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Psychology: Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater?

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Psychology: Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater?

The title question is an interesting one however it dangerously shortens this incredibly complex issue, allowing only a one sided and often unfair standpoint. So we opened up the debate to our readers and these were the most common questions they asked. Hope the answers provide a deeper insight into betrayal and infidelity.   If a man has cheated on previous partners, is the likelihood that he’ll cheat on you?

‘Once a cheater always a cheater’ usually comes from a person who has been betrayed and this may be the case in regard to a current partner. However when considering a previous relationship, this is way too simple and it really fails to take into account the multitude of variables and complexity of why that person cheated. We shouldn’t judge people in our present due to prejudged past situations. Perhaps other behaviors should be observed and analysed such as does he communicate well? Is he transparent or secretive? Is he physically and emotionally intimate with you? Has he introduced you to family and friends? These dimensions are much more likely to predict a man’s infidelity than his past.

Is there a belief among women that they’ll be the one to change him?

There is an expression that goes, ‘women get into a relationship hoping to change him where as men get into a relationship hoping she never changes!’ Trying to control and change a man often is what creates fractures in the relationship. Women have an ideal set of expectations that they hope the man eventually transforms into. This fantasy is only likely to lead to frustration and disappointment.Is it possible for a leopard to change its spots, so to speak?

If you want the leopard to change his spots, would he still be a leopard? Why not choose a zebra, if that’s what you wanted, to begin with? Rather than trying to change the man, women should analyse the motivating factors behind why they initially chose this person and furthermore, think about how realistic their expectations have been. Of course everyone is capable of growth and learning from past mistakes.

Are there any specific steps women can take to try to ensure their partner doesn’t repeat mistakes he made with previous partners?

The reason we go through different experiences is to hopefully learn from them. Talk to your partner about his past and try and focus on the reasons why infidelity took place rather than judging him for cheating. For example, he may not have been able to break up with the girl for fear of hurting her feelings or breaking her heart and that’s why he cheated. Here, it should be clearly discussed and communicated that ending a relationship, even though hurtful, is so much more functional, emotionally intelligent, responsible and mature than cheating.

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