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Once a cheat, always a cheat?

(94 Posts)
WomblingTree Tue 09-Jun-20 16:10:21

I've been chatting to a few guys online during lockdown, ready to hopefully meet a nice chap when the world starts again! There is one guy I'm talking to who seems perfect. I've had a few phone calls with him too, and one video call. He is articulate, intelligent and well educated, interesting, fun, cute, clearly interested in me but not pushy at all. You get the idea - I like him! I basically lost interest in talking to anyone else once I'd started chatting to him.

In our video call, we started talking about past relationships (for the first time), and I asked him if he had ever cheated on a partner. He winced, sighed and told me that he had. He said his marriage ended (last year) due to a lack of intimacy, with his wife losing interest many years before and not even wanting to kiss him. He said that after staying faithful in a sexless marriage for about ten years he finally caved in and had a brief affair. He said he thought about leaving at the time (instead of having the affair), but couldn't bring himself to do so because he couldn't bear not to see his children every day, and so had an affair instead. He said it was only brief because he felt so guilty. He admitted it to his wife, and they stayed together (again, sexless) to co-parent the children. He said she had affairs too, but that he had his one first.

He finally left her last year (three years after the affair), because he and his wife had grown so far apart it was starting to impact on the children.

I'm really torn. I hate cheaters, but he seemed so sad and genuine about it, and he didn't try to hide it from me when I asked. I can believe that he would have gone to great lengths to stay in the marriage to be with his children - he obviously adores them (he's talked about them loads - which is fine with me as I've talked about my kids loads too!) and spends lots of time with them now (they are all teenagers, the oldest nearly being an adult), with them living with him roughly half the time.

He says he will completely understand if it is a deal breaker for me, and is just glad he had the opportunity to spend a few weeks chatting to me.

Aaaagghh! I don't know what to do. Does anyone have any advice? Should I give him a chance, or is it a case of "once a cheat, always a cheat?"


OP’s posts: |
Uncoordinated Tue 09-Jun-20 16:13:35

once that boundary is crossed you can’t really go back imo.

Oopsiedaisyy Tue 09-Jun-20 16:14:50

I'm a woman who did exactly that. I never cheated prior and I wouldn't cheat on someone I loved. He did what he thought would save his family and his sanity and came from a place of deep unhappiness I expect.

I'd ask him what the affair taught him. Perhaps that it was something he would never do again.

I learnt if that's what it takes to keep a relationship together, I should just leave.

HoneyBeeHappy Tue 09-Jun-20 16:20:34

The affair I had eight years ago gave me the courage to leave an emotionally abusive relationship.

I can categorically say that I would never do it again.

While I can see that for some it would be a dealbreaker, and in fact I expect some will come along now to tell you that he’s preparing you for when he does it to you, life is rarely black and white.

Windyatthebeach Tue 09-Jun-20 16:24:44

I cheated on exh's.. Both long term affairs.
I am remarried to a man who won't abuse me.. I would never cheat on him. No need. He is a different person to my exes. And therefore so am I..
I was upfront with my 'reputation' and he respected my honesty and trusted me from the start.
Imo you (anyone are unreasonable to pre judge a person..

WomblingTree Tue 09-Jun-20 16:25:36


Thanks - I'll ask him that. He did say that he would never do it again, that he had felt very uncomfortable about it at the time, and that it hadn't been the solution that he'd been looking for. He said that if it weren't for the children he would have just left, but that he was so scared of losing them that he felt he needed a different solution - apparently his wife is from the opposite side of the country (England) and had told him if they separated she would probably want to move back to her parents with the children, and he wouldn't be able to follow as he runs his own business which isn't portable.

OP’s posts: |
Hohohole Tue 09-Jun-20 16:26:54

I've cheated in the past but not since I've had my children. People can change if they want to. I was young and selfish but thankfully I've grown and am now mortified of how I used to be. Once a cheat, always a cheat is bull.

Vamoosh Tue 09-Jun-20 16:37:23

When I met my ex he told me that he’d cheated on his ex but he could never do that to someone again. He said hearing her sob afterwards broke his heart. We ended up getting together, I appreciated his honesty but 3 years later I found him in bed with another woman hmm so I follow my own advice of once a cheat always a cheat. It’s up to you but I’ve learnt from my mistake and will never go through all that again.

firebrand123 Tue 09-Jun-20 16:52:34

I've cheated on multiple partners. Very different scenario than this man you've described - I know that I did it ultimately because I had no affection in my childhood (narcissistic parents) and so I looked for it everywhere I could find it and felt that I couldn't reject it when it was offered (even when it wasn't affection at all most of the time).

Now, I wouldn't dream of cheating on DP. I've learned a lot about myself and relationships in the meantime. But can I categorically say 100% that I won't? If I'm bluntly honest, I don't know. I feel like I will always do everything humanly possible not to, but I also know that despite all the work I've done on myself, that part of me that had the capacity to cheat is still there.

This man had an affair as a solution to a relationship problem. He might do that again, he might not. Is he any more likely to cheat than a man who has no history of cheating, or who doesn't own up to it when asked? There's no way of knowing. Honestly, I think this is a case of too much information because there's nothing helpful you can do with it. It might have to just come down to what your instincts tell you about him and take a leap either way.

DontBeRickDiculous Tue 09-Jun-20 16:58:04

The best indicator of future behaviour is his past behaviour.

It's funny how a lot of men that have had affairs blames their wives. It's always the wife is disinterested in sex, he finally caves in and seeks comfort from the other woman. If someone was really terrified of losing their kids, they would end a relationship as respectfully as they could, so that they could maintain good relations with the ex to co-parent with them successfully.

Anyone who cheats on their husband or wife has an over inflated sense of entitlement. They honestly believe that they deserve to have the home comforts and the sexy bit of strange on the side.

People are the sum of their actions and if you did your level best to destroy another human and the life that they thought they built with you, then you are and will always be a piece of shit.

Sugartitss Tue 09-Jun-20 17:01:55

In the bin

FluffyFreya Tue 09-Jun-20 17:06:23

My exh told me very early on in our relationship that he had cheated on the mother of his first dc. He was very honest about his behaviour and didn't make any excuses and seemed incredibly remorseful. He cheated on me. Several times.

I don't necessarily think once a cheat, always a cheat but for me, it would be a hard no.

SimonJT Tue 09-Jun-20 17:07:30

I cheat on my ex, I snogged another ex on a night out. He was an abusive prick (I’m aware that doesn’t justify it).

I wouldn’t cheat on my partner, even if for some reason I thought the relationship wasn’t working. We however aren’t 100% monogamous, we’re both happy to snog other people and have a bit of other clothes fun on a night out.

WomblingTree Tue 09-Jun-20 17:08:58


Do you think this guy I'm talking to is just making it all up about the sexless marriage and being scared of his wife moving away with the kids? It's hard to co-parent if your kids are the other side of the country, no matter how respectfully you end the relationship!!

Or do you think he may have been telling the truth but is still a scumbag because you don't think cheating can ever be justified?

OP’s posts: |
Rebelwithallthecause Tue 09-Jun-20 17:10:16

I cheated on abusive exh with zero regrets at the time

Now with someone who respects me and treats me as a human being and I can’t ever see me cheating again

Crystalspider Tue 09-Jun-20 17:11:06

If they are a fully grown and cheated in marriage then I wouldn't take the risk to get involved. At least his honest though so you can make you mind up now.

If they cheated once before marriage as a young adult then yes I'd put that down to immaturity and wouldn't bother me.

hugefanofcheese Tue 09-Jun-20 17:11:11

I would be more sceptical about how it sounds like the perfect, blameless (for him) set of circumstances.

Possibly he wanted to be honest but limit damage and thinks this makes him sound less bad than having his head turned or whatever. Possibly it is true. Either way he is apportioning responsibility onto his wife which I would be wary of.

Mumoblue Tue 09-Jun-20 17:14:21

I dont think "once a cheat, always a cheat" is necessarily true, but knowing someone has cheated in previous relationships probably would put me off dating them.

I would be a little sceptical because this seems a little too neat, like the wife is obviously the bad guy and he had a sexless 10 years so its "almost" understandable.

I dunno, it's a tough one. He could be genuine but you'll certainly be taking a little bit more of a risk.

WomblingTree Tue 09-Jun-20 17:16:58


I wonder if he'd let me confirm the facts with his wife! He didn't really "blame" his wife, other than to say that he eventually couldn't cope with the lack of intimacy, and that she'd told him it wasn't going to change.

OP’s posts: |
WomblingTree Tue 09-Jun-20 17:22:38


Yes, that's pretty much how I felt before about dating someone who had cheated.

I don't know if it's understandable to cheat after 10 years in a sexless marriage - I've never experienced anything like that! I can understand being scared to lose your kids through divorce though - my ex-DH filed for residency when we divorced, and I was in pieces over it. Fortunately it all worked out.

I don't know if I'm trying to justify his behaviour to myself because I like him so much and don't want to think of him as a scumbag!!

OP’s posts: |
DontBeRickDiculous Tue 09-Jun-20 18:17:19


Having an affair and in all likelihood getting caught is not exactly conducive to a happy co-parenting relationship. In fact, doing this gives the injured party all the more reason to fuck off to the other side of the country and the majority of friends and family would think she was damn right to. I call heavy bullshit.

It's selfish and entitled cake eating behaviour. There are plenty of good and decent people out there to date, leave the cheaters to date each other wink

Rockandahardplaice Tue 09-Jun-20 19:07:56


Hmm. So let’s assume this guys story is true for a moment. What would you do in his place after 10 years of no intimacy, with young kids, and with a very real possibility of his wife buggering off with the kids into the sunset if he divorces her?

It’s all very well to take a holier than this position, but at least say what you’d do instead that would be morally sound AND not involve losing his kids!

Presumably he didn’t intend to get caught! And in theory at least, his worries about seeing his kids are not to be taken lightly.

He would have had these options:
1. Continue in sexless marriage
2. Request an open marriage
3. Cheat
4. Divorce

1 sounds grim. He really ought to have tried 2, maybe he did - we don’t know. 3 you’ve just condemned. 4 he had very real and understandable concerns about.

So, what would you do?

DontBeRickDiculous Tue 09-Jun-20 19:42:21

Divorce all fucking day long,

If I was so unhappy that I was considering lowering myself to that level, in effect losing my integrity, I'd rather divorce.

It doesn't matter how bad a marriage is, the moment that someone cheats, they become the bad guy. I want my children and my parents to continue to see me as a good person, not some selfish lying scumbag. I'd rather be on my own that become something I'm not.

Plus doing it this way means that I could ride rings round myself post divorce if I really wanted wink

Rockandahardplaice Tue 09-Jun-20 19:47:48


You’ve still not told me how you are going to do that without risking your kids moving to the other side of the country without you! grin

I’d rather lose my integrity and keep my kids than the other way around! Maybe this chap is the same.

Or maybe he is a scumbag. What the hell do I know?

chickenninja Tue 09-Jun-20 19:49:41

I'd give him a chance. He's been really honest with you.

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