Once A Cheater, Always A Cheater?

I think we have all heard that statement, “once a cheater, always a cheater.” Now, is that actually true?  I have clients bring this up every week. They are afraid their spouse is going to cheat again, and feel like maybe they do not have a chance to have a marriage again where this will not happen.

Just because someone has cheated before, does that mean that they are automatically going to cheat again? No, not necessarily. Yes, there are studies that have been done showing that someone who has cheated is 350 times more likely to cheat again. The numbers are high, but I would still say that it is not always true. You cannot say with 100% certainty that everyone who has cheated before is absolutely going to cheat again. I don’t think that’s true because I think that cheating is a symptom. A symptom that came about from a problem in the relationship.

Now did cheating layer on more problems within the relationship? Yes. Did it complicate things and make it more difficult? Absolutely, but cheating doesn’t happen in a healthy, loving, connected, committed relationship. So, there was a problem before it happened that caused the symptom of cheating.

You are probably wondering why. Why does cheating happen?

Cheating can occur because there’s an emotional disconnection.

Cheating can occur because the sex life isn’t satisfying

Cheating can occur because we need personal validation

Cheating can occur because emotional intimacy  or even just attention is so low that we feel totally neglected.

There are SO many reasons why cheating can happen.

So here is the bottom line on this question of “once a cheater always a cheater”?

Cheating is not a DNA characteristic, and it is not really about the person, it’s about the relationship. This is great news because it actually gives you a lot of control about what happens. You are not born with it, and it is not “just who you are”.

Now if you just deal with the cheating, and just look at the act itself, you do not really heal anything. You can do this, but if you don’t want to look at the problem or address the brokenness in the relationship that caused the cheating to begin with, then I think that the cheating is likely to continue, and will probably happen again. I think this is the reason we see that 350% number that we hear about. Not everyone wants to really look at the relationship and heal the root of the problem.

If you are willing to look at the problem that caused the symptom of cheating, understand it, and heal it, you can change the likelihood of it happening again.  Once you do this, I think the desire or need to look outside of the relationship for something that’s missing subsides.  Now that you have done the work to look at the problem, and have healed it, now that you’re getting that need met, there will not be a need to go outside of the relationship. So whether it is you that has cheated, or you that has been cheated on, there is a space for it to not happen again.