There are 5 different types of cheaters, but can you forgive any of them?

Cheating. For a lot of people, it's the one big fear that sits in the back of their mind. Whether you're in a secure, loving relationship or you've been experiencing some problems with your partner, the big 'C word' has been known to rear its head and cause deep distress, heartbreak and often, marks the end of a couple.

Like many aspects of romantic relationships, infidelity comes with a lot of nuance. Depending on who you speak to 'cheating' might look like one thing to one person and something completely different to another. So, how do you know if your partner has actually cheated on you? Is there a sliding scale? Are you overreacting? Or have you been completely blindsided?

We spoke to experienced couples' counselling psychologist and author of Affair Repair, Dee Tozer, to get some intel on the different types of infidelity and whether or not you can come back from it. Throughout her history of helping couples work through their marital problems, she has discovered some key different 'types' of unfaithful people, who can be broken down into five different categories.

These range from those who engage in light flirting on social media on the lower end of the scale, through to one-night, alcohol-induced encounters and, on the higher end, people who enter into affairs that span a significant period of time.

WATCH: Sophie Monk talks to Mamamia about cheating. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

1. The serial cheater.

This type of cheating occurs when someone is in a loving relationship but jumps on opportunities that follow sexual desires. Serial cheaters are often fuelled by alcohol or drugs, and their actions are not necessarily premeditated. 

"It's conquest-based, [so] no intentional emotional connection can develop," says Dee.

2. The obligated cheater.

Dee says this type of cheating "occurs where flirting has gone too far and either one or both of the participants feel obligated to follow through. These are short spurts of a few times, leaving both parties overwhelmed with guilt." 

There's also a theory that the obligated cheater has a deep need for approval and will go to extreme lengths to receive it, aka engage in advances from someone outside of their relationship.

3. The love hormone cheater.

"Here I say it's the lighting up of the love hormones," says Dee. "Life may have become dull, romance no more. No spark left, but committed to their vows, family, and other lifestyle factors, they stay together." 

When it comes to the love hormone cheater, they're feeling a real lack of intimacy and therefore seek the affection of someone who can fill that cup up. Despite this lapse in judgement, more often than not this type of cheating won't turn into a long-term affair, or a see a person leaving their spouse.

4. The conflicted love hormone cheater.

This type of cheater is quite literally addicted to lust, love, romance and everything in between. 


"This is where the parties have a deep love for their spouse however cannot resist the romantic buzz," says Dee. "They know it's so wrong, they have immense guilt and intense shame, and can carry this burden for years after they stray." 

For the conflicted love hormone cheater, they can feel love for more than one person (which is fine, as long as all parties consent). Things start to break down on all fronts when this information becomes privy to the spouse.

5. The dissatisfied cheater.

For the dissatisfied cheater, they're seeking what they're no longer getting in a relationship that has broken down. They're able to justify their infidelity by blaming their spouse for not giving them what they need. 

"This is about relationship dissatisfaction and feeling caught in a loveless relationship. It's when an ignored spouse wants to feel alive again, desired and important."

So, now that we have a broad scope of the different cheaters out there – here comes the million-dollar question. Why do people cheat on their partners? According to Dee, there are many potential contributing factors and drivers behind infidelity, but over her years of working with couples, she has noticed some patterns.

"The main reason for the couples I see is they feel unheard, their emotional connection has drifted away, usually sexual starvation due to becoming disinterested and desire fades away," she says.

"Then the willpower to resist attention, flirting, and warm conversations is weakened. The 'high' from feeling noticed, from feeling attractive and desired causes an oxytocin/dopamine spike and they throw caution to the four winds and the seven seas, so to speak."


Finding out your partner has cheated is a gut-punch, there's no two ways about it. Whether they've come clean on their indiscretions or you've found out of your own accord, it's a devastating blow that rocks your world. Of course all situations are unique, but once the dust has settled, often couples are faced with a looming question – do we end the relationship or stay and try to work things out? If you're in the latter camp, Dee's advice is to encourage seeking the help of a trusted, certified professional in the couples' counselling department.

"In short, get help from a professional who has significant experience in healing affair damage," she says. 

"Ask how many couples they've helped, what their success rate is, and importantly, what stance they take with the offending spouse."

If you're stuck in limbo and don't know whether to stay or walk away from the relationship, there's no simple answer, unfortunately.

"This is a process of understanding deep love and connection, and how to restore then sustain close togetherness, even after a major upheaval such as cheating," says Dee. 

"I caution spouses about hasty 'go' decisions and help them gain a sound perspective on gains and losses. That is what 'staying' can bring to their lives with the right help, and what 'going' can bring or take from their lives."

Image: Getty.

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