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Do cheaters ever change?

Tagged as: Cheating<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (17 October 2013) 19 Answers - (Newest, 18 October 2013)
A female New Zealand age 41-50, anonymous writes:

I've just met a Man and during a conversation we were having he explained that he had been in 2 marriages and 1 8 year defacto relationship. He continued to say he had been unfaithful with 2 women, 1, his first wife and 2 a short term relationship. He said he has changed and would never do this again. Do people ever change or does his past behaviour indicate what he will be like in the future?

Thanks in advance

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (18 October 2013):

Sageoldguy1965

I think you have the wrong interpretation of my words. When I read all of the posts, some asked questions & needed more background, which I thought would enable people to give a fuller answer. I have had trust issues in my past & it's hard to know once this has happened whether one is projecting their insecurities from their past onto new people. I ended this relationship now, not because he was unfaithful, because I was too worried & suspicious. I am not a desperate person looking to justify being with him & I think you may need to be careful how you word things on here as there can be vulnerable people who could personalize such comments leading them to judge & feel bad about themselves. I was taking an opportunity to evaluate things & was seeking other people's perspectives. Yet in saying all of this, I do appreciate your time.

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A male reader, Sageoldguy1465 United States +, writes (18 October 2013):

Sageoldguy1465 agony auntOP: Your second (follow-on) submittal doesn't really add anything that changes the situation. It "sounds" to me like you are desperately trying to justify/validate your feelings for this guy.... AND that you want to try a "relationship" with him....

There's really no reason why you couldn't (try that relationship). Just keep in-mind that this man is a serial cheater. IF he reverts to that, figure it out quickly, and get away from him even quicker....

Good luck..

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (18 October 2013):

Hi again,

Thank you to those who took the time to respond. This Man is 52 years old & says he wants to settle down. He has had two marriages & one 8 year relationship. His reasons were: First time was with his first wife. He was very down & depressed about a work harassment situation he had experienced which involved legal proceedings which triggered him to move interstate. His wife was keen to move too yet got cold feet regarding missing her family. Her reluctance made him think she wouldn’t take the leap & he knew he would never go back to their home town as it bought back too much pain. The next relationship was a short term one with which he became bored. I asked what his thoughts were on why he did this, he replied, he had a long-term severe pot addiction & has been free of pot for 8 years. His last marriage of 7 years he was clean & claims he never cheated on her.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (18 October 2013):

Without getting to upset about this topic you can google it and the general belief by noted Psychologists is that most will no change. They are hooked like a drug addict is to heroin or coke. Anyone and everyone that crosses their path are affected by their cheating ways. My advice is this. Look at the situation and go with your gut. Past behaviors is a good indicator of future behavior.These people who cheat heavy duty hang around other people that cheat. Do you notice this man or woman who seems to be hanging out with the same people all the time? That could be a sign? Do you notice a woman who has really nothing good to say about anybody especially men.This could be a indicator of a cheater. They almost seem narcissistic to a point. Do you know or see men who always seem to eye women and go out of their way to get their attention regardless if they are married or not? This could be a indicator of a cheater also.Does this change your mind or perception? I hope i have. Good-luck..

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A female reader, AuntyEm United Kingdom +, writes (17 October 2013):

AuntyEm agony auntA true story for you.

A couple years ago a new colleague came to work at our place and I had to train her. She was a middle age woman who told me that although she was still married (and her husband adored her) she was cheating with a younger man who was married to someone else. She told me that they had both left their spouses and moved in together.

Over the next few months she told me that she was afraid to let her BF out of her sight incase he cheated on her. That told me that basically her relationship with him was shit because she obviously didn't and could not trust him ever!!

The saga went on and on and sometimes she'd be elated if he had bought her something new or taken her somewhere special...he was the best boyfriend in the world...sometimes she'd be in tears and fret and worry if he was away working because he 'might cheat'!!

Anyways it turns out that only a couple months ago she actually did find out he'd been cheating on her...not because of some texts she'd found or some or other gossip...HE told her himself and he also told her they were over and finished!!

She hit the rocks pretty hard and took a lot of time off work!

I think the answer to 'Do cheaters ever change' is probably NO with maybe a very few exceptions.

As her relationship proved...they were both cheaters and they both knew it and ultimately she could never ever trust him and her fears were realised so it probably wasn't worth getting hooked up with him in the first place.

The good news is that the doting husband she walked away from is now happily hitched again!! :-)

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A female reader, Ciar Canada + , writes (17 October 2013):

Ciar agony auntOk, now even if he has the best of intentions and he fully believes he will never cheat again. You, assuming you are the original poster, know that he has cheated. Not once, but twice over a sustained period of time. Are you ever going to feel as secure with him as you might with another knowing what you know?

What if he works late? Is he really working or...? Maybe there has been some tension between you lately which will only fuel your suspicions. That woman you both bumped into whom he introduced as 'an old friend'. Is she REALLY just a friend or...?

Do you see where this is headed?

It's not just about whether he is sincere or not, but about your own peace of mind and well being. You don't owe it to him to try. There will always be that lingering doubt and you have to consider whether that lingering doubt is something you can COMFORTABLY live with.

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A female reader, Caring Aunty A Australia + , writes (17 October 2013):

Caring Aunty A agony auntIf his behaviour was a label on the outside of a package and it read, CHEATER! I’m sure most of us would avoid buying into this product? Here he has forewarned you and indicated by his past record what could and can happen if you decide to digest this notion of; “do people ever change” and or “that he would never do this again”? (I’d be asking; what was his reason for cheating in the first place?)

Sure enough it’s making you think and if you proceed with this package; you’ll be the one changing, by wondering if and when he’ll cheat again?

Personally, he’s spelled out his own escape clause which excludes him from any future blame… It’s like him saying; I told you so! A disclaimer as mentioned.

Take Care – CAA

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A female reader, Ciar Canada + , writes (17 October 2013):

Ciar agony auntAnonymous female, I've said in other posts that I don't subscribe to the belief that once a cheater always a cheater and that they are all selfish users. You have to take each case as it comes.

There are those married to a terminally ill person, for example, who no longer enjoy much intimacy beyond emptying a bed pan and giving a sponge bath. The caregiver spouse can feel lonely and exhausted and may succumb to temptation, which in turn recharges their batteries making it easier for them to care for that ill partner. Is that person evil? I don't think so.

Or in the situation you describe where for whatever reason, perhaps enormous family or financial pressure (or even fear of violence or some other reprisal), think they are unable to end the marriage and start fresh elsewhere so they make do as best they can, trying to keep everyone somewhat happy. I don't think they're evil either.

The man described in the original question has cheated in two separate relationships. So this is not quite the same act of desperation born of the same despair as in the above examples. It is highly unlikely that the two women before this one were both terminally ill.

This is an emerging pattern of behaviour, not a one off. So in this case I am leaning toward it being a disclaimer rather than a confession.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (17 October 2013):

I have a question for everyone...

What if the cheater has been married for a long time and his wife cannot or will not give him sex anymore? And he has been without it for over 5 years.

He ends up with another woman for sex.

What about this case? Is this so wrong?

Is it always about the cheater having issues or could there be issues in a relationship which could make a cheater cheat? Would this even apply to serial cheaters?

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A reader, anonymous, writes (17 October 2013):

Yes they do change. But not permanent type of change.

Cheaters and players can change for a month or so but not for very long. Its like addiction. They will really look for something new.

Even if your the most beautiful woman in the world, the sexiest, goddess of them all, It wouldn't change a single thing. a womanizer will still remain a womanizer.

There's no cure unless, they found their match. And their aging and time for them to get serious. say around 50 and above.

If you don't believe me, try it yourself, just prepare for consequences. Been there, Done that. Swear will never do it again.

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A female reader, llifton United States + , writes (17 October 2013):

llifton agony auntthere typically is a correllation between past behavior and future behavior. however, of course that doesn't mean it's impossible for cheaters not to change. just rather unlikely.

what it does is show a behavior pattern. he probably gets bored, and rather than working on the relationship, finds "outside stimulation." i would be very hesitant of this relationship. is it worth constantly worrying and wondering? that's up to you.

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A female reader, Ciar Canada + , writes (17 October 2013):

Ciar agony auntYes and yes.

People can and do change all the time. Sometimes for the better, other times for worse. And yes, past behaviour is often a strong indicator of future behaviour. Not helpful, is it?

In your case I believe the man's honesty is meant to serve as a disclaimer that if you end up hurt, he can't be held entirely to blame since you were warned ahead of time what you were getting into. In his mind it takes a lot of the onus off him to do the right thing. Not that he plans to cheat, but down the road when the novelty of your courtship fades and he encounters temptation elsewhere, he knows what he's like. Now so do you and by agreeing to a relationship, you tacitly agree to the risks as well.

Sooooo, I would take a pass on this one, unless you can trust yourself to remain more or less detached. Enjoy your chats, go out on a few dates, then move on (no hanky panky).

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A male reader, Sageoldguy1465 United States +, writes (17 October 2013):

Sageoldguy1465 agony auntI vote for, "sure, (guys) he can change".... HOWEVER, I also think that the longer the "track record" of infidelities, the longer that odds of that change...

This guy? ... I'd expect you're more-likely to find John Boehner and Barak Obama sleeping together than you are to find that this guy doesn't - ultimately - sleep with someone who isn't you!!!

Good luck....

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (17 October 2013):

Sorry to say this but I personally believe no, as once a person gets away with it just one time, it opens the floodgates, they don't seeanything wrong with doing it again.

Also, to me cheating says that a person is incredibly short-sighted. The going wll always get tough sooner or later in a relationship, and there will always be people a perosn could cheat with on the planet. A person that really gives a damn doesn't go for the bait.

Another thing, you're asking this question now, do you really want to be have this in the back of your mind for the rest of your time together?

Good luck

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (17 October 2013):

Honeypie agony auntI think anyone can change, if THEY want to, not because others want them to.

So yes, it's possible that he has changed. But it could also be that he is telling you what he thinks/knows you want to hear.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (17 October 2013):

"He said he has changed and would never do this again. Do people ever change or does his past behaviour indicate what he will be like in the future?"

People very rarely change, and those few who do change don't say they've changed and don't say they would never do that again, they actually change and actually don't do it again.

Don't believe what a guy SAYS, believe what he DOES (or doesn't do).

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (17 October 2013):

If he had done it once, owned it and changed his way, yes I believe it is possible to change. But because he did it again, not so much. He obviously did not learn anything, made the choice to do it over remembering what it cost the first time or what he should have done differently. He once again chose to think of himself only and did not take the high road and walk away from the situation, whatever it was at the time. His chances of being faithful down the road are pretty slim.

Personally, I would not persue a relationship with a guy like that, or take that kind of emotional risk. And who knows if it's really only been twice....

Out of curiosity did he say WHY he cheated? If he really did own it and took full responsibility, that's good, but he still fails because he did it again.

I can bet if he did give you any info, he cheated because she, he cheated because he was drunk, he cheated because he wasn't getting what he needed...generalizing, but the point is, cheaters will rarely take responibility for the actions and find reasons, excuses and justifications for why they did what they did. Doesn't matter what ANY of them are. You either work on the relationship you are in or break it off. THEN you go do what you want to do. Not step out "because" and cheat on your partner if you were supposed to be exclusive.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (17 October 2013):

Yes they may change for a short while, but once the honeymoon period is over, they become bored and then go back to chasing excitement again.

Most cheat (male and female), because the secrecy,the feeling of thinking you are one step ahead, and risk of getting caught gives them a kick. Once caught they turn on the waterworks or convince them self that their partner deserved it. I would be very careful if I was you.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (17 October 2013):

From my past experience, I have to say NO, they can't change. I'm sorry if this is not what you want to hear.

My ex said exactly the same thing, he told me he had cheated alot in previous relationship, told me he had changed, he loved me and would never cheat. I then found out he was on several dating sites, chatting to lots of women, and had met up with afew too.

Once a cheater.....

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