Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater?

once-a-cheaterDo you think a person who has cheated in the past is more likely to cheat again?

Recently, a friend of mine found out that her partner of several years had been having an emotional affair with another woman for the better part of a year, which eventually grew into a physically intimate relationship before she became aware of it. As hard as it was to come to terms with his infidelity and figure out where to go from there, she couldn’t say she was surprised. At the beginning of the relationship, he told her that in a previous relationship he had cheated on a girlfriend, due to not having his emotional needs met. At the time she shrugged off his past cheating as a one-time incident caused by the neglect of his ex. But now she believes she should have taken it more seriously.

While some statistics estimate that only around one-fourth of past cheaters cheat again, I would be weary of a partner who had been unfaithful in prior relationships. Like with everything, since they have already done it once, it will be easier to do again.

Every action a person takes indicates their values, mindset, and beliefs. When a person takes the conscious step to go outside of their primary relationship to fulfill their needs, they are sending the message that they consider their own desires to be of the utmost importance; that they will risk their relationship and the needs of their partner in order to have their desires met, however fleeting they may be.

There are situations which simply get out of hand — a person goes too far without deeply reflecting on the consequences of their actions. But most cheating does not occur in this type of situation, and even when it does, the person does know that what they are doing could hurt their relationship. As such, I consider prior cheating to be a major red flag.

Do you agree? Will a cheater always (or most likely) be a cheater? How does knowing a person has cheated affect the ability to trust them?

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11 thoughts on “Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater?

  1. I believe this mindset ONLY if the “cheater” seeks out similar partners, ie, he/she didn’t reflect, learn why they cheated in the first place.

  2. foosrock, I don’t know if cheating has so much to do with the partners, as it does with the cheater themself. But I agree that reflection is key for a turn-around.

  3. I don’t know if “once a cheater, always a cheater” holds true, because I’m sure there are some people who cheated once, learned their lesson, and never did it again. However, for me, if someone has cheated they have irrevocably stained themselves to me. I can’t forget something like that — even though forgiveness comes quite easily.

    I’ve been cheated on in multiple past relationships, so I’ve dealt with various excuses and the various situations that come up when it comes to cheating. I’ve also been tempted in past relationships by other women — yet I didn’t cross an emotional or physical line, whether because of my experiences or simply because I’m not like that, or maybe a combination of both with some luck. Either way, cheating to me is not just a red-flag; it’s an out & out game-killer. I would refuse to date someone who had cheated, unless the story was sufficient to convince me that they cheated not because of some lacking need (emotional, sexual etc.) but because of something… else.

    That said, I think cheating is something so complex that even defining it can be — at times — difficult to impossible. For that reason, I think talking about cheating/cheaters with your partner is VERY important, in order to know where the lines are.

  4. Yeah I agree with Zek basically. And I think it’s pretty simple; not once a cheater always a cheater, but once a cheater more likely a double cheater, than a non-cheater ever starting to cheat. And then you’re a double cheater, then thrice cheater, and so on exponentially. So the more cheating, the more of a practical guarantee of further cheating, once you get to a certain point.

  5. zek,

    Interesting stance.

    “I would refuse to date someone who had cheated, unless the story was sufficient to convince me that they cheated not because of some lacking need (emotional, sexual etc.) but because of something… else.”

    I’ve noticed that people tend to say they cheated because they weren’t getting their needs met or because they got caught in the moment. Either of these excuses just doesn’t really cut it to me. There aren’t many situations where a person can’t just end the relationship if their needs are consistently being ignored. There’s also the issue that many who cheat because their needs are going unfulfilled never actually tell their partner that they feel that their needs aren’t being met.

    “I’ve been cheated on in multiple past relationships, so I’ve dealt with various excuses and the various situations that come up when it comes to cheating.”

    Like what sort of excuses?

    This should be good. 🙂

    “I think talking about cheating/cheaters with your partner is VERY important, in order to know where the lines are.”

    Definitely. It can be surprising where the boundaries are for various people.

    AJ,

    Did I ever tell you that I cheated in a past relationship?

    …Just kidding. 😛

  6. I’ve noticed that people tend to say they cheated because they weren’t getting their needs met or because they got caught in the moment.

    That second excuse bugs me especially because it takes more than a “moment” to take your clothes off! I think most people who’ve cheated knew they were going to do it before it even got to that point, but “getting caught in the moment” just sounds better.

  7. Jasmin,

    “I think most people who’ve cheated knew they were going to do it before it even got to that point, but “getting caught in the moment” just sounds better.”

    Probably true. And it’s not as if a “moment” turns off all brain functioning so they knew what they were doing at the time.

  8. Excuses I’ve had? Let’s see…

    I’ve had the you don’t fulfill me sexually, or the you don’t fulfill me emotionally, intellectually, psychologically, or even — crazy as it sounds — astrologically!

    I’ve had women say they cheated because they were “seduced”, or they pitied the other guy, or they couldn’t decide who they liked more so it “made sense” to try us out!

    I’ve had the need for free expression, or that I didn’t make a commitment so why should they? (This one was particularly ironic since she’d been the one to ask me to be her boyfriend and when I said yes she disappeared for a few weeks and then had this story. I’d almost forgotten about her by then, actually.)

    I’ve had the peer pressure excuse, the daddy issues excuse (she cheated with a MUCH much older man), the mommy issues excuses (she wanted to find a guy better than her mother’s boyfriend).

    Of course I’ve had the “it’s not you, it’s me” excuse, often combined with others for a double whammy of pathetic excuses.

    Probably the worst one was this girl actually tried to convince me that she cheated because “it was the right thing for us”, it made us more honest or open or true to ourselves. By that she means it allowed her to get her hook-up with the quickness and without having to wait to break-up first.

    The best part is when they say you’ll find someone SOOO good for you, way better than they were. Like, how amazing you are, and meanwhile I’m thinking, “But you coulda had me. If I’m so amazing then why are you cheating?”

    Honestly I laugh about most of it now. Sometimes I get sad, but it tends to be a passing thing — especially in light of my current relationship =)

  9. zek,

    “I’ve had the you don’t fulfill me sexually, or the you don’t fulfill me emotionally, intellectually, psychologically, or even — crazy as it sounds — astrologically!”

    Lol. Oh, you Leos. 🙂

    “they couldn’t decide who they liked more so it “made sense” to try us out!”

    What’s up with the “trying people out” thing anyway? It’s just so… heartless. If I were only in the “getting to know each other” phase with a guy and he is even talking to someone else, we are so over.

    “Probably the worst one was this girl actually tried to convince me that she cheated because “it was the right thing for us”, it made us more honest or open or true to ourselves. “

    Uh, huh? Wow. That’s a new one.

    “Honestly I laugh about most of it now. Sometimes I get sad, but it tends to be a passing thing — especially in light of my current relationship =)”

    Yeah, it sounds like you kissed a lot of frogs before finding your princess. 😉

  10. I do believe “once a cheater, always a cheater”. Ok, maybe not in 100% of the cases, but it’s usually true. Yes, some people can make a mistake and learn from it. But these things don’t happen often. It’s more probable you’re dealing with a serial cheater.

    And the worst kind? The ones who leave their partners/spouses because of you. There are many (usually female) people who tend to be… I don’t know, proud?, when a guy does this (leaving his gf/wife) because of them. And then, in a few years, when it happens again and THEY are the cheated gf/wife, they are shocked and surprised. But hey, he did this once- why wouldn’t he do it again???

    I’ve been cheated on by my ex bfs, and there was this one particularly prone to cheating. About excuses… I admit, those Zek got are wayyyy better. Maybe girls tend to be more creative with this stuff? I got “Oh, it’s not a big deal” excuse, the “I don’t know why I cheated” excuse and my favourite “I am a male” excuse.

  11. Mira,

    I’ve known people (male and female) who have left their partner for someone else. And I’ve known people who have had someone leave their partner for them. In either case, the situations usually didn’t work out well. Of course in the former cases, the person cheated again or got a “wandering eye”. Figures. One of them was a close guy friend of mine, and it was hard to just sit there while he made excuses for his cheating.

    “About excuses… I admit, those Zek got are wayyyy better. Maybe girls tend to be more creative with this stuff? I got “Oh, it’s not a big deal” excuse, the “I don’t know why I cheated” excuse”

    Yeah, those excuses were quite original — some of those needs awards.

    I just got the “It’s me, not you.” But it really was him, I think. He cheated on nearly every girlfriend of his because he had commitment issues.

    “and my favourite “I am a male” excuse.”

    Ha. It would not be pretty if a guy used that an excuse with me.

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