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Once a cheater, always a cheater. Is this old saying true?

Tagged as: Cheating, Marriage problems, Three is a crowd, Troubled relationships, Trust issues<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (9 March 2018) 10 Answers - (Newest, 10 March 2018)
A female United States age 30-35, *nezka98 writes:

Is it true what they say, that once a cheater, always a cheater? I mean if a wife forgave his husband for having cheated on her for a year and a half, are there chances that after 2 years he will cheat again? What are your thoughts or experiences on this?thank you.

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A male reader, CMMP United States +, writes (10 March 2018):

You need to figure out why he cheated. If it was because something was missing in your relationship, than simply and apology and forgiveness won't fix it. Are you paying enough attention to each other's needs? Is here sexually satisfied? Emotionally?

Talk to him to find out why he cheated, and don't be satisfied with "I don't know". Don't be surprised if the truth hurts.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (9 March 2018):

I'm sorry that I didn't address the question about the cheating-husband directly; because when a woman loves, it's hard for her to let go.

An affair that lasts nearly two-years is more than cheating. It was a commitment to another person. A person who is able to cheat for that long is a good candidate for repeat-offense. he still can be forgiven, but he can't be trusted.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (9 March 2018):

If a cheater can getaway with cheating without getting caught, they are likely to repeat many times over. If a cheater gets an easy reprieve after getting caught; they are likely to cheat again, because the consequences may not have been severe enough.

You have to love someone so much that you fear their loss over simply satisfying an urge or an impulse.

It doesn't mean you never feel the tingle of temptation. You're only human. I call anyone a bold-face liar if you claim to have never ever been tempted! Come on! If you even look at someone else with lust, that's temptation. Psychological-cheating is still cheating.

Entertaining and fantasizing lustful-thoughts and sharing those thoughts with the intended recipient, is cheating. Keep it to yourself until it dissipates. You can't stop thoughts; but you can stop your actions.

Someone who made a slip or a mistake, and yielded to the pressure of temptation may not do it again. Provided they honor their commitment, and have what most cheaters do not have. A conscience!

I forgave someone once for their cheating. I caught him in the act; so he couldn't lie or talk his way out of it.

We had a five-year history with no prior violations. So he was forgiven; but his sincere effort to regain my trust was commendable and most loving. It lasted another 20 plus years from that point. He died of cancer. I now have a wonderful and trusting relationship with someone else. He had been cheated on several times by others in his past; but has no apparent trust-issues. If he cheated, he knows that I will forgive him; but I will also leave him. I will not allow it again. That was a once in a lifetime deal.

I'm not as young as I was when it happened before. My maturity, values, and character place certain responsibilities/stipulations on my relationships that I've worked years to improve, invest, and maintain. I've witnessed enough broken-relationships in my lifetime to know what cause and effect is. Actions have consequences.

I know if I want to keep someone and maintain their love; I've got to be faithful and committed. It's hard sometimes. Funny thing, anything of great monetary-value people will fight to protect and keep. Even if they have to hire a lawyer and take it to court. Why not value trust and love as much?

I trust him implicitly; because he knows the pain of betrayal more than I will ever know. This man loves hard! He is very trusting, to a fault. So I make it worth it. His loyalty goes unquestioned; because he has earned my trust.

Cheaters do not value or honor commitment. They feel they can step in and out of it; as long as they can plead for forgiveness, or hide their deeds. Counting on your weakness for them. Forgiveness should be given for the sake of moving on and gaining your freedom to move forward. Forgiveness is divine. Cheaters depend on your love being stronger for them, than theirs for you. My faith requires me to forgive. Not to forget, or to stay with someone who cheated on me.

If you can't fully forgive them; don't keep them to punish them for eternity. Then it's you, not the cheater that's the problem. Why hold-on to them if you can no longer trust them? Either love is real, or it isn't. No gray area.

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A female reader, mystiquek United States + , writes (9 March 2018):

mystiquek agony auntAnyone can change if they TRULY want to its just that most people don't want to change. It takes time and effort and willpower to overcome bad thoughts, habits, ect. If a person cheats and realizes what they have lost or may lose, then yes, if they truly are sorry and know they screwed up, of course they can change. The problem is that most people that cheat don't just do it once, its a pattern. They either can't or won't be faithful or in most cases, just don't care enough and they enjoy the thrill, hiding and games that cheaters play.

My ex husband has been married 5 times. He has cheated on EVERY single wife. Why? If you ask him he'll say because he gets bored and likes the thrill. I was wife #1 and only 19 but I have no idea why the other ladies married him.

Just for the record...18 months is a long time to cheat. I won't say you can't forgive but you better believe I'd be wary and sure as heck wouldn't forget!

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A female reader, louiselistens United Kingdom +, writes (9 March 2018):

louiselistens agony auntHi Anezka98,

Interesting question.

Personally, I believe that cheating once does not necessarily mean that cheating will be repeated. People have many different reasons for cheating, which usually come down to the reason that they have a need that is not being met by their partner for one reason or another (not to blame the partner there, they might not even be aware of any issues; people are very complex and have a lot of baggage).

However, cheating is a sign of a deeper problem and if a couple choose to carry on their relationship after cheating has occurred, it is important to explore why the cheating occurred and how to stop it from happening again. Counselling may even be required.

I personally could not continue a relationship with someone who had cheated on me. It is one of my very few deal breakers and I take it very seriously. I made this very clear to my fiance in the early days of our relationship, along with my other deal breakers.

However, I don't judge other people who choose to keep trying to make it work after cheating has happened. Every relationship is different as is every person.

Best wishes


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A male reader, Fatherly Advice United States + , writes (9 March 2018):

Fatherly Advice agony auntCheating is an addictive behavior. Serial cheaters and cheaters in long term affairs usually get quite addicted to the rush of getting away with it. This is the origin of the once a cheater, always a cheater saying. In the case of the one night stand there is not so much evidence for it. In your case where the affair has gone on for 18 months. You would be wise to divorce first. then if there is solid evidence of a real change, consider remarriage.

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A female reader, chigirl Norway +, writes (9 March 2018):

chigirl agony auntHe didnt cheat just once, so he cant claim a lack of judgement or passionate moment gone too far. It was an affair of 18 months. Planned. Deliberate. Knowing to his fullest what he was doing. Not under the influence of alcohol. And it was repeatedly. Not just once. So in his case, I would definitely say once a cheater, always a cheater. He had show what he is capable of.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (9 March 2018):

Honeypie agony auntI don't think "once a cheater, always a cheater" fits EVERY cheater but I think it's more likely than not.


Because they "got away" with it once.

When someone BREAKS your trust, you lose respect for that person, you lose affection for that person and you lose trust. And you lose part of yourself-respect, self-confidence too. Which is a double whammy. It's sort of "emotional dominoes" One falls and it causes a chain reaction. It might be a trickle, it might not.

Cheating for 18 months wasn't a simple "mistake". It was a CHOICE and it was DELIBERATE. YOU didn't factor into it at all. It was all about what HE wanted. He wanted BOTH to have his marriage and someone on the side. That is not going to work long term.

You can forgive, but you will never forget.

I think another reason it often do NOT work out is because being CHEATED on alters you as a person. Not trusting your partner alters you.

I also think it depends on HOW the matter is dealt with. If it's a matter of - well he told me he ended it and I now forgive him and we moved on - then I think it's likely to happen again. If you two take the time to figure out WHY it lasted for 18 months, what he WASN'T getting from the marriage and working through rebuilding trust, then maybe it can work. That some times takes a neutral 3rd person - a marriage counselor for instance.

And I'd be LESS willing to try and make it work unless HE was working his ASS off rebuilding the trust HE broke.

Each marriage is different. For some an affair re-starts a dying marriage. For others, it's the beginning of the end.

There is no rules set in stone as to whether he will do it again or not.

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A female reader, Anonymous 123 Italy + , writes (9 March 2018):

Anonymous 123 agony auntWell my personal opinion is that if I caught my partner cheating then there's no way that I could forgive him and move past it. I don't know about the "once a cheater" thing but I do know that once my trust was shattered there was not a chance I could trust him again.

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A female reader, Aunty BimBim Australia + , writes (9 March 2018):

Aunty BimBim agony auntSome people cheat and when they are found out they realise what they have put at risk and, with a great deal of work, the relationship survives and eventually the effects of the cheating are overcome. It's rare for this to be achieved without some help from a qualified professional. Counselling will help determine why the cheating occurred and what needs to be done by both people in the relationship to be able to move past it.

If it is simply a case of the wronged person, in this case the wife, saying I forgive you without any acts of contrition and/or a great deal of talking it through it is unlikely trust will be rebuilt.

Personally I forgave somebody and it simply delayed the inevitable for a couple of years.

The husband in this scenario was in another relationship (cheating) for 18 months, that's a long time, I'd be very wary of trusting such a man again.

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