Is cheating different from infidelity? Dr. Bob Huizenga believes so.  The signs of a cheating spouse will be different from signs of infidelity.

signs of a cheating spouse

By Doug

We respect very much the work of Dr. Robert Huizenga.  His book “Break Free From the Affair” helped a great deal immediately following the discovery of my emotional affair.   Just this Tuesday we received his newsletter and I thought the article he included was very good and was worth sharing to you all.

We’d be curious to hear your thoughts on what Dr. Huizenga has to say.  Perhaps we need to substitute the word “infidel”  for “cheater” or “cheating spouse”  in many of our posts from now on.

Dr. Huizenga on surviving infidelitySigns of a Cheating Spouse, and How they Differ from Signs of Infidelity

By Dr. Robert Huizenga

Cheating is different from infidelity?

Yes, I believe so. Signs of a cheating spouse will be different from signs of infidelity.

In talking to thousands of people embroiled with a cheating spouse or infidelity over the past two plus decades, I’ve noticed a difference. In our society the word cheating carries different meaning than infidelity.

This is important for someone discerning the signs of a cheating spouse or the signs of infidelity. A person who “cheats” is different from someone who is involved in “infidelity.”

Cheating is most closely described in my e-book as someone who “Doesn’t Want to Say No.” This is only one of 7 kinds of affairs. The other six kinds of affairs lean more in the direction of infidelity.

The true cheater is a rather rare bird, but is probably most glamorized and comes closest to our stereotype of cheating or infidelity.

See also  Emotional Affairs Suck!

Infidelity, in general, is marked by confusion, pain, doubt, ambivalence and a period of craziness in a person’s life.

Cheating is an ongoing lifestyle.

Here are some signs of a cheating spouse: (substitute the word she for he, if you like.)

1. There most likely will be more than one other person. He sees affairs as conquests, usually sexual, and not as a place to find intimacy. Actually he lacks many of the tools and the mind set to have intimate relationships. He most likely will move from one conquest to another. His gratification on a basic level remains primary.

2. He will have little internal conflict about the affair. This differs markedly from the person who can’t say no. Your spouse will view the affair or affairs as entitlement. He deserves them. He deserves to be adored. He deserves to have excitement and personal gratification in his life. He has earned it. There is nothing wrong with this. Actually others, perhaps you included, ought to understand this!

3. He will operate in a world that supports his illusion and behavior. He will surround himself with those who look the other way or actually encourage his philandering behavior. You will probably not find yourself welcomed in this world. He and his colleagues and friends collude to maintain their world.

4. You might run into a problem with the other person or persons. Remember the movie, Fatal Attraction? The other person might attach herself to him with specific expectations to be cared for and perhaps married – perhaps part of his strategy in his conquest efforts. When she is “dumped” or the expectations fail to materialize she may pursue revenge. You might be involved.

See also  The Emotional Affair: Is it Worth it?

5. You may not experience a great deal of conflict with him. There is no talk of divorce. Your life might be quite copasetic – unless you rock the boat. He has his playtime and you fill another specific role of quiet support. Keep the balance and life moves along fairly seamlessly.

6. There is one problem, however. The problem of aging. Depending on his social context, you might become a liability as you increasingly fail to project a young attractive vibrant image. He wants those around him to reflect back beauty and perfection. If you fail in this regard you may be cast aside. Part of this depends on the financial cost of such “trade-in.”

7. His fragile, illusionary world and yours may crumble if he encounters failure. Failure is his “Achilles heel.” Unfortunately, the distortion and illusion he lives under do not always coincide with reality. He pushes and bends the rules to his advantage. He may not pay close attention to the consequences of his behavior. Those consequences – legal, financial or health – may bite him at some point. He most likely will count on you to be there for him, to cry on your shoulder (perhaps literally) and help him regain his confidence.

To read more of Dr. Huizenga’s material, check out his main website.


    16 replies to "Is Cheating Different From Infidelity?"

    • B

      It seems as though the planet is becoming more and more rampant with cheating people. Due to the fact that I have endured this pain at the hand’s of my own wife, I refuse to make a distinction between cheating and infidelity. No disrespect to the good doctor and his points above, but both hurt just the same. I thought about it for a little bit last night as my wife and I watched our daughter’s spring concert. I sat there and thought, “How do cheater’s go to such efforts to hide, lie, deceive, and betray there entire families, and then simply shut it off when it is time to move on?”

      It is almost like they are saying, “well I had my fun and even though I left a path of destruction in my wake, I’m ready to resume normal family activities now, so lets all just move forward.” Call it cheating, call it infidelity, call it a mistake, just don’t expect the betrayed spouse to find a distinction between any of it. To us it is just heart-breaking, gut-wrenching pain. Yet even through all of that, we still try to put out a fire that was burning us and started by the people we love most.

      • Nicole

        Exactly. My husband paid his girlfriend’s rent of $400 pw for 18 months, quibbled about every bill with me, and then says “but I was never going to leave you” OMG. Cheating =infidelity, end of story.

    • roller coaster rider

      This is really interesting. I think it is important to differentiate between types of affairs and types of cheaters. Although I’m not in favor of any of them (just in case anyone cares to know)…
      but I guess it’s important to acknowledge that there isn’t one pat answer, one size fits all in this sticky world of infidelity

    • Kathy

      According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, “cheating” or “cheat” is defined thusly (in both the transitive and intransitive use):

      1: to deprive of something valuable by the use of deceit or fraud

      (I would say my H deprived me of something valuable by the use of deceit…hence he was cheating)

      2: to influence or lead by deceit, trick, or artifice

      (My H used deceit and trickery to lead me to believe “nothing was going on”…hence he was cheating)

      3: to elude or thwart by or as if by outwitting

      (My H eluded my attempts to discover what was really going on and outwitted me for a time…hence he was cheating)

      4: to practice fraud or trickery

      (A little less applicable, but it could be said he was using trickery to fool me when he was seeing the OW. As for fraud, well, I guess he was being a fraud to both me and the OW because somebody wasn’t getting the real deal.)

      5: to violate rules dishonestly

      (Pretty self-explanatory. My H violated the “rules” (or vows) of our marriage…hence he was cheating.)

      6: to be sexually unfaithful

      (Although, as far as I know, my H’s affair hadn’t become sexually physical, he told me they did kiss, and I would imagine there was a bit of “touching” to put it delicately. To me, that’s sexually unfaithful. Biblically speaking, all he even had to do was think about it and he was sexually unfaithful…hence, he was cheating.)

      (This next one I rather like, because it would be more of sports term, as shown in the example on the webpage, but it just seems so appropriate even to this topic)

      7: to position oneself defensively near a particular area in anticipation of a play in that area

      (He was cheating.)

      Infidelity is defined thusly:

      1: Lack of belief in a religion;

      2: Unfaithfulness to a moral obligation;

      3: Marital unfaithfulness or an instance of it.

      So the way I see it, as defined by the dictionary, Infidelity is more broad definition of the unfaithful spouse’s behavior, while cheating has many definitions and covers a variety of the aspects of the unfaithfulness.

      No disprespect intended to the Doctor, but I think a cheater is a cheater is a cheater. And I think cheating sounds so much more terrible than “infidelity”, because it shows the CS for the underhanded, self-centered, lying cheats they are (or were).

      • alycon

        Kathy I love this post; my husband has to join yours I’m afraid. He kissed her – the fact that he only kissed her cheek is irrelevant as far as I’m concerned – and he used to come home saying how ‘fit’ she was, she had a great body, ad nauseum. And he’s said the same about another female ‘friend’ of his (though he hasn’t kissed her as far as I’m aware). As far as I’m concerned, if he’s talking about their bodies then he’s focusing his sexual energy on them. I call that cheating.

    • Roller coaster rider

      B, I believe the pain has got to be so much worse when the person who has caused it won’t even acknowledge it.
      Kathy, you are right when you say that infidelity HAS to have two CHEATERS, the CS and the OP.

      I’m no expert on the psychological dynamics of it all, but I know that a healthy marriage needs two people who are willing to communicate honestly and that sneaking around in any way is unacceptable and just wrong. I wouldn’t treat my friend or my child or my parent or my neighbor that way. And yet, I also see at least in myself when I am hurt, a tendency to forget the big picture. Maybe some of the outcome of cheating needs to be accountability. We just can’t “let stuff slide” or let them get away with acting out any more. There should be some kind of consequences for these terrible choices. Shouldn’t there?

    • Norwegian woman

      As I read it, a person that commits infidelity know that they are wrong, but is to weak to get out of it, even though they hate what they are doing. This person will come foreward with everything when they are caught.
      A person that commits cheating is doing it with open eyes and clear mind because they want to. Even though they know that it is wrong. This person will hide what have happened even if they are caught. Because they have no intentions on being truthfull.
      My husband is a cheater. No doubt about it.

      • B

        I disagree with one point you made. When caught, it is very rare that a person just opens up and comes forward with everything. They usually deny, hide more and the faithful partner is left to investigate even more and find out in chunks. I believe that the CS only truly comes forward when the game becomes too hard to play, they FINALLY realize how much they could lose, or they just can’t hide their guilt anymore. This rarely happens upon first discovery. There is no real apology or commitment to make things right in the marriage until the fog lifts and the CS is ready to be a wife/husband again. It is a loooong,difficult process. Once you become so tangled,cutting the ties that bind you must be pretty difficult because you now must acknowledge the awful things you have done to hurt people. Even then, the CS doesn’t want to discuss it because it is a constant reminder of their disgusting behavior. This explains why even when CS know they are wrong and really want to quit, they have relapses and still talk to the OP. They hide these relapses because even if they really want to make things right, any hint of contact to their faithful spouse starts recovery all over. It is a no-win situation for anyone. Man I think about this stuff way too much and damn my wife for making me feel this way.

    • Saddenned

      I read it the same way as Norwegian woman. My H came forward with his two week EA via phone, text and internet. He knew he was wrong and rather than me catching him, he told me. Maybe that is considered infidelity?

    • InTheFog

      Having been on both sides of the coin myself I think its irrelevant how it is labelled, the feelings are what they are.

    • Empty and Numb

      Nope …. In my opinion you have a great husband and always have!
      Saddenned …. Although your pain is great … Your husband has always had your back and fully loves you. This was a fling! You and your husband have a great opportunity for real love!!!

      • Saddenned

        Thanks…I hope you are right, many days I wonder.

    • Norwegian woman

      I just watched a program about obsessive controlling. Spouses that have a need to control the other spouse. I was baffeled, because I saw me and my H. The controlling spouse is doing this out of a feeling of absolutely no controll over his/her inner life. If you are not in control, controlling others makes the anxiety better. It is all about anxiety and they self medicate by controlling the spouse. And the spouse reacts by rebelling, that makes the need to control even worse if you are not aware of the problem.
      I have often, through the years, struggeled with his controlling behaviour. I have often felt like a child that does everything wrong.
      I thought about the feeling of control the affairs have given him. It must have been an euphoric feeling that must have been very hard to give up. And all the lying and hiding of the truth afterwards probably was his way of staying in control and keep at least an inch of the feeling of control the affairs gave him. And it dawned to me…. it was never about the women. It was never about how wonderful they were, or what a lovely personality they had. It was all along about his need of control. The affairs was only a wonderful way to get it.
      He could pick on me. He could pick on the kids, but WOW, that was nothing compared to the feeling of control the affairs gave him. THAT is why I felt we had a good marriage at the time he had his first affair and never suspected anything wrong. THAT is why I could not recognize our marriage in his justifications to have an affair. The pressure on me dropped, because he had his needs of control filled elsewhere….
      THAT is why he continued to have contact with his first AP, after I had found out about his second, even though he promised me he would never go behind my back again….( i did not know about his first affair at that time)

      He is broken inside. It never was my fault that he had the affairs. Who he picked had nothing to do with who they were or what wonderful people they were. They were never a competition to me. They were only tools in his quest for inner feeling of control…..

      The affairs have broken the circle of controlling, rebelling, controlling, rebelling in our relationship. He now is the person I allways wished he would be. The dynamics of the marriage is changed. Either he now has a feeling of control in his life (since the circle is broken), or he has his need of control filled elsewhere. I think we need to have a talk tonight……

    • Dawn

      First I want to thank you for sharing you story and this site! It has been a wealth of information since I discovered my husband’s EA with his coworker/supervisor 3 weeks ago. He admitted to having feelings for her but swears he is committed to fixing us and our marriage.
      My biggest issue is how to deal with the fact they still work together. He swears he has cut off all nonprofessional contact with her but I still cry every morning when he leaves for work. How do I deal with this?
      We have discussed him finding a new job but that is just not an option right now. Her husband is military so there is a chance for a transfer in the next few months but thats not a guarantee, So, for now how do I deal? Any advice would be appreciated!

    • Jena

      Dawn, I understand your pain. My H had 2 EA both with women he worked with. Same job in fact. They were 3 years apart. One was a fly by night thing, more attraction than anything and the other was 3 months of sexual fun for him with some feelings invloved. I didnt have to worry about his returning to work when the second affair ended. She took massive revenge and he lost his job. I still sit here and cant beleive this ever happened. This is my second marriage and my H knew that my first ended because of my x’s affair. I guess that hurts just as bad, knowing that he knew that I could not hanlde affairs and yet this didnt matter when their pants hit the floor. He was only focused on one thing.

      There were no late nights, no real signs. They were doing this right on the job. Not to mention that once he brought her to our property and deflied my own backyard. Guess there are drawbacks to living in the country. She lives in the same town we do and now she works in the same town I do. The pain never gets easier and never seems to ever realy go away. I still battle this quite often. It has been a year and a half. I find it hard to trust. I am going to be 40 in a few years and I feel like my ife will always be a constant battle with affairs. I really thought he was the one.

      Some days I wish I had the ability to leave. Others I wish I could just forget. The painstaking truth of this is that men (or woman) who resort to this destructive behavior really dont comprehend that it is a life sentance. I read so many articles of how marraige was better after the affair. I dont see how this can be. In my opinion, when marriage is hard with the trials of life, if you can say to your spouse that you just want to start over and it is heartfealt, how amazing that feeling is and you want to wipe the slate clean of the bad things. Start fresh. When the going gets tough and the trials of life are strong and your spouse decides whatever, I will just get want I need right here, she is willing to spread and pat me on the back with no strings attached..that simply wipes te slate of all the good things that ever happenend in your life with your spouse. It is hard to say how wonderful something you did together was when every moment you cherished now seems to have no meaning. It all seems to be an illusion of decpetion.

      Some people tell me that because I am unable to completely snap out of what I have gone through that I must not really love him. No, I dont love him like I did then, but the big picture is how can I beleive he really ever loved me.

    • Frilady

      I am soooo glad I stumbled upon you comment, because I could truly not find that it was my fault my husband was cheating, I was also thinking of it in lines of self medication. He still to this day doesn’t acknowledge cheating and I have given up since all will hear is more lies. Today we are separated and I am waiting for the divorce papers.
      Please, do you have any more information about the show or this behaviour??? I think it would help me to heal and move forward.

      Norwegian woman
      I just watched a program about obsessive controlling. Spouses that have a need to control the other spouse. I was baffeled, because I saw me and my H. The controlling spouse is doing this out of a feeling of absolutely no controll over his/her inner life. If you are not in control, controlling others makes the anxiety better. It is all about anxiety and they self medicate by controlling the spouse.

      He is broken inside. It never was my fault that he had the affairs. Who he picked had nothing to do with who they were or what wonderful people they were. They were never a competition to me. They were only tools in his quest for inner feeling of control…..

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