Once a cheater, always a cheater. At least that’s how the saying goes, right? In my line of work I’m often the one doing the questioning, but I also get lots of questions from clients and professionals and one that comes up a great deal is, is this saying true?
My short answer is no, but then of course I have a lengthier version, which I will share with you today, and that is - it really depends. It depends on the reasoning behind the infidelity that will determine if the person will cheat again.
If someone is cheating because they are addicted to the excitement of being caught, or they are addicted to the spark of new romance, they may continually seek out affairs to find that spark, and to put themselves in a place of secrecy. While I’ve said that most people cheat in order to feel alive, and to rekindle life within themselves that they’ve lost in their relationship, I think this is different than what I previously described.
Although most people cheat to feel excitement, being addicted to that excitement is very different than seeking outside of your relationship to find something you’ve lost that you likely once had.
When people take the time to understand themselves and put in the work necessary to understand what lead them to stray outside of their relationship, it’s not likely that they will do it again. But the key is really that they’ve done the work. They’ve shown up, they’ve looked at themselves, they’ve looked at their relationship, and they’ve found understanding and insight into their motives for straying. And that of course is as intensive as it sounds. It takes work.
While the infidelity may have caused their relationship to end, someone who cheats still has to take themselves with them into their next relationship, and unless they’ve taken a good hard look at themselves, they are likely to continue in a similar fashion.
There’s often a misconception that if the relationship ends after infidelity, that’s the end of it. The person just wasn’t happy, they looked outside of their relationship to have something fulfilled, and it ultimately ended up killing their relationship, and they must then move on.
Many times infidelity can be the best thing that happens to a relationship. While I’d never wish it on anyone, nor is it something I suggest you do, it gets couples talking in a way they haven’t in many years, if ever. It serves as a wake-up call, and marks the start of a new, different relationship with the same partner. It definitely takes couples a long time to get to the point of seeing this, but it happens, and the new relationship that couples create following infidelity is one that is often more fulfilling, more intimate, and connected.
You can never “cheat-proof” any relationship, but it’s much less likely to happen again if both partners are truly invested in finding understanding for themselves and one another, and have a commitment to do things differently as they move forward. Once a cheater, not always a cheater is what I say, but that’s because I’ve been across the couch, asking the tough questions, and helping my clients find understanding.
If you could use some help sorting things out after infidelity, and could use a nonjudgmental third party, I’d love to help. Feel free to contact me at (909) 226-6124, and we can talk about ways therapy can help you understand yourself and your relationship. If your partner has recently been unfaithful, and you're struggling to figure out what to do next, click here to download my free guide on communicating after infidelity.