Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater: Study Finds Unfaithful People Are More Likely to Cheat Again

People change, some for the better, others for the worse. But maybe it’s true, there are habits that remain even when we know very well they’re not something that should be kept. Cheating is one of them.

“Once a cheater, always a cheater,” we would often hear. As much as we want to make ourselves believe that it is untrue, human nature just shows us time and time again that we are bound to give in to temptations even though we know where it will lead us.

A recent study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior titled “Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater? Serial Infidelity Across Subsequent Relationships” revealed that those who have committed an act of unfaithfulness in their previous relationship were three times more likely to do the same in the next, a far cry from the behavior reported by those who have always been the faithful half.

‘Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater,’ Study Agrees

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The study followed 484 participants aged 18 to 34. Unlike most studies conducted on infidelity, this research is not about unfaithful husbands and wives. The surveyed group were adults and in an unmarried, romantic relationship. While the expectation for one to remain faithful when in an unmarried relationship is not as strong as when you are married, there is still that hope that you will stay loyal to your partner. This is what makes the study’s subject still very much relevant and important.

The data yielded by the study laid one important point: once a cheater, always a cheater, as those who have strayed before will more likely to end up committing the same mistake. It may be that it’s a bad habit they can’t just change, or they think that since they got away with it before, they can do it again without facing any consequences. As to why and what drove them to do the same bad deed, no one will ever know.

But it does not really apply to everyone. According to experts, some people do learn.

New York-based psychotherapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW, said, “I think that there are all different types of cheating, so it’s sort of hard to quantify. The first type of cheater is a compulsive cheater who really gives their behavior much thought. They don’t have much impulse control or much empathy and awareness of others. They are likely to cheat in their first relationship and many subsequent relationships.

“However, there are people who are young and a bit thoughtless who cheat early on but not always. They can learn from their experiences and relationships and have the capacity to change. They may not always be cheaters. They may also have considered their first relationship to be more casual with loser boundaries but feel and behave differently when in something that they consider more serious.”

Surprisingly enough, the study finds that it actually goes both ways. Not only will those who cheated before cheat again, those who got cheated on in their previous relationship were more likely to end up getting betrayed again. Although this part sounds a little bit off, it is something that is definitely worth looking into.

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Amanda Thomas

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