Is "Once A Cheater Always A Cheater" True?

in Marriage

Very often, I have women who contact me and indicate that although they very much want to save their marriage after their husband's cheating or his affair, they are afraid that if they do, they are setting themselves up for more heartache. I often hear comments like "my mom says ‘once a cheater always a cheater.' I love my husband but I'm afraid she's right. What if I forgive him and then years from now, he cheats on me again?"

There actually are some statistics that give us at least some insights on whether this assumption is actually true or not. I will discuss these in more detail in the following article.

Statistics Which Indicate That The Assumption Of "Once A Cheater Always A Cheater" May Not Be True: Bill Mitchell, a private investigator and the author of The More You Know, indicates that statistically speaking, he believes that only 15 – 20% of people who cheat do so more than once. If you accept this is as accurate, that would be relatively good news because it indicates that it's possible that as many as 80% of those who cheat don't do it again.

I think that what is more important than these statistics is the question of what factors make those 20% cheat again? And what exactly contributes to those 80% remaining faithful? There is less statistics or claims available for these questions. But, I do have a theory about this. In my own experience and research, I believe that whether your spouse cheats again or not has everything to do with both of you understanding why this happened and then placing safeguards in place to help to dramatically decrease the likelihood that the cheating happens again.

What You Can Do To Help Ensure That Your Spouse Does Not Cheat Again: It is my experience, observation, and belief that there are several things that you can do to help safeguard your marriage against repeat cheating. The first thing that you need to do is to work with your spouse (and to obtain help if you need it) in understanding why this happened in the first place.

Many times, we base our beliefs about the reasons for his cheating on assumptions that are not true. We assume that men are just hard wired to resist monogamy and we assume that males need more sexual variety than we can provide. Many times, we will blame ourselves and try to convince ourselves that we, or our marriage, let our husband down in some way so that he had to go looking for something else somewhere else.

There are husbands and marriages in which these assumptions are true, but often, this is not the case. We often let these assumptions keep us from doing the necessary deeper digging that might ensure that we never have to deal with this again. Sometimes, it's our husband's worries, insecurities, self loathing, and boredom (with their own lives) that contribute to the affair much more than anything that we are doing (or not doing) and much more than anything that we have (or don't have.) We can't see this at the time, of course, because we're in so much pain and often do not have the necessary distance from the situation that we would need.

Very often, if you can pinpoint the things that contributed to this, then you can begin to remove these things and to heal them. Sometimes, it is a man's self esteem. Sometimes, it's his culture or his beliefs. Other times, it is problems with impulse control. It can also be passive aggressive behavior brought on because of an inability to identify and deal with problems in the marriage.

He may need some help in identifying these things. Very often, a man's inability to identify and deal with his feelings very much contributes to his cheating. And so once the affair is exposed, it's unrealistic to think that the man who couldn't get in touch with his feelings then is going to be able to do it now. He may need professional help with this or he may receptive to your working with him to identify these things. However it happens, this identity is absolutely necessary. Because its only when these danger areas are identified can you begin to remove them so that you're much less likely to make the phrase "once a cheater always a cheater" true for your marriage.

You will also need to focus on yourself and your own healing. You want to restore your self esteem so that your own doubts, fears, and insecurities don't contribute to problems that could be avoided.

Restoring my self esteem and self worth after my husband's affair took work, but it was so worth it. I now understand myself, my husband, our marriage, and our intimacy on a much deeper level and I no longer worry that he will cheat again. You can read a very personal story on my blog at

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Katie Lersch has 1 articles online

Katie Lersch writes articles about moving past an affair.  Her corresponding blog is at

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Is "Once A Cheater Always A Cheater" True?

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This article was published on 2010/11/11
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