You cannot discuss the topic of cheating with that age-old maxim entering the convo. "Well...," someone will say, "once a cheater, always a cheater," to which everyone responds, "mmmm" which translates to,"I'm not sure I agree with that, but I don't want to get into it."
Will someone who cheated once cheat again? Behavioral scientists have been trying to figure it out since they decided to call themselves behavioral scientists. So far no conclusive dice, but according to several recent studies like the one I wrote about months ago, the answer is probably. That study actually suggests that people are genetically predisposed to cheating. Most others focus on cheating as a behavioral pattern -- like a bad habit.
I don't know the answer, I'm not a behavioral scientist, and I've never take a psychology class, but here's my Communications major take:
There's cheating and there's cheating.
- The former: you're in a new relationship that just became official but get caught up in a drunken make-out with some rando you meet at a bar. This is cheating. It's very bad and punishable by break-up, but it's an isolated incident.
- The later: you've been dating someone for 2.5 years, 6 months of which you've also been hooking up with some co-worker on "nights you work really late." This is cheating. It is pre-meditated, calculating, and hard work to keep hidden.
Cheating of that variety isn't easy. You have to hide things and lie about things and avoid people and act one way to one person and another way to the other. You've got to really want something to go through that much trouble. When you're cheating it's likely one of 3 things:
- someone different than the person you have
- more of any people at all (companionship, attention, etc.)
- just lots of sex
So in your head you decide one of the following things:
- I'd rather get caught and have my relationship end than not cheat
- I don't believe I'll ever get caught
- I'm not even considering getting caught because I'm just too focused on sex
To which I have the following reaction:
- If the relationship is that meaningless to you then end it
- That is foolish and cocky which is a bad combination even if you weren't also a cheater
- David Duchovny is recently out of what he describes as very successful sex addiction treatment and is working on rekindling his relationship with wife Tea Leoni (who I love)
If you found out a guy had been accused of stealing from his company for months would you get involved with him? If you knew a girl lied about most things on her resume to get the job she's had would you pursue it further?
It's not so different. We make it different because in our minds it goes, "But he/she really loves me and so they'd never do that." We see infidelity as an offense against a person as opposed to just an offense against honesty and honesty in favor of sex. Time and time again cheaters say, "I never meant to hurt you" and "it meant nothing." I believe that, but in a way that makes it worse. At least, "I cheated on you because you're terrible in bed and I can't stand it" can be fixed (or attempted to be). "It just happened," can only lead you to assume it will "just happen" again.
I think you can cheat once and never cheat again. People make mistakes. Sometimes the mistake is two fold. 1. they're still in a relationship that inspires them to cheat and 2. they cheat. That's not an excuse, but I do believe it's a layer of why that can change with a different relationship. Of course I also believe that people cheat on people they love deeply and want never to cheat on again.
But as far as cheating goes -- I believe once that kind of cheater, always some kind of cheater.
This officially concludes CHEAT WEEK 2009. There will likely not be a CHEAT WEEK 2010 because I can never again spend five straight days writing about cheating.