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Can I trust someone who cheated in his past?

(36 Posts)
Howeverfar Fri 24-Jul-20 12:23:39

I've been with DP almost 3 years and we have begun to seriously plan for our future together (saving for a house, planning to get engaged).

The issue is that he has cheated on 2 of his exes. The first when he was 18 and had moved away for college. He was on the cusp of becoming exclusive with a girl (who I'll call B) and became close with a girl in his dorm (I'll call C). He got into a relationship with B but cheated with C for 6 months. He ended things with C and remained with B (no cheating) for another 5 years (ironically B started a relationship with someone else whilst they were together which was what broke them up).

The second instance was when he was 24. He moved to a new city for postgrad and met 2 girls his first few weeks (D and E). He was getting to know them both in a dating capacity before becoming exclusive with one of them (I'll call D). You can see where this is going. During the early stages of their 1.5 year relationship he slept with E twice.

I met him before he began dating D (or E) but we were friends for 2 years (and he was single for 6 months) before we fell for each other. We fell pretty hard and he told me about all his past cheating saying he wanted to be fully honest and not do anything like that again. He has not cheated on me and not come close but recently I've begun wondering if I'm hopelessly naive to believe he won't in the future? For his part he regrets his actions and acknowledges that he's capable of such awful behaviour but claims that the trigger both times was he was dating both before a relationship happened and he was scared to lose the other (this doesn't excuse his behaviour but he's making an effort to understand how it occurred before so he can avoid it again). I believe his desire to change is genuine and that he himself believes he won't cheat on me, but life is long and temptations will happen.

I should mention what is good about the relationship also. We have a deep connection forged through our two year frienship and grown in our relationship. I find him very attractive and we have the same humour and the same long term goals. 

Should we build a future together?

OP’s posts: |
hellsbellsmelons Fri 24-Jul-20 12:48:11

I'm not sure I'd ever fully trust him based on what he has admitted.
But.... He was young and you never know.
Will you ever trust him completely knowing what you know now?
If you can then of course you can build a future together.

Idontgiveagriffindamn Fri 24-Jul-20 12:53:46

I don’t think you can hold what happened in his past relationships with other people over him.
I’ve behaved differently in previous relationships and would never dream of in my marriage. I wouldn’t be happy if my husband judged me for my past.
But if you can’t get over this then end it with him and find someone else. It may however be difficult to find someone with a spotless past.

Howeverfar Fri 24-Jul-20 12:56:57

I don't know how to tag you in a reply Hellsbellsmelons but I think what makes me think I can come to terms with this and trust him is that he has always honestly told me all this, despite the fact he knows it could lead to me leaving him and that I struggle with it. I have told him I'm considering seriously if this is an issue I'll never overcome and he respects and understands that so it's up to me to work out.

OP’s posts: |
Inextremis Fri 24-Jul-20 12:59:29

Much as it pains me to admit it, I cheated on my first husband. We divorced, and I met my second husband, who I have been with for 26 years now, and not cheated on (nor even thought of cheating on) once. People change, situations are different. It is not true that 'once a cheater, always a cheater'.

MozzchopsThirty Fri 24-Jul-20 13:01:03


I've cheated in every relationship I've had including my marriage. I'm not proud of it. I thought it was something wrong with me.

Now I'm with an amazing man, I don't even look at men let alone anything else.
He has also cheated in his past.

Different times, different people, different relationships

Just make it clear that you wouldn't accept it.
Make sure you're both clear about boundaries

MooneyBadger Fri 24-Jul-20 13:09:10

Before you, did he have any relationships where he managed to not cheat?

I know you mentioned B, but this was the same person he'd cheated on early on with C. And again he wasn't honest with D & E.

I'm not sure that I personally would trust him, but at least you know what you're potentially letting yourself in for. It would probably be far more of a shock to be cheated on by someone who had always remained faithful in previous relationships.

23trains Fri 24-Jul-20 13:11:25

In those circumstances I don’t think I’d worry.
I wouldn’t trust someone who had cheated on a long term partner, but I really don’t think either of the above counts as cheating.

MizMoonshine Fri 24-Jul-20 13:13:02

He's got a pattern here. He just doesn't seem to know what he wants by the time he's made a decision. I don't think he's likely to cheat on you, based on his past movements. If he was going to, he already would have. It would have been early on in the relationship when there was a toss up between you and someone else.

I don't believe the whole "once a cheat, always a cheat" mantra. I've cheated in the past. I wouldn't dare do it now.

TheNavigator Fri 24-Jul-20 13:19:33

My mum cheated on my dad. She hasn't cheated on her second husband in over 30 years of marriage. But I would say she is quite a sefish person in some respects with a transactional approach to relationships. I think she would have been capable of cheating again, if it suited her. I cannot imagine my father would cheat in any circumstance. I do think some people are capable of it more than others, but if you have a strong relationship you will be OK (but watch out for the young children years, that test any marriage).

EmpressSuiko Fri 24-Jul-20 13:25:22

I know someone who was extremely unfaithful in their youth with all their partners but met someone new in their 30’s, settled down and has been completely faithful ever since.

Howeverfar Fri 24-Jul-20 13:29:10

Not sure how to tag people but these perspectives are hugely helpful. I've always believed "once a cheater, always a cheater" but he believes he's changed and that these were both the result of not fully deciding before becoming exclusive and that obviously isn't the case with us.

He hasn't been in any long term relationships except these and now 3 years with me (though he didn't cheat on B for the last 4.5 years but it hardly counts). I'm the first where he hasn't cheated but also the first where there was a long pre existing friendship (best friends) so it's not like he could hide stuff from me cause I already knew him so well.

OP’s posts: |
Anonanonon Fri 24-Jul-20 13:41:50

I agree with the PP who said they’d be more worried if he’d cheated when in a long term relationship. At 18 I think most of us are emotionally immature and selfish. The thing is, most of us grow out of it whereas those who cheat tend to have not done. That’s where I think “once a cheat always a cheat” tends to apply: it’s not that they’ve got an unchangeable “cheater gene” or anything, it’s more that a grown-up should have the maturity to handle these things more responsibly and the self-awareness to understand the world demands compromise and reciprocity and not everything being about their “needs” to exclusion of others needs.

If you’re still stuck with an 18 year olds world view at 30, with no willingness to do the work to change and no consequences to put you off doing the same thing again then, yes, I think there’s a strong likelihood a cheater will cheat again. Because... why not? Every partner gets annoying sometimes eventually. Every couple hits rocky patches or life crises at some point.

As another PP said, I’d be more concerned with his wishy-washyness and inability to enforce boundaries. If that mindset persists it’s setting up a situation where you might have had a bad month when kids come along and then - oops! - I seem to be an emotional affair with my cute work colleague without realising it! The reason most affairs happen is because people don’t set the boundaries in the first place to ensure they don’t happen and before they know it, it’s too late and they’re on the slippery slope.

Howeverfar Fri 24-Jul-20 13:50:59

@anonanonon I think you're right about the whishy washyness about setting boundaries. He has historically been quite bad at that. He's aware of it and I don't think it's insurmountable but I'm glad you've put it into words for me so he can work on it. (He's very willing to work on stuff related to our relationship, like we used to communicate badly and we worked on it and now do it well).

OP’s posts: |
Anonanonon Fri 24-Jul-20 13:54:45

TD;LR: If you’re someone who can’t summon the effort to work on and/or end a relationship when you hit one of life’s inevitable crappy patches or someone who flaps through life like a leaf on the wind, passively being led by whatever fancy urge or whim takes precedence then why would you not cheat again?

Because this person is the one? Sorry, but too many people think Love is like some kind of magic charm which, if you’ve got it, somehow prevents you from being tempted with no effort required on your part. Life just isn’t like that.

PicsInRed Fri 24-Jul-20 13:55:18

No. A serial cheat will justify it to themselves, always.

If you're the "right person" they wouldn't cheat on? As soon as you are no longer "right"...they consider it totally legit to cheat.

Can't trust a recidivist cheat, no point to it.

Anonanonon Fri 24-Jul-20 13:57:15

OP: just read your last post. If he’s willing to work on it, that’s half the battle. Would say it also depends on your ages - if you’re in your twenties there’s more chance of this not being ingrained than if you’re in your late thirties!

complicated101 Fri 24-Jul-20 14:00:28

I have cheated on most of my previous partners... but the man I'm with now I have no desire to look at anyone else, I know I won't cheat. So no, I don't think it means he will cheat just because he has on other people.

SuePerb Fri 24-Jul-20 14:12:20

I don't know OP. The people I know who've cheated, have cheated in every relationship - and even if they never cheat again, it's a pretty rubbish character trait to have.
And for all the previous cheats on here saying that they'd never cheat with the person they're with now - how do you know you're THAT person for your DP?

That said, you never know about anyone. Everyone gets married thinking it's forever, and marriages end for many reasons.

Howeverfar Fri 24-Jul-20 14:40:13

The truth is I can't know that I'm THAT person for DP (the one he'd never cheat on). I don't believe in THAT person you wouldn't cheat on fixes a pattern of behaviour. I do think if someone is willing to work on their own behaviour they aren't condemed to constantly make the same mistakes.

OP’s posts: |
Anonanonon Fri 24-Jul-20 16:21:36

@complicated101 I don’t want to derail the thread, but how long have you been together and have you been through any crises yet (e.g parents dying, life-threatening illnesses, financial difficulties, aging issues, etc)?

If you’ve been together less than three years the oxytocin will still be talking and helping to stop your eye from wandering. If it’s under seven years you won’t have hit the infamous “itch”.

If you’ve not been together through a crisis, you won’t have been together during a time when you’re both utterly depressed and you have to choose to live with it rather than escape to someone else who can make life seem fun again.

My ex swore she would stay single for at least two years if we ever split. She swore this whilst we were having marriage counselling. She said even if she asked for us to end it herself, the relationship was so significant she wouldn’t be able jump into another for at least that long. I think she honestly felt that and meant that when she said it.

In reality, it took her all of three weeks after we agreed to separate, for her to be shagging her new partner in our marital bed. Every night I had the kids.

Words and best intentions aren’t worth spit.

noego Fri 24-Jul-20 16:30:47

He's more likely not to trust you. Given that he knows how easy it is to cheat and that the women he cheated with knew he was in a relationship. This cheating thing works both ways.
A cheater is much more wary of their partner when in a relationship and can lead to control and jealousy.

Howeverfar Fri 24-Jul-20 17:46:47

@noego he trusts me implicitly and completely. He knows me well enough to know that I'd leave a relationship rather than cheat.

OP’s posts: |
noego Fri 24-Jul-20 17:57:57

He's very rare then @howeverfar

ChristmasFluff Fri 24-Jul-20 18:16:48

The thing that makes me think he hasn't changed and will cheat again (and the reason I believe some people on this thread who are 'reformed cheaters' will cheat in the future) is that he is still blaming it on circumstance, and not on himself.

I cheated. I saw the devastation I caused, and the pain it caused my then'partner. I literally drive him mad.

I vowed to never again do that to another person. I do not ever, EVER want to cause anyone that sort of pain again - whatever the circumstance and whatever I could possibly use as an excuse.

That was in the 1990s. I have never cheated since. I never will cheat.

Unless he fully accepts that his cheating was all on him, the possibility remains. As it does with PPs

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