Post # 1
I am having trouble dealing with events that occurred before I even met my current SO. He had been in a long-distance relationship with a previous girlfriend for about a year when he cheated on her once with a classmate. He never told his girlfriend that he had slept with someone else, and he eventually broke up with her several months later. I have now been with my SO for almost two years, and we have discussed the issue at length many times. He has said repeatedly that he is ashamed of himself, and that he had tried to end his previous relationship several times but had trouble making a "clean break." He has promised his loyalty to me and has asked me to forgive him, and for the most part, I do.
Still, I can’t seem to get the issue out of my mind. We have a wonderful, loving, committed relationship, and I trust him… now. What worries me is that things change and relationships change, and I fear that I may not trust him in the future. I worry that I may be essentially damning myself by choosing to stay with a "known cheater," even though it was not me that was cheated on. Before entering this relationship, I was a firm believer in the "Once a cheater, always a cheater" adage, and I never dreamed I would knowingly love someone who had cheated in the past.
Has anyone else’s SO/FI/spouse cheated in a past relationship? If so, how has it affected your current relationship? Has it challenged the trust between you and your partner? Or, if you cheated in a past relationship, has it in any way affected your current relationship?
Post # 3
I can certainly understand why you are upset. There are some good room for hope here though – most importantly he was the one who came clean and confessed his indiscretion both to his current girlfriend and to you. He didn’t really have to tell you what happened, and he is clearly remorseful. Sometimes people cheat because the relationship they are in is not right, and they aren’t mature enough to articulate their unhappiness to their partner, and they act out by cheating. If this happened when he was young, I would be more inclined to believe it was a mistake rather than a character flaw. The adage "once a cheater" is probably right for many men, but certainly not all of them, and I think there is enough room here to hope that your boyfriend made a mistake, took responsibility for it and learned from his past.
Post # 4
You say that you trust him now, but you’re worried about your relationship changing and eventually not trusting him? I understand why you feel that way, but to me it sounds like maybe you don’t trust him as much as you think you do.
It seems like you understand why he cheated and what he learned from it. I think as long as there is no evidence of him being a compulsive cheater, you have to give him the benefit of the doubt if you choose to be with him. Just make sure you’re comfortable with the circumstances of his past infidelity.
Post # 5
Leandra, I can relate COMPLETELY! I was in a long distance (I’m in MA, he was in MD) relationship with a guy for a little over a year and found out he had cheated on me several times with the same girl. I tried to leave it all behind us after he apologized and promised me that he would never do it again, but I just could not bring myself to have any peace of mind. I was CONSTANTLY worrying if he would do it again. So, I broke up with him. It was tough, but I couldn’t see myself spending the rest of my life with someone who I could not trust 100%. Trust for me is EVERYTHING.
Your case is a little different because he didn’t cheat on you, he cheated on someone else. In my opinion it’s hard to find a guy who has never cheated in the past. The question is, how serious was his relationship with that girl? How old was he? A guy who cheats on, lets say, his girlfriend of 6-7 years, or his wife, in my opinion is a real jerk! I honestly would have no respect for a guy like that. But that’s me. You have to figure out if you CAN put his past behind, and if you WILL have peace of mind in the future.
Post # 6
I really despise the expression "Once a cheater, always a cheater." It’s like saying that once someone cheats, they never deserve forgiveness or to find love again, and that people are stagnant and unchanging. Your fiance isn’t the same person he was then, and until he gives you evidence that he’s untrustworthy, you should really give him the benefit of the doubt.
Post # 7
I understand how you feel, completely. I am a pretty big believe in the idea that cheaters are cheaters. It’s not because I’m unforgiving or because I have a vendetta against anyone, I just think that as a factual matter, a person who cheats once usually cheats again. Not always, but usually. But the only person who can decide if your fiancee’s heart has changed is YOU. Statistics don’t determine whether he cheats, HE determines whether he cheats. I think the important thing for you to determine is:
1) whether he is truly remorseful
2) what led him to cheat on that occasion. Contrary to popular say-so, cheating doesn’t "just happen." Was his relationship not satisfying him, sexually or emotionally? Was their alcohol involved? Was it a female friendship that got out of control? You and your fiancee have to be aware of the circumstances that led to the cheating so that you both can ensure that those circumstances never arise again.
Good luck hon!
Post # 8
I may not be of the popular opinion here, but here goes…
I’ve been dating my boy for about 5 1/2 years now. Around the 1 year mark, he (emotionally) cheated on me. It didn’t get physical, but there was flirting and talking and getting coffee and such going on. My friends tried to tell me about it, but I was so trusting of him I didn’t believe them. Then, I went through his phone, and found texts of "I love you baby, goodnight" sent to both of us. I was devastated, and immediately confronted him. We talked for a long time (well, I was hysterically crying, but as much talking as you can do) and I said I didn’t know how I felt about us. I said that, we had a wall of trust, and it’s gone now. You are going to have to rebuild it brick by brick, and I can’t tell you when or if I will ever trust you that way again, but its your responsibility to make sure this works.
I can honestly tell you that the trust has totally returned. I love him with all my heart, and know he would never, ever do that to me again. He is also VERY embarrassed about it. Our friends (many didn’t know about this) asked us one time if we ever had a huge fight, and I told them about that incident, and they were shocked. He didn’t want to talk about it, he just wants to pretend it never happened, because he has truly grown as a person, and we’ve grown as a couple.
So, I can understand how your FI might feel, since it is probably very similar to how my boy feels. The only advice I can give, is that don’t try to force yourself to trust him. Trust your gut. If it tells you everything will be ok, but to just calmly test the waters, then do that. I can’t exactly pinpoint when we were ok, but I just know that we both understood that we had to work on it. If you want this to work out, you can rebuild the trust again.
Post # 9
You have to take into account how old he was, what his situation was then etc… I’ve been with my guy for 4 years & when we first started dating he told me that he cheated on most of his past girlfriends & the girls did the same as well…. None of them were healthy well rounded relationships. They were in college, & you know how stupid things happen when people are drinking & partying all the time… I don’t even think about his past now, because I know those situations were all SO different than what we have. If I were you I wouldn’t pressure him too much about talking about the past & forgiveness etc, because that was then, this is now…. Unless you have a real reason to believe he’s cheating on YOU, then I say don’t worry about it!
Post # 10
- Wedding: June 2010 - Tannery Pond at the Darrow School
I agree with the majority of these posters, that just because he cheated on someone in the past doesn’t mean he’ll do it to you. It sounds like this happened in college (I’m assuming this bc of the reference to a classmate), which isn’t uncommon and was probably a sign of his immaturity at the time. My Fi, whom I trust completely and totally, cheated on his gf in college and i’m pretty sure she did the same…I think college relationships aren’t usually a sign of how he’s going to act in relationships later on since people mature and reaize what is important to them. Unless your FI has given you any other reason to not trust him, I think you need to find a way to move on and give him the benefit of the doubt. This doesn’t mean that you can’t talk to him about it since it’s clearly bothering you still but to me, I don’t think that bc he cheated on a GF in college, that he will cheat on you….good luck!
Post # 11
I don’t think it’s bad to talk about it. In fact, I think it would be a great idea for you to bring this up in a pre-marital counseling session or with a trusted counselor/therapist. I don’t think anyone should be automatically counted out because they cheated once before, but I also strongly believe that bad behaviors are easier to repeat than to start.
It might help, if you do sit down to talk about it, to create some coping methods with your SO. If he cheated because he was unhappy with the relationship, he needs to create an action plan so he doesn’t repeat the bad behavior. For example, if he finds himself unhappy again, his plan might be something along the lines of contacting a marriage counselor right away instead of bottling up his feelings. You, of course, would also have to create a plan; maybe that would mean always agreeing to go see a counselor if he suggests it, even if you don’t feel like anything’s wrong. Or maybe your plan is to create a secret signal between the two of you that he can give when he’s feeling unhappy with the relationship and you can initiate the recovery process.
If you just ignore the problem, chances are you’re going to continue to withhold your complete trust and faith in the relationship. And that’s just going to kill the relationship sooner because you’re both not giving 100%. If you have a plan of action of how you can both stay out of situations that will tempt you to cheat, you’ll be able to trust each other quite a bit more. I believe our pasts influence who we are and how we act, but our pasts can definitely be overcome. It’s just a matter of really committing to changing how you think or how you react to certain situations.
Post # 12
A perspective from the other side: I cheated on my ex many years ago. I’m certainly not proud of my actions; it was wrong and I am truly remorseful for what I did. That said, it’s important for me to say that I was a completely different person then, and in totally different circumstances. Without going into too much detail, I was in an unhealthy and abusive relationship at the time, and feeling like I had no idea who I was. At the time and in a weird way, it was the one area of my life in which I felt I had some kind of control.
This isn’t a justification. But understanding these circumstances and what preceeded the behavior is very important. It has taken me some time to truly sort out why what happened occurred. I have since gone to therapy, become stronger, and am now in a healthy and secure relationship, engaged to a wonderful man and are planning our future together. Does he know? Yes. Does he trust me completely? YES! While I agree there are people out there who are compulsive cheaters, I also believe that the adage "once a cheater…" is wrong. There is nothing in this world that would compel me to cheat on my FI, or even look in another man’s direction.
Ultimately, cheating is a symptom of a bigger issue – not a cause. The trick is to be sure you know what the underlying cause of the behavior is. If it’s something that can be addressed/changed/worked through, then there’s no reason not to trust your SO, UNLESS he’s given you current reason to doubt or mistrust him, or he’s demonstrating a pattern of behavior that is alarming. You could be looking for a problem where there really isn’t one based on something that happened long before you met him.
Post # 13
I don’t believe that cheaters have to stay cheaters. Some people do compulsively cheat, but your SO doesn’t necessarily sound like he was ever a regular cheater. It sounds like he cheated because there was something wrong with the relationship. Not just the long distance, mind you, but underlying issues of compatability. He is chosing to marry you and two years is certainly a long time to prove that he is devoted and faithful to you. I think you should trust him and let go of what happened in the past, in different relationship which had nothing to do with you.
I also think its futile to worry so much about what his future behavior may or may not be like. It’s going to make you worry unneccessarily and then you might find yourself doing things that you don’t like, such as checking his phone. You two may want to consider couple’s counseling before marriage in order to deal with these issues. An unbiased third party can help you get to the bottom of things so your anxiety does not continue to build. I hope it works out and that you can trust him.
Post # 14
I think it’s great he came forward with it, he didn’t realy have to. I mean, if he had any intention on being unfaithful to you …he would’ve not told you so you wouldn’t have that thought in your mind and it would be easier for him.
Trust is a big thing and it’s not an easy thing either. Take into account that he might be a different person now who is not proud of his past. Slowly talk yourself into accepting what he did in the past and not letting it ruin what you have. I think if he knew you were feeling a little insecure about it, it might hurt him.
Post # 15
I was dating this guy and he had cheated on me in the beginning of the relationship I found out and he begged for forgiveness and I forgave him and admitted to sleeping with her (which was more than I knew). I continued to date this guy for 4 years. I was untrusting of him for obvious reasons and was always uncomfortable when he was out without me. I checked his myspace (how lame) and I found a letter in the "trash" that was to his cousin talking about this girl (who was not me). I confronted him about and he said he would stop this "emotional cheating". A few years later we became engaged but I was always checking his texts and e-mails ect. I felt like I was a detective not his lover! I was getting sick over the idea of a bachelor party. I found out 2 months before we were to get married that he had been sleeping around with a handful of girls.
Trust is huge in a relationship! I don’t think 2 people can have a whole relationship without 100% trust… not 90%, 100%. It has been 3 years since the Village Idiot and I have learned a lot. I am now dating this guy (about 2 years) and I have not once checked his email, text, ect and I am completely relaxed when he goes out without me.
If your trust isn’t getting continually better and it is still in the back of your head… just think to yourself it you want that forever. Because that feeling will not go away.
Post # 16
To reiterate, somewhat, my one piece of wisdom — that my mother told me, actually — is to make sure that you and your husband control the circumstances that lead to cheating. Don’t drink when you’re around someone you find attractive. Don’t hang out alone with a person of the opposite sex who you know has a crush on you. Don’t carry on email flirtations with attractive friends. While none of these things may be completely prohibited in themselves, they are the kinds of things that lead to indiscretions. As my mother said:
"If there’s a ten-story cliff, you don’t go up to the edge and look over. You stay ten feet back."
I think it’s important for everyone, including our fiancees and ourselves, to understand where the fence is, not just the cliff edge. Or another analogy: Don’t smell the chocolate cake if you don’t intend on taking a bite. 🙂