Past Affairs and Future Relationships

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2009
Past Affairs and Future Relationships
Sat, 08-15-2009 - 12:37pm

What is the general wisdom was about the trustworthiness of guys who cheat on their wives (or significant others) when the relationship starts to fail? Should this be a big warning that these guys are not going to be reliable in the future, or should we cut them some slack because of the circumstances?

I've heard "once a cheater, always a cheater" but I've also heard that having affairs is a symptom of the problem in a relationship, not a character flaw. A few people I respect met while married to other people and are still together and loyal to each other. Even so, I take a negative view of men who have affairs while married.
(I don't approve of women doing it either, but since I don't date women, it doesn't concern me in the same way.)

My question is inspired by this guy who I went on a first date with last night. There may not be a second date, and that would be fine. But it got me wondering, in general terms, should I avoid guys who admit to having cheated on their wives during their marriages? Is this a warning sign or just an accident of fate?


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-09-2006
Sat, 08-15-2009 - 6:58pm

Okay here's the truth. Not all cheaters are created equal. Not all cheaters should be dealt with the same.

First is the narcissist. This person feels "entitled to be happy" at the expense of their vows and trust of their spouse. Often they are habitual cheaters: adulterers. They don't feel remorse, and lie about it if caught. They say the right things and troll for tricks, actively seeking out an encounter.

Second is the neglected. This person feels abandoned by their spouse who puts anything and everything above their needs to be intimate, appreciated, and loved. This is often the person who is so lonely that they give in to their weakness to feel worth while that they give in to temptation. Usually they confess, they feel guilty, and are willing to do what it takes to fix the relationship.

The narcissist cheater can't be reasoned with, pleaded with, or counseled with. No amount of therapy will make a difference. It's easier to accept because all the blame lies with the cheater. The neglected cheater is harder to accept because it requires the cheated on spouse taking a harsh blunt look at what sort of spouse they were, that they were so denying that their beloved was enticed by someone else.

The point I'm making is that the answer to your questions are that it depends on which cheater you're dealing with.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2009
Sun, 08-16-2009 - 12:52pm

I understand that personality and circumstances have something to do with why a person cheats and whether he will cheat again, but I have noticed that almost every cheater presents himself as someone who was driven to it by the indifference of his spouse. And I doubt that it is always true.

My ex did not cheat on me, but he certainly conveyed that the problem with the marriage was that I didn't love him enough and that the lack of sexual activity in our marriage showed that. But my side of the story is that it is hard to feel a strong urge to make love to someone who has not carried his share of the household responsibilities, who has undermined you with the kids, and who is scornful and obstructive of what you want to do. But at least he didn't cheat.

So when I talk to a guy who tells me how he was justified in cheating because his wife took and took and didn't give back, I wonder if this was really the case or if he is misperceiving/misrepresenting the circumstances the way my ex did. And then I remember that my ex didn't cheat, and I wonder why did this guy?

Is there a type of man who is more likely to cheat when he feels neglected? And do all men who feel neglected have an excuse for cheating? And is it enough that he felt neglected or do we require that the neglect be real? (Wife goes off with her buddies to bowl every night and leaves husband to fend for himself is real neglect. Wife is too tired to make a fuss over husband after a long day at work or caring for the kids but still makes an effort to be there for him is not real neglect, though it may be perceived that way.)

All this is very abstract, I know, but it seems to fit in this discussion session. "Is it meant to be," often depends on what kinds of people are involved.

What do you all think?

Avatar for northwestwanderer
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sun, 08-16-2009 - 3:35pm

My feeling is that it depends on how they talk about the choice to cheat they still feel it was justified, or do they now recognize that they should have fixed the relationship or ended it rather than cheat and at least appear to regret the choice they made?

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-30-2008
Mon, 08-17-2009 - 1:14am
i think what I would look for is his reasoning behind why he did what he did and if he had to do it over again .. how would he handle the situation and how does that play out in new relationships.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-09-2006
Mon, 08-17-2009 - 1:17pm

"Is there a type of man who is more likely to cheat when he feels neglected? And do all men who feel neglected have an excuse for cheating?"

No, it isn't an excuse or validation for cheating. What it is is understandable. Ultimately he still has the choice to cheat and repay one betrayal for another. It doesn't make it okay, but it does make a difference in the reaction.

"And is it enough that he felt neglected or do we require that the neglect be real?"

That is such a selfish dismissive way to look at it. He says he was neglected, and who is to dispute that?? The wife doing the neglecting. Of course she's going to trivialize it as not "real" or

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-02-2007
Mon, 08-17-2009 - 2:50pm

Yes it should be a warning...regardless of what the relationship is like they actually make a choice to cheat, if they can choose to cheat (lie) on their partner what makes you so sure they wouldn't do the same to you when they decided things weren't going the way they thought they should, or they felt neglected?

And I agree with northwestwanderer it is a character issue.

Without a solid foundation of honesty, trust, respect (you have none of those with cheater) the relationship is doomed. That is why 95% of relationships that start with an affair do not last.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-18-2006
Tue, 08-18-2009 - 9:30am
If I went on a date with a guy that cheating on his ex-wife, I would not be having a 2nd date for sure. It would be like if you went on a date with a guy and he did drugs or did other things that you didn't approve. Bottom line it just doesn't fit your lifestyle and it's a turn off.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2009
Wed, 08-19-2009 - 12:21am

I dont believe in the "once a cheater, always a cheater" theory.