Everyone makes mistakes. People who genuinely love and value their partners can still suffer lapses of judgment. Although infidelity can be incredibly painful, it doesn’t have to end a relationship. In fact, when an affair becomes known, this is often what prompts couples to seek a therapist and work on their relationship in earnest–maybe for the very first time. Infidelity doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Couples who use an affair as a window into core issues are motivated to confront longstanding conflicts while they rebuild trust and intimacy. Many couples “rise from the ashes” of infidelity to enjoy a stronger, more honest relationship than ever before.
At the same time, some people cheat over and over. It’s their default. Can serial cheaters change? Yes, but they usually don’t. If you’re in a relationship with a serial cheater, assume your partner isn’t going to change. If you need to leave the relationship, leave. If you can “look the other way” while your partner has an affair, that’s also your choice. What I definitely don’t recommend? Staying in a relationship with a serial cheater while trying to convince yourself he’s not a serial cheater. I’ve worked with many women who’d rather think of themselves as “paranoid” than deal with the harsh reality of their partner’s infidelity. Do what you feel you need to do, but own up to the truth of what your gut tells you.
How do you know if he’s a serial cheater?
When confronted about cheating, he denies all, usually until presented with black and white evidence like phone records. Even then, a serial cheater carefully admits to the bare minimum.
Rather than feel remorse and take responsibility, he gets angry when found out. He may try to shift the blame onto you, accusing you of not respecting his privacy by looking through his cell phone, etc. There is little concern for your feelings. He isn’t “sorry” so much as “sorry he got caught.
His Close Friends Cheat
This is especially true past the age of 30. If his group of friends have casual attitudes toward infidelity, he is likely to share the same. Men who don’t cheat on their wives typically feel uncomfortable spending a lot of time around men who do cheat.
If he’s a serial cheater, you aren’t the first person he’s cheated on, and you won’t be the last. Did the two of you start dating when he was still in another relationship? For that matter, have you been cheated on in other relationships? Just as there are serial cheaters, there are people who serially date/marry habitual cheaters.
You’ve noticed “one little thing after another” over the years, a phone number here, an unexplained credit card charge there. Serial cheating is a full-time job. It leaves a paper trail, or at least a digital. Ignore nagging clues and avoid confrontation at your own risk.
About the Author: James Robbins is a licensed professional counselor, published author and co-owner of Dallas Whole Life Counseling. He has over 15 years of experience helping people in various life stages that come from a wide variety of cultural, economic and family backgrounds. Learn more about his background by clicking here.