Once a Cheater Always a Cheater?

We’ve all heard this phrase before and I wonder if it’s entirely true.  This is one of those gray areas that always has an exception to the rule and isn’t so black and white.  I think if a man or woman has the propensity to cheat, then it is a pattern of behavior and self-sabotage that will continue throughout their life no matter who they are with.  Why men cheat is very different than why women cheat, yet both share similarities.

Both men and women that have a propensity to cheat, have a deep seeded need to feel desired by other people, due to some form of insecurity deeply rooted in their psyche. For men, sometimes it is an insatiable compulsion to feel as though they’ve conquered the forbidden.  Men that tend to go outside of their marriage to seek attention from multiple women, have a selfish need to be in a committed relationship, but have a compulsion to be secretive and seek out flirtatious relationships with other women to feed their ego. This appetite can never be filled and the compulsion will always need to be fed. Then there are the men that cheat because their needs aren’t being met or the relationship with their wife is on shaky ground.  Up until this point, they were faithful, loyal men who never thought they would be tempted to cheat on their wife, but they turn to someone at the office for attention and friendship…and the next thing they know, they’re in a full-blown affair.

This is typically why women cheat. I don’t want to sound bias or sexist, but women usually cheat because the marriage has been in trouble for some time and they feel like their husband doesn’t desire them or appreciate them anymore. All it takes is for one decent looking guy to show them the attention they’ve been craving and she finds herself intoxicated by desire. I suppose there are women who may be habitual cheaters that also have an insatiable appetite for sex, but you must admit– it’s very rare.  Biologically, women are not as driven by sexual desire for other partners when they are in a committed relationship.

Women are conditioned to desire stability, protection and the need to be with one partner. The end goal for most women is to settle down and raise a family.  For most men, settling down with one woman for the rest of their lives is either extremely scary or a death sentence. The phrase, “the old ball and chain” never applies to husbands and you damn well know it.  Women don’t stand around at a bachelorette party lamenting about how this is it for the rest of your life and getting one more cheap thrill in with a stripper before the nuptials, but men tend to treat marriage as the end of their life as they know it.  No more fun, no more women, just boring sex with the same woman every two weeks if you’re lucky.

Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule. Women can be just as damaged as the men who feel the need to cheat. Which brings me to a level of compassion for both genders who never fully love or trust in anyone. They will never be content with the one they are with and will spend their entire lives lost in the lie of adultery.  I use to demonize people who are perpetual cheaters, but now I just pity them.  What kind of life will they lead if they are always searching for something more, someone different?  How sad it must be to spend your entire life not realizing that the person who loves you is enough.  Love is so precious and at times, hard to find.  To value sex more than love and being loved by your family is a lonely shallow place to be. You will never know true love. You will never feel good about yourself because you are constantly chasing a fantasy that isn’t real.

There are always situations when you just married the wrong person. I can understand how someone who is deeply unhappy in their marriage can fall into the arms of another person, wanting to escape and end up forming very real feelings for that person. Unfortunately, the fairy tale happy ending rarely applies in these situations.  On the flip side, I have seen cases where someone has met a person that makes them truly happy and they risk everything to be close to that person.  Love is a powerful force that can make good people do things they never thought they were capable of doing. The trick is not to confuse lust for love.  Lust is just as powerful and even more deceiving than what you thought was love. It’s hard to decipher when you’re caught up in the passion and irresistible attraction to someone new.  This is how families get destroyed and hearts get broken.  I suppose if couples were more honest and communicative about what they need and want, these affairs may not happen, but once the damage is done, there’s no going back.

This brings us to the question of “what is considered cheating?” Now, this is a tough one and the lines are blurry for some. My personal definition is that if you do something your spouse would feel hurt or betrayed by…. it’s cheating.  In this age of “virtual sex” or “cybersex” people try to justify that if they haven’t “actually” touched the person, then it isn’t considered cheating.  Really? Would your spouse be happy with the fact that your talking dirty to another person online and masturbating in front of a web cam? Would your spouse be okay with you sending dick pics or nudes to someone they know nothing about? I think not. So, don’t tell me that isn’t cheating. What about emotional affairs that never get physical? Still cheating? Would you tell your spouse about it? Then yes, I hate to tell you… it’s cheating.

I’m not sure which is worse. A one night fling or an ongoing emotional affair? I always thought it would be easier to get over a fling that doesn’t mean anything, but honestly it isn’t. I’ve experience both in my sorry excuse of a marriage and I couldn’t get over either one.  The trust was broken. Once the trust is broken…it’s over.  Plain and simple. I know of people that try and work through it. Believe me, I spent 3 years trying to forgive my ex for cheating when he was overseas serving in the military. I told myself that being deployed for a year and a half was a long time to go without having sex for a man.  I tried to forgive him. I really tried.  I just kept coming back to the fact that it wasn’t hard for me to stay faithful…cheating never even crossed my mind. I was too busy raising our three children and managing the house while he was overseas “serving our country”…turns out he was serving a lot of other things too. He was always a habitual liar and was extremely secretive. I never had proof, but there was always suspicion that he was up to no good.  Even when things between us were great.  He is the kind of man that has deep seeded insecurities and lacks the ability to share true intimacy with anyone. In this case “once a cheater always a cheater” may apply.  I feel bad for anyone who gives their heart to someone who doesn’t have the capacity to be loyal and honest.

Listen, temptation is real for everyone. What you chose to do with it defines your integrity as a human being. Don’t let the illusion and seduction of someone new, cloud your ability to see through the facade. It won’t fill the void; it will only make you feel less of yourself if you give in to it. The stupid saying “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side” are simple words to live by. The next relationship won’t be any better than the last if you don’t take a good long look in the mirror and recognize what you need to do to be a better partner and an honest person. If they’ve done that, then yes, maybe a cheater isn’t always going to be a cheater. There is always hope for someone to transform their life, but just be leery of entering a relationship with someone that has been a cheater in their past, because sometimes a leopard doesn’t change its spots.

With Faith, Hope and Love,