If you?re not careful, they will make you think you?re crazy.
Photo by ? Luca Iaconelli ? on Unsplash
It?s tempting to think that anybody who cheats is a ?cheater,? but I don?t really believe that to be true. For a lot of people, cheating is a one-off, or at least, an out of character series of decisions.
When we talk about ?cheaters? or watching out for cheaters, I think it?s important to look at chronic cheating as a better baseline definition. Those who cheat repeatedly and regardless of the consequences.
And there are certain things that nearly every chronic cheater will do.
1. They lie to you.
While this one might seem obvious, for the person who?s in love with a cheater, it?s often not. Even if they know about some of their partner?s cheating habits, they don?t know everything.
It?s not all that uncommon for a couple to gush about how honest they are with each other when nothing could be further from the truth.
A chronic cheater can?t be honest with you because they aren?t honest with themselves.
2. They lie to themselves.
Step into a chronic cheater?s head and you might be surprised that part of the way they manage their guilt is to lie to themselves about what they?re doing.
The lies vary. Maybe they tell themselves that they?re not hurting anyone. They might tell themselves that this is the last time, or that they deserve to see a certain connection through.
It doesn?t really matter what the lie is. The issue is that they can?t have a healthy and honest relationship with anybody else until they finally quit lying to themselves.
3. They idealize love.
For many folks, this is probably a big reason why they cheat. It?s very hard to be happy in any relationship if you?re stuck in this notion that true love is some epic fantasy.
When somebody?s definition of love resembles a movie more than real life, it?s only a matter of time before they get bored and seek out a new thrill.
In fact, a lot of chronic cheaters seem to be addicted to the flood of emotions that comes with a new romance.
4. They gravitate toward partners who can help feed their egos.
That?s not to say that every chronic cheater has a big head. On the contrary, a lot of folks cheat in part because they have low self-esteem or gaping insecurities. That?s why they frequently find partners who will shower them with love and adoration.
The attention they get doesn?t just puff them up. It makes them feel wanted and helps to give them a sense of worthiness they?ve been unable to foster for themselves.
Of course, it also doesn?t last.
5. They guilt their partners.
Like a lot of people, chronic cheaters rarely know how to fight fairly, so they argue with whatever leverage seems effective. Guilt is frequently the weapon of choice anytime a partner begins to question them about their whereabouts, and whenever someone tries to leave or ask for more.
Common phrases include, ?you knew what this was,? ?this is so much harder for me than it is for you,? and ?you?re just like everybody else who?s ever hurt me.?
?Don?t you trust me at all,? is another question begged by many a cheater. The whole point is to turn the situation around on you and get the guilt off of them.
6. They take more than they give.
This one can be hard to see, especially in the beginning if they?ve been ?love bombing? you. But it?s a very common theme among anyone who chronically cheats.
You have to look at whatever costs them the most to give. Some chronic cheaters have no problem with showering praise or big, public displays of affection because those things don?t mean much to them.
They will give what is easiest to give.
But when it comes to the hard parts of love that challenge them, or actually cost them something, that?s where you will always give them more than anything they will give to you.
It might be honesty, time, recognition, affection, or sometimes, even money. Whatever it is, they will have no problem taking it from you, and they will always have an excuse as to why they can?t give any of it back.
7. They spin their stories to fit their preferred narrative(s).
Everyone has certain narratives about themselves and others that help them make sense of the world. For chronic cheaters, those narratives help them excuse their choices.
Often, they help spin the story in an effort to deny they ever had any choice in the first place.
They might insist that a certain connection was ?meant to be,? or that they are always the victim. For some cheaters, the story says that other people are constantly throwing themselves at them, and they do their best to remain faithful until finally succumbing to the seduction.
Basically, they spin stories as to say, ?It?s not my fault.?
8. They don?t deal with the conflict in their relationships.
This is another issue that often lies at the root of a person?s cheating habits. When they face arguments or challenges in their romantic relationships, they never fully deal with what is happening.
They might say that everything is fine. They might even get angry. But the last thing they do is deal with conflict honestly.
They?re much more likely to get by with one foot out the door. When people say that a cheater wants to have their cake and eat it too, this is often what they?re talking about.
A lot of chronic cheaters would rather let a relationship implode by stepping out and cheating instead of honestly ending things first.
9. They blame others.
Their spouse or significant other did something that ?made? them cheat. They weren?t getting what they needed from their relationship, so they were simply meeting their own needs.
They can?t be held responsible for somebody else who came onto them, or whatever. With chronic cheating, it is always somebody else?s fault.
Sometimes, it?s even the ?universe? that conspires against them.
Wherever they place the blame, this can also be called making excuses. Some cheaters might go so far as to say they?re not wired for monogamy, but rather than pursue ethical non-monogamy, they continue to lie, cheat, and blame others for their decisions.
10. They don?t take responsibility for their own choices.
It?s not easy to admit it when you?ve hurt someone you promised to love. Most people don?t want to be known for breaking hearts and betraying trust wherever they go.
That means it?s easier to pretend that none of their choices to cheat were ever really their choices at all. Chronic cheaters often find it hard to come clean even when everybody knows they?re lying through their teeth.
Their refusal to own their choices and take responsibility for any of the aftermath is often what keeps them stuck in their habits even if they tell themselves they want to quit.
Chronic cheaters don?t have a handle on authenticity or vulnerability, two things you need when it?s time to come clean and take responsibility for your actions.
Chronic cheaters aren?t a lost cause.
I tend to look at chronic cheating much like addictions to drama, toxic relationships, or validation. It doesn?t make them terrible people, but they?re going to keep breaking hearts until they finally deal with what they?re actually doing.
That said, it?s important to understand that you can?t change a chronic cheater. They have to choose to change and do the inner work themselves.
Love can do a lot of things, but there is no amount of outer love that can prevent a habitual cheater from cheating again. That?s because their cheating isn?t about you, it?s about their relationship with themselves.
They won?t stop cheating until they quit lying to themselves and quit living in a fantasy world where love is supposed to be perfect, or that they must get their self-worth from others.
Anything else is just a bandaid on too deep of a wound.
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