Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater?

Do you think a person who has cheated in the past is more likely to cheat again?

Recently, a friend of mine found out that her partner of several years had been having an emotional affair with another woman for the better part of a year, which eventually grew into a physically intimate relationship before she became aware of it. As hard as it was to come to terms with his infidelity and figure out where to go from there, she couldn’t say she was surprised. At the beginning of the relationship, he told her that in a previous relationship he had cheated on a girlfriend, due to not having his emotional needs met. At the time she shrugged off his past cheating as a one-time incident caused by the neglect of his ex. But now she believes she should have taken it more seriously.

While some statistics estimate that only around one-fourth of past cheaters cheat again, I would be weary of a partner who had been unfaithful in prior relationships. Like with everything, since they have already done it once, it will be easier to do again.

Every action a person takes indicates their values, mindset, and beliefs. When a person takes the conscious step to go outside of their primary relationship to fulfill their needs, they are sending the message that they consider their own desires to be of the utmost importance; that they will risk their relationship and the needs of their partner in order to have their desires met, however fleeting they may be.

There are situations which simply get out of hand – a person goes too far without deeply reflecting on the consequences of their actions. But most cheating does not occur in this type of situation, and even when it does, the person does know that what they are doing could hurt their relationship. As such, I consider prior cheating to be a major red flag.

Do you agree? Will a cheater always (or most likely) be a cheater? How does knowing a person has cheated affect the ability to trust them?