Is 'Once A Cheater, Always A Cheater' Actually True? Here's What A Therapist Says

Here's what a pro makes of the cliché.
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Love is a beautiful thing, until it isn’t.

The stats on infidelity make for tough reading. In the UK specifically, figures suggest that one in five married couples will do the dirty on each other – 25.4% of married men and 18.3% of married women have committed adultery at least once, according to Insight.

And that’s not including non-married couples.

So, it seems probable that most of us will have experienced some form of cheating. But if you’re wondering if the person who cheated on you can change, therapist Kimberly Moffit (@ask_kimberly) – who has years of experience dealing with couples – shared a rather eye-opening response on TikTok...

“Is ‘once a cheater, always a cheater?’ For the most part, yes,” she said, adding: “I’m sorry.”

Bit harsh. But is it true?

Well, if the stats are anything to go by, it looks like it probably is (I wish things were different too).

According to Choosing Therapy, “when a person cheated in their first relationship, they were three times as likely to cheat again and continually justify their behaviour”.

And the bad news continues. “A person is two to four times more likely to be cheated on if they have been cheated on or have suspected cheating in a prior relationship,” says the University of Denver.

There’s a gender imbalance

Though it seems women are slowly creeping up on men when it comes to infidelity, cheating still appears to be very much a man’s game.

Smith Investigation Agency says that according to recent data gathered from the General Social Survey, 20% of married men and 13% of married women admitted to having sex with someone other than their spouse.

This is despite infidelity rates among women having increased by 40% in the last 20 years.

If you’ve got a gut feeling, don’t ignore it

You know that awful nauseating feeling you get when you suspect your partner’s cheating? Well, experts warn not to ignore that – especially if you’re a woman who’s dating a man.

Global Investigations suggest that when a woman suspects her husband of cheating, she’s right 79% of the time; whereas a suspicious husband will be right about his wife’s supposed infidelity 62% of the time.

In both cases, it looks like it’s a pretty good idea to go with your gut.

Is there any hope for change at all?

Despite the damning statistics, not every cheater is doomed to endless infidelity.

Pyschiatrist Frank Dattilio told Men’s Health that “whether your partner cheated on you or someone in the past, you need to discuss the infidelity”.

He adds that “if they brush it off, that’s a red flag – and a big sign that they don’t value faithfulness and trust. But if they come clean and acknowledge how terrible it was? That’s a sign he or she takes it just as seriously as you do, and that they may deserve the chance for a fresh start.”

Still, take any apologies with a hearty grain of salt...