Why The Phrase 'Once A Cheater, Always A Cheater' Holds Some Truth

by Phoebe Fox

I love it when an article makes me shout obscenities at the computer monitor. A recent Elite Daily article about cheating sums up a sh*t ton of what’s wrong with the mindset of someone who cheats, under the guise of asking for lenience and understanding.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s misguided on about seven different levels.

Things start out okay:

"Recently I was at dinner with a friend who exclaimed, 'But you cheated! That means you can’t love him that much.'"

Can you love someone and still cheat on him? You bet you can, as millions of cheaters will ardently swear. But that’s not the issue, and it’s also not really the central argument behind this article.

What it seems to be is as follows: “Cheaters are people too, and you have to stop pointing out that what they did was bad!”

Let’s check out some of this article’s central arguments, shall we?

1. "Just because I’ve gone skydiving once doesn’t make me a skydiver."

Yes, for starters, it actually does. Maybe you're not an expert skydiver or a habitual one, but you have skydived, friend, and that sets you apart from those who decided to keep their feet on the ground.

That fact aside, let’s not equate an adventurous pastime with betraying our commitment to someone who trusted us.

Cheating isn’t a boo-boo; it isn’t a little misstep. It’s a conscious choice to ignore promises, vows or understandings you held with someone else.

It’s a decision to say, “Yes, I know I shouldn’t do this. Yes, I know this will hurt someone I have professed to care about. Yes, this is wrong,” but then to do that thing anyway.

2. "Cheating is not a black-and-white issue, and it is not simple or easy to understand."

Preach, sister. That’s the God’s honest truth you’re spouting there.

It’s especially hard to understand for the people who were cheated on. They put their trust in someone, and then were made to feel like fools for doing so. They had the rug pulled out from under everything they thought was stable, reliable and safe.

3. "If the person who cheated offers an explanation, it becomes an 'excuse.'"

Why, yes. If you attempt to offer your reasoning behind doing something you knew was wrong, as if that explanation might negate the severity or consequences of your actions, then yes, that’s what’s colloquially known as an excuse.

4. "They do not think this person may be struggling with depression, parental divorces, anxiety, eating disorders, etc."

I’m not saying cheaters do what they do without reason. Everything we do, good and bad, is motivated by a lot of internal factors no one but us can understand.

A lot of murderers had terrible childhoods -- does that excuse their crimes?

5. "They don’t consider whether this person kissed someone, cuddled with someone or had sex with someone. In their minds, they’re all fused into one thing: plain cheating."

Guess what? If you’re in a committed relationship, all of that is cheating.

6. "We are volatile, carved by life’s trial and errors, mistakes and experiences."

What I agree with wholeheartedly is we shouldn’t be defined by our mistakes. We all screw up.

Life is about learning from our mistakes and growing from them. If we are painted with the same brush from one spectacular mistake over and over again for the rest of our lives, hell yes, that’s unfair.

But, let’s not lose sight of the basics. Cheating is a choice; it’s always a choice.

Is it forgivable? That depends on the people involved and the situation. But will people judge you when they find out about it? You’d better believe it.

The way we learn from our mistakes is by not making the same ones. So, if I get cheated on and then go out with someone else who says he has cheated before, wouldn’t it make complete sense for me to “judge” that person?

Based on my experiences, can you understand how I would view this person as a bad bet for a future love interest if I am not interested in being cheated on again?

Worse yet, if you cheat on me, why would I have any reason to believe you won’t do it again? I trusted you wouldn’t do it the first time.

7. "People who cheated deserve to be heard, understood and loved."

Maybe so, ke-mo sah-bee. But more than that, people who love deserve not to be cheated on.

You do the crime, and you do the time. If you make the choice to betray the promises you made to someone who trusted you would uphold them, don’t be surprised when you are defined by those choices and your own actions.

Phoebe Fox is the author of “The Breakup Doctor” and “Bedside Manners,” part of the “Breakup Doctor” series (from Henery Press.) You can find her at, or on Twitter @PhoebeFoxAuthor.