Relationship Advice

7 January 2011

Is dating a former cheater a no-no?

by eHarmony

You know they’ve cheated before, but does that mean they’re damaged goods forever? Find out how to navigate your way through this dating minefield by answering these five crucial questions.

Online dating

Realising you like someone who’s cheated in their past is tough, and you’ll no doubt be plagued with doubts. How can I trust them? Will they do the same to me? Your decision on whether you date them or not will be based on lots of factors, such as how you define cheating, or the circumstances in which it occurred.

The simple answer to whether you should date someone who’s cheated before is that you should be very careful before you make any serious decisions. Here are five crucial questions you need to ask yourself when you’re weighing up whether or not to date this person.

Have they accepted responsibility?
If the person you want to date appears to acknowledge that they have made mistakes that hurt people they cared about, then this is a good sign. Of course, you have to assume they’re sincere – which can be tough with someone whose fidelity is in doubt – but if this is the case then they are demonstrating necessary self-awareness.

However, if they make excuses for what happened – ‘she didn’t love me’, ‘he didn’t pay me enough attention’ – then you should be wary. Yes, sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that lead to cheating, but that person still chose to be unfaithful to their partner, and they haven’t faced up to that.

Has the experience changed them?
If a person cheats on their partner, and faces up to that fact, then they should undergo a maturing process. You should feel confident that their experience changed them; that they learnt something from their actions. Not only should this person be able to accept responsibility for what they did, but also be able to tell you how they will be different going forward, potentially in a relationship with you.

Have they undergone a transformation?
It is still important to exercise caution when considering whether to date a cheater or not, but it is possible for people to undergo transformations in their lives. Significant events can spur change in a person, and may cause them to completely change how they view the world.

It will be hard for you to judge this if you haven’t known the person long, but look for clues in the choices they’ve made. Perhaps they made a conscious decision to change the route their lives were going down by changing jobs, moving, or undergoing therapy. These will help you see if they have made that all important transformation.

Will you worry about them cheating on you?
Now we turn to you, and your ability to forgive, and forget.  If you’re the kind of person who believes that the past stays in the past then you should have the faculties to deal with this situation. However, if you are someone who constantly worries whether your other half is being faithful, then the added knowledge that they cheated in the past will likely eat away at you. You can’t spend your time apart wondering where your partner is, or who they’re texting. If you fall into the latter category then you should seriously consider passing this person by.

What does your gut say?
Your gut feelings about nearly every emotional situation should be listened to. If it is telling you that you can trust this person, and that they really have changed, then you should listen. However, if your gut is squirming at the thought of being with this person, telling you that you could be making a big mistake, then run with it.  Ultimately, it’s you who has to make this decision, and live with it, so you need to be sure.

If you’ve read these questions and feel you can answer them all positively, then you should be on the right road. Everyone makes poor decisions in their lives – it’s how we deal with them that matters. If we show ourselves to be mature, and admit our mistakes then we deserve a second chance.

The most important thing to remember is that you deserve to be treated as the great person you are, and if this person can earn your trust, and treat you accordingly, then they may well be worth your love.

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Is dating a former cheater a no-no?, 9.7 out of 10 based on 11 ratings




22 October 2012 09:32

oh – if only I had known this 8 years ago………

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15 April 2013 18:01

Im a former cheater. Now at 33, Id say cheating at 18/19 had an impact. I told my partner at the time just hours after the fact. He wanted to stay together and ultimately because I felt dirty, guilty and generally nasty I didnt feel he really deserved that.

Cheating as an experience had a very negative impact and I believe that thete are people out there that make flippant irresponsible and childish decisions that are impulsive. Which my partner at the time felt I was doing. At the time I knew morally it was wrong and had said ‘id never do that and would break up over that’ blah blah blah and it was taboo. It was a knee jerk action and I realised at 18/19 that the consequences of that experience are very real.

At 33, if a mid 20′s to 30′s behaves like this, they have to keep in mind that the variables change. Not only should you know better, that your dating experiences have debeloped from firsts to long terms… you have a lot more responsibility and with that alot more to loose.(Wife/fiancee/kids/house/work/business)

Cheating today? No. But I do have my issues because Im afraid of the label I carry today which is regret.

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23 June 2013 04:04

There may be a variety of reasons for why a person cheated in the past. My feeling is that a person who admits to cheating before is probably less likely to do so again unless s/he sees it as no big deal. This is not to trivialise cheating, but anybody is capable of making a mistake. Where it does become an issue is where that person either minimises or refuses to accept responsibility for it.
If a prospective partner had had multiple former partners and was “forced” into cheating on them because they “didn’t understand”him, I would understand him too well, and would run for the hills!

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18 July 2013 01:20

A lot of cheating is about having weak boundaries, lack of self discipline and not being able to say No to yourself and others. For someone to go from being a “cheater” to someone with stronger boundaries I’d want to see a significant change in behaviour. For example showing signs of a higher self worth and being comfortable being on their own.

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