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Revenge Cheating – Definition, Signs, Types, Psychology, How to Avoid it, and Everything Else

Revenge Cheating – Definition, Signs, Types, Psychology, How to Avoid it, and Everything Else

Updated on Jan 15, 2024

Reviewed by Julianne Cantarella, MSW, LSW , Certified Relationship Coach

Revenge Cheating – Definition, Signs, Types, and How to Avoid it

We all know that revenge is a dish best served cold. And when it comes to revenge cheating, only few things are as popular as this. Revenge cheating has been popularized in movies, books, and pop culture. You might have even heard of a co-worker trying it out!

In this think-piece, I shall tell you all about revenge cheating- its pros and cons, why people do it, and the signs that a person might be thinking of revenge cheating. So come on, let’s get started!

What is revenge cheating?

When one of the partner’s in the relationship cheats on the other in response to their own infidelity, it is called revenge cheating.

Revenge cheating in a relationship occurs when one person is trying to get back at their partner by cheating on them, typically as a response to the partner’s own infidelity.

Nobody wants to stay with a cheating partner but when someone realizes that they have no other option left, they mostly indulge in revenge cheating.

In marriages, cheating has been responsible for the most common type of deception in any relationship. This is most likely to occur when one partner feels less involved or heard as compared to the other one.

As a result, the partner who gets cheated on feels miserable and decides to “teach a lesson” to the one who has cheated. But why exactly does a person get revenge on their cheating partner by hooking up with someone else? Let’s check out the next section to know more.

Revenge cheating psychology

Revenge cheating mostly stems from the betrayal, hurt or the sense of defeat a person feels after being cheated on.

As I’ve already said, an incident where a person gets cheated on can be extremely humiliating and traumatic to them. The fact that their spouse or partner had to choose someone else over them is enough to ruin their self-worth and image.

Of course, it comes as no surprise that the victim feels betrayed, hurt, and even defeated. These negative feelings often give rise to the idea that revenge cheating is a good option.

Revenge cheating stems from desperation and rage. The basic psychology behind it is “If they can cheat on me, then why can’t I?”, also known as tit-for-tat behavior.

According to a study by a professor of psychology, it was found that nearly 30.8% of men and 22.8% of women claimed that sexual infidelity was a major cause of conflicts.

“Is it okay to cheat on my partner who started the process of cheating?” you might wonder. Well, let me tell you that revenge cheating is more of an impulsive decision than a well-made one. It all depends on how infuriated you feel after finding out how your partner betrayed you.

Types of Revenge Cheating

Like cheating, there are several different types of revenge cheating as well, each of them with its unique features and characteristics. Let’s have a look at some of them.

1. Emotional revenge cheating

Emotional revenge cheating is considered to be relatively mild. This occurs when you take revenge on your partner by being emotionally attached to someone else.

In most cases, emotional revenge cheating does not lead to sexual or physical intimacy. You might be trying to get closer to a friend or colleague out of spite, rather than actually being attracted to them.

When someone is revenge-cheating on their partner emotionally, they tend to feel guilty and think that it’s best to hide this fact from their lying partner.

2. Dating revenge cheating

When you date someone else casually while still in a relationship with your partner, this is considered dating cheating. Dating revenge cheating may or may not lead to sexual intimacy.

Dating cheating is slightly different from emotional revenge cheating because the two people involved aren’t just emotionally attracted to one another; they also have some sort of physical chemistry between them.

Even if the physical contact isn’t sexual, it can involve things like holding hands, hugging, or being physically playful.

3. Sexual revenge cheating

Sexual revenge cheating is considered to be the most extreme (and the commonest) form of revenge cheating. This is when you engage in sexual activities with someone else (or multiple other people) to get revenge on your cheating spouse or partner.

It involves kissing, touching each other in intimate areas, and of course, having sex. Even if you exchange dirty messages or nude photos with someone else, it can be a part of sexual revenge cheating.

One study found out that men were more likely to get upset after finding out that their girlfriends or wives revenge-cheated on them sexually, while women get upset by emotional revenge cheating.

However, the major factor relies heavily on the intensity of revenge cheating and how the partner discovered the entire process of it. In general, emotional revenge cheating takes more time than say, sexual revenge cheating because it takes longer to form an emotional bond with someone.

Factors that determine whether or not people will seek revenge

There are various factors that determine whether someone will revenge cheat on their partner or not.

For example, if you’ve found out that your husband has cheated on you, you might want to hurt him by revenge cheating. But if he’s willing to change and apologizes for his behavior, then there are chances that you probably won’t go ahead with the idea of revenge cheating.

Below, I will explain some of the common factors behind someone’s willingness to revenge cheat.

1. Cost perception

No, here cost doesn’t mean financial cost. Cost perception in revenge cheating is when the person who got cheated on measures the outcomes of revenge cheating vs the emotional and mental cost required to go ahead with the idea.

For example, you might be wondering if it’s a good idea to take revenge on your cheating wife by having sex with lots of other women. But then suddenly you ask yourself, “Will it actually make me happy?” or “Will my actions teach my wife a lesson or will she continue cheating on me?”.

If the answer to all these questions is “No, the effort required to cheat on my wife is much more than the happiness I’ll receive”, then you’ll drop the idea of revenge cheating altogether.

2. Amount of anger

While the amount and intensity of a cheated partner’s anger might be connected to their own emotional reactions, it can also be tied to the kind of betrayal they’ve faced.

This means that if you find out that your significant other has cheated on you simply by being emotionally attracted to someone else, you might feel hurt and deceived but there won’t be much anger.

On the other hand, if you discover that your spouse or partner has been having sex with another person all this while, you’re bound to be furious. In this case, the chances of revenge cheating are much higher. Out of impulse, you might just want to have sex with anyone you meet.

3. Cultural and religious values

Did you know that the willingness to seek revenge is also tied to cultural and/or religious values? Believe it or not, a lot of people might not ultimately indulge in revenge cheating because their family and social circles are extremely conservative.

They might even feel that seeking revenge through the popular motto “an eye for an eye” goes against their religious beliefs and upbringing, especially in strict households.

This can be most commonly seen in the cases of sexual revenge cheating, where having sex before marriage or with someone else other than one’s partner is regarded as taboo.

4. External justice

If you’ve made all plans to revenge cheat, there are still other things that can make you take a step backwards. If you deeply care for your partner’s well-being and mental health, despite the fact that they cheated on you, you’ll probably not revenge cheat.

External forms of justice can also mean that you want them to suffer in other ways, such as soiling their reputation in front of their friends or family.

As I’ve said, many people regard sexual cheating to be the worst thing in a relationship; so if your partner has cheated on you by sleeping with someone else, you’ll probably want to ruin their image by telling the truth to everyone in your social circle.

Signs of Revenge Cheating

Revenge cheating can be typically seen in already-unhealthy relationships where one partner feels neglected or misunderstood. This phenomenon is often quite difficult to identify because revenge cheating almost always looks like regular infidelity at first.

However, there are some subtle signs you can look out for to see if your significant other is revenge cheating on you or not.

1. They don’t talk that often now

So, you both have been talking casually even after you have cheated on them because you feel that they haven’t found out yet. But all of a sudden, they don’t talk much with you anymore and most of the time, they seem to be lost in their world.

Of course, less communication doesn’t mean that your spouse is cheating on you. But if there’s a sudden change in their behavior, especially when you see that they aren’t sharing as much as they used to, it can point toward revenge cheating.

2. They spend more time elsewhere

This is most commonly seen when your partner is possibly revenge cheating on you with someone else at her workplace.

If they have stopped spending time with you at home and always seem to be “engrossed in work”, it’s a possible sign that they are planning something behind your back. But before you actually accuse them of revenge cheating, make sure their behavior is actually suspicious.

If your partner has always been a workaholic and is now constantly working at their office, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re busy with another person.

3. They avoid family gatherings all of a sudden

Even though there can be quite a few reasons as to why someone will suddenly avoid family gatherings, one common reason is that your significant other is planning on revenge cheating. They have decided that it’s high time you learn a lesson and are spending time elsewhere.

Alternatively, it can also mean that your partner isn’t inclined to have a future with you, so they don’t regard your family functions as important as they were earlier.

It goes for other social events too; if they don’t want to accompany you to an important business meeting even though they used to, in the beginning, it’s a warning sign.

4. They constantly have mood swings

No, I’m not saying that mood swings will always mean revenge cheating, but if your partner has generally been a very calm person but is now prone to erratic mood swings, you need to watch out.

Maybe they are contemplating the idea of whether revenge cheating is worth it or not and this constant stress is overwhelming their mind.

If, when you try to confront them about their sudden mood problems, they get defensive and secretive instead of talking about it openly, then it can be a strong sign of revenge cheating.

5. They are becoming unnaturally close to someone else

So all this while, you’ve thought of that good-looking guy as your girlfriend’s “harmless friend”. But after you’ve cheated on her accidentally, you’re noticing that they have become unnaturally close to each other. Things have reached a point where the friend seems to be more of a boyfriend than you!

This is a red flag that your girlfriend might secretly be plotting revenge cheating. She has found out about your wrongdoings and is now planning to do the same to you as you did to her.

It might be a good idea to check where she goes with her friend. If they frequently visit hotel rooms or parking lots, then you’re in trouble, my friend.

6. They are very secretive about their social media

Everyone likes to enjoy their private space, especially when it comes to social media. Nobody wants a partner who will constantly nag them about who follows them or who has liked their recent pictures.

But if your boyfriend or girlfriend has suddenly become more secretive than ever about their social media handles and is trying their best to hide their phone from you, then it might mean that they’re trying to flirt with other people to get back at you.

Another glaring sign that your partner might be revenge cheating is when you see them posting sexy pictures of themselves out of nowhere while wearing provocative clothes.

7. They keep making excuses to skip activities with you

Now, this is a huge sign of cheating (or revenge cheating). If your partner was earlier eager to spend time with you and do fun things together but is now much more reserved, it can mean that their thoughts are occupied elsewhere.

Most people who start the process of cheating often plan luxury date nights or grand gestures out of guilt. So, if you’ve been doing that to get rid of your guilt but your partner seems to be absent-minded and keeps making baseless excuses to be away from you, it probably means that they’ve already found out about your infidelity.

8. They keep talking about infidelity and cheating

One sure-shot way of figuring out whether your partner is thinking of revenge cheating or not is to pay attention to the kind of conversations you both are having lately.

Are they talking constantly about cheating or unfaithfulness? Maybe this is a hint from your spouse to let you know that they have caught your infidelity and wish to take revenge.

Even if they aren’t explicitly stating that they want to indulge in revenge cheating, you can figure out their motives from the tone of the conversation.

Your mental antenna should be alert the moment you hear questions like, “So what would you do if I cheated on you?” or “Do you think taking revenge on someone by cheating is okay?”

9. They are no longer interested in having a future with you

In a healthy relationship, commitment is important. If your partner had once been committed to your future and had plans to be with you in the long term, they must have made that quite clear.

But suddenly, if they seem aloof and disinterested in your future together, it possibly means that they don’t want you to be a part of their life anymore or that they’ve already found someone else to fulfill their needs.

Since your partner is most likely planning on revenge cheating, they know that you have been unfaithful first and therefore don’t wish to place their trust in you anymore.

10. They don’t want to have sexual or physical relations with you

There can be many reasons why a couple experiences a deteriorating sex life, out of which revenge cheating may appear on top of the list.

Since you might have already slept with someone else and found satisfaction there, you don’t feel the urge to be sexually intimate with your partner or spouse.

Similarly, if your partner is revenge cheating on you, they’re also probably hooking up with someone and don’t want to spend time with you in the bedroom. Even in the very rare times that you do have sex, if it feels awkward or off, it can point toward serious problems.

How does revenge cheating happen?

Revenge cheating usually happens as a response to being lied to or manipulated. As I’ve said, you might feel the need to revenge cheat if your partner has betrayed or trust in them.

Most people seek revenge because they are driven by extreme anger and hurt. Having said that, here are a few ways in which revenge cheating takes place.

1. The cycle of cheating keeps moving

Imagine a situation where you have been dating someone for quite a long time and then you find out that your partner has gone ahead and cheated on you (either emotionally or sexually) – You’re obviously heartbroken and might have even lost trust in the entire concept of love.

Now, after a nasty breakup, you’re dating someone else. Even if your new partner is loyal, you don’t believe in their loyalty and love for you, so you cheat on them by having sex with others. As a result of your past trauma, the cycle of cheating keeps on going.

2. Unhappiness in the current relationship

Many people often look for others to cheat with because they are unhappy in their current relationship. Maybe their partner is always too busy or is emotionally manipulative and toxic. Now, you might ask why breaking up isn’t an option.

Unfortunately, people who revenge cheat due to unhappiness in their relationship are afraid of going through the discussion of breaking up and ending things.

They fear getting hurt, so revenge cheating seems like an easier option to them, rather than being clean and open with their partners about the problems in their relationship.

3. Taking revenge for breaking up

This might seem weird but some people cheat on an ex-partner or spouse as revenge for breaking up with them or putting them through a divorce.

In many unhealthy marriages, even if the divorce was final and everything was settled, the partner who seemingly suffered more losses will impulsively revenge cheat. Even if the other person isn’t at fault, the one who revenge-cheats cannot see this.

They want their exes to see how much better off they are without them by pretending to be closer to other people. This is basically an act of trying to make your ex jealous of your new life.

Why must you never opt for revenge cheating? – 15 reasons

Now comes the most important segment- is revenge cheating really worth it? Finding out about emotional or sexual infidelity can be shattering indeed, but will revenge cheating be the most appropriate lesson to teach your partner? Unfortunately, no.

To make things clearer, I have listed down a few major reasons why revenge cheating should never be on your list of to-do things.

1. When the anger reduces, you might end up thinking differently

The biggest reason why people revenge cheat is to let out their anger and frustration on learning about their partner’s unfaithfulness.

When you feel like your relationship has gone down the drain, taking revenge by cheating might seem like a great option at first. But when your mind is calmer, you’ll slowly realize that it’s actually a pretty bad idea.

2. You’ll resent yourself

Cheating on your spouse to get even with them will ultimately make you both equals, right? They hurt you with infidelity and you’re simply hurting them with revenge.

If you wish to make yourself feel better, my friend, this isn’t the right approach. Revenge cheating won’t give you the mental peace that you’re looking for and will just worsen your relationship.

3. Your partner will use this as an excuse

Another major problem with revenge cheating is that your partner will use this as an excuse to justify their behavior.

They’ll tell you things like, “Now you know how easy it is to make a mistake” or “Now that we’re even, you have to forgive me”. Instead of understanding their fault, they will simply use revenge cheating against you and make you feel worse.

4. Your hurt won’t decrease

Perhaps you’re telling yourself that revenge cheating is a good idea because it will show your partner how much it hurt when you got to know about their affair.

But will this really make your pain any less? Revenge of any kind, especially cheating, never holds the key to the mental or emotional peace that you’re looking for. Even if you do feel less hurt, it’ll be only for a short while.

5. There is almost no chance of reconciling

Getting revenge on a cheater deteriorates the chances of reconciling and making things right. Revenge cheating, at most, will lead to a toxic cycle of trying to get even with each other by doing the wrong things.

If you can’t stand your partner’s lies anymore, it’s best to end the relationship then and there. If you do want to reconcile, you must give each other a chance.

6. Your confidence will be shattered

People who wish to revenge cheat might think that their self-confidence will be sky high. But in most cases, it is exactly the opposite. When you have an affair of your own, your desires will last for a very short time.

In a few weeks, you’ll notice that this was actually a bad idea and the newfound confidence that you had acquired will get shattered.

7. Your partner will normalize cheating

One of the worst things that revenge cheating will do is normalize the concept of cheating in your partner’s mind. The moment you revenge cheat, your partner will take it as a sign to cheat further.

After all, you both did wrong things and cheated on each other, irrespective of who did it first. So why not do it again? These negative thoughts will consume your mind.

8. Your partner won’t really understand how you feel

Your spouse’s affair broke your trust and made you believe that all marriages are a lie. But if you revenge cheat, they still won’t understand how hurt you felt when you found out about their affair.

Imagine breaking a vase accidentally and then dropping it again to make yourself feel better. The base will still be broken, isn’t it? So, revenge cheating will never have the impact that you want.

9. Revenge cheating won’t have the same effect

Trust me on this, revenge cheating is not the same as cheating. Even if you revenge cheat on your partner with a hundred other people, the fact remains that they’re the ones that started cheating.

When your partner cheated, it’s because they wanted to. But when you cheated, you did it out of hurt and spite. Maybe they’ll be upset but will get over it quickly.

10. Your children will be affected

Revenge cheating doesn’t just affect you or your partner- it also has a negative effect on your children. Even if your kids are really small and don’t understand this concept, they’ll figure out something is majorly wrong between their parents sooner or later.

On the other hand, if your kids are teenagers, it’ll be very difficult for them to cope with the fact that their parents are going behind their back.

11. Cheating is wrong

The biggest reason why your partner’s cheating hurts you is because you know that being unfaithful is wrong. And you’re absolutely right- it’s never okay to betray your partner or their trust.

Even if your partner is a good person, they made a mistake and it’s best to lay things out in the open than to revenge cheat. If you resort to revenge cheating, you’ll end up doing the wrong deed yourself.

12. There will be major trust issues later

Cheating causes trust issues, no matter who cheated first. If you indulge in revenge cheating, things won’t ever be the same and you and your partner will always keep hating each other.

Once you both have done the deed, there’s no going back. You already can’t trust your partner anymore and revenge cheating will further make you distrust them.

13. There are always other options

Revenge cheating isn’t a good option. In fact, it’s not an option at all. If your partner has cheated on you, then you can either talk to them directly or seek marriage counseling services.

A licensed therapist will be able to tell you how to take things forward, right from child support to trusting each other again. Someone who specializes in relationship issues will be your ideal path to healing.

14. You might become hooked to this

So your cheating wife or husband has finally spilled the beans about their infidelity and now all you want to do is to get back at them by being physical with someone else. While it might seem great at first, there are chances that you’ll get addicted to this unhealthy behavior pattern.

Not only will this make you mentally depressed later but will also cause more and more complications between you and the people you’re seeing.

15. Your social circle will respect you less

In today’s world, almost nothing can be kept a secret. So, if word gets out that you’ve revenge cheated on your spouse or partner, people will actually look down upon you more than they will on your partner.

This is because you’ve done something wrong when there were plenty of other correct options for you. You might even see your social circle not wanting to be associated with you anymore.

How to avoid revenge cheating?

If you want to avoid revenge cheating, I’ve got you. It might seem like an impossible thing to do but remember, your mental health is of utmost priority here. Many studies have actually found out that a partner cheating for revenge is bound to suffer from anger issues, loneliness, or depression.

If your partner has cheated on you, you need to confront them. Don’t be afraid and tell them clearly how hurt and upset you feel. Wait for them to apologize to you and rectify their behavior.

I know, all this is easier said than done but don’t think of revenge cheating as the best way to make things even. If things are beyond repair, it might be best to end the relationship right away.

How to forgive your partner’s infidelity?

Like it or not, it’s actually easier to forgive your partner’s infidelity than you might think. The likelihood of forgiveness also depends on how great your relationship was before your partner cheated on you.

Here are the three ways you can forgive your partner’s infidelity.

1. Look at them with empathy

This is also known as the cognitive way of forgiving a cheater. Instead of rebuking your partner or insulting them, you can try to empathize. Don’t think of their actions as malicious or deliberate; maybe they really did it accidentally.

2. Let go of fantasies

A Behavioral way of forgiving your partner is when you let go of any fantasies or false thoughts and figure out ways to move on. You treat them with respect and civility but also make it clear that you’re upset about what they did.

3. Release negative feelings

This requires you to let go of any or all negative feelings towards your partner and the situations that led them to cheat. No, it won’t be easy but you must take this step anyway. Let go of hurt or resentment to experience positive feelings of compassion and peace.


Revenge cheating is a difficult concept to understand all at once. So, here are some common questions often asked around it along with the answers… for some more clarity.

1. Does revenge cheating work?

No, as I’ve already said, revenge cheating doesn’t work. You’re simply doing it out of spite to give your partner a taste of their own medicine. You’re not doing it for your pleasure. And anything that can’t bring you happiness or satisfaction isn’t worth it.

Not only will revenge cheating leave deep scars in your mind but will also further strain your marriage or relationship. It backfires way too soon and often becomes irreparable.

2. How common is revenge cheating?

Luckily, revenge cheating isn’t a common phenomenon. Even though many people have thought of doing it, very few have actually gone ahead with that idea. In most cases, thinking of revenge cheating is just a momentary outburst and subsides in a few days.

However, even if someone does manage to revenge cheat, they won’t go around telling people. So it’s tough to know how many people have actually done it.

3. Does revenge cheating help?

Taking revenge on your partner by doing the same thing that they’ve done to you won’t really resolve any problems. They’ll simply shrug it off or use it as a card against you.

In fact, you might even feel worse about yourself without your partner telling you anything! Instead, you can always seek a professional therapist’s help.

4. Is revenge cheating worth it?

After tallying the pros and cons, I can safely tell you that no, revenge cheating simly isn’t worth it. It takes too much of your time and energy and leaves you with little to no happiness or satisfaction.

You’ll simply end up losing everything and gain nothing in the process. It will worsen your mental health and put you through a spiral of shame.

5. Does revenge cheating make someone feel better?

Well, yes. But only momentarily. You might feel great after having a great round of sex to get back at your cheating husband or wife.

But remember, you don’t really know the circumstances that cause people to cheat. So, revenge cheating won’t help you in the long run and will make you feel horrible.

Not only is it a betrayal of your partner’s trust but also of your own values and principles. Even if you think that revenge cheating provides you with an escape, your idea is wrong. It only provides temporary relief but makes a permanent hole.

A word from ThePleasantRelationship

Like it or not, revenge cheating isn’t justifiable. Yes, being cheated on can feel absolutely terrible. But you need to take constructive steps to get over the hurt.

If you’re ever in a tight spot, sit down with your partner or someone you can confide in and let it all out. Additionally, you can also use the tips and tricks I’ve given you in this think piece, to lead a better life!

Are you interested to know more about ‘Signs He has Multiple Partners’ then click here?