Is “Once a cheater, always a cheater” true? This is what studies have to say! 


We all remember the messy drama between Khloé Kardashian and Tristan Thompson…he cheated on her 3 times (that we know of) despite the star’s attempt to forgive him.

But, people don’t need to be celebrities in order to get their hearts broken; serial infidelity is a very real thing.

“Once a cheater, always a cheater”—we have all heard the saying, but is there any smidge of truth to it? 

Yes, there is…

– A larger number of people have been cheated on, rather than doing the cheating.

We usually focus more on cheaters rather than cheatees, so it’s interesting to learn that more people have been cheated on as opposed to cheating on a significant other!

A survey by YouGov has found this: 63% of Americans claimed they had been cheated on and 33% claimed they were the cheater.

Men are more likely than women to cheat (20% vs. 13%) in marriages, according to data from the General Social Survey.

Being on the receiving end of infidelity is more common—the nature of said infidelity was either physical, emotional, or a combination.

– Will a cheater always cheat? This is what research suggests:

It’s a bit complicated because not *every* person who has cheated in the past will continue cheating in future relationships.

However, research shows that cheaters who reported their own affair were 3x more likely to admit to a second affair.

More specifically, 45% of people who cheated in a prior relationship cheated again in their second one, while only 18% of participants who didn’t report cheating before, cheated in the second relationship.

Will a cheater always cheat This is what research suggests

What’s really interesting, though, is how people who have reported being cheated on in the past were 2x more likely to report being cheated on again.

22% of the respondents said they were cheated on by a second partner and 9% of them didn’t report any prior experiences.

  • As we all suspected, “Once a cheater, always a cheater.” isn’t that far off from the truth.

– Do people stick around long enough to find out?

Cheating in a relationship greatly harms the chances of it working in the long run, but how many people actually give the cheater a second chance?

The very same poll by YouGov shows that 54% of US adult citizens did not break up with their cheating partner.

  • On a not-so-happy note, being cheated on more than once by the same person is not uncommon in relationships.

Unless they deeply regret it and are not the cheating type, they will do it again and again for as long as you allow them to disrespect you!

If you find yourself conflicted on whether to forgive a cheater or not, ask yourself this: “Did they truly regret doing it?”

If not, forgiving their mistakes would be the equivalent of binge-watching your favorite, sad TV series hoping for a more positive ending!

– Why do people cheat over and over again? Explaining serial cheaters.

Why do people cheat over and over again Explaining serial cheaters

Let’s get something out of the way: cheating isn’t a mistake but a decision the cheater makes.

Mistakes are unintentional, and affairs are carried out by people who are well aware of what their actions mean.

  • They know what they’re doing, they acknowledge the fact they shouldn’t be doing it, and they’re aware of the pain it will cause.

We hear tales of one-time cheaters regretting their actions from time to time, but I can’t say the same happens with serial cheaters.

Serial cheaters will resume their journey of infidelity simply because that’s how they are; shockingly, some reasons influence that sort of behavior:

1. The fear of commitment and intimacy.

The fear of intimacy and commitment is the reluctance to get close or intimate with a person respectively (reasons may include past relationship experiences and/or childhood trauma).

If present in a partner, they both stifle the development of a relationship and might be the reason why they cheat regularly.

A cheater might view an affair as an escape from their very real, serious relationship and could even be self-sabotaging their happiness by giving their partner a reason to break up with them.

2. Lack of love or falling out of love.

If the cheater does not truly love their partner, they might feel more inclined to cheat on them instead of setting them free.

Most of the time, you don’t do this to the person you love, care for, and think to spend the rest of your life with, so this is a feasible explanation.

Ultimately, it might come down to a lack of respect as well—some cheaters view themselves to be in a position of power, making them think cheating is their right.

3. Sexual or emotional dissatisfaction.

Cheaters who believe their sexual and emotional needs aren’t being met look for other people who get the job done.

Instead of communicating or breaking up with their s.o., the cheater instead forms multiple affairs throughout the duration of their relationship.

4. High libido.

People with high libido may or may not seek new sexual experiences with people other than their partners.

It’s not a matter of them feeling unsatisfied (their partner might be fulfilling their sexual desires), it’s a matter of their lifestyle!

They usually get tempted to get with other people, and unfortunately, end up cheating on their significant other out of temptation.

5. An attention-seeking personality type.

An attention-seeking personality type

If a person who’s in a committed relationship is the attention-seeking type, their thirst for external validation will push them to cheat.

People like this have a harder time controlling their impulses, and as a result, end up doing something that gives them excitement at the moment.

Adventurers typically can’t be tied down, and once they are, they can’t let go of their old ways, i.e. getting too close to other people.

6. Unresolved relationship issues and anger.

Anger is actually one of the most popular reasons for cheating—two people have a fight, don’t work it out, and one of them cheats out of anger.

Whether it is a spur-of-the-moment affair or a much-intended one, some cheaters justify their actions by blaming it on their partner.

It’s their way of “punishing” their significant other!

7 signs you shouldn’t ignore — will your partner cheat again?

Breaking up isn’t every couple’s response to discovering infidelity (as we already saw, most of them let bygones be bygones).

People stay together with their cheating partner in the hopes of them not repeating it again—how can they be sure, though?

Well, catching the cheater once is enough to make the paranoia linger forever; paranoia aside, these 7 signs suggest that a cheater is ready to do it again:

1. They started behaving the same way they did when they cheated.

They started behaving the same way they did when they cheated

A cheater’s routine consists of patterns; you know how they say history repeats itself?

If your partner has been acting similarly to how they did back then (e.g. pulling away, returning home late, hiding their phone, etc.), they could be cheating again.

Cheating behavior is quite peculiar because of how desperate cheaters are to hide their affairs—closely observe your partner if they trigger your Deja Vu!

2. They’ve already cheated way too many times.

If your partner keeps cheating on you despite promising you they’ll change, take it as a sign they’ll most likely never change.

They’re disrespecting your boundaries continually (which by now I’m sure they’re familiar with), and there comes a time when enough is enough!

A number of cheaters feel comfortable betraying their docile partner because they know that, at the end of the day, they’ll forgive them.

If you’re stuck in a similar situation, I want you to know that you don’t deserve this; you deserve someone who would never intentionally hurt you.

As of right now, though, the cheater is taking advantage of your forgiving nature.

3. They have not apologized properly to you.

Which in translation means that they don’t feel sorry for what they did—if they’re not willing to apologize, what makes us think a cheater is willing to change?

  • Your cheating partner may be thinking that they’re not entirely to blame for their actions.

They might be making excuses like, “It’s not my fault we haven’t had sex in a while!”, and the sad part is they believe it.

If your partner feels as if they’re allowed to cheat every time they don’t have their way, then they will continue to do it again.

4. They continue speaking to the people they cheated with.

This is a sign of both their inconsideration and openness to cheating again with the same people.

If a cheater were to truly regret being unfaithful, there wouldn’t be a need to beg them to cut contact with their affair partners as they should’ve done it on their own.

The more contact they have with people who “tempted” them to cheat, the less accountable they’re holding themselves.

5. And speaking of accountability…they don’t hold themselves accountable.

And speaking of accountability…they don’t hold themselves accountable

You can always tell a cheater will cheat again by their hatred for accountability—they do not take any sort of accountability whatsoever.

  • They stick by the idea of it not being their fault, don’t apologize, and refuse to reflect on what they did.

It’s not easy admitting our faults, but relationships require us to be selfless and step out of our comfort zone!

If your partner isn’t doing any of this, they will cheat again and attempt to save face by blaming it on you or the person they cheated with each time.

6. They refuse to better your relationship.

We can’t help but assume that a relationship in which infidelity took place needs to be worked on by the cheater rather than abandoned.

You might be giving your all in terms of therapy, communication, or even “improving” yourself (as per the cheater’s request), but nothing.

Your s.o. does nothing to help, rather, they overturn all of your attempts and act childish.

There’s only so much you can do by yourself in a two-person relationship—if the cheater doesn’t do their best in fixing your relationship, they don’t want it to be saved.

7. They continue micro-cheating even though they promised they’d stop.

Micro-cheating is when a person in a relationship does little things to make their partner uncomfortable, such as:

  • Flirting with people;
  • Hiding the fact they’re in a relationship;
  • Teasing;
  • Giving more time and attention to an acquaintance rather than their partner;
  • Talking sexually, etc.

These actions are not enough to label them as “cheating” (by most people), so we categorize it as “micro-cheating”—aka overstepping clear boundaries!

– Can you trust someone again if they cheated once?

Yes, a cheater can and will win back your trust if they play their cards right, i.e. give their 100% in mending your relationship.

  • Communicate.

To make sure you’re both happy in your relationship and neither of you feels the need to stray away, make it a habit to regularly talk about your feelings.

People cheat when they’re angry, sexually frustrated, hurt, or skeptical, and communication might just remedy these feelings—not every time, though!

  • Attend couples therapy.

Being addicted to cheating is a real thing, and it’s a result of factors outside a relationship, such as trauma or a high sex drive.

If your partner loves you and wants to make things work, talk them into trying out couples counseling, specifically infidelity counseling.

This kind of cheater wants to maintain a relationship but can’t because of their condition, which is why professional help is important if they can’t stop on their own.

If I cheat once, does that make me a cheater?

Logically speaking, if a person cheats once they will remain a cheater as they can’t take back their actions (they might even acquire a taste for it)!

But no, it doesn’t necessarily make them a serial cheater and make them unable to forgive themselves.

People who cheat only once usually do it out of underlying, bitter emotions, or the birth of new, romantic feelings for other people.

However, let’s not deny that if this is what’s happening, it’s less heartbreaking for both parties to just end their relationship.


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