Once a cheater, always a cheater?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Is it true that once a cheater always a cheater? I am in a relationship with a man whom cheated on me in the past and I forgave him, but last September I discovered he had been looking up adult services and personal ads online. When I confronted him he said he was just seeing what it was all about. Will I ever be able to trust him again or will he cheat again? Help i don’t know what to do?

A: I firmly believe that people always have the capacity to change. With some honest personal work on himself, a “cheater” can learn from his mistakes and go forward as a loyal and faithful partner.

But – and this is the hard part – the “cheater” has to want to change and has to put whole-hearted effort into doing so. That means leaving behind the old habits that led to cheating. That means not being secretive or sneaky. That means putting all attention and romantic energy into his relationship with the woman he loves, not with fantasy relationships on the web or in the personals. That means accepting that there is always someone different but that it’s not likely there’s someone who is “better” than the woman he loves.

If he can’t or won’t do those things, he is likely to cheat again. I hope your boyfriend lives up to the forgiveness you gave him.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Jul 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). Once a cheater, always a cheater?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/07/27/once-a-cheater-always-a-cheater/