He Cheated, Now What?

We’ve likely all heard the saying “once a cheater, always a cheater” at one point or another, but do you believe it? Can someone make a mistake once and learn their lesson? Or should we believe that humans aren’t meant to be monogamous?

broken trustCan you forgive a cheater?

As a woman who believes in true love and marriage, fidelity is important to me, as I think it is for many of us. But I believe that fidelity can take on more than one form, and that different people have different definitions of cheating.

What is Cheating? Serious Dating sites?

First things first, let’s talk about cheating and what it encompasses for different people. I think most of us can agree that having full blown physical sex with a person other than the person to whom you are committed, without express permission from your partner, constitutes cheating.

Open relationships are becoming more and more common, which can muddy up the waters. But what about an emotional affair, where your partner seeks emotional comfort from another person? Is trolling online dating sites cheating? What about cyber sex on serious dating sites or texting with someone who isn’t you? Does checking out an attractive person constitute cheating? Going for coffee with a colleague? Does it matter how far into a relationship you are? There are lots of ways someone could be unfaithful, depending on what you consider cheating to be.

When you are in the “getting to know you” stage of a relationship, it can be a good idea to have a frank discussion about what you consider cheating. I am someone who wears my heart on my sleeve, I need to feel loved and wanted by my partner, and I have a hot button issue with a partner using serious dating sites. For me, a partner who communicates on the internet with other women for the purposes of sexual gratification is a deal breaker.

But I can understand how it is not a problem for others, if they accept it as part of their relationship. I don’t consider checking out a hot girl or having coffee with a colleague unfaithful.

Is it the Cheating or the Lying?

A big part of that comes down to whether deceit is involved. It is one thing for your partner to open up about his love of pornography, for example, rather than for you to discover a hidden lifestyle you were not aware of months down the road. We all have something we are into, and it is definitely important for the longevity of the relationship to ensure that those needs/wants/fetishes/desires are compatible.

So, regardless of what you consider cheating to be, if you find yourself in the undesirable situation of having been cheated on, what should you do? Do you end the relationship? Forgive him? Something in between?

Broken Trust

That is such a hard question, but here is something I learned the hard way. The first time I was ever cheated on, I was more afraid of breaking up with him and being alone than I was of being cheated on. He apologized, said it would never happen again. He was under stress and he made a terrible decision. I punished him by forcing him to sleep on the couch, I said I forgave him. But you know what? I didn’t forgive him. I never trusted him again, and even though I laid out the behaviors that I considered cheating, he continued to break my trust. Looking back, I wish I had just broken up with him right then and there, and moved on to future happiness.

Ending a Relationship

But this is one of millions of cheating stories, all with different results. We’ve all heard stories of couples where someone cheated once, begged for forgiveness, and they went on to have a stronger relationship in the future, but it honestly sounds like a fairy tale to me. Perhaps there are women who are more forgiving than I, or who are either too afraid to end it or too overwhelmed by the consequences of ending the relationship, but I just don’t buy it. I think that someone who cheats, on whatever level, either isn’t getting what they need, or is probably in the wrong kind of relationship.

If you can say that after finding out about a cheating partner, you feel that you can regain the trust; that you won’t lay awake at night visualizing the incident(s); that you won’t either long to, or actually seek out his text messages or emails to either catch him or satisfy your curiosity, then maybe you can forgive the cheating and move forward. But if trust is a crucial component of a happy, healthy relationship, which it is in my opinion, I’m afraid I don’t see how a relationship can come back from that trust being broken by cheating. Perhaps I’m too cynical, but I don’t think we humans are too likely to change our ways and are better off finding partners whose faults we can accept. Find a partner who shares or accepts your definition of cheating, and one who respects the boundaries of your relationship.