Being cheated on is a terrible thing. It feels awful to be betrayed, to know that the person you love has been intimate with another person. As horrible as it is, infidelity does not always mean the end of a relationship. You can learn to work through it, move past it and rebuild trust if both of you are fully committed. On the other hand, if your partner keeps doing this to you, it’s probably time to cut and run, and research will back you up on this choice.
Learn more about how cheaters keep on cheating:
If It Starts With Cheating, It Will End With Cheating
This is not a definite guarantee, but researchers have studied relationships that got off on the wrong foot, to put it delicately, and they rarely end well. The study included relationships that began with what the researchers call “poaching.” This means one of the partners in the relationship was poached by the other from a different relationship. In other words, the relationship began with an affair.
The researchers surveyed over 100 people in romantic relationships. Some were in relationships that started off normally. Others were in relationships in which one partner had been poached. Those in the latter type of relationship had less satisfaction over time. They also felt less committed to the relationship over time. They may have started out feeling good about the partnership, but that feeling deteriorated over several weeks when compared to the individuals in relationships that did not start with cheating.
The partner in the relationship who was poached can be called the cheater. This is the person who strayed from his or her relationship and formed a new one. The cheaters in the survey reported as the weeks went on, feeling more and more drawn to alternatives. In other words, they were tempted to stray again and look for a new romantic partner.
Once A Cheater, Always A Cheater
Other studies have found similar results and illustrate that the famous cliché often rings true. Research from the University of Denver found that a person who cheats in a relationship is three-and-a-half times more likely than someone who has never cheated to commit infidelity again in another relationship. Many would say that this is obvious, and perhaps a more interesting fact from the study is about the cheated-on partner. Someone who has been betrayed is more likely to experience infidelity again in another relationship. The experience of infidelity becomes a risk factor for infidelity.
Can We Learn From Our Mistakes?
With such clear evidence that cheating perpetuates cheating, it would seem that we could become enlightened and make a choice to not engage in cheating or to not be victimized by infidelity. This is easier said than done. Neither study can explain why cheaters keep cheating or why victims keep getting betrayed. Is it something in the inherent nature of each person? Are they naturally drawn to each other? Is there something about the act of infidelity that keeps a person coming back for more?
We do not have answers to these questions, but we do know that not every incidence of cheating leads to more infidelity. It is certainly possible to recover from infidelity and to either repair the existing relationship or to find a new, more satisfying one. It may be that there are two types of cheaters: the serial cheater and the one who makes a mistake regrets it, and makes amends. The important thing to remember is that you have the power to refuse to cheat again or to refuse to put up with infidelity.