They show complete accountability. They dont make excuses. They don't say stupid things like "it just happened". No No No. A sign this person can change is if they are direct without excuses.
They Know Why They Cheated
THIS IS HUGE. They know why they cheated on you and are able to articulate the flaws of the relationship that led to their desire to cheat. If this cheater is telling you about flaws in the relationship and being honest about how a new person rose their level of attraction? It is a HUGE sign that they are honestly reflecting on the relationship, care about the relationship, and are constantly thinking about how to improve the relationship. I am not talking about excuses. Honest reflection communicated to you.
Grey Space in the Relationship
Remember Ross from Friends? “We were on a break!” In other words if they cheat during a grey line in the relationship. It may technically not even be cheating to them.
They Told You Direct
Your partner was blunt and completely open about what happened and didn't try to hide things. If the cheater told you right away. If they were just completely open and blunt and showed you their phone and everything. Then yes. They could change.
It Was a Fantasy
Say you are in a MARRIAGE and it was a one time event. They had sex with a co worker. Or some guy fucks the nanny. If you have a life together and because of depression and a bad marriage they seek to escape with a one time fling. Then yes. They can change because it was just an escape from the pain of the relationship.
You Have a Family
If you are married and have kids and an established life? It is more likely that they will realize that the family means more than the cheating. They will want to repair things with you and fall back in love over time.
Get immediate couples therapy if cheating ever happens. Also, if they cheat on you with an ex? That is grounds for a breakup. A best friend? Breakup.
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My wife once semi-cheated on me at the very start of the relationship. I forgave her and I know she changed but I won't say it doesn't leave kind of a scar. It really depends on the situation and the type of cheating.
We were dating but she was physically still holding off. She used to be very outgoing and I realized the number of guys she slept with was high. I also admit that she first got my attention since she had really large breasts she was clearly proud of. I met her at the moment where she made the harsh decision of getting a breast reduction which I knew had a big impact on her confidence and sexuality. It's also why she held off the physical part of our relationship at the start.
The last night she went out by herself before the surgery, she got drunk and went off track. She didn't fully have sex, but the sleazy bartender made a stupid bet with her and she basically gave him a handjob and let him unload on her breasts. It took a while but eventually she came clean. I was of course hurt, but I also realized the situation. She was going through a very tough phase and decided to do one last thing before she switched her physique and overall lifestyle. I also realized that the handjob to her meant less than to me and that in some way she did kind of hold back already by not doing more. So I saw enough reason to forgive her.
I made the right choice since now we are happily married. But yes, after a couple years I still think about it. The annoying part that stays is the fact that the bartender is still working at the same bar we often visit. And I know he brags to everyone about him being the last one to leave his seed on my wife's full sized breasts. Getting over it is possible, but it's annoying to be remembered.
Another thing that hurt me is when her bestie comes over, they get drunk while I am "asleep" and start talking about old sex adventures which I really wish I didn't overhear. I really wish I didn't hear her thinking back on random guys from the past and going into dirty details and drooling over the size of their dick. I know it's not cheating, but the fact that I hear her thinking sexually of other guys gives me the same feeling. I also realize that I would be less annoyed by it if I didn't have the emotional scar of her going off track at the start of our relationship.
So yes cheaters can change and are worth forgiving, but it's not like it ever fully goes away without any impact.
U need to put the bartender in his place and beastie as well.
She is not being respectful or classy. You need to stand up for yourself. Express your concern. In the meantime seek therapy for this. She likely loves you but is a sexual person.
@Apope16 I get that letting a bartender jizz on her boobs was not exactly classy, but we were also not officially together. Though it was clear we were going in that direction so it's hard. I don't need therapy though. How would you advise me to stand up for myself?