“I dated a serial cheater”: three women share their horror stories

Ever been in a romantic relationship with a cheater? Well, you’re not alone. According to a 2018 study in the Netherlands, between 18% and 25% of Tinder users are already in a committed relationship – meaning a quarter of swipers could be cheats. And in 2020, Ashley Madison, the dating network for extramarital affairs, reached a whopping 70 million registered users.

Even without the statistics, we all know someone that’s cheated or been cheated on, and it could even be something that’s affected us in our own relationships. But there are so many reasons why people cheat: whether it’s that they’re feeling unappreciated in the relationship, their sexual needs aren’t being fulfilled, or they’re struggling to keep the romantic spark alive.

We can’t condemn every single person who cheats and cheating doesn’t automatically make you a bad person. But what about the repeat offenders – those with a long history of infidelity, who just can’t help themselves from stepping out on their partners with multiple other people? And, importantly, what’s it like to actually date these people?

I dated a serial cheater

“I was just one of the pawns in his game, someone who catered to his stupid ego and made him bold”

Well, in answer to that second question, being with a serial cheater is exhausting and it can completely mess you up. All of their lying and sneaking around can get you to a space where you question your self-esteem and even your sanity.

I say all this because I happened to be one of these unfortunate souls, in a relationship with a man who confused this emotional and psychological torture for the word “love”. He wasn’t just cheating on me with one or two people but with thirteen others and promising all them relationships, too. I was just one of the pawns in his game, someone who catered to his stupid ego and made him bold.

„I was just one of the pawns in his game, someone who catered to his stupid ego and made him bold”

By being in a relationship with him and putting up with his behaviour, I gave him power over me and it took me another five months to claim it back, by breaking up with him and getting a piece of my life back.

The psychological profile of a serial cheater

It’s an extreme example, but my experience isn’t one in a million – other people have suffered at the hands of compulsive cheats. But what makes someone capable of repeated betrayals of trust? When I ask Callisto Adams PhD, founder of HeTexted and relationship expert and coach, what compels people to repeatedly cheat on their partners, her answer actually seems quite logical.

“Cheating often happens due to low self-esteem, due to the need for emotional or sexual fulfillment, a way of coping mechanism or defending mechanism due to problems within the relationship, childhood traumas,” Callisto explains.

According to her, cheating can be learned behaviour, picked up in developmental years from seeing and hearing parents or people around them go through relationship difficulties as well. However, it’s important to note that Callisto’s comments aren’t defending compulsive cheaters. While individuals have no control over the trauma that they irlГ¤ndsk flickor fГ¶r Г¤ktenskap experience in their upbringing, as adults they have to take accountability for their actions and work to recognise negative patterns in their own relationships.

Why is it so hard to leave a cheating partner?

So know we know a bit more about the profile of a serial cheater, what about the type of person who ends up in a relationship with them? And what causes them to look the other way when