There’s a saying about cheaters that’s been pretty much ingrained into society at this point. I’m sure you know the one: once a cheater always a cheater. Half of the time it’s said in lambasting towards cheaters, and the other half it’s to warn people away from those cheaters. After all, if they could find it in themselves to cheat on a previous partner, who’s to say they wouldn’t cheat on you?
This is a fear that I would bet anyone who has dated a cheater has thought at least once during the length of the relationship. It’s impossible not to worry or doubt. And as someone who has dated a 2-time cheater, I will tell you it’s one of the first things that will plague your mind.
Of course, it doesn’t help that the people around you will be warning you (in varying degrees) not to let your guard down. You will be both thankful and resentful of that reminder down the road.
The beginning is a lot of wondering. It’s not quite yet worrying, because perhaps there isn’t enough investment to really be scared. It’s wondering what pushes someone to cheat, how people get to the point of cheating, and of course, the feeling of being cheated on yourself.
Personally, it was more a morbid curiosity at that point rather than an actual fear. Stronger than all those musings was still the willingness to try and see it through.
Then as things turn a little more earnest you realize: hey, I could get hurt with this one. The thoughts you once wondered about come back but with a tinge of anxiety. There is a renewed sense of reflection which makes you wonder what it took for your partner to cheat — what it would take for him to get to that point with you.
The warnings all come back to you and you struggle to cloak yourself in them as protection. You struggle to remember that this hurt could as easily be done to you.
Yet you still stick out the heightened anxiety. At this point, you can’t even be sure if it’s worth it but you’re willing to take that trade-off to at least try. You figure that fear of vulnerability is part of any relationship. Just because the risk might be more in this one doesn’t mean you give up right away.
As time passes by the paranoia begins to set in a little. It might not manifest literally in terms of suspecting you’re being cheated on, but it will pop up every now and then. It comes and goes in the form of believing he’s already bored of you, assuming that he’s thinking of other people, distrusting his ability to keep faithful, and countless others.
Sometimes these fears have a basis, but sometimes they don’t. The only way to know if it will happen is when it happens — and the waiting will kill you little by little.
But you stay anyway because nothing has happened yet. It’s innocent until proven guilty, right? And you want it so badly to be innocent until the end. You stay despite everyone saying that a cheater will always cheat. Despite the voice inside your head asking why you would be any different than the others. You stay because you are hoping that you are the exception.
Would you date a cheater? Let us know why or why not in the comments!