Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater? How To Recognize A Perpetual Cheater

How To Recognize A Perpetual Cheater

There is a risk in choosing to partner with someone with a history of infidelity, so your fear is understandable. Your job is to avoid being accusatory and judgmental, as this is likely to put your partner on the defensive and keep you from getting the reassurance you need.

The goal is to create a conversation with your partner that positions the two of you shoulder-to-shoulder looking together at the question, “How will we cultivate an atmosphere that promotes the values of respect, security, and integrity?”

Use the discussion questions below to guide your conversations.

Discussion Questions:

1. How much remorse do you feel for your past cheating?

2. How much responsibility do you take for your behavior?

3. To what degree have you forgiven yourself?

4. What have you learned about yourself from the experience of cheating?

5. How do you define fidelity?

6. How committed are you to practicing fidelity?

7. What do you do to ensure you stay in your integrity?

8. When do you feel most connected to me? Least?

9. To what degree do the people in your life (family, friends, coworkers) support your commitment to fidelity?

10. What can I do to support your commitment to fidelity?

Related: Infidelity 101: What Type Of Person Gets Cheated On Most Often?

The answers to these questions can help you to determine a clear path forward where you both feel confident about your future together.


Blow, A. J., & Hartnett, K. (2005). Infidelity in committed relationships II: A substantive review. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 31(2), 217–233. doi:10.1111/j.1752-0606.2005.tb01556.x.

Knopp, K., Scott, S., Ritchie, L., Rhoades, G. K., Markman, H. J., & Stanley, S. M. (2017). Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater? Serial Infidelity Across Subsequent Relationships. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 46(8), 2301–2311. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-017-1018-1

Scott, S. B., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., Allen, E. S., & Markman, H. J. (2013). Reasons for divorce and recollections of premarital intervention: Implications for improving relationship education. Couple & Family Psychology, 2(2), 131–145. doi:10.1037/a0032025.

Wiederman, M. W. (1997). Extramarital sex: Prevalence and correlates in a national survey. Journal of Sex Research, 34(2), 167–174. doi:1

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Alexandra H. Solomon, PhD

Alexandra H. Solomon, PhD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University, a licensed clinical psychologist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, a regular contributor at Psychology Today, a popular resource on Instagram. the creator and leader of the Intimate Relationships 101 E-course, the host of the Reimagining Love podcast, and the author of Taking Sexy Back: How to Own Your Sexuality and Create the Relationships You Want (February 2, 2020; New Harbinger) and Loving Bravely: 20 Lessons of Self-Discovery to Help You Get the Love You Want (2017; New Harbinger), which was featured on the TODAY show. She is an international speaker and teacher whose work has been featured on six continents. You can visit her online at dralexandrasolomon.com.View Author posts