and too confident to worry about their current partner’s feelings.

And given their advantageous situation, they are confident that hook-ups will come their way regardless of how they screw up their past and current relationships.

With this mentality, they keep cheating, even if their current relationship ends badly. Why? Because they easily jump into the next. [Read: Sneaky giveaways of a potential cheater]

2. Sexual promiscuity

Another typical and common reason for serial cheating is sex. There will be those kinds of people who cannot stick to one bed for their whole life.

Of course, their current partner may be of some value to them but with their urges uncontrollable, they find their sexual fix outside of the relationship with different partners.

3. They are not into long-term relationships

Other times, serial cheaters cheat because they have short commitment spans. Once they find the next chance to jump ship, they do so without warning.

They are also too lazy and self-occupied to break up with their current partner, which doesn’t make them less of an a**hole. [Read: The affair fog – How to know if your lover is under another’s spell]

4. They find stable relationships boring

When two people start a relationship, there are stages.

The first stage is the “getting-to-know-you” stage where you bond and discover each other’s personalities. 

The next stage is the “settling stage” where you have a clear grasp of each other’s personalities. The second stage is also where you become comfortable doing stuff that you usually avoid doing in front of your special someone.

A serial cheat typically disdains the quiet, settled second stage and sticks with the getting-to-know-you stage. So when the relationship slows down to calm waters, they feel uncomfortable and bored, compelling them to find the first-stage thrill in another person. [Read: Relationship stages all couples go through]

5. They lack the maturity to deal with relationship problems

No relationship is perfect. When faced with problems, there are mostly two mature options: you either sit down and work those problems out or get out of the relationship if it is beyond saving.

For serial cheaters, the immature option is to bypass dealing with the problem with their partner and find relationship bliss outside of their current relationship. [Read: 20 signs of emotional maturity and traits that reveal a mature mind]

6. Sexual self-objectification

Some serial cheaters cheat not because of an undesirable aspect of their current relationship but in a flawed sense of sexual self-objectification. That may quite be a mouthful but in simple terms: they want to see themselves as someone sexually desired by others.

These people place a high value on their sexual desirability among the population, but they feel that being in a relationship closes that opportunity for them. That’s why they satisfy their “need to be desired” by finding sexual thrills outside their relationship.

Once they successfully hook up with a third party, their false self-perception of sexual desirability is satisfied like a vampire getting a drink of blood after a long time. [Read: Relationship with a narcissist – What it means to love one]

7. Old world “machismo”

We’re not sure why this type of thinking still exists but it does among some men raised with this type of thinking. One of the hallmarks of the old machismo character is the ability to bed as many women as they can.

This trait may be desirable for this kind of thinking but you know these types of guys end up drunk, lonely middle-aged divorcees.

8. They have a very forgiving partner

Sometimes, it’s not about the cheater but the partner who allows it to happen many times over.

We marvel at these types of people who just sit back quietly and let themselves get cheated on over and over again only to keep “forgiving” the culprit. But whatever reason they have, we can all agree this is an unhealthy relationship. [Read: How to forgive a cheater: Questions to face the betrayal]

9. They are opportunistic

Serial cheating is like capitalism. If you get all the rewards with little cost, then you do what it takes to get you in that win-win situation. For example, a guy with a girlfriend who’s nice and homey yet sexually incompetent tries to fill that shortcoming through infidelity. You get the idea.

Can serial cheaters change?

Anyone can change but first, they need to want to change. The chances are, a serial cheater is not going to see anything wrong with what they’re doing, at least not for long enough to make a change. They like it, and they’ll keep doing it until they no longer find it fulfilling.

However, if they do reach that point, there is a chink of light on the horizon. [Read: How to change for your partner without compromising or losing you]

A serial cheat can try to change by:

1. Figuring out why they cheat

There has to be a deep reason that drives a person to want to cheat over and over again. The fact they refuse to stay committed to a person for long means there is something that needs to be uncovered.

Once they do that, there is hope for change.

2. Seeking structured support

In this type of situation, it’s likely that therapy will be needed. A person who feels the need to cheat over and over will need structured support to work out the reasons why, understand their triggers, and unlearn behaviors that have become ingrained. [Read: Relationship therapy – 25 clues to know if it’ll help your romance]

3. Committing to following firm boundaries

Recovery from serial cheating means setting boundaries and sticking to them. It will be hard, and there may be mistakes along the way, but commitment is the first step toward a future free of bed-hopping.

How does serial cheating affect you?

If you’re in a relationship with a serial cheater, or you’ve been in one and you’ve left, the situation will no doubt leave its mark on you.

Any amount of cheating is painful and can change your view of love and relationships. But serial cheating? That’s a whole other level. [Read: How to get your life back on track after a big change]

Being affected by serial cheating can lead to:

1. Depression

2. Infidelity PTSD

3. Relationship PTSD

4. Relationship anxiety

A person who has been affected by serial cheating is likely to need a lot of support to move on. You should go at your own pace and take some time out for yourself. [Read: Emotional baggage – How to help someone put it down and find freedom]

When to choose couples counseling vs walking away

What should you do if you find out your partner is a serial cheat? Well, that’s up to you. 

If you can genuinely nod along to these serial cheater signs and it’s not the first time they’ve cheated on you either, you might want to start thinking about leaving. In fact, you should leave. 

You really deserve someone who will dedicate themselves to you. It’s no good worrying about what your partner is up to when you’re not around or questioning whether their excuse for working late is genuine or not. How can you ever rest? 

You’ll be constantly paranoid and questioning everything. In the end, you’ll probably drive yourself crazy. [Read: How to forgive someone – 15 positive ways to unburden your mind]

If you want to be happy in a relationship, you need to be able to trust them. You can’t trust a serial cheater! 

For sure, people make mistakes, but they don’t make them more than once if they really learned their lessons.

If your partner made a cheating mistake in the past and you decided to forgive them, they should do everything they can to build the trust back up and help you to feel comfortable that it’s not going to happen again. 

If they’re throwing these serial cheater signs your way, they’re not doing any of that. In fact, they’re doing the total opposite.

However, if your partner wants to change their ways and you’re very sure they’re sincere, perhaps couples counseling is a route you might want to pursue. However, if you do this and they still carry on with their behavior, it has to be game over.

[Read: Should you ever forgive a cheating partner? The thing you must know before deciding]

A serial cheat has varying motives for being unfaithful. But in the end, it all boils down to a lack of regard towards their partner and a self-destructive cycle of finding a solution to their relationship problems outside the relationship.

Liked what you just read? Follow us on Instagram Facebook Twitter Pinterest and we promise, we’ll be your lucky charm to a beautiful love life. And while you’re at it, check out MIRL, a cool new social networking app that connects experts and seekers!

Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...