How To Tell If A Man Is A Cheater

You know that guy you started seeing not too long ago? The one you really like but sometimes wonder if he’s a little too friendly to other girls? Here’s how to tell if he’s the kind to stay faithful or not.

By Keelia Clarkson4 min read

You’ve recently started seeing a new guy. He’s charming, successful, passionate, intelligent, exciting, magnetic, and, oh, handsome to boot. You’re definitely rather taken with him, more than willing to give it a go. And while you can tell that he’s into you, you can’t quite gauge how serious he is about you and the relationship, and if he’s as invested in it as you are.

Sure, he calls you his girlfriend. And while in the past, securing that title has given you some amount of security, you’re not too sure about its efficacy this time around. After all, he still follows Instagram models and likes their bikini photos, has a girl friend that he swears has only ever been a friend despite flirting with her in front of you, and sometimes, it takes him a few hours to respond to your text, without offering an explanation as to why. 

You can’t ignore it any longer. There’s a part of you that wonders if he could ever cheat on you – and then you feel guilty for even wondering that in the first place, and the vicious cycle continues, over and over again. You desperately want to believe that he wouldn’t cheat, but you can’t quell your worries.

And then, you come across a tweet that says something along the lines of, “By nature men are going to cheat. It’s literally in our DNA to. Men are here to procreate. That doesn’t mean he don’t love you, he’s just doing what he was designed to do,” and, well, you almost implode. First, from a mix of shock, disgust, and fury. And then, from anxiety – is this…true? Is it just in men’s “DNA” to cheat

No, a Man Who’s Worth Having Won’t

The narrative that men are “designed” to be unfaithful, that they aren’t responsible for their actions if they do cheat on their wives or girlfriends, and that it’s simply something women have to accept about men’s very nature is, in a few words, gross, alarming, and appalling. It’s also not true – not for any man who’s worth having in the first place, that is.

Expecting a man to be committed to you in heart, body, and mind isn’t controlling, naive, or unnatural.

Fidelity is the bare minimum in any romantic relationship, the absolute lowest the bar could possibly be. It’s disheartening that we’ve reached the point where this needs to be said so explicitly, and that it’s even up for debate in some circles. Expecting a man to be committed to you in heart, body, and mind isn’t controlling, naive, or unnatural – and the kind of man who would cause you to feel like asking for exclusivity is too tall of an order is best cut loose.

If He’s Very Secretive, Be Worried

You know the kind of guy who always puts his phone face down and won’t seem to let you within 20 feet of it? Who gets squirmy when you ask him where he’s been all day before coming up with a weird excuse? Who never answers your calls, no matter the time of day, because he’s “busy”? Who freaks out any time you show up unannounced for what you thought would be a fun surprise?

If a guy is on the secretive side, you have to ask yourself why. Sure, maybe you’re just reading too much into his innocuous behavior, but maybe you’re catching on to the way he operates. When a guy’s actions make it seem like he has something to hide, a lot of times, it’s because he does. So don’t immediately write secretive behavior off as him being “mysterious.”

If He’s Got Zero Impulse Control, That’s a Red Flag

“Following thirst traps on Instagram is a no-go. Leering at women … in public like he wants to devour them at an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast is a no-go. Guys look. Cheaters leer. Porn addiction is a no-go. Condoning cheating and insisting, ‘Men aren’t monogamous by nature,’ is also a no-go. … It’s your funeral at this point if you decide to move forward with him. He’s giving you all the red flags he can possibly muster, and he isn’t going to be faithful to you nor any other woman,” says dating coach and creator of Jenny White.

Her words ring true because, after all, cheating often stems from a place of neglecting to control his thoughts and actions, instead letting his impulsivity run wild. This is why White’s differentiation of looking versus leering is important. Other pretty girls don’t cease to exist when a guy is in a relationship, but if he’s entertaining thoughts about other girls and taking good long looks at them, take that as a sign that he’s not interested in staying faithful to anyone.

Oh, and using the rhetoric that guys aren’t naturally monogamous? Do we really need to convince you that a guy who’d buy into this line of thinking isn’t the committed type? “You have nothing to lose regardless at this point. Might as well make a grand exit by telling him he’s trash and make a lasting statement,” says White.

If He Takes Pride in Getting Other Women’s Attention and Doesn’t Care How You Feel About It, Beware

Remember that barista who flirted with you a few weeks ago? You didn’t flirt back or give him your number when he asked for it, but it sure did give you a nice ego boost. It’s understandable to feel flattered when getting this kind of attention, but you make a point of letting them know you’re taken.

But when a guy is a cheater? Not only will he bask in the attention he gets from other women, but he’ll openly flirt back and even joke to you about cheating on you with other women. And don’t be fooled – this joke isn’t meant to be funny. It’s meant to let you know that he has options, and he intends to take advantage of them.

Flexing his cheating is making it clear that he only sees you as a temporary option at best.

“He’s making it clear he doesn't belong to you. He’s making it clear he doesn’t love you because he will go out and sleep with other women. He doesn’t care if you know about his shady past, present, or future because he doesn't see a future with you. Flexing his cheating is making it clear that he only sees you as a temporary option at best. If he cared, he wouldn’t cheat. He wouldn’t want to jeopardize your connection, and he wouldn’t want to risk losing you,” says White.

If He Accuses You of Flirting with Other Guys, Chances Are…

So what if he gets cagey at the thought of you interacting with another man, ever? What if he has made snide comments about you flirting with the bartender when all you were doing was ordering drinks? What if he has made it clear that he doesn’t want you talking to your guy friends anymore, despite there being nothing romantic between any of you? What if he’s even accused you of cheating on him? Surely a man who’s that concerned with being cheated on himself wouldn’t dream of doing it to you, right?

Not so fast. There’s a case to be made that a guy who’s dead set on “catching” you being unfaithful to him is actually just projecting his own thoughts, desires, and actions onto you. He thinks you’re flirting with the bartender because he’d flirt. He thinks there’s something between you and your guy friend because he would probably have a thing for his female friend. He’s accused you of cheating on him because he’s either thought about cheating or has already done it.

If He’s Got a Past but Doesn’t Show Remorse, Proceed with Caution

Maybe you haven’t been questioning whether he would ever cheat in a relationship, but if he would cheat again. After all, you’ve always heard it said that if a guy cheats once, he’ll do it over and over again. But is that true? Is the phrase “once a cheater, always a cheater” true?

Not necessarily, but it’s definitely a reason to be cautious. While it’s certainly possible for a guy to make the mistake of being unfaithful once and resolve to never repeat it again, it’s also true that there are guys out there who make a habit of cheating. So how can you tell the difference between these two types of guys?

If he shows remorse. “A reformed cheater will admit he had a problem in the past and will make good on his word that he's a changed man. He will feel legitimately ashamed, guilty, and very regretful about his misdeeds. And it likely may not be a pattern with him,” says White. On the other hand, if he doesn’t own up to his past mistakes but instead blames his cheating on an ex or doesn’t seem all that sorry for it, that’s a sign he just might do it again.

Closing Thoughts

So is he just friendly, or is he flirting with other girls? It takes some time to decipher whether a guy is the type to cheat, but often enough, he’ll show you his true colors before you get in too deep.

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