I count myself very fortunate to be able to do what I do. Day after day, people open up their lives, hearts and processes to me. I have learned volumes from my clients. I’ve even learned the reasons why people cheat by identifying the type of cheater they are.
In my office, honesty is critical for the miracle of recovery to happen. Without honesty, the person addicted to adultery is doomed, and they cannot heal.
What Do You Protect?
I often tell the spouse of a sex addict a simple truth I have learned about men and people in general, “What a man loves, he protects.” If a man, or woman for that matter, is not being completely honest, and I don’t mean not sharing details, they will hurt the spouse in order to protect the sex addiction. If, however, a person is openly disclosing and not protecting the sex addiction, it is a sign they are, at the moment, trying to love and protect the spouse.
It’s in these private moments within my office after the addict’s disclosure where I have seen how the addict thinks and feels inside. The heart is different for every addict and may even be different at different times for the same addict. So, please join me as we enter the cave of the cheating heart. If you’re the addict, be careful. You might run into some familiar territory.
Reason is determined by the type of cheater
People cheat for different reasons, whether they’re men or women, people cheat. Now, if you’re someone who’s been cheated on, let me be very clear about something. It’s not your fault. If your spouse has a sex addicton, you didn’t cause it and it’s not about you. It’s about the person who cheated.
I’ve been working with cheaters for over thirty years so let me go through the 7 different types.
Also, you can watch my take on it in this video:
#1. The hunter cheater
The hunter cheater gets off on finding the prey. Whether that’s a weak, low self-esteem woman, or a president of a company who is a man and a woman wants to go after him. Whatever their prey is, they are hunting and they have a profile that they hunt for. They cheat as a game. No, it doesn’t make sense to non-cheaters, but this is the way it is for the hunter cheater.
This cheater is mostly looking for participants in his or her game. This could take place at bars, their child’s school, at work, or even on their honeymoon where they are cruising for victims. They are looking for the weak, needy or another sex addict for a quick hit. They tend to have go-to lines with practiced routines to capture their prey.
The hunter’s prey
This cheater is not looking for someone equal to them because that could result in pain for the cheater. One caveat is that these cheaters are not hunting for eagles, they are picking up wounded sparrows. They tend to be the smart, successful, smooth-talking guy or girl who exudes a certain sexual or narcissistic energy. It’s all about them and their needs. This type of cheater also has a clear sense of entitlement that is apparent to those they come in contact with.
#2. The hero cheater
The hero nice guy or woman is the person who likes to come into the other person’s life to rescue them. This type of cheater wants to be wonderful and be the nice guy or the nice girl. In this method they are seducing them along the way. They actually are intentionally moving towards cheating but they do it from a hero place. Furthermore, they leave those cheating affairs as the hero. For example, “I need to go be a good husband or a good wife.” “I’m a good person. I can’t do this anymore.” After victimizing the other person, they want to be thought of by everyone as the nice person they believe they are. It takes a little while to see themselves as perpetrators, because they really want to hang on to the image of a hero or nice person.
The hero’s maiden in distress
This is the person who “wants to help.” This type of cheater can see their victim’s need a mile away and they want to rescue the maiden in distress, so to speak. This person wants to be a friend to their victim, talk about the victim’s life, marriage, kids, or job. They always give the impression that they really care about their target, but they are always looking for a weakness or expressed need to exploit. The hero cheater’s adulterous heart is quick to praise, quick to appreciate, and quick to pick up on cues as to whether you are starting to trust them. They get excited when the victim trusts them, because they are close to the kill.
#3 The Wounded Cheater
The wounded cheater is the opposite of the others we have discussed so far. This man or woman plays the victim role. Their spouse doesn’t love them, appreciate them, or have sex with them. This type of cheater is looking for someone to help them in life. They are the person you feel sorry for. That is their way of reeling in their victims. The cheater wants the victim to feel like he or she is helping them, and is significant, respected and valued by them.
This person tends to underachieve in life. Furthermore, in relationships they just can’t seem to get it right until their victim comes into their life. They are constantly looking to be saved, helped, or delivered from their circumstances or current bad marriage. They attack victims by their neediness.
The wounded cheater’s savior
The wounded type of cheater is the guy or gal who sits in the bar looking for sympathy. This person complains about their life and they are looking for someone (like the hero cheater) to come in and help them. They want someone to rescue them and pull them out of their pain. They think they need someone to save them from their addictions or whatever it is that causes them pain. Although this person is playing the victim, they are actually seducing that other person as part of the process and cheating is part of the exchange.
#4 The Opportunist Cheater
The opportunist is different from the above. This type of cheater doesn’t have a catch. Anybody, anytime, anywhere. It doesn’t matter what size, what color, and in some cases what gender. It just doesn’t matter. As long as there’s an opportunity, they want to cheat. Therefore, this type of cheater is a little hard to understand because there’s no matrix. It could be a girl at Burger King or it could be the vice president of a company (and that could all be in the same week). There’s no matrix for the opportunist. They will capitalize on any opportunity to cheat without regard to details.
Can they be understood?
These people don’t even make sense to themselves. They can’t see the opportunist theme until you point it out to them. Then voila, it makes sense why shape, size or personality doesn’t matter. Usually, these people eventually snag a crazy person that can create real havoc in their life.
#5 The Professional Cheater
The professional cheater is the person who wants paid services only. Whether it’s a man or woman, they want the confidentiality. This type of cheater wants to feel safe. They do want to cheat, but they want to make sure it’s not going to impact their whole life. Therefore, they tend to go the professional route. Another version of the professional cheater is someone who maybe struggles with intimacy anorexia or doesn’t know how to have an intimate relationship but they want sex. Therefore, professionals provide a great outlet for that.
The professional prototype
This type of cheater is typically a man. He is not looking for love, nor does he care about the other person’s wants, needs, or what they think of him. Professional cheaters want to be serviced. He may or may not have a specific type of service in mind. Furthermore, he believes he is paying for the confidentiality of their sexual acts.
#6 The Fetish Cheater
The fetish cheater is someone who is looking for a very particular fetish act, setting, or circumstances. This type of cheater will only cheat as it relates to the specific fetish that they are consumed with.
Risk vs. reward
This type of cheater will go to great lengths and, sometimes, great risk to receive a very specific fix. Their cheating heart is also compartmentalized and often has a sense of entitlement. My experience with the fetish cheater is that, many times, they are intimacy and sexually anorexic in their marriage as well.
#7 The Sex Addict Cheater
Although I’ve given this type its own category, any of the above types can be sex addicts acting out of their sex addiction. They might start with porn, but now they got into strip clubs and then they got in to prostitutes. Or they may go into bars and see what they can find. The difference is they are acting in a very addictive way.
Aren’t they all sex addicts?
You may be thinking, “Wait, aren’t all these types of cheaters sex addicts?” The simple answer is not always. Although a cheater of any variety often is a sex addict, it is possible to be any type of cheater and not be a sex addict.
I hope walking through this cavern of the 7 types of cheaters has been helpful. Also, hopefully you have a better idea of why people cheat. If you’re the addict, you probably saw your heart in one of these profiles. If you’re the spouse, you may have learned something new or have simply been given a language to communicate what you have been feeling all along.
The addict’s heart has to adapt. The sex addict has to rationalize and create systems to achieve the end goal, which is to act out in some manner. When someone’s sex addiction includes adultery, their system has to include engaging the victim, victimizing the victim, and exiting from the crime.
However, most of us want to see ourselves as good people. This is a big step when the sex addict can see themselves as the perpetrator of the pain, not just in their marriage but in the life of their victims as well. Those addicted to adultery have elaborate systems that portray perpetrating people as acceptable or even good.
I’ve written a whole book about this called “Addicted to Adultery.”
In recovery, a sex addict’s ability to see others as souls reemerges, as well as their emotional, spiritual and moral development. Regardless of the type of heart, if the addict pursues healing and is willing to expose the sex addiction, not protect it, and work hard in recovery, they can have the miracle of a changed heart.
I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you what I have seen over my thirty plus years of counseling. I have seen both men and women sex addicts of every type of cheater, every age, color, religion and socioeconomic class recover from their sex addiction. These once hardened hearts begin to pulsate with health, a love for honesty, responsibility, clear boundaries and appropriate empathy.
Healing does happen
Honestly, if I didn’t see this miracle every week in my intensives and follow-up phone counseling, I wouldn’t do this work. However, this miracle of recovery is so amazing. I am so proud of those who fought the fight and won. I also honor all the effort a spouse has to do to heal themselves and rebuild a marriage after this devastation.
Because of these brave souls, my pen and practice do not stop. Their courage, strength and transformation motivate me to continue to be part of the miracle of recovery.
Other relevant resources:
Click here to learn about The Six Types of Sex Addicts
Doug Weiss, Ph.D., is a nationally known author, speaker and licensed psychologist. He is the executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the author of several books including, Addicted to Adultery. You may contact Dr. Weiss via his website, drdougweiss.com or on hisFacebook, by phone at 719-278-3708 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.