Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater?

Do cheaters always cheat? The likelihood of a partner repeating infidelity depends on 7 factors. So, once a cheater, always a cheater? You may have heard the phrase “Once a cheater, always a cheater”… but research shows that this isn’t always the case. While individual studies suggest that two-thirds of cheaters become repeaters (serial cheaters), it’s important to note that the likelihood of a partner repeating infidelity depends on seven factors. These factors include maturity, influence, personality, acceptance of fault, regret, neglect, and the final outcome. Let’s look at each of these in detail.


Age is a big factor in cheating. In fact, it could be said that infidelity is partial to immaturity. A study consisting of 145 students (average age 23) found that nearly 70 percent had thought about cheating on a current partner, while 41 percent had completed the deed. Fast forward to age 27, and 54 percent reported being tempted, with 39 percent going through with the act. The magic age when men and women begin to settle towards a 25 percent infidelity rate is after 30. When young couples are pushed, they often try to avoid commitment by cheating, but this is often outgrown with maturity.


While not a big causal factor, studies show that there is some correlation between the types of friends a couple has and their likelihood of cheating. According to these studies, 77 percent of cheaters have close friends who are also engaging in some form of unfaithfulness to their spouse/partner. If you want a partner to stay faithful, it’s best to offer them the influence of other happy couples. You may not be able to choose your partner’s friends, but you can choose the couples you spend the most time with.


The avoidance-detachment personality describes a partner who is constantly pulling away, looking for ways to distance themselves from the relationship. This can occur when people are young and unprepared to settle down, but it can also be a sign of someone who is constantly afraid of intimacy and commitment. According to studies, when one avoidance-detachment personality exists in a relationship, infidelity is usually not far away. Cheating is one of their favorite ways to create a wedge between their relationships. If you find yourself in one of these situations, your chances aren’t good, unless your partner admits their problem and seeks help.

Acceptance of Fault

People often estimate the likelihood of an affair by the amount of charisma/attractiveness one partner either has or doesn’t have. Interestingly, 88 percent of all affairs occur with someone who is not any more attractive, charismatic, or sexy than the cheater’s current partner. Furthermore, most psychologists confirm that the reasons people cheat usually have more to do with how the cheater feels about themselves, than how they feel about their partner. In other words, it’s more them than you, so don’t let them tell you otherwise.


As many as 70 percent of affairs end with the cheater feeling sick with regret. In these cases, the cheater may be transformed (relationship rekindled) if the victim is able to bring themselves to forgive. Cheaters who are less likely to repeat show sincere remorse for their actions. Instead of excuses like “It’s your fault,” “It was an accident” or “It meant nothing,” they take full responsibility and express the need to prevent it from happening again. They’ll open up about their feelings, attend counseling, and do whatever it takes to regain your trust. In cases like these, it’s possible for a partnership to actually emerge stronger than it was before.


According to surveys, nearly 50 percent of cheaters cheat because they feel neglected by their current partner. This can either mean a lack of emotional or physical (sexual) support. In relationships where both partners feel loved and satisfied, the chances of infidelity decrease. Keep in mind that out of the remaining 50 percent, a good portion of these cheaters actually report being “happy,” so this is more of a preventative measure than a guarantee.

Final Outcome

Some researchers believe that another indicator of a serial cheater is the severity of the penalty with which it was received. Cheaters are less likely to fall off the wagon (so to speak) when they’ve had to work through hardships, including guilt, embarrassment, having their life put under a microscope, and attending counseling. Cheaters who get away without punishment will likely continue to cheat simply because they can. Cheating has become an unhealthy dynamic in their relationships. One that has gone on too long to be easily stopped. This is one reason why it’s important to act at the first sign of trouble and make it clear that such actions are unacceptable.

In summary, to avoid repeat cheaters, look at how each of these factors plays a role in your relationship, and then weigh your love with what that little voice inside your head is telling you. You should eventually forgive your partner for your own good, but don’t be so quick to give them a second chance until they’ve earned it.

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25 thoughts on “Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater?

  1. Esoolani

    i made the worst mistake of my life, i went on vacation to my country, a place that carries very bad memories for me , i stayed in the same house of where everything began, lost that child innocence about at age 5/6, where i learned about pleasure, (it always haunts me, i hate the fact that i couldn’t live a normal childhood), all my memmories are blocked i can barely remember any thing i did in my childhood… that place i had no comfort i felt like i was in a sea of sharks, but i went on with it the people where the only ones, i was making mistakes and they didnt care to say much, i met two girls whom i felt where very close and where giving me their advice , i dont know if these is even liable, i know wha i did wasnt good, i know it was devious of me to have done what i did, but i am really truly sorry, i acted so imature about it, what im trying to get to is just i really hope there is a chance i feel so hopeless and worthless, and don’t know how to pick my self up, my ex partner says he wants to move on, but it kills me. ive never really had much support emotionally, 4 other people live with me including my parents and 2 brothers, whom i never open up to, its a mess in my head, and i know i need to seek help feels like a cave i get out of, because my demons are always there, i have found refuge tho in believing in god, makes me hopeful to be a better me, i know for a fact i wont make the same mistake, i don’t want to be that person who everyone despise, i want to have some comfort in an opinion that tells me im alright.

  2. John

    I cheated on my wonderful wife of over 3 years. We had been together over 10 years in total. I have take 100% percent accountabilty, changed my life, seeked helped, made all the appropriate changes and i am a better person for it. My wife can see the changes i have made, but is scared to come back. It doesn’t erase what i did and therefore she has filed for seperation. All i can say to the men and women please think before you act. Because once your loved one has decided to leave it isn’t likely they are coming back.
    The sad/happy thing is we still have a great repore and we care so much for eachother. I just can not understand why she wont give us a chance. My guess is healing and forgiveness takes as long as its going to take and she can not wait if and when it ever comes. I am remorseful and tremendously sorry for the pain i caused. I am tuely sorry.

  3. christine

    I cheated on my husband after 7 years of marriage. Never thought I would, but he stop touching me, making love to me, and just wasn’t the same man I married. I was starving for effection and the first man that came along and showed some. I feel deeply in love with him and left my husband. BUT, Karma is a bitch. The guys I was so in love with broke my heart. He cheated, repeatedly to the point I had no choice but to let go. My Husband, we still communicate and still haven’t filed for divorce. So. I know what I had, and if I’m lucky enough to get my husband bad. Cheating is not an option for me. I’ve learned.

  4. Rose Cocca

    i cheated in my lifetime is with one person i do not cheat unless i am in love with him..i dont cheated i cant .thinking of men touching me..they of course men will try…but only one man is good for me….i know as they get older it stops…when they are young they think that they are heros,,but they not..they did it not for love they did for sex……there is only one thing i cant unstand.is why do they to cheat when they have a wife…they love…

  5. mousebee

    this is a great article,I’ve been cheated on n caught my ex with another gal myself.
    It was a heartbreaking experience,my previous relationship,i met a very sweet guy at a club n he claimed he loves me on the first night,and he was very sweet to me almost too good to be true,he was planning to leave town for good when he met me,it was the last three weeks for him,i was scared that i would get hurt since i know i started to like him n that feeling started to grow but he was leaving so soon,i made the most stupid decision,i cheated on him with my ex,he caught me cos he missed me so much n he waited for me downstairs at my place n he saw me n the other man walked in the apartment n he never left,he was so disappointed n called me to go downstairs to say goodbye to him for good.i felt so so so guilty couldn’t forgive myself in front of him,i told him the reason that i was scared that he was leaving that’s why i pulled back n acted stupid,he said he would of change the ticket if i told him that he would do anything for me.the next day he came to my place n we talked,he said he can’t be with me anymore cos there’s no trust n he was going on a date with another gal that night,i hated myself,i begged him to stay n give me one more chance.he stayed, but our relationship wasn’t easy.full of doubts n holding back.After he decided to give me one more chance,i made up my mind n i will never cheat again,he gave me so much hard time.i felt like he was trying to punish me the whole time we back together,he was holding back but i felt so guilty so i tried really hard to make it work.Because of the guilt i felt,no matter how hard he tried to make me feel bad,i took it all.

    why cheater cheat again?i can tell you,it’s the person who the cheater been cheated on allow it to happen again.i noticed many women forgive their men who cheated so easily,make men cheat again because they dun let the cheater see the consequences after cheating (losing you) that allows the men to cheat again.

    i am very double standard,my experience about being cheated on ,my ex was so guilty n he came begged for forgiveness n want me back, i knew i can’t trust him n no matter what he does won’t make me trust him again,it’s all me i knew it’s not gonna work so i broke up with him.he waited for me in front of my house in winter every night for 2 months even on his bday on X’Mas eve,i was so cold to him cos i knew our relationship has ended at the moment that he cheated.i forgave him but i just can’t be with him anymore,that was 5 years ago n he still wanna get back with him n always around.i always wonder why i treated him so bad he still around?
    now i know the answer,it’s because of the GUILT he feels.
    i couldn’t forgive the man who cheated on me but at the same time wish the man that i cheated on to forgive me.so double standard.after being in both situation,my advice is if there’s no children involved in the relationship, DON’T CARRY ON.because it’s very painful n the scar will always be there.
    If u really love the person next to you,even if there’s hard time,cheating is not an escape.

  6. acerhope

    I got married young and it was my husband who wrestled me into “it”. After we got married , he met the kid sister of his friend. My husband hid the fact he’s married and pursued her. I told her the truth.The affair ended but he didn’t apologized. Later on, both 24 yrs old, fresh college graduates; he went to work, and again he cheated on me, initiated by his boss to create harmony/teamwork within the AVP Department-Team Analysts. (the downside? He found out I was recruited under The CEO…my husband resigned. He went abroad, met a nurse…endless tale of cheating and physical abuses, @age 34, we finally parted, only after he impregnated an 18 yr. old junior trainee under his supervision. That tied the knot on him, he resigned and went into hiding with his paramour..
    It took me 20 years to recover and enter into a relationship again but it seemed the cycle was repeated Last month, Jan. 18,2011, I ended my relationship with this 2nd guy a true blue bonafide womanizer. This guy is 63 years old, and he sure knows how to fool these women, me included but will
    It’s been years and , I can say, maturity is not one of the derailing factor “NOT TO CHEAT!” Any man, given the chance will knowingly, cheat! provided they won’t be caught or can be forgiven and on the side do it discreetly to avoid scandal or lost of family. But then again, men will still cheat if the right girl is “IT”…regardless of having a nice family or children. Just don’t lose track…no pain, no gain. DON’T BE BITTER. FIGHT A GOOD FIGHT AS A WIFE, if you lose, there is still Life…smile:)

  7. Rebecca Conte-Ivins

    Once a cheater, always one….also a sign of total disrespect for the person the cheater is “in love with”…you shouldn’t hurt even a friend so badly, yet cheaters hurt the ones they “love” the most. They do not change with age or time…many are repeat offenders. I f you aren’t old enough to keep your pants on, you have no right to reap the rewards of a real realtionship, period!

  8. Varda Kahalany

    Viktoria, it’s for you:
    You have to understand that you can’t change people, the only thing you can do is changing your attitude or point of view. Sort out for yourself what is the most important thing for you and what you are willing to compromise for it. By your storry, don’t think he’ll change his ways. The “fair” thing to do in these circumstences is to make him clear that you also have your rights to “try out things” (an open relationship) and if it is not acceptable on him than something is really wrong here because he can’t just full arround with stupid excusses and expect from you to put your life on hold for him. So , examine deeply your feelings and see if the “good times” you 2 have worth to “close your eyes” agains this “habit” of his or you should give yourself the freedom to open up to other experiences and maybe you’ll be lucky and find the “exact match” for you. But it can’t happen if you first don’t release yourself from his influence on you. You know, he may have a problem but there is also a chance that he is so confident in your love and acceptance of him (especially in the light of the repeted “failures” which were forgiven by you……) that he is sure there isn’t any chanse to loose you, and the fact that he doesn’t agree to “open relationship” shuld raise a “red flag” regarding to it. Anyway, don’t wait for answers from others, it’s YOU who should decide which way to take just always remember that “YOU CAN NEVER CHANGE OTHER PEOPLE IF THEY DON’T WANT TO CHANGE” and be honest to yourself when examinning your feelings. Don’t be afraid from the outcome because once you are totaly clear with yourself things will come out for your best.

  9. Victoria Brandford

    I have bin with my boyfriend for over 10 years, we have a 9 year old son and a 2 month old daughter. hmmm… want to try and keep this as short as possible… although we r still very much in love, best friends, and great and active sex life, he still keeps cheating on me!! he has never confessed, i only ever find out by chance or investigations of my own. He is always sooo sorry, tears and all. he even started therapie. but i’m sick of it. he swore over and over again that he would never do it again. we were happy again, and everything (EVERYTHING) was great. so how come i found out, yet again, when i was 8 months (!!) pregnant, he’s done the dirt on me again?? there followed more tears, apologies, begging and therapies… tell me, should i leave him? what would i gain?? we do lead a happy life, we talk, we laugh, we do so much together as a family. it would only be worse for me, and the kids, if he were no longer here!! should i just accept that thats nature?? some of these girls he cheated with were much uglier etc than me. he never had affairs, just 1 time sex, and he says its the rush of being with a stranger, the tingle u get when ur with someone for the first time, he just cant think straight then. thats the only way i can make sense of it too. should i just accept that thats nature? let him go off and play, aslong as we r strong as a family?? i’m starting to feel an idiot. i cant ignore it, i’ll never ever believe he’s faithful now anyway. is an “open relationship” the answer? he says not (never happen again blabla…) apart from the sexual mistakes he’s made, we r soulmates, we have more love and harmony and humor than most couples these days, which i cherish… getting desperate for “THE” answer…:-(

  10. Varda Kahalany

    I read all the comments and the article and here is what I think: “Cheating” is not something that depends on age or maturity. And what is defined as “cheating” ? Is a maried man\whomen who’s “secretly in love” with somebody else, never had any phisical relation with him\her but his mind is into it all the time considered a “cheater” or not? Is it better than “just having a casual sex” outside the regular relationship ? I think that every single case is a different story by itself and there are various reasons for it but nobody can tell that it is a metter of age\maturity. The fact that in our society the norm is to have 1 partner only is not necessarry matching the general human character. And if somebody is “cheating” it for sure suppose to “make up” for a certain lack in his current relationship. If in a relationship there is love, an open comunication, respect for each other, understanding, passion and a good sex I don’t think that one of the partners will go out and “cheat”. But the reality is that relations which have all the above mentioned qualities are verry rare, sometimes they start like this but with time some of it fades. There are also cases (as mentioned in one of the previous comments) that one of the partners holds the other and doesn’t let go so there is hardly a different option , sometimes the partners just grow appart in different directions and they are obligged to other familly members which they don’t want to let them down so the best solution for not beeing misserable is to find a “paralel” relationship (cheating – as it is defind here ) which is much happier than the one in which they are stucked in against theyir will…. There are lots of stories and lots of cases, it’s true that fore some is only “a game” whithout any intention to cut off the “real” relation, but most of the time the reasons are much deeper. This is why we shouldn’t judge it . And I think that once people will understand that every one has the right for his\her own freedom and choices, will respect each others privacy, will understand that the fact that they are in a relationship doesn’t legitimate to “take over” their partners life – there will be less and less “cheatings”.

  11. Maureen Shepherd

    i cheated on my first husband because he could not show love and stuff after we got married , he did before ,[or at least i thaught he did] , the fact was we didnt have time to really get to know each other, i think knowing what i know now ,i could not have married him ,
    for all greatest good , x

  12. Donna Doll

    I’m a cheater for the first time in my life… i got married 1 year ago few months later i met someone else, i cheated on my husbad for about 6 months with a married man, whom i’m in love with but i decided to stop the relationship because i would like to work on my relationship with my husband but i think of the other person everyday, all day, at this point i don’t know what to do, i wish he was single to be with him but the sad part of my story is that he wants to be with his family he doesn’t know that i’m in love with him, what can i do to forget about the married man of my dreams?



  13. Ronelle

    I found your article insightful and interesting. I think the reason why so many people cheat is because we are a society of self gratification. If we are not happy we look for something to remove us from our current reality to make us feel good in that instant. The consequences are never measured till after someone has been hurt. I think when people cheat and cannot accept responsiblility and blame the other person they have a lot of growing up to do. If they didn’t avoid reality and deal with their problems or unhappiness as and when it arises then they would do things that would eventually hurt other people.

    Love to all

  14. Angie Sevo

    im in a relationship for this man i loved, and still today i love him, but i dont know how much he really does love me, he tells me he loves me, but i dont hear it quite often like i did when we were together when we first met, jose and never lived together, we werent even married we were just boyfriend, girlfriend, when i got pregnant for his son he cheated on me with this real fat indian woman shes from london, shes married, and has her own family, she comes to windsor to mess with all the men drink, and smoke weed and do a bunch of drugs, and when the money comes shes all over jose, i dont know what is going on on with him, and why he wont tell me hes cheating, but i already suspect he is, in the summer time last year i found him kissing and sleeping in her own backyard in her own backyard, i dont know what to do know, i was thinking of breaking up with him, now i have his son, hes 11 and my daughter is 10, i raise both of my kids alone, jose is a good man when hes not drinking and drunk, hes the greatest man, but when hes drunk i dont want him anywhere near me and his children. jose and i talked about getting married, i dont think i will ever marry him, after what he did to me, i cant trust him nomore, id rather be alone then be with a man thats in a love triangle no thankyou, i dont like jose cheating on me with melissa, i was with jose 15 years, and its a very long time, and its very hard, please help me im very confused, i dont know what to do at this moment, i was gonna break up with him, now i dont think i dont think i should. thankyou angie

  15. rosebud421

    Maturity has nothing to do with age. My husband of 16yrs (he is 52) purposely went on a dating website and sought out a new partner. He did not have the maturity to try to work out our differences. His reasoning for cheating was that it was all my fault (I “abandoned” him when I went back to work )-it was to help support our family when he kept losing his jobs. He has run us into the ground financially by spending money we didn’t have. I am working extra to pay off our debts. He never takes responsibility for any of his actions. He is now unemployed again and living with his girlfriend in CA and not paying ANY of his financial obligations, but is willing to let the GF support him. He even has the nerve to think that because his GF makes over $100,000/yr as a nurse she would be a better parent/mother to our daughter than I would. There is way more to this story than space. I thought that when we married (he was 36) he would have already started to settle down & be ready for a mature, life-long relationship. He certainly pretended like he did.

  16. vgonzo1

    It is a good article. I’ve been cheated on, never a cheater. I agree it is the age, and how mature the indivdual is. I also believe many cheat because they are not happy in their current relationship, and may be looking for a way out, however don’t know how to go about it, more if the other partner does not let them go they keeps taking them back no matter how many times they cheat. Why is this? Can someone please help me out here. I want to know what you would call this circumstsance- Why a women stays with a man she has known for 10yrs, and he has had 2 serious relationships with other women behind her back. And she makes it apparent by tracking him down with phone calls, and text, and actually following him. Is she considered a obbsessed stalker, she has threaten with words to hurt the other person, would she really do this? He was dated them both together. Why do men or women do this? I know the saying they like the cake, and icing together. I want to know if cultural has a big part in this? I know some cultures the parents want thier son or daughters to marry within there guidelines, like a virgin, or same religion, or no kids or marraiges from previous partners. The parents pretty much set there own guidelines, what if they person they want for their son or daughter is not what there sons or daughters want, they could cheat for this simple reason. Maybe there afraid of making a huge mistake before it happens. Some are afriad to tell there parents due to being band from the family or there choice of a wife will never be excepted in there house. I think things could change in time.

  17. misskrystal

    I had a male caller tell me, “I made a big mistake a long time ago, I cheated on a very special lady and lost her. I am not making that mistake ever again, I learned my lesson.”
    Case in point.
    Miss Krystal

  18. tray

    Thank you for not posting my comments expressing an alternate and experienced viewpoint. Not posting it is highly prejudicial, biased, and presents an unbalanced if not inaccurate perspective, especially considering some of the insipid ninny comments that you do post. Is that what californiapsychics is about?

  19. alexandra4011

    Hi, It’s a good article, I not sure it is right about me, I cheated alot in the first marriage,
    I worked it out that I wasn’t happy with my life, We were so young, to young to be wed and we had very different views on some of the most basic things and couples need to be able to talk about what is happening in their heads.
    And in the following 20 or so year after that marriage I haven’t cheated.
    Love and light to all

  20. Kelly Porter

    Now the male view. Before I married I was a cheater..After I married I stopped.When you stand before who is to be your wife,your minester & GOD, it makes things different.At least it did for me.my now X wife didn’t see things that way.She liked to make excuses & blame every one & every thing.I had enough & filed for divorce.She took our 7yr old & has prevented any visitation,since last April. No help from the courts in Oregon.She is now with the man she cheated with.By the way he was married & still is,but separated from his of 27yrs.Some people can’t or won’t do the right thing.By the way 18 months of councelling did no good.She was seeing the other guy the whole time. Best of luck to all. Kelly

  21. lizzyferg

    I agree what a wonderful article, I have been with a man for seven years and the last 6 months have not been great to say the least, well thanks to facebook he met somebody and cheated on me, I did find out and broke it off with him we were living together so I packed his stuff and made him move out, he would call me all the time wanting me to take him back and told me he was so sorry, but that did not take him back right away, I had to look at the reason he decided to cheat, we were having alot of problems always fighting, no sexual activity at all bottom line we were growing apart, im not saying what he did was right but after taking a look back and reading your article I can somewhat understand, I have since forgiven him (somewhat) but I still struggle everyday, however it did make our relationship stronger, its hard to explain Im not saying by him cheating was the best thing for us but in some crazy way it made our bond so much stronger and deeper for each other, I know he is truly sorry for what he did the pain and hurt he caused me but trust is something earned and he still has a long way to go on that but we are both giving it our all, thank you for the article it did help me to understand.

  22. Gina Rose ext.9500Gina Rose ext.9500

    Excellent article…..and I agree 100% with the paragraph about stats and maturity.

    I’ve always said that if there were a law that stated one could not legally marry until after age , say within the range of 27 to 30 yrs old….the divorce rates for marriage would be cut almost in half.

    Once a cheater, always a cheater is not true. I’ve seen, and read for many people, men and women alike who outgrow cheating. Many have told me that they have ” been there and done it ” and realized their mistakes along the way…..and have NOT repeated those same mistakes.
    So it seems that, SOMETIMES, with experience and age comes a certain wisdom.

    Blessed Be )O(
    Gina Rose ext.9500


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