Once a cheater, always a cheater: Fact or fiction?

I get to be a part of a lot of successful romances, hear a lot of gushing about first kisses and dance my face off at a lot of weddings. Unfortunately, it also means I hear a lot about the less swoony parts of relationships, like cheating. Cheating happens. And it happens to a lot of good people. I was recently asked, “My boyfriend, who’s been amazing to me, just admitted that he’s cheated before. I always believed ‘Once a cheater, always a cheater,’ but I can’t imagine breaking up with him for something he did to another woman. Am I being an idiot?”

It’s a good question, right? And it stumped me for a while. But I finally came up with some guiding points to help this woman. I thought I’d share them with my PattiKnows family in case any of you are in the same icky predicament.

You’re not the victim

Your man has admitted to cheating. Generally, no bueno. But it’s not on you. It’s in his past. And without being in that relationship, you have no idea what really happened that precipitated the cheating. Don’t get me wrong. I never think that cheating is the right way to go, but in some relationship situations, it’s less wrong than in others. The circumstances might make this more understandable. Even so, it’s not your place to learn those details. Just remember that he’s out of the relationship because it didn’t work. Your relationship is working. So it’s a completely different situation until proven otherwise.


One of my girlfriends came to me completely stressing. Her guy was doubting her because she admitted to cheating on a boyfriend in high school. High school! She was basically a baby. Sometimes there’s an expiration date on behavior judgments. If your man’s bad behavior is way in the past and hasn’t been repeated since, I think it’s safe to assume he won’t repeat it. I’d hate to be judged for what I did when I was much younger, wouldn’t you?

One time vs. on going

Was his previous stint with cheating a one time slip-up or an ongoing affair? In my opinion, making a mistake one drunk night feels very different than living a double life of deceit. Being able to consistently lie to someone who loves you is a different level of questionable moral standards than going outside the relationship once and immediately regretting it.

Do you trust him?

Ultimately, this is the only question that matters. Look at your man and decide if you trust him. Knowing that he made a mistake in the past could change how you view him or it could change nothing at all. Just know that trust is an integral part of a relationship, and you need to have full faith in him moving forward. If you feel like he’s someone you can no longer trust, then save yourself the heartache and find someone you can.