Once a Cheater Always a Cheater?

This is a continuation of my series on infidelity. Read previous posts here!

If someone cheats once, are they more likely to do it again? At least one bit of research says, yes, if you cheat you’re more likely to cheat again. However, that same piece of research also says that people who have been cheated on once are also more likely to be cheated on again.

So what does it mean?


If you’ve read my previous posts about infidelity you might already know how I feel about this cliché. I don’t think that cheating once has any indication on whether or not you’re going to cheat again. I think it’s a statement used to shut down discussion of infidelity and shame the person who was unfaithful. Not super productive to understanding why the infidelity happened or how to prevent it.

In fact, the person who belittles the infidelity by saying “they did it once so they will do it again” is missing out on an opportunity to ask questions about why it happened so it doesn’t happen again. It falls into the narrative that people who cheat are inherently bad people.

It’s easy to blame infidelity on the person who did it rather than the situation that led to the infidelity. It prevents both partners from examining how to have better relationships in the future. If each partner is equally likely to experience infidelity again, discussing together (or with a therapist, or with friends) why they think that the infidelity occured is especially important.

To be able to do this we need to destigmatize infidelity, at least enough to be able to have some kind of conversation about it.

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