Serial cheaters can sometimes be hard to avoid. In the beginning stages of a relationship, they may be charming and attentive, but as time goes on, they begin to reveal their serial cheater traits.
Sometimes, the signs of a serial cheater can be subtle and difficult to recognize. If you want to avoid the pain of being stuck with an unfaithful partner, it is helpful to know red flags to look out for in our relationship.
Here, learn the signs and characteristics of serial cheaters so you can keep yourself safe from heartbreak.
Serial cheater meaning: What does it mean to be a serial cheater?
So, what is a serial cheater? Everyone makes mistakes, and some people may stray in their relationships, regret the behavior, and commit to change.
Serial cheaters, on the other hand, don’t even try to avoid cheating. They seek out opportunities to cheat.
One of the core serial cheater traits is a lack of remorse over cheating. Serial cheaters don’t feel any guilt or shame over their behavior because they see nothing wrong with cheating.
They are repeat cheaters because they view straying in relationships as being acceptable.
Remember, serial cheaters cannot accept responsibility for their bad behavior, so they blame everyone else instead of taking accountability when they are wrong.
They are constantly looking for fault in others, and when they are confronted with wrongdoing or caught cheating, they may attempt to blame the partner or change the topic of conversation to discuss something their partner has done wrong.
If your partner still has dating apps installed on their phone or is afraid to claim you as their significant other publicly, this demonstrates a fear of commitment, which is one of the signs of a serial cheater.
Commitment is problematic for serial cheaters because they don’t want to settle down in a relationship and potentially miss out on opportunities to hook up with new people.
Another red flag among the signs of a serial cheater is fixated upon their physical appearance.
The serial cheater may spend hours in front of the mirror grooming themselves, and they will seek out compliments from others, whether it is strangers at the bar or social media friends who like and comment on seductive photos.
This may be especially common for a woman serial cheater, who may thrive off of social media attention, frequently post sexy photos, and then cross into inappropriate territory with men who give her attention online.
This isn’t to say that men don’t engage in the same behavior, but we associate this trait with women.
8. Overly flirty behavior cannot be denied
If you notice that your partner is overly flirty, to the point that it is embarrassing or obnoxious, you likely have a serial cheater on your hands.
The serial cheater will have no problem with buying a drink for someone else while the two of you are out together and will not hold back about telling someone how amazing they look in their outfit.
If you call them out on the flirty behavior, they will attempt to play it off as being harmless.
Research shows that people who have a high degree of narcissism are more likely to report that they would be likely to be unfaithful toward a partner.
Remember that serial cheaters feel no remorse, and one of the reasons for this is that they are only concerned about their desires and impulses. This goes hand-in-hand with narcissism.
This video on therapy sessions with a narcissist will help you get through a person who exhibits narcissism around you:
10. Friends may hint that your partner is a serial cheater
Longtime friends likely know your significant other better than you do, especially if the relationship is relatively new.
Friends may spill the beans that their buddy is cheating, or you may notice that your partner doesn’t want you to be around their friends.
This is because they are afraid friends may mention the cheating behavior to you.
11. You notice sideways glances from other people when you’re in public with your partner
It can be challenging for serial cheaters to keep up with their lies or their various romantic pursuits, so you may notice that when you’re in public as a couple, people look at the two of you strangely.
Maybe it’s because they know your significant other is cheating, or they have recently seen your partner out with someone else.
They may wonder why your serial cheater is out with you today when just last week, they were seeing someone else.
If you’re someone with a high degree of anxiety, a gut feeling may not mean anything, but often, when people find themselves with a serial cheater, they get a gut feeling that something isn’t quite right.
You are likely dealing with a serial cheater if you have a terrible feeling, combined with some of the other signs mentioned here.
Think about the beginning stages of your relationship with your significant other. Did they come across as incredibly charming?
If so, this could be one of the signs of a serial cheater. These folks have to be incredibly charismatic to lure in new targets.
Sometimes, they are so charming that they’re able to win over a new sexual partner, even if that person knows the serial cheater is in a relationship with someone else.
15. They have a long relationship history, but none of their relationships seem to last very long
Serial cheaters tend to have a long list of past partners because they either get bored and end a relationship to seek out their subsequent love interest or get caught cheating and have to move on.
Serial cheaters are also fearful of commitment so that they may be involved in a series of casual, short-term relationships.
16. It seems as if they are constantly busy
Maintaining multiple relationships, even if some of them are casual, is hard work.
On top of going to work and taking care of other responsibilities, the serial cheater has to find time to sneak away from the primary relationship or juggle their time between multiple partners, who may not know that others exist.
This can lead the serial cheater to appear as if they never have time for you.
They may even make excuses about working overtime, traveling out of town to see family, or being consumed with some personal crisis, when in reality, they are out entertaining someone else.
17. They are hot and cold
One moment they’re showering you with attention, and the next, they are ignoring your messages for hours on end.
This means that the serial cheater is probably talking with someone else at times and returning to give you attention when it suits them.
This can become incredibly frustrating for you because it seems like the relationship is perfect one minute, but you are being ignored the next minute.
18. They accuse you of cheating
Deep down, serial cheaters know just how untrustworthy they are, so if they constantly accuse you of cheating, this is a pretty common sign of a serial cheater.
They may think that everyone else is behaving exactly like they are.
This is one of the obvious signs of a serial cheater. If you catch them cheating, they are likely to tell you that it isn’t a big deal, or they may blame you, making you the one in the wrong instead of them.
Someone who makes a one-time mistake with cheating will show remorse and admit to being wrong, but serial cheaters see no wrong in their behavior.
20. They quickly grow bored
Also among the signs of a serial cheater is the tendency to get bored and seek new thrills.
Suppose your partner is an adrenaline junky, always seeking out risky new experiences.
Along the same lines, a serial cheater is never satisfied with their car, job, or appearance. They are always looking for an upgrade, which unfortunately transitions over to the serial cheater’s relationships.
22. They’re incapable of being alone
Deep down, serial cheaters are insecure about themselves, and they seek out multiple hookups to boost their self-esteem. This means they also struggle to function on their own.
A serial cheater will jump from one relationship to the next because they need to be surrounded by other people to feel validated.
23. There is an inability to change
People often wonder, “Do serial cheaters ever stop cheating?” The answer is that they often don’t unless they recognize their behavior as problematic and make a legitimate effort to stop cheating by seeking professional help.
Serial cheating often has roots in narcissism or another personality disorder, so treatment is often necessary to change the behavior.
Research has found that people who cheat in one relationship are three times more likely to cheat in the next relationship, suggesting that it is doubtful that a serial cheater will change.
Do serial cheaters feel remorse? The answer is no. If they did feel bad for their behavior, they would stop cheating because they wouldn’t be able to live with the constant guilt and shame surrounding their repeated infidelity.
If your partner shows no remorse after being caught cheating or has no remorse when discussing cheating in past relationships, this is one of the main signs of a serial cheater.
25. They come across as very organized
Serial cheaters become skilled at making up stories to cover their disloyal behavior, so they can seem quite organized.
If you question where they have been or where they are going, they will be able to develop a detailed story because they have spent time getting themselves organized to avoid being caught.
How To Recognize a Serial Cheater
If you notice the 25 signs of a serial cheater, these are pretty good indicators that you are dealing with someone who cannot be trusted to be loyal. To sum it up, you can recognize a serial cheater through some of the following serial cheater signs:
They speak poorly of all of their past partners and may even admit to cheating on them, but they always blame their partner.
They come across as incredibly charming at the beginning of the relationship. Still, when you catch them in a lie, which you will, they blame you, act as if it’s not a big deal, or even engage in manipulative behavior like crying or making excuses.
You catch them on dating apps, or they hide their phone from you so that you cannot catch them engaging in disloyal behavior.
They talk about cheating in past relationships, or they talk about numerous past partners, none of whom ever worked out for them.
They demonstrate a fear of commitment, either by refusing to acknowledge you as their partner in public or by continuing to chat with others via social media or dating apps.
Traits of Serial Cheaters
There are several traits that characterize your typical serial cheater. One of the key, serial cheater traits is a high degree of narcissism, which is characterized by the following traits:
Presenting as excessively self-important
Fixation on success, power, and beauty
Feeling superior to others
Requiring constant admiration
Sense of entitlement
Lack of concern for others
Beyond the traits above, remember that a serial cheater will often come across as very charismatic because they need to have the skills to lure in new love interests.
Given their lack of remorse, they are also likely to present as unempathetic and, at times, rather cruel.
At their best, the serial killer may even appear outgoing and adventurous, but this is often because of their desire to attract other people, even if they are in a committed relationship.
Can a serial cheater learn to be loyal?
Given the patterns and personality traits involved in serial cheating, it is not often that a serial cheater becomes faithful. Serial cheaters engage in repeat cheating and feel no remorse, so they have no internal motivation to change. In addition, their manipulative ways and charming personality allow them to get away with serial cheating.
Change might be possible if a serial cheater takes accountability for their harmful behavior and demonstrates a desire to learn to be faithful. Still, it will be difficult and require professional intervention.
Relationships with a serial cheater often lead to heartbreak, but you can learn to recognize the signs of a serial cheater to get out of the relationship and find someone who will meet your needs and be loyal to you.
Hanging around waiting for a serial cheater to change isn’t likely to end well, so you will probably have to cut your losses and walk away once you notice the signs above.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Jenni Jacobsen is a licensed social worker with a master's degree in social work from The Ohio State University, and she is in the process of completing her dissertation for a Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychology. She has worked in the social work field for 8 years and is currently a professor at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. She writes website content about mental health, addiction, and fitness.
Licensed as both a social worker through Ohio Board of Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage/Family Therapists and school social worker through Ohio Department of Education as well as a personal trainer through American Council on Exercise.