Post # 16
“His feeling on it is that I would always stop being unfaithful when I found the right person, and he’s the right person.”
He is naive and you are right to feel uneasy. If you were cheating because you were with the wrong person, why didn’t you simply break up with that person and start dating someone new? This is something deeper than that and although he thinks he can “fix” you, he cannot.
You need to get to the bottom of why you’ve cheated (and why you’ve never been single) on your own, not in couples counseling. I would suggest you spend some time with a counselor (or if you can’t afford it, with some books and other resources) to understand more about you.
You sound like you are a good person who keeps repeating a self destructive pattern.
For what it’s worth, I do not believe in “once a cheater always a cheater.” Instead, I belive that the only people who change are the ones who truly want to change (not because they got caught) and do the work to figure out their crap and make different choices next time.
Post # 17
Some people are not monogamous. That’s just part of their nature and we happen to live in a society that doesn’t honor that or teach the skills of how to be non-monogamous in a way that respects yourself and your partners.
The fact that you overlap relationships- starting a new one before ending the old- could relate to lack of self confidence or willingness to face your life and deal with things directly. I had a friend who did this for years and a lot of it was insecurity with herself and fear of being alone. She’s been married to the same guy, happily (as far as I know) for almost 15 years. So it can be done. Another friend of mine would cheat as a way to get out of relationships without having to have uncomfortable conversations with her partners about being unhappy and wanting to end the relationship. She’s been happily (as far as I know) married to her current wife for several years and has overcome that pattern.
Your partner being dismissive of your past, though, could be well placed faith in you and your love and it could also be denial. The assumption that, despite the fact that he was, essentially, your mistress for over a year that you would never do that to him- because you love him more, because this relationship is different, because he’s special. But what happens when times get hard and you’re not feeling the love the same way? If your behavior relates to not knowing how to address challenges within the boundaries of your relationships then yes, you are likely to cheat again.
I think counseling is always valuable for the self reflection and developing self awareness. Learning more about yourself and why you do the things you do (and then practicing loving yourself and being kind to yourself no matter what you learn) are almost always valuable and of benefit to you and to the people who love you and have relationships with you.
Post # 18
- Wedding: September 2015 - Hotel Ballroom
On the last day of high school I technically cheated on my high school sweetheart and kissed another guy.
We’d been friends for two years, and he was two years younger than me. We met when he was starting grade 9, and I was starting grade 11. His sister and I were in the same social circle. Now I was graduating and he was (obviously) staying behind. He admitted to me that he’d had an unrequited crush on me since we met, and he knew we could never be together due to a variety of factors…but if I could just give him one little kiss. I thought about it for a few moments. He did ask me so sweetly and kindly. I didn’t feel disgusted or repulsed by his request. I was just so touched and had no idea he ever felt that way. To be honest he melted my heart with his schoolboy crush. It was a soft peck on the lips. That was all. It was very sweet and touching moment.
I later told my high school sweetheart about it, and he wasn’t too upset. He said in that context it wasn’t like I was doing something overly sexual or decietful. Plus it didn’t hurt that my high school sweetheart was gay and I was his beard…but that is another story…
I can honestly say that while I HAVE ’emotionally cheated’ on a guy since then, I’ve never physically cheated since. People can change!
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Post # 19
I am sorry for what you are going through bee. It seems like you are a good person and the cheating might actually feel like out of your control. I second the PPs who suggested counselling. You have to get to the root of this given that it makes you fear for your current relationship. Also, as someone with some mental health issues, I can tell you that people who suffer from a certain type of mental illness actually often start cheating and just looking for thrill and sex outside of the relationship. They often don’t realise afterwards how things got so much out of control and why they did it but the relationships get ruined over this. Don’t want to worry you or anything, just letting you know that there can be a million reasons for your cheating and not all are within your control.
Post # 20
I’m replying because I had a similar pattern as you in my teen years and early twenties. For me, what it boiled down to was that I felt like I didn’t have the right or ability to break off an unhappy relationship on my own (two of my exes were physically and verbally abusive, yet I still couldn’t leave), or the ability to be single. So I would cheat to make the first guy leave, even though it destroyed my reputation, and I would immediately have a backup. It wasn’t out of lust or what people typically think when they think of cheaters. I obviously had a lot of issues with dependence and self-esteem. I’m not proud of it at all, but I do happen to know that that saying “once a cheater, always a cheater” is reductive and inaccurate.
What really got me through it was a period of forced singlehood, and that took years of therapy for me to be able to even get to that point. But I got to see that I was capable of breaking the cycle, and that enabled me to start a healthy relationship on my own terms.
I definitely think counseling will help you! No judgment- people are too inclined to put all cheaters in the exact same camp and I think that’s unfortunate that there’s just no understanding about the different situations that people can be in.
Post # 21
I must say I think the saying is true, it’s almost as if there are two kinds of people, those with firm boundaries and moral code within them which prevents cheating under any circumstance, and then there’s the cheaters…and amongst the cheaters we’ve got everything from those who actively seek it out to those who may believe themselves not to be a cheater until the perfect storm of an opportunity presents itself at just the right time of their current relationship not meeting their emotional/physical/logistical needs.
I think you should go to councelling to understand yourself and this behaviour better because while things are good with your OH now there will come a time when everything is not perfect emotionally as relationships have ups and downs, and how are you going to handle it then? Why is it going to feel wrong to cheat this time? You hid an affair for a year…that’s serious.
Post # 22
Thank you all for all your messages – I appreciate that everyone’s been civil and sometimes understanding!
It seems like therapy is the overwhelming consensus here, and it’s comforting to know that I’m not being overdramatic in considering it. I posted a couple of months back about feeling depressed and bees encouraged me to get therapy then, but I chickened out after my OH seemed hurt that I couldn’t talk through my problems with him. However, I’ve now taken the plunge and contacted a therapist for an initial consultation, which feels very scary!
Post # 23
Please go for counselling if you think you need it. If he really wants your relationship to work out, I don’t think he should stop you lol. What’s the harm in counselling anyway? Also, cheaters can definitely settle with the right person, if they cheat because of serious unhappiness and the conditions made it difficult for them to get out, or if they’re too weak to stand up for themselves etc.
But if they don’t know why they cheat, then you can’t say for sure.
Your OH isn’t a professional in dealing with this. Tell him that talking with him is fine in the short-term, but you’d really like to resolve this long-term and the only way is to find out through a professional.
Post # 24
This actually really resonated with me, because I believe that it might be a combination of both of these issues. I’ve always struggled with low self-esteem, so I suspected that might have something to do with it, but I honestly never considered it might be a self-control/accountability issue, stupid as that sounds. However, I’ve historically had some issues with self-control with regards to money, food and deadlines (not ideal for a freelancer!), so this now seems patently obvious. I’ll bring it up with the therapist I’ve contacted.
And I guess you could say that I haven’t had my own identity outside of a relationship, but I’m really hoping that it’s not going to be suggested that I leave my partner to go out and ‘find myself’ or something.
Post # 25
I think it’s partly because we’re British so the whole therapy thing isn’t as done here? Also budget comes into a play a little because I can’t really afford £50 a session right now!
I think also because we’ve always talked our problems out together, he sees it as a failing on his part that I want to talk to someone else about it. I have tried explaining that it’s not the same but I don’t think he gets it.
Post # 26
I don’t know if someone has already suggested this, but I have been reading Mating In Captivity which might help in conjunction with getting therapy. It addresses a lot of relationship issues and the kinds of emotional baggage that we all have that we bring and also helps unravel why things go south.
In terms of counselling, relate do counselling for both couples and individuals. It is expensive but I think it might be worthwhile, especially as your partner seems to feel hurt that he can’t solve this or make this feel better for you, so there may be relationship issues in terms of keeping a separate identity.
I think you’re really brave for tackling this head on. I think it shows how committed you are to your current relationship and that can only be a good thing 🙂
Post # 27
I Would definitely talk to a therapist and now, not when you’re engaged. It’d be great to feel confident at the engagement point so you can focus on the happy. To me it seems, from your limited info, like you were afraid of ever being alone and willing to sacrifice any moral code to make sure you weren’t. That is definitely worth unpacking with a pro.
Atleast you realize this is a pattern and are concerned. That’s huge.
Post # 28
Thank you, I really appreciate that. When I told my OH that I wanted to talk to a therapist about my infidelity his first response was, ‘Are you thinking about cheating on me?’ I was like, no, literally the opposite!
Post # 29
I done exactly the same things as you have. Tended to start new relationships before I quite ended the last one. Not because I was trying to hurt the person. In my mind at the time I think t I was trying to spare them from the hurt because I didn’t want to break up with them. Eventually you can only hold in your feelings for so long and it all comes crashing down to an ugly end most times anyway. I was young, dumb, and really had no idea what I wanted ideally in a partner.
I had even done this with my first husband because I had jumped into a marriage I was not ready for or wanting. Skip ahead to my current husband. I had started “seeing” him before my marriage ended, although my ex-husband had moved out and we were mostly seperated. Darling Husband was concerned at the start because of my behavior. He had every right to be. But he always told me that there was just something telling him to stick around, he really felt something for me, and I for him. I’m really lucky for that because I could not have found a better partner. 6 years later and I still love him as much as ever. I would never consider cheating on him or leaving him for someone else. I know what I have now, this is perfect and it cannot possibly get better. I think in most of my other relationships, I always thought it could get better and that I was settling or just wasn’t completely happy. Something was always missing from the relationshiop. While I regret hurting people in my destructive wake, I’m glad that I didn’t stay with them…neither of us would be happy if I had.
So, cheating isn’t cool in the least bit but I think if you’re certain about who you’re with now, you shouldn’t really concern yourself with it. You know in your gut how you’re feeling, even if you don’t want to admit to it sometimes. If you should find yourself straying, maybe think it through a little bit and remember that you did love this person and you should probably give them the respect of a clean break. You know it will hurt them, but it will hurt less than finding out they’ve lost you to someone else.
Post # 30
I understand how he feels about him failing to make you feel secure and happy. He probably thinks you’re really insecure about yourself and he wants to comfort and convince you that he trusts and loves you, but he doesn’t realize that you need and want to seek professional help to get this out of your (mental) system for good.
It’s hard getting people to understand your POV, but if you can consistently show that you value his effort in your relationship that’d be a good place to start. Good luck! x