Should you ever give a second chance to a cheater?

Should you ever give a second chance to a cheater?

Let’s establish one thing right away: I’m biased. I don’t think that cheaters deserve a second chance. I have had a spouse cheat on me. I have never cheated on a spouse and I have never cheated on a girlfriend to whom I had promised exclusivity. I think it is inexcusable.

Cheaters don’t deserve a second chance. Love is not a game like baseball. You don’t get three strikes before you’re out. But, even if they don’t deserve it, should you give a cheater a second chance?

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You’ve been dating for 1½ years and everything was wonderful. You thought that he would probably be proposing soon and you had started contemplating a wedding, buying a house, and eventually getting pregnant. However, a few weeks ago, he went on a three day business trip and he hasn’t been in a very good mood since he got back.

Then, he came home this afternoon and uttered those dreaded words: “We need to talk.”

Over the next hour, he told you that he had become close to a female co-worker and she had also gone on the business trip to Atlanta. While there, they went to dinner, had a few drinks, and ended up having sex. He says he “doesn’t know how it happened,” it only happened one time, and it will never happen again. He was crying like a baby and begged you to forgive him and to give him another chance. Should you?

Let’s look at the reasons why you should give him another chance:

1. You have a history together. You know his quirks, he knows your quirks, and you enjoy being with each other.

2. You have already planned a life together.

3. You are living together and breaking up will drain you of all your psychic energy.

4. He volunteered the information so it seems that he wants to regain your trust.

5. He was crying and so obviously upset that this incident was totally out of character for him.

Now let’s look at the reasons why he doesn’t deserve another chance:

1. He did the one thing that he promised he would never do.

2. Whenever you contemplated your future with him, you always thought of yourselves as a committed and faithful couple. Now you feel like a fool.

3. You feel like he does not deserve to be trusted.

4. When he confessed, he seemed to be focusing on his feelings of guilt rather than showing genuine concern for the hurt that he inflicted on you.

5. You have a mental image of him having sex with his co-worker and you can’t get it out of your thoughts.

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In this hypothetical, the couple is not married and it is the male that cheats. Of course, some women are unfaithful, too. In the context of marriage, the most widely regarded research has been conducted annually since 1972 by University of Chicago researchers. Every year, they have asked a representative national sample about infidelity and the results have been consistent. Every year, 10 percent of spouses admit cheating: 12% of men and 7% of women. Logic and common sense tells you that the rate of cheating among dating couples who are not married must be even higher.

If you have not had this happen to you, you are either lucky . . . or it happened but your partner never confessed. What if it does happen? How do you respond? Many of you know how you would respond and the answer is quite simple: you don’t give a cheater a second chance. However, if you are one of those who don’t know how you would respond, let’s re-examine the reasons to stay together.

1. “You have a history together. You know his quirks, he knows your quirks, and you enjoy being with each other.” Starting over is work, no doubt. You’ve got months or years invested in a relationship. You don’t want to feel that you’ve wasted your time. Will the relationship that possibly lies ahead for you give you the return on your investment that you were expecting? Do you want to invest even more time and effort and get even bigger disappointments in the future?

2. “You have already planned a life together.” The news that he told you is something that changes everything forever. You will never have the life that you had planned because everything will be affected by what he did.

3. “You are living together and breaking up will drain you of all your psychic energy.” The disclosure of his infidelity is a horribly stressful event and breaking up will make it even more stressful. But are you simply delaying the inevitable because you don’t want to be overwhelmed now?

4. “He volunteered the information so it seems that he wants to regain your trust.” No, he volunteered the information because he was feeling overwhelmed with guilt. The fact that he cheated doesn’t mean he has absolutely no conscience and, yes, he felt guilty. He told you because he hoped that doing so would make him feel better. He was focusing on his feelings, not yours.

5. “He was crying and so obviously upset that this incident was totally out of character for him.” What does it mean to say that somebody did something that was out of character for them? Character is what we believe about someone's values and motivations, inferred from all of the things that we see expressed in their behavior. If a person does something that is inconsistent with what we inferred about them, it either means that

a. we were wrong in our assumptions about their character, or

b. they actually did something that is absolutely inconsistent with their values and beliefs.

Which of those is more likely to be true? Of course, it is much more likely that we were wrong in our judgments about their character. However, it is difficult to admit that we have made such a horrible mistake about someone with whom we have been so intimate and it is sometimes easier to give someone a “free pass” that to accept the realization that we have been fooled so horribly.

Now, let’s look at the reasons to not give him another chance.

1. “He did the one thing that he promised he would never do.” This promise was more important and more sacred than any other promise and he violated it. If he doesn’t suffer any consequences for this, why would you think that he won’t do it again? How will he feel about observing all of those other promises?

2. “Whenever you contemplated your future with him, you always thought of yourselves as a committed and faithful couple. Now you feel like a fool.” That feeling may go away eventually, but maybe it won’t. And . . . what if he does it again? There is an expression that, “If the dog bites me once, it’s the dog’s fault; if I let the dog bite me a second time, it’s my fault.” Will you ever forgive yourself if you give him a second chance and he does it again? What if it happens after you are married and have children? How awful will you feel then?

3. “You feel like he does not deserve to be trusted.” Trust is earned and distrust is earned. You are right. He does not deserve to be trusted. How can you have a relationship without trust?

Someone might ask, “Can’t he regain my trust eventually?” There are two types of trust: 100% absolute trust and everything else. Your spouse or mate is supposed to be the person who you can trust when you can’t trust anyone else. Nothing less than 100% absolute trust will suffice. Right now, your trust level may be at 5%. Maybe – five or ten years from now – you will trust him 90%. Is that good enough? Do you deserve better than that?

4. “When he confessed, he seemed to be focusing on his feelings of guilt rather than showing genuine concern for the hurt that he inflicted on you.” When you are in a committed relationship, you are supposed to treat your partner’s needs and desires on the same level as your own needs and desires. A relationship is where you lose your selfishness and “the two become one.” (Sound familiar?) Do you want a partner who is always focused on himself?

5. “You have a mental image of him having sex with his co-worker and you can’t get it out of your thoughts.” You never will. How many times will you think about this when you are having sex with your partner? Will you be wondering whether he is thinking about her instead of you?

Imagine that you are 10 years in the future, looking back at how you handled the decision when you arrived at this crossroad. Did you make a decision that was right for you, even though it was difficult? Did you make the decision that allowed you to be lazy and take the path of least resistance? When you look back 10 years from now, will you be proud of how you handled this crisis?


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Most Helpful Girl

  • I do not think that a cheater should ever get a second chance. This is because:

    A) PERSONALLY, it is an inexcusable act to be done upon me.
    B) I AM a cheater. Always have been, have yet to not be one. Once a cheater, ALWAYS A CHEATER. So I get it and understand that people like me usually don't change.

    Yes I am a hypocrite.

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Most Helpful Guy

  • Yes, you're right cheaters don't deserve a second chance. Excellent post. Even if they themselves confess to you instead of you finding out doesn't change anything except the fact that you will be less angry at them but other than that there can be no justification to cheating, because cheating is not a mistake, it's a choice so cheaters don't deserve a second chance, they don't deserve to be forgiven.

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What Girls Said 21

  • First of all, I just want to say that you have an amazing skill at writing. The way you phrase your sentences, or choose words, is just wonderful.

    ". He did the one thing that he promised he would never do." I pasued after reading this. It did sink in.

    "... Now you feel like a fool..." Loved this one.

    I don't know, I just found it amazing.

    I loved this Take.

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  • Nope. While it is rare, I do believe that cheaters can change, BUT I don't think that it is wise to stay with someone who cheated on you. They had a reason that they did it and obviously something wasn't working out in the relationship for them to cheat. It's not a good idea to stay and wait for them to do it again.

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  • memecrunch.com/meme/3N2YM/amen-to-that/image.png
    Trust is very fragile, once it's broken, it can never be fixed. I like to live a simple and uncomplicated life. Drama free. So I have no problem dropping people. Esp. the ones who betray me and my trust.

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  • Great take and very detailed. I believe in second chances but I don't believe everyone deserves one and cheating is not one of those things that I would give a second chance for. I did it once and it came back to bite me in the ass. I forgave him but I never forgot so things were never the same. I was paranoid and had every reason to be because of what he did in the past and because my instincts were telling me that nothing changed. Forgiving a cheater and taking them back is too risky for your relationship and for your own emotional well being. I was not able to fully trust him and he knew it but at the same time I don't feel like he earned it. It's not that simple there is no such thing as starting over with a clean slate because the damage is done and you are trying to heal and build again and its just hard. He felt entitled and didn't believe he had to work for my trust again. I also lost respect for him. What is a relationship without trust and respect? Nothing. I was constantly on edge and I would have anxiety attacks before I realized that I was not just getting emotional and that my health was in jeopardy. When you hope that it won't happen again, you have to sleep with one eye open, play detective and wonder if the will just be more careful to not get caught if there is a next time, its not worth giving them a second chance because at the end of the day if they cheat again who suffers the most? You, because if they keep doing it they obviously don't care and see you as a door mat. They are not sorry, there is no loyalty, or respect. They were not hurt because you didn't do them anything wrong and probably could not handle it if the tables were turned but expect you to forgive them and take them back. I was an emotional wreck after being cheated on again. I beat myself up about it for so long because I felt like allowed it when I took him back and that I should have known better meanwhile he has moved on the next woman who will put up with it and I have to heal. It's not worth it I don't care about the history and what you have invested because the person that cheated does not value that so there is no reason to save it.

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  • No, I wouldn't care if I were with him for a decade. If I have a specific view on sex and intimacy and reserved it for a relationship only then why should I settle for less?

    This would make me wonder that if it was easy for him to cheat on me after going on a business trip then I imagine he would cheat right away if we had major issues in the relationship.

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  • No I wouldn't give a second chance. How can you cheat on someone you love? Cheating is not a mistake Falling off a bike is a mistake you don't just trip and fall into a vagina. NO! once a cheater ALWAYS a cheater. You deserve better I don't understand humans if you not satisfied with the relationship just LEAVE it hurts less. I can't forgive someone who cheated on me because you know it would destroy me and you still did it. Shows that you don't care. The fact that you don't care shows that you don't love me. You don't love me because you don't destroy people you love. But I do give him props for telling me. Cheating is not a mistake.

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  • If the person is sincere and regretful... depending on my love I may give another chance.
    However, if the person is defensive, non-remorseful, and didn't admit to cheating (I had to catch him), I wouldn't consider giving another chance at all.

    I feel some people do make mistakes and have the ability to change. However, this doesn't apply to every one. There are people that have cheated and never did it again.

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    • You are right; there are people who have cheated once and never did it again, but how can you know if your partner will be one of those exceptions? It is a very big chance to take. . . but allowing yourself to fall in love means taking a very big chance.

    • Well, you never know for certain. For my love I would take that chance hopefully I won't get burned in the process.

  • Dumped. Sorry, but the trust would be broken.

    If he had truly loved me, he would not of done it. If you truly love someone, you would never risk hurting that person, ever.

    I understand people make mistakes, but in this case, for me, it's unforgiveable.

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  • Nope. It's better to be a part. Even if you can see yourself together again, you need to give youself some solo time to really deal and move on.

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  • I will never ever give a second chance to a cheater.

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  • 5d

    @If a person does something that is inconsistent with what we inferred about them, it either means that

    a. we were wrong in our assumptions about their character, or

    b. they actually did something that is absolutely inconsistent with their values and beliefs.

    Which of those is more likely to be true? Of course, it is much more likely that we were wrong in our judgments about their character. However, it is difficult to admit that we have made such a horrible mistake about someone with whom we have been so intimate and it is sometimes easier to give someone a “free pass” that to accept the realization that we have been fooled so horribly.

    Great advice! I will remember this by hard 👏

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  • no, no, no, no. hell no. and No. YOU cheat? I'm gone! Besides I Will never be cheated on. He is free to poke whatever he wants as long as we are open and honest about it.

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  • Once a cheater always a cheater... that's my opinion. That person made a commitment to you and to your relationship. The minute he or she cheats, he or she breaks that promise. I've seen people heart broken because of cheating, and eventually that comes up and bites you in the ass... karma works that way.

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  • Excellent take!

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  • I might give a cheater a second chance. I don't believe in what they call, "once a cheater always a cheater".
    I've been watching a tv show that somewhat changed my thoughts on cheating. Now, I tolerate cheating more.
    I might give my so a second chance depending on how badly I'm hurt and his intentions on how he would make me feel.

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  • NEVER!!!

    ie: I "tried" to be monogamous once but already knew I was kidding myself, & instantly returned to form which surprised no one.

    Note: People who are me just need constant excitement, new bodies and sadly continual sick validation from others.

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    • I once had a girlfriend that was like you except that she was in denial about herself. Would have been much better for both of us had she just known herself and been upfront. Glad you understand yourself and I hope you tell the boys in your life exactly what you're after.

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    • If you tell them upfront then it's all gravy. It's their problem if they choose to ignore you.

    • @SomeGuy17. In "theory" it SHOULD be like that but in "reality" it NEVER is.
      ie: "THEIR problem" rapidly becomes MY problem, on loop.
      Like, I could write entire bookS about this dude.

      Peace xo

  • A cheater is going to cheat simple as that.
    If you truly love somebody, you fight your temptations and you fight for them
    I don't think I could give someone a second chance after learning they cheated.
    I will forgive them but won't forget

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  • i would never trust him again. If he cheated once, he will do it again...

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  • I disagree! All the reasons for giving him a second chance are reasons to kick him to the kerb. Walking away from someone you love proves you are stronger than the person who stayed. Weak people stay.

    I never forgive any kind of betrayal. I can easily let go too. This has nothing to do with how sorry he is. He maybe genuinely sorry, and never cheat again, but that is not the issue here.

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    • I don't think you disagree with me because I agree with everything you said. I would never give a second chance to a cheater.

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    • Good for you. Stand by what you believe in and things tend to work out. Holding onto yourself hell or high water is a very attractive trait and your new boyfriend is a lucky dude.

    • Thanks @someguy17 i appreciate your kind comment 😊

  • I think if you really love someone u can see in their eyes and you will feel if they are truly sorry. I cheated on my boyfriend once and evn if I'm young I know I'll never love a guy tht much and I'll never trust myself with someone else. But u hv a good point, in some cases the cheater is really sorry and deserves a second chance

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What Guys Said 13

  • No, no, and no. Cheat on me once, and you're out. I do not cheat because I have a sense of loyalty and the need to be honest with the person I'm with. This is the only way to build a good relationship. I know that if she cheated, and I managed to forgive her, that I would never trust her again. Without trust, a relationship is a waste of time.

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  • I am not going to trust or respect a cheater. We should be judged based on the choices we make. We hurt someone, or betray their trust, then we shouldn't be able to expect the person we hurt to just get over it and forgive us. True forgiveness is earned, and virtually no one is willing to earn forgiveness. The idea of forgiveness instead has been twisted into a way to blame the victim. We don't owe anyone a second chance. They had their chance and they blew it.

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  • I don't think cheaters ever deserve a second chance. There is no such thing as a "mistake", you can't just trip and fall onto some guy's incidentally erect penis or some girl's incidentally wet vagina. It just doesn't work like that.
    For someone to cheat, it means they took a conscious decision to do it.

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  • Cheating by male or female is a breach that can not be fixed. If you do choose to forgive him/her, you will never forget it and you will wonder when they go out or become close to someone. It shows a lack of restraint as well, which will bleed through into other areas of your life together.

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  • You have to remember people aren't perfect. A lot of times cheating is never one sided. Yeah there are some genuine scumbags but most is the result of much deeper problems in the relationship. Some even because a spouse has become seriously ill and the constant care they require can be draining and push someone to have intimacy even if its just once. Overall I feel like you do but most marriages that experience a one time type affair can be mended and repaired as long as the root causes of the cheat are solved

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    • that's still no excuse to cheat.

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    • I understand what you are saying, but forgiving someone means letting go of our anger towards them. It doesn't mean forgetting about their transgression and giving them another chance to do it to us again.

    • Cheating is forgivable. Things like this aren't so cut and dry. It's all just sin to God. A little white lie to genocide is the same punishment

  • It would really hurt if someone cheated on you. You know each other inside and out and you believe he/she couldn't have ever done that, as if its impossible. If it did happen, whoever got cheated on needs to get out of that relationship right away before it gets too late and your even more hurt. I would never give someone who cheated on me a second chance. That's trust that will never be fixed and they're bound to cheat again until your just left a fool.

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  • I did. Bad idea, cheater cheats cuz of a reason, and whatever that is is irrelevant. Dump n find someone worth ur time

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  • This is the kind of question that's best answered in the light of why it bothers you. If it's because it happened at all then there's no changing that no matter how sorry they are, if it's because it represents something (e. g. they're bored of you) then examine whether your suspicion about what it represents is true, if you're not sure why it upsets you then maybe it's an impulsive emotional reaction on your part and then you might be the kind who wants to overcome their impulses, in which case maybe give them another chance. I'm not really one to give any definitive answers considering I'm polyamorous, but it's worth applying the same problem solving ideas to this as you do to any problem (i. e. "why does this upset me?", "can it be fixed?" and "how?") before making any decisions

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    • For most people, it's because their partner made a promise, they did not maintain their promise, their behavior did not give the partner an excuse to violate it, and now they don't know how they can ever again trust their partner. Essentially, their conception of how they would be happy for the rest of their life has been shattered.

  • Well don't you think that confession is one big reason to still stay with him. Every person should deserve a Second chance even though life is not a baseball game but it's a game of thinking what if your mother would have thought the same when you would've confessed any mistake infront of her.
    My friend Mistakes are not important, What actually important is what we learn from them maybe that guy will never do it again.

    Life's a bet buddy risk is always there but that simply doesn't mean that we should stop trusting the ones who matters the most to us.

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    • There are things that we do that are mistakes and I am one who generally gives people a second chance. But, if someone is unfaithful to me, that is not something that happened through inadvertence or a momentary lapse of attention. Labelling a cheating spouse's unfaithfulness as a "mistake" is simple a word game that you use to then justify the decision to give that person another chance.

      If you invited someone in your home and they pulled out a gun and shot a family member, would you invite them into your home again because, after the first incident, they apologized? Absolutely not. In response to a recent question I asked, one married woman said she gave her husband a second chance and he cheated again, three guys said their cheating girlfriend did it again when given a second chance, and only one guy said that his girlfriend was never again unfaithful after getting a second chance. That's 80% cheating on the second chance. The cheating almost always reflects a character flaw.

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    • Experience is a cruel and very effective teacher.

    • Not for everyone.

  • second chance should always be granted to worthy.

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    • 1. Have you ever been the victim of cheating?
      2. What makes a cheating partner worthy of a second chance?

    • I had 3 relationships in my life were the girl cheated and 2 I gave a 2nd chance and they still cheated... It takes a different type of mindset to cheat, I couldn't sleep at night if I cheat on someone I would feel so bad.

    • @Dessertfox Herr Rommel, I am with you. I couldn't look at myself in the mirror if I had done such a thing.

  • There's no such thing as a fair human. Every human is a cheater.

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    • Every human is not unfaithful to their partner. I know that to be true because I am 60 years old and I have never cheated on my partner. When you say "every human is a cheater," if you are talking about monogamy, you are wrong. If you are talking about cheating in some other, more generic sense. . . that is not what this take is about.

  • I wouldn't go so far as to say I would absolutely never give them a second chance, but it would be an extremely difficult thing for me to do and would very much depend on the circumstances and the person. I believe I would most likely not give them a second chance.

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  • I met a woman who I synced with she told me she felt the we had unmatched chemistry then all if the sudden her phone is off... I found out she spent the night at her exs house but she said no sex... Hard to believe she begged for another chance so I gave it a try and one month later she broke it off with me with some vague reason and came begging back 2 days later... I drilled her after that and later she finally admitted she went to go have dinner with some guy that wanted to date her... Now she is again begging and I'm ignoring her... Silence is golden I'm so hurt by her

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