Once a Cheater
Always a Cheater?

"Once a cheater always a cheater" is one of those sayings with enough truth in it that it can easily wreak all kinds of havoc when it is applied to the wrong situations.  Unfortunately, more situations are the wrong situations for this one than not.  The world is not that simple.

Is it true?    Well . . .  the best answer is probably  "It depends."

Once a cheater always a cheater is a classic cognitive distortion.

From the outset, a statement or a belief like that one is suspect because it is an example of all or nothing thinking. 

It happens when you are seeing the world as being in only one or two categories:

  • good or bad
  • right or wrong
  • good enough or failure
  • black or white.

For better or worse, whether we like it or not, the world rarely presents itself in an "either-or" simplicity.  It's full of grays.

Infidelity comes in a variety of forms and reasons

(not to mention excuses, which is a topic unto itself)

Blanket statements such as - once a cheater always a cheater - are practically by definition dangerous.

This is where it becomes vital to know more about the type of affair and motivation for the affair to weigh the odds that it will happen again.  This is where you need answers to specific questions such as:

  • Is the affair over?
  • How long did it last?
  • How much deception was involved?
  • Had they been unfaithful to previous partners?
  • Has all contact with the other person been broken off?
  • Has the unfaithful partner agreed that it is her/his responsibility to make amends and show commitment?
  • Has the straying partner agreed to be completely transparent about his/her whereabouts at all times?
  • Are both of you open to professional help?
  • Have you set a reasonable amount of time to process what has occurred before making decisions about staying in or leaving the relationship?
  • What were the reasons as best you both can understand?
  • Do the "reasons" seem to make sense or do they sound more like excuses?
  • Is the straying partner taking responsibility for his/her actions, or are they blaming?  (the marriage made me do it,  if you were more loving )

Professional Consultation Is Important

Family and friends are NOT neutral parties.  They have your best interests in mind, but they have their own beliefs and experiences.  This is your relationship and your partner, not theirs.

A good first step might be to read about the topic.  You can start with the Infidelity section of this site which can be reached by clicking HERE or by clicking on the Infidelity button on the left top left side of this page.  The Science Daily website has some interesting articles from current research that may help you both normalize what's going on and have some ideas of how to respond.

Read several sources.  Especially on the internet, but also in other media, there are people who know exactly what you should do.  Too often this is based on a very narrow set of experiences or knowledge.

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