Can People Change? Exploring the Dynamics of Cheating and Personality

Can People Change? Exploring the Dynamics of Cheating and Personality

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I'm idit sharoni, lmft
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in Affair Recovery, Betrayal Trauma, and Surviving Infidelity. The owner of Relationship experts private practice and host of Relationships Uncomplicated Podcast
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No one likes to be pigeonholed. Or stereotyped. Or written off.

Yet, during affair recovery when life is upside down, and you’re looking to make sense of your relationship, a phrase like “once a cheater – always a cheater” can feel like the right one. At the very least, it feels like a way to protect yourself from expecting too much, whether you stay together or not.

Image of a woman covering her eyes, turning away from her partner, symbolizing the challenges in affair recovery. If you or your partner have cheated and trying to make sense of your relationship, our experts in the United States and globally can help. Contact us in Florida, California, Colorado, New York, North Carolina, and beyond.

But are you accepting the truth about your partner? Or are your anxiety and others well-meaning advice rushing to put your partner in a box labeled “Lost Cause”?

It’s easy to focus only on your partner and the likelihood that they’ll be anything more than a cheater. We like to make things black and white. Good spouse and bad spouse.

But is your partner “always a cheater.” Are they truly a serial cheater? Or could affair recovery open your mind to a more nuanced perspective? One that is more supportive of your future together?

So, consider why you believe “once a cheater, always a cheater.” Think through the source of your skepticism. Who is feeding into your view, and what is the tone of their advice?

Is Your Affair Recovery Being Undermined or Shamed?

So many people are shamed for even considering staying with someone who cheated on them.

When someone advises you that your partner is “always a cheater,” remember they offer an opinion, not a fact. Perhaps they have some past pain they are projecting onto your situation. Maybe they love you and can’t bear to see you hurting. 

Regardless, all their judgment offers at this pivotal point in your relationship is doubt. Doubt about your ability to clearly see your partner and your relationship. Doubt about your ability to know what you want and who you want.

Unfortunately, this just undermines your goal of affair recovery. They don’t believe in your partner’s potential for fidelity, so they advise that you shouldn’t forgive or believe in your partner either. To them, it is wiser to call your relationship crisis unsolvable and deem your partner irreparably broken. So, they tell you to “move on” or “let it go.”

This leaves you feeling disheartened and discouraged. The advice meant to protect you infringes on your decision-making and shuts you down. Saving your marriage may start to feel like a losing battle, even though the advice you’re getting doesn’t reflect what’s real.

Such comments and opinions have a way of worsening your emotional distress and intensifying your insecurities. Before you know it, this seriously hinders constructive dialogue with loved ones and your spouse.

Why They Are Certain Your Partner Is A Serial Cheater

People crave certainty. It’s a survival instinct.

An affair is a betrayal, and betrayal is a direct attack on confidence in a relationship. So, naturally, the goal is to overcome that uncertainty. Surviving the shock and emotional upset of an affair means finding a way to be sure of the relationship, even if it is negative.

In other words, determining that cheaters will always cheat is actually part of the natural certainty cycle people experience following significant life disruptions. Generally, that cycle includes four components:

  • A need to feel certain
  • A desire to label people
  • A false sense of certainty
  • A state of relaxation and safety

When life gets hard, we often seek safety in familiar patterns. “Cheaters” don’t change and will cheat again. But is this really true? Life is rarely so cut and dry. If we look deeper, we might find a more nuanced reality (and a relationship).

Serial Cheater, Non-Cheater, or Something In Between?

Serial cheaters are definitely out there. I’ve met and counseled several throughout the years. Given their repeated infidelity, I am somewhat comfortable suggesting they are more likely to be the “always a cheater” type.

These people sometimes cheat regardless of their partner’s attempts to recover. They have been cheating for a long time and continue to do so no matter what. Their pledge to stop doesn’t amount to much.

A woman covering her crying face walks away from a begging man. Understanding a serial cheater is complex; not all cheaters fall into this category. Dealing with a cheater doesn't mean all are serial cheaters. At Relationship Experts, we believe in fairness and individualized support for infidelity recovery. Schedule a free consultation with us to explore how we can assist. Serving couples in the United States, including New York, North Carolina, Florida, Colorado, Washington, California, as well as Canada, the United Kingdom, and globally.

Yet, despite our willingness to pin this type of behavior on all unfaithful partners, this type of cheater is not the norm. My work with couples reveals that it is unfair to paint all infidelity participants with one “never to be trusted again” brush.

Are you doing this in your relationship? Ask yourself if you’re prone to the following behavior:

Do you disregard your character traits that don’t fit the serial cheater profile?

Your partner is more than a cheater. What type of parent, provider, or friend are they? Who still relies on them? Is your partner demonstrably remorseful and dedicated to you and your family now?

Are you dismissing the depth and quality of your commitment and connection?

Your relationship is more than the affair. How long and rich is your history together? Do you share a past friendship, children, or hobbies? Are there mutual passions, dreams, and goals that shaped your memories and hopes for the future?

Is It your habit to overlook instances when your partner is faithful and devoted to your best interests?

Honesty is so important for affair recovery. Is it truthful to claim that your partner never cared about you? Is it true that they haven’t ever sacrificed for your relationship? Can you recall any way they have been honest throughout your relationship?

A person, even an unfaithful person, is more than a single behavior. The depth and richness of their character matter much more. 

Is Your Partner Really Always Wrong?

So now you can see how unhelpful it is to reduce your partner’s character to infidelity. But beware that you don’t make their unfaithfulness a pathological ill they suffer too. Both assumptions make managing the relationship crisis easier for you. However, it is infinitely more difficult for your partner to embrace affair recovery with you.

If you convince yourself that something is pathologically “wrong” with your spouse because they were unfaithful, you likely assign the same thought to their whole person. Their personality, values, past, mentality, and background must be wrong or broken in some way. Thus, you are right to assume further relationship problems and do what it takes to stay emotionally safe.

Again, watch those assumptions and judgments. That type of pathology is unlikely.

A smiling woman stands behind a man with her hand on his shoulder, symbolizing the possibility of affair recovery. Our experience shows that an affair is often an isolated incident in an otherwise committed relationship. Schedule a consultation with us today! Our services extend to the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and worldwide.

Experience has taught my team and me that an affair is usually a single aberration in an otherwise committed connection.

Your unfaithful partner isn’t evil, malicious, or unsalvageable. They aren’t the serial cheater “Once a cheater, always a cheater implies. They are simply guilty of making a grave relationship mistake.

How Holding On To The Certainty Cycle Hinders Affair Recovery

You probably feel like you don’t know your partner anymore. 

The certainty cycle feels like comfort for a while. Classifying your partner as a serial cheater feels like something you can understand and manage. The issue though is that you may not be reading your partner correctly. Your loved ones may be judging them unfairly. All told, those assessments don’t really help and bring comfort, They do more harm than good.

Instead of affair recovery, you wait and worry. Distance grows between you and your partner as you assume more betrayal and shame are on the horizon. It may be more than your relationship can take.

Is There A Way To Be Certain About Your Partner?

Unfortunately, there are no infidelity guarantees. But there are serial cheater signs to look for. 

My relationship guide, The 5 Ways to Know if You’re Dealing with “Always a Cheater”, is a tool to help you examine your partner’s behavior. I created a ranking system for certain circumstances. You can determine for yourself whether your unfaithful partner has the potential for ongoing cheating.

The Bottom Line? You Can Both Change Your Relationship

An affair recovery specialist at Relationship Experts is available for you now. You can start embracing change now. Resources, programs, care, and more are all open to you. Please use our online resources anytime. 

Our proven infidelity recovery coaching program is a fantastic way to get started

Follow these three easy tips to get going right away:

  1. Set your free 45-minute consultation.
  2. Consult with our program specialist for information about all of our Affair Recovery Programs and assistance.
  3. Let’s start healing right away!

More Help From Relationship Experts

Our team of therapists at Relationship Experts offers considerable affair recovery services designed to support healing and recovery. Our private practice launched in the United States, but our services are offered globally. Join us online and anywhere in the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Please explore more services, programs, and information on our blog page.

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I’m Idit, your blog writer & podcast host.

practice owner relationship expert PODCASTER
blog writer

I am the owner of the highly respected Relationship Experts private practice based in Miami, Florida and focused on affair recovery. In over a decade and together with my team, we help couples with surviving infidelity and healing from betrayal trauma

A Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in Affair-Recovery and Infidelity Counseling in The United States and worldwide.

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