Confessions of a Serial Cheater

By Marina Krivonossova on December 21, 2020

Have you ever been cheated on? Odds are you have, even if you didn’t know it. Now, a more personal question… Have you ever cheated on your partner? The majority of those who have won’t admit to it. Cheating has a tendency to make the party who got cheated on feel worthless, sad, and unvalued. They often feel like they did something wrong — like they deserved to become the victim of infidelity. I’m here today with Laura (name changed to protect interviewee’s privacy), a college student who is a self-proclaimed former serial cheater. We’re going to talk today about what constitutes cheating, what’s prompted her to cheat, and how she approaches this topic overall.

Marina: “Hi Laura, thank you for taking the time to talk to me today about such a delicate topic. Do you want to start off by saying a little bit about yourself and what brought you here, to discuss cheating with me?”

Laura: “Hey Marina, no problem. This actually isn’t something I’ve ever discussed with anyone. Not even my closest friends know this about me, but I used to be a serial cheater. By that I mean that I cheated on the majority of men I dated. Cheating didn’t always include physical intimacy for me. Sometimes, I cheated by flirting with others. Or by talking to people on dating apps. Or by hiding my relationship from people who I knew were interested in me.”

Marina: “It seems like you have quite a bit of experience with cheating. May I ask what prompted you to engage in this behavior?”

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Laura: “I think it was a fear of being alone. My first boyfriend was kind of the love of my life Or at least I felt like that at the time. I never cheated back then, but we ended up breaking up because he cheated on me. It shattered me. For years, I tried to date like a normal person again, but I couldn’t. He was always on my mind, and I compared everyone I met to him. I know it wasn’t healthy, but I couldn’t change it. And I never told anyone. I started dating my best friend a little bit after, but I was just there for the physical aspect of it. I liked being hugged. And I liked that he texted me all the time. It made me feel less alone. But soon, he left me thanks to his drug problem. And my world — a world I thought he repaired — came crashing down again. That’s when I started cheating.

“My relationships were always very short lived, but they were very intense. And when I knew I was ready to end things with someone, I’d start secretly dating or talking to another person behind their back, just as a back-up. Don’t tell me it’s messed up, I know. I just didn’t want to risk ending up alone again. I don’t think many of my feelings at the time were real. It was all an attempt to just feel wanted again. A really sad attempt to feel whole.

“There was another time I almost started to be better again, but I got into an emotionally, and briefly physically, abusive relationship. Just a whole lot of gaslighting, pressure to do things I didn’t want to, and fear. I tried leaving, but he never let me. So back to cheating I went, and this time, I didn’t stop.”

Marina: “That’s horrible to hear, Laura. I feel your pain, but at the same time, I wonder — did it ever bother you that you were hurting others?”

Laura: “I mean, they never knew I was cheating. I’d never been caught, unless I wanted to be caught. Sometimes I’d break up with people by telling them ‘Hey, I’ve been talking to someone else, and I now know what you and I had was never real.’ I was quick to fall in love, and even quicker to fall out of love. I always justified my cheating by telling myself it wasn’t real cheating, because I never planned to let the relationship last, or because I was never serious about the person.”

Marina: “Hmm, I see. And you say you’re a former serial cheater, so I take it you’ve stopped. What prompted that change of mind?”

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Laura: “None of the relationships or flirtationships I had ever satisfied me. I always wanted more — I always wanted to move on to the next exciting thing. I wanted to get the other person as interested in me as possible, just so I could feel briefly wanted before moving on to the next soon after. Eventually, it hit me: I needed to figure my own issues out first before I could seriously get into a relationship. So I did. I saw a doctor about my mental health problems. I started focusing on my school, my work, and my friends. I took a break from relationships — both to avoid hurting others, and to avoid hurting myself. It really was the best thing I did for myself. I think only after I gave myself time to heal did I start seeing the value in real human relationships. They’re symbiotic, apparently. They’re not there to make you feel good until you’re ready to move on to the next exciting thing.”

Marina: “It’s great that you realized that, even if it was after a fair bit of unfortunate experiences. But I have to ask — do you ever regret cheating?”

Laura: “You’re gonna judge me, but I really don’t. It happened, it’s life. I’ve moved on, and I don’t think anybody cares anymore that it happened. But for me, it was a learning opportunity. Both when I got cheated on, and when I was the one cheating. I think I came out of all those situations better off than I otherwise would have. I experienced and learned a lot of things early. I bet if you heard some of my stories without seeing me, you’d guess I was in my late 30s or even 40s. That’s what my friends always told me.”

Marina: “That’s totally fair! There’s no use in living a life of regret anyway, right? The best thing we can do is learn from our actions. Do you have any concluding thoughts or advice for the audience?”

Laura: “Just because I don’t regret cheating, and just because I don’t care anymore that I was cheated on, doesn’t mean cheating is a good thing. Don’t go cheating on everyone you did just because it’s possible. Maybe just put off dating until you feel emotionally stable enough to do so in a way that’s healthy, positive, and mutually beneficial. There’s a lot more to life than dating and dealing with emotional trauma, especially when you’re still young. I know that I will never cheat again, and I will never get into a relationship until I know that being with that person will add real value to my life, outside of just making me feel less lonely. I don’t feel lonely when I’m alone now, and I think that was the biggest challenge for me to overcome.”

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