Why A Cheater Will Cheat Again?

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Once a cheater, always a cheater

In the intricate dance of love and relationships, we often find ourselves swaying from betrayal to forgiveness. Healing wounds of betrayal, rebuilding love and trust, and granting second chances in love: These are the painful things one does for a person who cheats on them. When so many are betrayed by the ones they love, you might wonder why a cheater will cheat again, knowing the hurt they caused the first time. Is there any truth to the age-old expression “once a cheater always a cheater”?

In the rollercoaster of love, trust is the golden ticket. But once it’s been shredded by cheating in relationships, can you ever truly put it back together? Do some people possess an innate propensity for deceit, or are there complex psychological factors at play? Join us as we attempt to decode the enigma of infidelity today.

With the help of clinical psychologist Nandita Rambhia (M.Sc. Psychology), who specializes in CBT, REBT, and couple’s counseling, we’ll dive into the psyche of cheaters. Let’s explore the reasons behind their impulses and desires, and the odds of history repeating itself.

Is It True “Once A Cheater Always A Cheater?”

You’ve probably heard the old saying “Once a cheater, always a cheater” thrown around in discussions about infidelity. It’s a catchy phrase that suggests that if someone has cheated in their previous relationship, they’re destined to repeat the unfaithful behavior in their subsequent relationships. But is this axiom a universal truth, or is it an oversimplified view of a much more complex issue? Can a cheater be faithful after the first betrayal? Are there any clear signs he will cheat again? How does one survive infidelity in a relationship? These are some of the questions we’ll address while discussing betrayal in romantic relationships and how to cope with a partner’s infidelity.

As we delve into the intricacies of infidelity, we’ll soon realize that this question doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all answer. Human behavior is a puzzle with countless pieces, and infidelity is just one of them. People change, circumstances evolve, and relationships take unpredictable turns, sometimes leading to multiple affairs and relationships that come from cheating.

Related Reading: Do Cheaters Suffer? 8 Ways Infidelity Takes A Bigger Toll On The Culprit

Are Cheaters Likely To Cheat Again?

In a world where betrayal in romantic relationships is a common occurrence, this is a question that keeps relationship experts as well as couples busy and thinking: Are cheaters truly prone to repeat their unfaithful ways? Let us try and understand this question better through the lens of statistics and data, exploring the likelihood of future infidelity and intent to cheat.

  • Reformed cheaters statistics: What’s the likelihood of a cheater cheating again? According to research, around 25% of people who cheat in one relationship will cheat in their next one. This suggests that while there’s a significant chance of recurrence, it’s far from guaranteed. This should give you hope if you’re in the process of overcoming infidelity in a marriage
  • Personality traits of cheaters: Psychologists have delved into the personalities of cheaters. Research from Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests that individuals with certain personality traits, such as narcissism or a propensity for thrill-seeking, are more likely to repeat their cheating behavior
  • Improved relationship after cheating: The Journal of Sex Research has explored the dynamics of relationships post-infidelity. Surprisingly, some couples actually report improved relationships after a cheating incident, with a renewed focus on communication and commitment. This reduces the risk of more betrayal

Related Reading: How To Regain Trust After Cheating: 12 Ways According To An Expert

So, what’s the verdict? Well, it’s clear that the “once a cheater, always a cheater” adage is an oversimplification of a complex issue but isn’t necessarily true, leaving us to ponder if trusting a partner after infidelity is a possibility. As Nandita points out, “The likelihood of the repetition of past infidelity varies greatly from person to person, depending on their individual traits and relationship circumstances.”

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7 Reasons For Serial Infidelity

Welcome to the heart of the matter, where we uncover the intriguing psychology behind serial infidelity. While some individuals might cheat once and never again, others find themselves trapped in a cycle of repeated betrayal. What drives these serial cheaters to break hearts and trust repeatedly?

Nandita says, “Serial cheaters, in general, have a lack of self-control and are selfish. You’d feel like you’re dating a narcissist. They also thrive on the art of deception and getting away with it.” That being said, let’s explore seven compelling reasons that shed light on this perplexing behavior. Once a cheater always a cheater? Let’s find out!

1. A thrill-seeking personality can create the intent to cheat again

Serial infidelity can be driven by a thrill-seeking personality. Some individuals are wired to crave novelty and excitement in their lives, and for them, the act of cheating provides an intense rush of adrenaline. The idea of sneaking around, maintaining multiple secret relationships, and constantly testing the boundaries of their primary partnership becomes an exhilarating game. This thrill becomes addictive, and the cheater may find it difficult to resist the lure of new conquests.

2. It could be due to lack of emotional fulfillment

Serial infidelity often arises from a deep emotional void within the cheater’s primary relationship. They may feel disconnected, unfulfilled, or emotionally neglected, and seek solace, intimacy, or emotional connection outside their partnership. The act of cheating can provide a temporary emotional respite, making the cheater feel desired, valued, and understood by their extramarital partner. This emotional fulfillment, albeit temporary, becomes a coping mechanism for the dissatisfaction within their current relationship.

Related Reading: 9 Immediate Things To Do When You Get Caught Cheating

3. If someone is constantly cheating, they might have commitment issues

Commitment phobia can be a significant factor in serial infidelity. Some individuals fear the idea of long-term committed relationships and the responsibilities that come with them. The prospect of settling down with one person for the rest of their life can trigger anxiety and restlessness, making it challenging for them to stay faithful. This fear of commitment can lead to a cycle of infidelity while leaving the current partner questioning if their unfaithful partner could ever transform from a cheating commitment-phobe to a reformed cheater (if any such thing even exists).

Rebuilding trust after infidelity
Commitment issues are a major cause of infidelity

4. What makes a serial cheater? Deep insecurity and need for validation

Serial infidelity can be driven by deep-seated insecurities and a constant need for validation. Some individuals lack self-esteem and believe that they are not worthy of love or attention. Cheating becomes a way to boost their low self-esteem temporarily. By engaging in multiple relationships, they can garner external validation and affirmation of their desirability. The attention and affection they receive from multiple sexual partners while indulging in extramarital sex acts as a salve for their fragile self-image.

5. Escaping relationship problems can lead to the same mistakes over and over

Instead of confronting and addressing issues within their primary relationship, some serial cheaters use infidelity as a means of escape. Relationship problems, such as communication issues, unhealthy conflict resolution strategies, or unsatisfied sexual needs can drive them to seek solace in the arms of others. The excitement of a new relationship distracts them from the difficulties they face at home, providing temporary relief. However, this escape mechanism only perpetuates the cycle of infidelity.

6. Some people cheat whenever there’s opportunity and availability

Opportunity and availability play a significant role in serial infidelity. If a person frequently encounters situations where they can engage in extramarital affairs with little risk of discovery, the temptation becomes difficult to resist. Factors such as a permissive social circle, a workplace conducive to illicit relationships, or easy access to potential partners can create an environment where cheating is more likely to occur. When opportunities present themselves frequently, serial cheaters may rationalize their promiscuous sexual behavior, believing that it’s too convenient to pass up.

Related Reading: 25 Gaslighting Phrases In Relationships That Kill Love

7. Lack of consequences can lead to multiple affairs too

The absence of significant consequences for their actions can encourage serial infidelity. If a cheater faces minimal accountability or experiences forgiveness and understanding from their primary partner, they may continue their behavior without a sense of remorse or guilt. When there are no tangible repercussions for their actions, the serial cheater stops caring if the primary relationship remains healthy or not. This lack of accountability can embolden them to continue cheating, leaving their primary partner to wonder if trust can be rebuilt after cheating or if constant cheating is an inevitability.

Understanding the effects of infidelity and the reasons behind serial infidelity provides insight into the complex motivations that drive individuals to engage in a chronic pattern of betrayal. It’s important to remember that each case is unique, and multiple factors may interact to perpetuate this constantly cheating behavior.

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What To Do If Your Partner Cheats Again

Infidelity and marriage/relationships can sometimes collide, leaving behind a trail of hurt and betrayal. Yet, amidst the turmoil, some choose the path of staying with a reformed cheater, believing in the possibility of redemption and renewal. They trust their love to defeat the ‘once a cheater always a cheater’ adage. Rebuilding a broken trust, overcoming betrayal in love, and restoring trust in a relationship become the guiding stars in their rough journey.

For others, it is just too much to handle and they decide to say enough is enough and walk away. Healing from a partner’s betrayal once is heart-wrenching, but facing the same painful reality a second time can be an even more devastating blow. It’s a situation that can leave you feeling bewildered, hurt, and betrayed all over again, making it hard to trust a partner after infidelity.

Related Reading: 11 Things That Happen In Relationships Without Trust

Trusting again after cheating is like winning a massive battle, but when trust is broken, you not only develop an acute fright of trusting others, but you find it very hard to trust yourself. While the emotions that come with infidelity can be overwhelming, it’s essential to remember that coping with a partner’s infidelity is fundamentally important for your well-being and that there are actions you can take to navigate this difficult situation. A few examples are healing and rekindling love after cheating, just walking away, and opting for an open relationship.

Nandita suggests practical steps and considerations for dealing with the heartache of a partner cheating again and surviving infidelity:

  • Take time to understand your emotions and whether you want to continue the relationship. Take as much space and time as you need away from your partner
  • Initiate an honest conversation with them about their actions and your feelings, including what you think needs to be done if overcoming hurt and betrayal is what you would like to move forward to as a team
  • Clearly define general and emotional boundaries and expectations for rebuilding trust after infidelity
  • Prioritize self-care to maintain emotional well-being
  • Reflect on whether the relationship is worth salvaging. Is it worth rebuilding from scratch or should you focus on starting anew and healing a wounded relationship with yourself?
  • Trust your intuition and make decisions that prioritize your happiness
  • Understand the potential consequences of staying or leaving
  • Lean on friends and family for emotional support; do not isolate yourself
  • Develop a plan for moving forward, whether together or separately. Multiple paths can lead to healing and personal growth
  • Consider couples therapy or counseling with a relationship expert to address underlying attachment issues, heal wounds of betrayal, and to gain insight into the psychology of serial cheaters

Related Reading: 11 Warning Signs Of Lack Of Emotional Connection In Relationships

Can People Change After Cheating?

Facing infidelity can be heart-wrenching, but is there hope for change? Can a cheater be faithful? Once a cheater always a cheater? The answer? Well, it’s a bit of a seesaw. On one hand, you’re dealing with trust issues after cheating, while on the other, you might want your relationship to work as it once used to. You’re desperately hoping for signs of a remorseful cheater.

Nandita says, “There are many infidelity recovery stories. I would like to believe that each person has the capacity and capability to change if they really want to.” There are many signs of a reformed cheater: Some really dive into self-reflection, seeking therapy or counseling, and genuinely want to change. They work hard, learn from their mistakes, and become more empathetic and self-aware. But here’s the reality check: Change isn’t a guarantee. It’s not a quick fix, and some may slip up again despite their best intentions.

Related Reading: 23 Signs Of Emotional Invalidation In A Relationship

According to a study, the healing process of reconciliation is tortuous and involves forgiveness, seeking counseling, managing memories, and vicarious learning. It says, “In rebuilding the relationship, a modification often took place, resulting in a shift in the power dynamic.” In sailing through the muddy waters of infidelity and healing, it’s essential to strike a balance between hope and realism. While people can change, it requires dedication, relational self-awareness, and ongoing effort. Whatever path you choose, remember that your happiness and well-being should always be the top priority.

Key Pointers

  • Understanding why cheaters cheat again involves exploring the intricacies of human behavior and emotions
  • Reasons for repeated cheating patterns could be a thrill-seeking personality, emotional void in the primary relationship, commitment issues, insecurity, escapism, presence of opportunity, and lack of consequences
  • Practical steps include self-reflection, open communication, setting healthy boundaries, self-care, evaluating the relationship, trusting your instincts, and seeking support
  • Relationship recovery after cheating is possible and your partner can reform, but it requires effort, self-awareness, and a balance between hope and realism, with your happiness as the priority

In the realm of relationships, few things are as harrowing as confronting the ghost of infidelity. A gnawing doubt can keep you up at night, “Can trust be rebuilt after cheating?” We’ve ventured deep into this emotional labyrinth to seek answers, and what we’ve uncovered are more human complexities.

As you ride this rollercoaster, remember that relationships are as unique as the individuals in them. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Forgiving a partner’s past mistakes is no easy feat, neither is walking away from a long-term relationship. Trust your instincts, prioritize your happiness, and always keep the golden ticket of trust in sight. Whether you choose to rebuild or embark on a new path, your well-being is the compass that will guide you.


1. Can serial cheaters change?

Humans can indeed grow and change. Some serial cheaters engage in self-reflection, seeking therapy and genuinely desiring transformation. They work on changing themselves and rebuilding a broken relationship, learn from past mistakes, and develop empathy and self-awareness. However, change isn’t guaranteed; it takes time, and despite sincere intentions, relapses can occur.

2. Can a one time cheater change?

Yes, a one-time cheater can change. Not everyone who cheats is a serial cheater. People can learn from their mistakes, grow, and become more self-aware. However, the key lies in their genuine desire to change and their commitment to addressing the underlying issues that led to the infidelity. Change is possible but not automatic; it requires effort and introspection.

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