We’ve all felt it (unless you’re a sociopath). The soul-crushing guilt of doing something terrible, and maybe irredeemably wrong. When you make a huge mistake, do you usually think that it’s a good idea to do the same thing again? If you’re like most people, your biggest screw-ups are how you learn to be a better person. Why should cheating be any different? The truth is that it’s not. Yet we still banter about that old chestnut, “Once a cheater, always a cheater.” It’s time to rethink your position on this.
Can a cheating man change and be faithful? A cheating man can change and become a model of loyal behavior. When a person screws up badly, harming others and themselves in the process, learning from the mistake is a normal reaction. There’s no reason to think a cheater can’t change.
Why Men Stray
Although it in no way justifies the choice, there are many reasons why men choose infidelity. Understanding his motivation can help you decide whether to forgive and move past the incident. Plus, it can help you and your partner get the help he needs. Here are the top reasons why men stray.
Immaturity & Selfishness
Some men are ‘jerks.’ They never learned to consider the needs of others, nor do they value others as they do themselves. Although it’s unfortunate, a man who cheats for these reasons needs to grow up. It’s possible that hurting someone he loves will change a mans’ perspective in this case. However, he still has a long road ahead before he becomes worthy of your trust.
Lack of Social Support
A man who spends all his time with philanderers who normalize cheating can come to accept it. A lack of mature, healthy adult male bonding can leave a man with no positive examples of how to behave.
Desire to End the Relationship
It’s a horrible way to show a partner you want to break up, but some men cheat to cause their relationships’ end. Men who do this are not to be trusted. If they come back later, you should not hesitate to show them the door.
When a person is struggling with other problems like addiction, it can lead to bad choices. Psychological issues can also contribute to this mentality. A man who cheats because of co-occurring issues needs help very badly. It may take years for him to recover fully.
Past Sexual Trauma & Sex Addiction
Sexual trauma and sex addiction are not excuses. They are real problems that can cause a person to have a very unhealthy outlook on how sex and relationships work. With enough therapy and effort, a man can recover from these problems, but again, this may take years.
Misunderstanding Limerence Vs. Commitment
The initial rush of sexual desire and excitement or ‘honeymoon’ period of a relationship is very different from long term committed love. A man who never learned the difference might think that all sex or all relationships should feel that level of passion constantly. Reeducation is necessary in this case.
Sometimes a person gets one idea stuck in their head of what things should be once they commit to you. As a result, deviations from this fantasy can cause confusion and upset. A man may cheat because he expects things a certain way, and that’s not how you or your relationship are in reality.
Revenge or Anger
When your partner is mad, he may try to ‘get back at you,’ by doing something harmful, like cheating. Moreover, if you cheated first, it could be revenge-seeking. Either way, it’s very unhealthy. You both need to go to therapy together to work the situation out if the relationship is to continue.
Psychological Impact of Being a Cheater
It’s not hard to find a million pages on what being the victim of cheating does to a person. There’s no doubt that the impact can change some people completely. However, what you seldom hear is the other side of that story.
Cruel behavior isn’t just random. The person who makes that choice is not in a positive place psychologically. Whether it’s the result of years of abuse, or hormonal fluctuations and ego problems that are without a healthy outlet, the cheater is already in a bad place when they ‘go there.’
Often a cheating spouse feels neglected or unimportant. Alternately they may be missing the romance or rush of attraction. Whatever the cause, they already have a problem going into cheating behavior patterns.
Once they’ve done the crime, they have to live with it. Whether your cheater confesses or gets caught, doing wrong doesn’t mean they don’t love you. It means they have no idea how to have a healthy relationship. (Though in some cases it can also mean they don’t love you, but we’re looking at whether a relationship is reparable here. Hence we are assuming you both want that.)
A cheater has to face their crimes in the mirror every day, whether you forgive them or not. They also have to live with whatever underlying problems created the behavior. Too few cheaters seek out the help they deserve to do better. Some aren’t even aware that they need counseling, while others are in denial.
In short, they need therapy more than they need to be yelled at. Naturally, that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to express your feelings. Yet, without adequate support, most settle for negative attention and silently continue to neglect their own mental health needs.
Social Impact of Being a Cheater
When a cheater gets caught publicly, it can ruin their life. The idea of that alone is more than enough to hurt the one who did you wrong. He may fear for his job and his friendships. Similarly, he could lose the respect of other family members.
An otherwise decent person who makes a mistake can end up losing a career and their family. Sometimes they lose friends as well. Whether the situation devolves to that point or not, it could. For many men, that realization comes after the act. It can devastate them.
While it would be wonderful if no one ever had to worry about such things, you can bet that it changes a mans’ perspective.
Signs of Change
How do you know for sure that your husband or boyfriend won’t cheat again? The honest answer is that you don’t. However, there are some pretty clear signals to watch for, according to L.A.-based therapist Carin Goldstein.
Good or bad, an observant partner can get a good idea of what’s to come. Pay attention to what your partner’s behavior is telling you. Rather than being angry and inwardly focused, look out for your best interests. If you have doubts, you might consider checking out this guide to help you determine if your man is up to shenanigans.
How can you tell if he’s likely to cheat again? It’s not a total mystery. Keep your eyes open for these warning signs that may indicate he’s not ready to fix his philandering.
- Denial- When your man refuses to admit he was wrong, he’s not feeling the guilt that makes people want to change bad behavior.
- Blame- If the man in question is putting the blame on you, or anyone else, then he doesn’t recognize his culpability. He decided to cheat, and he has to be able to say so.
- Anger- A guy who explodes at you instead of talking things out like a mature adult has serious work to do before he’s ready to work past the problems that caused the cheating.
If you’re afraid your partner is still cheating at home, then you may want to invest in a good spy camera for your bedside table. The Hidden Spy 4K Clock has an outstanding camera so small it’s hard to notice. Plus, it works as a clock and alarm. When you need to be confident, pick one up from Amazon by clicking right here.
Likely to Make Amends
The opposite of the angry, sullen, denial of an unrepentant cheater is the genuinely sorry man. Whether he had an ego crisis like mid-life, or he was unable to communicate and get his needs met within the relationship, some men are horrified with themselves after cheating. He may have thought the grass would be greener, but he’s discovered that there’s no place like home, and he needs to tend his own lawn.
A man who admits he was wrong and acknowledges the harm he’s done is an excellent place to look for a turnaround. The other important thing to look out for is a guy who can identify the source of his transgression. What made him choose to stray?
When he can answer questions honestly, then he’s on the path to recovery. Be aware that people learn and move forward at different paces. It may take a fair amount of time and therapy before he can open up. You’ll have to be patient if you genuinely want to give him a chance.
Repairing Your Mistakes
Cheaters have their own mistakes to amend, but making assumptions about people based on your misunderstanding of how behavior works is a problem. Refusing to deal with people who have hurt you will keep them out of your life, for better or worse. Selling your fellow humans short is a defensive mechanism. Sadly it can backfire.
By boxing someone in and insisting that your current perception is the only thing they can be, you are doing both of you a disservice. Worse yet, you cause yourself damage in the process. Taking a stance that doesn’t allow for healthy change and growth limits you to interact with people who always appear to have ideal behavior. In short, good actors.
No one is perfect, and you are never obligated to let a lousy person back into your life. However, assuming that past bad behavior necessitates future negative action is, at best, wrong. Moreover, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Compromising on Unmet Needs
Some men cheat for stupid reasons, but others have legitimate needs that aren’t met at home. While it’s not always the case, you may have unwittingly contributed to his cheating. If you both recognize and acknowledge that the breach was caused by something he needs, then a compromise may help him change. Be open to adjusting more than just his conduct while healing.
What he did was wrong, but if you’re being honest, there are times when you may have wronged him as well. If you fostered a lack of open communication, accept and acknowledge your part in that. Then move to change your part in the rift.
I don’t want to suggest that you should do anything you’re not okay with. However, especially when you love each other deeply, you may choose to adapt rather than starting over. Moreover, you may discover something new about your partner that you enjoy.
Find out if he has emotional or physical needs that he’s afraid you won’t meet. This isn’t about blame, it’s about the repair. If you can come to some mutually agreeable arrangement that helps him avoid feeling the need to stray, it helps.
Let Yourself Love (If You Can)
Forgiving a cheater is not easy, but once you realize they can change, it becomes a little less painful. Depending on the circumstances, and what steps they take to correct the behavior, you could gain a very stable relationship.
First, observe him. Next, you have to decide whether it’s worth forgiving them. This process is highly individual for a couple. No one can have your relationship except you.
“Forgiveness is a choice. It doesn’t mean what your partner did is OK. How much you trust your partner is in part, about what your partner does, and in part a function of whether you have the confidence to handle it if he disappoints you.”
If your cheater is doing everything in their power to show you how much you matter, they may be sincere. While it’s not quite universal, for most, learning through mistakes is a powerful tool. Is he showing progress and devotion? You may want to let him work through this.
When you truly love someone, it doesn’t mean you never hurt them. However, it does mean that you do what you can to make things right. So, if you love the cheater, help him. Suggest therapy. Talk about how he can help you learn to trust him again. Allow him to take steps to fix the breach.
If the situation is not one you can resolve, make sure you protect yourself. Especially if you share children, you may need evidence of his cheating ways for court.
As long as your local laws allow one-party consent, you can record conversations with the NanoRec by Atto Digital from Amazon. This ingenious device is barely larger than a paper clip and has a twenty-hour battery life to record even the most prolonged argument. Let him hang himself on his own words in court. Find out more by clicking here.
Please don’t think I’m suggesting that you should stay with an abusive man. If his cheating is a pattern, then you need to get away from it. However, one mistake can be a life-changing experience that makes him a better person.
Men who have done wrong need support to obtain and maintain change. When you treat someone like a monster, they can become monstrous. Instead, treat him like a flawed human being. He is deserving of love even after doing wrong.
Sometimes it is too hard to trust again, and that’s fine. However, when you (both) have love and a deep desire to save the relationship, you could end up with a more devoted partner because you helped them work past this horrible thing they’ve done to you.