How & Why Cheating Cheats The Cheater

Cheaters betray more than just their partners.

Last updated on Jun 27, 2024

Cheater is affected by cheating and is in turn cheated instead. Konstantin Postumitenko, Milament | Canva

When infidelity happens, we think of it as the person who had the affair cheated on their partner. And of course, that's true! However, I can show you how the cheater cheats on themselves too. But first, ask yourself if you know someone who cheated and did not make their life worse on some level. Or maybe you might have cheated in the past — did you lose out on that choice you made? I would strongly bet that you or whoever it is you're thinking of did lose out.


How and why cheating cheats the cheater:

1. You suffer from the stress and guilt of keeping a secret

You are thereby cheating yourself out of a more peaceful existence. Most people who cheat are not sociopaths. They have a conscience and it is stressful and painful for most people to not have integrity. There is a big part of the cheater who wants to be honest and values the commitment he or she made so the cheater is seriously feeling a dose of self-betrayal as well. Betraying one’s values makes it more difficult to sleep at night.

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2. You cannot fully enjoy either of your relationships

Not with the person you are cheating on or the relationship with the person you are cheating with. Both are not real relationships based on full trust and a full celebration of the union between 2 people. So you are depriving yourself of that full celebration. I have seen many people who have betrayed and they tell me over and over again how they did not get the benefits of either relationship in any significant way.

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3. If you have children, something changes for you

You do not enjoy the kids as much because you know that you are not only betraying your partner but on some real level, you are betraying them. You are cheating yourself out of the joys of parenting. I have heard over and over again from people who cheat how their guilt and sense of betraying the kids made them far less present, emotionally. Many are less present physically as well as they tend to avoid their sense of self-betrayal and find ways to keep a physical distance from their children.  

This avoidance becomes a way of managing the cheater’s painful emotions of guilt and shame. Of course, the cheater is now cheating the children of quality time with one (or both) of the parents. This also can come back to negatively affect the cheater in so many ways, from affecting the relationship with them long term to dealing with the pain of long-term emotional issues that the children may develop from the lack of quality bonding.


4. You do not feel good about yourself. You are cheating yourself out of higher self-esteem

Wikipedia defines self-esteem as one’s subjective evaluation of one’s overall worth. When we betray our values and negatively affect the lives of our loved ones, we will not evaluate ourselves with a high amount of worth. Also, this low self-esteem can often extend into other areas of our life such as work or health. The lowered self-esteem can translate into less productivity at work. It could also lead to other bad lifestyle choices (such as giving up exercise or starting to drink too much), which further diminishes self-esteem. Here is where you have a downward spiral of self-esteem.

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5. You cannot truly do the more fulfilling work of developing the kind of connection with your "committed partner"

This is because your energies are now split. You cheat yourself out of the best chance for a phenomenal committed long-term relationship. If you came from the best part of you to bring out the best in your committed intimate partner, you would have an opportunity to have a loving, passionate, and nurturing relationship. You lose the chance of all this "good stuff" when you cheat. There you have it. Everyone loses with infidelity.


RELATED: 5 Core Reasons People Cheat

Todd Creager is a marriage and intimacy therapist, author, and speaker. He has been seen on Dating Advice, Celebuzz!, Playboy Radio, and more.