“It’s not you, it’s me” said my ex-friend to his now ex-girlfriend. It wasn’t him. In fact, it wasn’t her either. It was fear. Fear that he couldn’t resist the seemingly delicious temptation that is infidelity. Knowing that he was heading off to University and as such would be expected to engage in the typical freshers rituals, he couldn’t handle the pressure of remaining faithful to his girlfriend whilst surrounded by beautiful and overly keen girls, even though his girlfriend was beyond gorgeous herself. At least he had the decency to be honest with her, right? Desperately trying to console his devastated ex, I eventually managed to convince her that it was for the best. After all, could she really live with not knowing whether or not he cheated? And if he had, how could she rest assured that he’d never stray again?
According to a recent study, the saying “once a cheater, always a cheater” bears some truth. Kayla Knopp, a psychology graduate of the University of Denver, analysed 484 unmarried adults aged between 18-35 to uncover the truth about repeat cheating.
With questions such as “Have you had sexual relations with someone other than your partner since you began seriously dating?” and “Has your partner had sexual relations with someone other than you since you began seriously dating?” fired at her subjects, the results revealed that those confessing to an affair were three and a half times more likely to repeat offend in their next relationship. Sadly, that’s not all that was revealed. According to Knopp’s studies, the toxic cheating pattern carries on into the lives of non-cheaters, too. Research suggests that those who had unfaithful partners in a previous relationship were three times more likely to be cheated on again, and those who suspected their partners of cheating were 10 times as likely to be suspicious in subsequent relationships.
As I desperately tried to convince my friend that everything would be okay in the end, a thought occurred to me. Maybe Knopp was really onto something. Cheating ruins so many lives. If somebody releases all inhibitions and cheats on somebody they allegedly love, then surely they are capable of doing it again without remorse? And if they can hurt somebody they love, how would they treat somebody they had just started dating?
Whilst Knopp’s study was certainly revealing, it failed to acknowledge those who are unfaithful in other ways. In an age where technology is pivotal, cheating has become so much easier for the unfaithful. So many affairs are started online, sexting shatters the trust in many a relationship and ‘it’s just kissing’ has somehow become a get-out clause. Yet somehow, girls are running back to unfaithful exes with their dignity pushed aside.
We’re only human, and we were born to make mistakes from which we learn valuable lessons of life and of love. But to cheat on somebody seems to be the ultimate act of selfishness. Whilst I am a big believer in giving second chances, I simply don’t think I could live with a cheater; I fear that I’d never be able to look at them in the same way again. If my fiancé cheated (he wouldn’t dare), I know that I couldn’t help but to constantly punish him for a mistake I supposedly forgave. I couldn’t do it to myself, and I couldn’t do it to him. It wouldn’t be fair. I would exist only as a shattered, paranoid wreck with zero self-esteem. I would be the hollow shell of the person I once was. He would be the guy who messed up who can’t so much as pick up his phone without me automatically assuming the worst of him.
I believe that girls with unfaithful partners owe it to themselves to find somebody who can dedicate their love entirely, knowing that they themselves entered into the relationship with every thread of their heart and soul on the line. I am a forgiving person, and I can sympathise with those girls who find it hard to let go of somebody they love. Whilst I have never been cheated on, I can only imagine how hard it would be to let go of the man I loved. It’s not always the act of cheating that breaks the girl. For many, it’s harder to say goodbye forever than to be the victim of infidelity. But as far as I’m concerned, it needs to be done.
Scouse Bird SAYS:“Once a cheater, always a cheater” do I believe that? Not for a second. Don’t get me wrong, there are some absolute gobshites out there who are beyond saving even if they had a bath in holy water once a week but different people have different reasons for cheating. Some have self esteem issues, some are in unhappy relationships and some have drifted half heartedly into relationships they don’t really want to be in – that’s never going to end well. If you ever have to force someone into a relationship or you’re in a relationship where neither of you are happy and you’re not being honest about it then you’re asking for trouble further down the line. Too many people drift along and settle in relationships that aren’t that great but aren’t bad enough to end either. Before you know it you’re married with kids and looking for a way out. Cheating is often symptom of a bigger problem. Although I have mentioned there are serial gobshites and cheating is just a symptom of them being a gobshite – this applies to girls and boys alike. I have been cheated on before and I have cheated. In both relationships where I’d been cheated on they started with games, struggle and lots of burning my head out – not a great start and I had no business being in those relationships in the first place so to those boys, thank you, you did me a huge favour. The one and only time I cheated was when I was in a relationship where I was blatantly settling rather than settling down, I just couldn’t admit it. I still felt guilty afterwards that’s for sure and a couple of months later I got up the courage to walk away. We both deserved to find people who loved us properly. Saying that, I know for a fact I would never cheat on my current partner and therefore no one ever again. I have cheated but I am not a cheater, I believe there’s a difference. I also believe in not punishing the next for the sins of the former – if you’re still cut up and have ‘trust issues’ from a cheating past partner then my own course of action would be to work on them yourself before embarking on a new relationship. Paranoia and suspicion of cheating can often become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s not easy but it’s the only way to be fair to your next partner.