In my marriage, I was less than faithful (to put it mildly), and now that a suitable amount of time has passed since the divorce, I’m looking to get back out there and find a serious relationship.
I don’t want to make the same mistakes again, and I really don’t want to end up cheating again, whether it’s a drunken snog on a night out, full blown affair or anything in between. Even an emotional affair, as that’s where I’ve had major problems in the past.
So, did you overcome your bad habits and reform? Tell me how. Especially if it was a new relationship - did you come clean with your new partner about your past? Should I?
Personal experiences prefered - while I appreciate you may have great anecdotes about your husband/wife/best friend, it could be that they’re not as reformed as you think they are, us cheaters are sneaky like that (sorry).
Harry Burns: You realize of course that we could never be friends.
Sally Albright: Why not?
Harry Burns: What I’m saying is - and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form - is that men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.
Sally Albright: That’s not true. I have a number of men friends and there is no sex involved.
Harry Burns: No you don’t.
Sally Albright: Yes I do.
Harry Burns: No you don’t.
Sally Albright: Yes I do.
Harry Burns: You only think you do.
Sally Albright: You say I’m having sex with these men without my knowledge?
Harry Burns: No, what I’m saying is they all WANT to have sex with you.
Sally Albright: They do not.
Harry Burns: Do too.
Sally Albright: They do not.
Harry Burns: Do too.
Sally Albright: How do you know?
Harry Burns: Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.
Sally Albright: So, you’re saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?
Harry Burns: No. You pretty much want to nail 'em too.
Sally Albright: What if THEY don’t want to have sex with YOU?
Harry Burns: Doesn’t matter because the sex thing is already out there so the friendship is ultimately doomed and that is the end of the story.
Sally Albright: Well, I guess we’re not going to be friends then.
Harry Burns: I guess not.
Sally Albright: That’s too bad. You were the only person I knew in New York.
From When Harry Met Sally.
I don’t think there’s any reason cheaters can’t mend their ways. As a former cheater, I now take care to stay off the slippery slopes. As you probably know, everything seems so harmless in the beginning.
I think it’s important to understand WHY someone cheats. I don’t exactly have an exhaustive list, but common examples might include:
Someone marries someone they don’t really have much attraction for (eg. parental pressure, or didn’t realise they were gay, or can’t have a satisfying sex life without something their partner doesn’t want to do, or whatever). They succumb to temptation. They marry someone they’re genuinely suited for and are suddenly content.
Someone doesn’t know how to end a relationship that’s soured. If the relationship breaks down, they don’t do anything to end it, but start (consciously or subconsciously) looking around for an alternative. The “I left you for someone, but I slept with them first” scenario, which is probably pretty common amongst people who move straight into a new relationship. In this case, the problem is that the marriage broke down, and they handled it badly. So the question is, do ALL their relationships peter out? If so, they’re probably a bad risk – the next partner might be “the one”, but more likely not, even if they think they are. On the other hand, if the relationship broke down for reasons that are equally likely to happen to anyone else, they’re not more likely to cheat unless the relationship is already doomed.
Someone likes the thrill and self-reinforcement of flirting. If they had an open relationship where the rule is “casual hook-ups with someone else are ok, but developing feelings for someone else isn’t”, they might be perfectly fine, but if they try to confine themselves to traditional monogamy, they may repeatedly succumb to temptation.
Someone messes their feelings up, eg. fall for two people almost concurrently. But they may be normal other than that.
Someone has the habit of flirting with people and picking them up, and can’t break the habit. As with any habit, you should be able to overcome it, but it’s hard to do so now.
I tend to think cheating, while of course indefensible, is symptomatic of an unhappy relationship or an unhappy person. To avoid repeating a pattern of cheating, one should figure out either what was wrong with the previous relationship (and don’t repeat it) or figure out why one was unhappy with oneself to the point where one needed to blow up the relationship, create drama, avoid intimacy, etc.
Ah yes, the old “it seemed a good idea at the time” excuse!
Thanks for that - it sounds like it was a one off?
Again, thanks for this reply! I was mostly reason two, I think. Thankfully not 5 at all I do like flirting, but I didn’t generally pick people up - it was more falling for my best friends, or drunkenly snogging friends on nights out.
The only time I did a flirt&pick-up, I was “on a break”, not that that stopped it hurting my estranged-partner at the time
Yeah, that’s what I’m trying to work on. I think I’m addicted to the drama, and was seeking intimacy and emotional support that my real relationship was missing.
I’d hope that with the right person, this wouldn’t be an issue, but even looking back to my teen relationships, there was always the person I was with, and the person I was obsessed with, and they were never the same person.
Hopefully this time round I’ll cut to the chase and end up with the person I obsess over, but I worry that the very act of getting together with them takes the mystique away, and is what makes me find someone else to place on a pedastal instead.
Do you think if I’m seeing temptation though, that means I’m with the wrong guy?
I’d *never *rule out Red Dwarf jokes. But I’d use a more on-topic one
Cat: I think in all probability Wilma Flintstone is the most desirable woman who ever lived.
Lister: That’s good, I thought I was going strange.
Cat: She’s incredible
Lister: What d’ya think of Betty?
Cat: Betty Rubble?
Lister: (Nods agreeing)
Cat: I’d go with Betty but I’d be thinking of Wilma
Lister: This is crazy why are we talking about going to bed with Wilma Flintstone?
Cat: You’re right, we’re nuts, this is an insane conversation!
Lister: She’ll never leave Fred and we know it!
Hrmmm. I have a bad track record of cheating. I cheated on my last two boyfriends prior to my current. I haven’t cheated on my current, mainly because we have a good relationship and I feel loved. I definitely fall into the category of having cheated because I’m not happy but not ready to get out of the relationship yet.
What I have done with my current is snoop a bit. I think that, once you cheat on a partner, you can get a bit paranoid. I’m still trying to overcome this.
Sorta, one person… but semi-ongoing… Long story, ugly details on both sides… neither side looking very good in retrospect and ends up not ending well with winners on neither side in terms of that relationship.
I am, however, since remarried and faithful, to my best friend.
My ex-wife continues to be a walking collection of STDs (but I’m not bitter:D)
Well, I’ve never cheated on my husband, although a few years ago he had an emotional (and very heated) affair with another woman. He swears he’ll never do it again, etc etc… I hope he’s being honest.
On the other hand, if I had the opportunity to have any kind of affair, I’d do it. I’d love to know how he felt when he did it (the excitement, anticipation, sexual tension)… but unfortunately I’m so damn shy around men that the chance hasn’t presented itself … but I’m always keeping my eye out for the chance!
Speaking from my personal experience, that part was so brief I hardly remember it. After that, it was all lying and plotting, scrounging for bits of time and trying to keep up deceptions, having to be careful about everything I said to anyone, always feeling frightened and guilty and worried. It was the opposite of fun.
I’ve been cheated on.
I’ve reformed to the extent that I would never be the other guy again. But if I knew a potential partner had cheated in the past, I don’t think I’d be very trusting of that person.
Not necessarily. Being tempted is normal, I think. You don’t live in a cave. But you don’t have to act on it. We’re not animals in heat. We do have a choice in our conduct. If you value your guy and your relationship with him, don’t cheat on him. If you don’t value your guy or your relationship, have the decency to break up with him.
I cheated a lot in my previous relationships. With this marriage, I knew I had to stop.
As others say, the important point is figuring out why you cheated in the first place. Unhappy? Very screwed up? (Waves hand.) etc. When things go bad, you look for outside sex like some people turn to alcohol? Want to end the relationship, but can’t face your partner? (Waves hand again)
Or, just because you could, and you don’t see anything wrong with it.
If it’s the former, then you have to learn how selfish you are behaving, really understand why and how to solve your issues without cheating, and work on changing yourself.
If it’s the later, then do any potential partner a favor and tell them straight out that you aren’t capable of a monogamous relationship.
YMMV, and there are many other cases. This is not a black and white issue.
I can’t recall any time in my life when I needed or expected the person I loved to shut herself from any and all other boyfriends. I’m polyamorous and I didn’t come to it via reform and learning to overcome jealousy and so forth, although others do come to polyamory via that route. Me, I just took it for granted that if she loved ME, and I loved her, what we had together could not be threatened by whatever she also had going with other boyfriends, including being in love with them as well. (I can’t explain why I was so automatically optimistic on that point, but I was).
I’m not a cheater because I don’t promise not to get involved with other people.
If you, yourself, find that monogamous exclusivity leaves you chafing and feeling constrained, and that keeping the promises requires a lot of effort and produces a lot of shame, you should seriously consider whether maybe it’s not the only option for you that involves serious ongoing loving relationships.