"Once A Cheater, Always A Cheater", Is It True?

Well-meaning friends will often repeat the age old saying "once a cheater, always a cheater" when consoling someone who has been betrayed by a partner. Realistically, however, this is a much too simple way of summing up a very complex issue. When thousands of years of human existence is closely examined, it would make more since to say something like "anyone can cheat but it takes a strong person not to".

In the last several years, a handful of bestselling books have tackled the issue of human sexuality and have all arrived at the same arguable conclusion: Humans are not naturally monogamous. One such book, The Myth of Monogamy by psychologist David P. Barash and psychiatrist Judith Eve Lipton, gets straight to the point on page 2: "There is simply no question whether sexual desires for multiple partners is 'natural.' It is. Similarly, there is no question of monogamy being 'natural.' It isn't." And the reasons for this are numerous but center around the evolutionary history of our ancestors. Males wanted to ensure their seed is spread far and wide to guarantee their lineage thrives so they partnered with many females. Females, wanting to produce the strongest offspring possible, engaged with many partners as well.

But along with our evolved biology, we've also developed societal norms and enhanced emotions like love that often bond us to one person. Many scientists also believe monogamy developed among humans because their young had a better chance of surviving if both parents stuck around to raise them. So if you're in a loving and committed relationship but flirt a little too much with other guys or if you've noticed your man scoping out every other girl who walks by, remember there are a lot of biological and evolutionary factors at play.

In a sense, everyone is hardwired to be unfaithful which takes us back to the point of this article: Is the saying once a cheater, always a cheater true? Probably not. There are so many reasons people cheat that all infidelities cannot be traced to any common cause. It is impossible to predict if and when it will ever happen again. What is easier to determine is why the cheating happened. Pinpointing causes like low self esteem, opportunity and the need for excitement provides us with pathways to prevent repeat offenses.

So if you've found yourself on the short end of an affair, examine your relationship and your man's history. If you know in your heart the offense was out of character for him, he probably had a moment of weakness combined with the opportunity and isn't likely to be a repeat offender. Serial cheaters, though, definitely don't share your priorities or value your commitment and will likely continue his relationship-damaging behavior. It may be time to cut that type loose.

See also our page on Why Men Cheat.

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