Does A Cheater Change Or Am I Being Naive?

by Maria MagleoJune 28, 2021

Being with someone who doesn’t value honesty or loyalty and seems prone to cheat can be pretty scary and problematic, especially if they can’t seem to change.

It not only makes us insecure, but it also makes it hard for us to have peace of mind due to the trust issues we have developed because of their infidelity.

After being cheated on, you might feel worried that they might be having another affair, making it harder for you to forgive your partner.

You are extremely afraid that they might be flirting or having sexual relations with another person again.

And you start to wonder whether these intrusive thoughts and emotions are normal. 

Well, let me tell you this – it is normal to doubt them, to be scared of having to go through another heartbreak, and to question everything in your relationship.

Remember, others may find cheating normal, but it can cause emotional trauma, especially to those who were lied to and were cheated on.

And the saying, “Once a cheater, always a cheater”, doesn’t help in easing your doubts and fears, right?

Instead, it is only making you question your decision to give your partner another chance. It is causing you to ask yourself if you are just naive to try to forgive their infidelity.

However, as accurate as it may be for some, it is not always applicable to everyone who decided to cheat.

You see, every infidelity will tell you a different story because the truth is, there are various reasons behind it. 

And the possibility of doing it again may depend on the person’s reason behind their infidelity.

Why Do People Cheat?

Before we go further, we must first understand why people cheat.

Bear in mind that cheating is not just about sex, as it can also be in the form of emotional infidelity, which can be as detrimental as sexual infidelity.

Now, the Psychology of Infidelity will tell you that cheating is not always as simple as it seems. It is not always about sexual gratifications nor wanting attention.

Although these are the most common reasons, there are other factors that you need to consider as well.

Here are a few other possible reasons behind the decision to cheat:

1. Cheating as a form of escape

Often, those who cheat decided to do so because of unresolved conflicts in their relationship or marriage. 

They use infidelity to escape or avoid conflicts and an outlet for all the negative emotions caused by it.

Additionally, since they couldn’t find the stability they are looking for with their current partners, they try to find it from someone else.

Or, in other cases, they turn to infidelity because they feel stuck and hopeless due to several reasons, and they only feel comforted and secured in the arms of another person.

2. Cheating as a form of control

Being in a relationship or marriage can no doubt cause a lot of distress, and it sometimes makes a person feel out of control or no longer has power over their lives.

It’s even more possible to have these thoughts and emotions when their partner tends to be an authoritative figure.

Some people may prefer this kind of partner, but some find it challenging to deal with someone authoritative.

Hence, being with this kind of person can lead to feelings of not being heard, being disrespected, or being pushed around.

And people with this kind of experience often resort to cheating because they see it as a way of gaining back the seemingly lost control.

3. Revenge cheating

In some instances, cheating happens because of wanting to exact revenge on their partner who caused them pain and heartbreak.

Usually, this is a form of passive-aggressiveness in a relationship, an unhealthy way of expressing one’s anger in a non-confrontational way.

Instead of verbally communicating that they are hurt and angry because of their partner’s wrongdoings, they cheat to “get even.”

4. Cheating as a result of situational factors

Take note that cheating doesn’t always happen because of an unfulfilling relationship.

The truth of the matter is, even happy and satisfying relationships or marriages may go through pain and heartbreaks because of infidelity.

A one-night stand due to alcohol intoxication can be an example of this. 

Or the irresistible urge to have sexual relations with a colleague they find attractive and flirts with them can also be a situational factor.

With this, we may deduce that situational factors can lead to an unconscious decision to cheat.

Even so, unconscious or not, the outcome and the damage are still the same.

Do Cheaters Change And If So, How?

Having been introduced to the possible reasons behind one’s decision to cheat, here comes a very complicated question, “can they ever change?”

As I’ve mentioned initially, cheaters cheat for various reasons, and the possibility of changing may depend on that reason.

If a person cheats because of their narcissistic personality and has little remorse for their actions, then there is a huge possibility that they won’t ever change.

Even though personalities may gradually change over time, it would be a very long and complicated process.

Additionally, if the cheater couldn’t find their fault for what they did and always point their finger at other people such as their partner or lover, it’s also an impossible case.

Remember that for a person to change their ways, they should first recognize the fact that they have a problem and that it is negatively affecting other people.

But don’t despair because, as impossible as it may seem, cheaters can still change. 

1. Cheaters can change if they know how to deal with the cause of their infidelity.

Acknowledging what caused the person to go astray in their relationship can be the first and most crucial step to take for that person to change.

As you may very well know, conflicts do not just go away, and they have to be faced in order for you and your partner to come to a resolution.

If the person who cheated doesn’t want to take responsibility and doesn’t want to confront the issues that led them to cheat, then they won’t be changing anytime soon.

But if they take the time to do some introspection and find the courage to deal with the conflicts in their relationships or marriages in a healthy manner, then it is a good sign.

It means that they want to keep the relationship going, and they are willing to change in order for it to happen.

2. Seeing what they have done might touch their heart.

Oftentimes, cheaters underestimate the extent of the damage they can cause to their partners and possibly to their kids. That is why it is easy for them to cheat.

They think that they can keep the affair, but even though it comes to light, they think that it wouldn’t cause extreme pain to the people affected.

They think that a simple apology can erase all the painful memories, the insecurities, and the doubts rooted in their infidelity.

However, once the affair actually comes to light, and they see the reality of the damage they have done, they might be shocked to see how wounding it was.

That being said, if the person who cheated is not a narcissist and can feel remorse after seeing the pain they have inflicted, it means that there’s still hope for that person to change.

How Will You Know If They Are Really Trying To Change?

It is easy for cheaters to say that they want to change. But how can you tell if they really want to be better this time?

Better communication

One way to know if the cheater really wants to change is when they are willing to be vulnerable by putting themselves out in the open.

This includes being honest about the affair, such as the reason behind it, how long they have been cheating, and how many times they have cheated in the past.

By doing so, both people in the relationship will have the necessary insight on what to do next in order for them to move past the infidelity.

If you notice that they struggle with opening up, a therapist can perhaps bridge that gap and help you communicate better. You can learn more about therapy here.

Actively working on the relationship.

It now comes to another sign that the cheater really wants to change: the willingness to work through the relationship.

A broken relationship or marriage will need a consistent effort for it to be repaired.

Hence, it’s necessary that the cheater consistently makes an effort to make up for their past mistakes. This may include going to therapy. You can read more about it here.

And this is not just about making an effort because they have to, but because they truly want to fix the damage they have done and because they really want to change for the better.

Final Thoughts

Infidelity can be very damaging to a relationship or marriage, may it be sexual or emotional infidelity.

The worst thing about it is that it can cause emotional trauma, insecurities, and trust issues on the people who were cheated on.

However, some people who were hurt by this selfish act still choose to stay in the relationship and forgive their partner.

The question is, “is it worth it?” After all, once a person cheats, there is a possibility that they will do it again.

There are telltale signs that a cheater will cheat again, and you must watch out for that.

But for the most part, cheaters can still change.

That is if they are willing to deep dive into the root cause of their infidelity and work towards fixing the damage it has caused in their relationship.

Recommended: When To Walk Away After Infidelity

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