The 3 Types of Cheaters: Why You Need To Know The Difference

by Dr. Lauren Sierra Thomas

in Relationships

Damn Those Cheating Flies!

Last week I talked about affairs and cheating and whether you would want to know if your partner was cheating.    This post will give you information that is extremely important if you’re being cheated on and considering staying.

Cheaters Are Not All Alike

I’ve identified 3 types of cheaters and their motives are completely different.  This means each type has a different risk level regarding the possibility that you can come out the other side with an intact relationship.

In the best of circumstances cheating places an enormous strain on the relationship.  Trust is shattered, along with hopes and dreams.  Many people find the best thing to do is leave.

Yet, not everyone chooses to leave.  I know people who have stayed together for 15-20 years following an indiscretion (I just had to get that in, isn’t it a pleasant word) and managed to save their relationship.

Let’s get down to it and find out about the 3 types of cheaters and you’ll see that your risk in staying is different depending on the type of person you’re hanging about with.

The 3 Types Of Cheaters

1)  The Grass Is Greener

This type of cheater may be unhappy in the relationship.  Not necessarily planning to cheat, someone comes along who provides what the person’s missing in their primary relationship.  Someone pays attention to them, makes them feel special, listens to what they have to say.

You get the drift.  And before the person knows it, they’ve drifted.  They’re not simply messing around, they’ve formed an attachment with another person.

A cheater of this type may feel guilty and struggle with their cheating heart.

Staying with The Grass Is Greener cheater:  This is the type with whom you probably have the best chance of salvaging the relationship. They’re often capable of deep attachment to another person and if they still feel a bond with you, they may be willing to try to work things out.  The person may agree to go to therapy.  It’s quite possible they won’t stray again.

You may legitimately have a role in your partner’s straying with this type and therapy will give you both an opportunity to uncover and deal with problems that weren’t dealt with and may have contributed to the affair.  This can be considered a wake up call!

If either of the other types try to convince you it’s your fault, it’s pure BS.

2)  I See What I Want And I Take It

A narcissistic perspective, it ’tis!  Life is all about me and naturally it revolves around me.  I DESERVE to have whatever and whomever I desire.

And I do desire!  It takes a lot to keep me pumped up about myself.  If I’m away on a business trip and see someone I’d like to get in the sandbox with, by damned I’m going to (the opportunist)!   Just looking out for numero uno.

Narcissists (and we’ve created plenty of them) don’t always play well with others. Mostly, they see others as there to serve their narcissistic needs, which include a strong desire to frequently be told and shown how great they are.  They want to be the center of attention.

As you may guess, there’s a deep insecurity that lies beneath the “cool” exterior.

Staying With The I See What I Want And I Take It cheater:  Beware and Be Aware.  Not a great bet for the staying kind.  For one, this person resists therapy and will only go in the most extreme of circumstances.

The threat of a relationship separation, in which their narcissistic supply (meaning you’re not there to pamper them) is cut off may get them in, but they’re a “tough nut to crack” and they usually don’t stay in therapy.  They are sometimes capable of attachment. It depends upon the degree of the narcissism.

Of course, if you’ve been dealing with this person for awhile you’re probably used to not being considered and coming second in the relationship.  Don’t you deserve more?

The narcissist does know how to turn on the charm off the charts, though, when it serves a purpose.  They can be quite manipulative.

3)  I Can’t Help Myself:  The Sexually Addicted

The sexually compulsive person will never be faithful. It’s not about you and there’s nothing you can do to change the behavior.  Do you like feeling helpless and powerless?

The sex addict needs a constant supply of sexual activities,  just as a drug addict needs a constant supply of a drug.  And like a drug, it takes more to get “a high” so the need for excitement increases with time.

If this isn’t enough to have you running for the door, be aware there are usually other sexually compulsive behaviors, not just one night stands or affairs.   Chances are the person will be involved in compulsive masturbation, exhibitionism, voyeurism…or other “acting out” behaviors.

Assume you will be lied to on a regular basis because you will.  It’s nothing personal, just the nature of addiction.

One last word to the wise – sex addicts look and behave just like everyone else publicly.  That means they don’t seem to be a “pervert” or look any particular way.  Sex addicts come from all walks of life.  They often feel horrible about their behavior and sometimes even consider suicide because of the devastating consequences (all addictions have a negative impact on a person’s life).

Staying With The Sex Addict: Do you need your head examined?  If you consider staying with a sex addict seek professional help.

There are 12 step groups for sex addicts (where they often go and act out together - but in fairness, not always) and separate groups for the partners of addicts.

If you’re going to stay with a sex addict – and value yourself at all - you must insist that you both be in treatment.  And get ready for a very long painful road ahead.  A “slip” is not a fun experience.

You’re likely to experience overwhelming anxiety and depression, always waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop.

My advice:  Just say no and get out!

Bringing It On Home – or Not!

I hope this helps you sort out the different types of cheaters and why all cheaters are NOT alike. Hopefully, it will provide valuable information if you’re trying to make a decision at a difficult time.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and your experiences with cheating.

Be well, and may you experience the least cheating relationships ever!

Photo Courtesy of:

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Robin Easton November 5, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Hi dear Lauren, You really broke this down SO clearly. I’ve never seen it done like this. It really is quite amazing. I had to laugh as I recognized not only some the “characters” here. LOL!! :) But also the possiblities you describe as a result of staying with each one. :)

You are so refreshing, because you are deeply (and OPENLY) loving, compassionate, and sooooo wise, and yet you can lay out something like this with solid, tell it like it is” honestly. Although when any of us go through a relationship with any of these “character” it is not so funny, and sadly, can be tragic, but it still made me laugh.

I think that element of laughter is good because it does two things. It helps us all forgive ourselves for past, “undesirable” experiences, and allows us also to make laughter part of our healing.

So good to feel your energy here. It always is. I am just grateful for who you choose to be. Refreshing, alive, spontaneous, and loving. Thank you for being my friend, Lauren.

I love you always,
Robin Easton´s last blog ..Naked Laughter – Video and Contest My ComLuv Profile


Lauren November 8, 2010 at 12:01 am

Dearest Robin,

I’m so glad you laughed a bit as you were reading this blog post. I was smiling a bit myself as I was writing it. Go figure!

It’s kind of like the lying post – all the different motives for lying and ways people can come up with lies, as well as tactics for keeping or getting someone off your “trail”/back.

Well, when we realize all the ways we protect ourselves and get what we want it is enough to spin the head 360. It’s so easy to lose sight of what truly brings happiness – and I for one believe it begins with being real. I imagine you might agree.

My close friend is reading Naked In Eden at the moment and is hanging on every word, just as I did!

Always wonderful to hear from you and I look forward to the day we’re sitting across from one another sipping on tea.

Love you forever too,


Robin Easton November 10, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Awww, what a dear you are. Lauren. I just feel such LOVE when I am around you. I too look forward to the day we sit together and share. Thank you SO SO much. I love you forever too, and am SO blessed to have you in my life. Love, Robin

PS: Also how wonderful your friend is enjoying the book. That touches me. Thank you for letting me know. :)
Robin Easton´s last blog ..Naked Laughter – Video and Contest My ComLuv Profile


Krissy April 14, 2011 at 4:17 pm

I could not agree more! I knew there were different types of cheaters and then I saw it on Dr. Drew and got my confirmation. I was a victim of #3 and the day after it was confirmed (in the news) I went to a divorce atty and never looked back. I’d have to say that out of all of them #3 is the one that is probably easier to forgive bc it’s an addiction and most of us are aware of how hard any addiction can be to fight. I think a lot of male cheaters are #2 and to me, that’s just cruel. Great article and I could not agree more.


Daisy April 18, 2012 at 7:41 am

I just turned twenty in April I have been cheated on constantly threw out five years I don’t know what to do?! :,(


Dr. Lauren Sierra Thomas April 21, 2012 at 12:09 am

Hi Daisy,

It sounds like you’ve had some pretty painful experiences. I would recommend getting some therapy so you can process your feelings. Sometimes therapy also helps in the type of people we attract to us.

I wish you the best and thanks for writing.



Kate July 17, 2012 at 4:04 am

I need help. Is there any organization where I can get free counciling I’m on the east coast. I just moved my kids and I in with my bf of several years. We had visited and planned for a year before the move. I lived my life with him. He’s very dynamic and sarcastic as I am and love, adore and make each other laugh. Wetalk food marriage and kids. He’s a wonderful father and a leader in the community. I had always moticed odd behaviors, but Moines perfect and I thought they were just quirks. OCD, sometimes critical, emotionally withdrawn, starting fights, but as we got closer these lessened until I moved in. It was the happiest two weeks of my life! I’ve wanted a family so long and been a struggling single mom. To come home to an awesome man in love with me and responsible made me so happy! I never suspected cheating ever not once did it cross my mind it felt as though I was top priority. Until I found a receipt for a g-string and condom in a shopping bag. This in combination with text secretive about phone, talks about prostitutes on guys trips regularly says hes joking,porn, caught him on Match three times always has an excuse, maybe using craislist,nervous, always texting, he smells different, all pieces started to be clear once I found it. Of course he denied any wrong doing and still does. He said we were on break and we were, he says he lives me never cheated, but he looks away right after. I left him cried journalized for five days. Changed my number, moved me and kids back told everyone it was over. Friday I called for closure I wanted him to admit it and say bye. He didn’t but said he loved me missed me wanted to marry me. The next day I came back. I am reading like crazy and I think he’s a sex addict. I’m interested in free counciling, or Amy books you may suggest, thanks!


Dr. Lauren Sierra Thomas July 24, 2012 at 7:56 pm

I don’t know services on the East Coast. I recommend you attend free 12-step meetings for co-dependents and focus upon yourself. The fact that you were willing to return under the circumstances indicates it could be very helpful for you. If you can afford it, I would highly recommend private therapy with someone who understands addictive-type issues. I don’t have enough information to determine whether your boyfriend has a sexual addiction, but clearly there are significant problems. I’m glad you realize you need help. Counseling may help you understand your own issues relative to why you’d accept the situation. Usually, self-esteem and childhood issues are part of the reason. Be gentle with yourself through this process and understand you’re doing the best you can right now. And do get help.
Best wishes to you.



Leave a Comment

CommentLuv Enabled

Previous post:

Next post: