Of all the things that can be difficult to move past in a relationship, cheating can be one of the hardest. Cheating — and the dishonesty that often surrounds it — can erode trust, stop communication, and damage a relationship in a way that it may not come back from. In fact, cheating can be so powerful that it doesn’t even have to happen to you for it to affect your trust. Sometimes, just knowing that your partner has been unfaithful to someone else in the past is enough to make you question your their ability to stay loyal.
But not every person who cheats is going to cheat again. Sometimes, it really is just a mistake that happened when they were younger — or when they were a different person. But it’s natural to be worried that they might stray again, whether they’re actually being physical with someone else or it’s just an emotional fling.
Emotional cheating can be completely devastating. And it’s often more frustrating, because you’re not always sure if it’s happening or it’s just in your imagination. “Fidelity in a relationship does not get to be dissected into bits and pieces,” Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. “Emotional fidelity, physical fidelity, psychological fidelity — they are all required. If you partner has cheated in the past the reality is that they can cheat again. Being emotionally loyal to you is part of a total package of loyalty.”
So how can you tell if your partner will remain faithful emotionally, even if they’ve cheated before? Here’s what experts recommend.
1. They Take Responsibly
If your partner is open about their past and they take responsibility for it, that’s a great sign. But saying they cheated and then blaming their ex for being “needy” is not the same as owning up to the fact that they’ve done something wrong. You will probably feel more comfortable with someone who understands the situation better.
“Someone who had a single slip up that they regret and have some level of understanding about is not a bad risk,” relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW tells Bustle. “But someone who is a chronic cheater and/or blames it all on the other person is likely to cheat again”
2. Their Cheating Wasn’t A Regular Occurrence
Not all cheaters have the same history. “It is the history of cheating that is most important to look at,” Klapow says. “A partner who has cheated multiple times over the course of their relationship history is going to be a risk. You must accept that going into the relationship. A partner who has cheated once is going to be less of a risk.”
It’s not a guarantee that they’ll be faithful, but it’s useful to keep in mind.
3. They Understand Why You Might Be Worried
In addition to owning the fact that they cheated, it can be really reassuring if they understand why you would be worried because of their history. They should communicate openly about the relationship and how they feel about it.
“A partner who proactively communicates to you about their concerns with the relationship what they like and don’t like, what they want to work on, is a partner who is telling you what they need and how the relationship can get better,” Klapow says.
4. They Don’t Make Selfish Choices
Cheating is often an incredibly selfish choice, especially when it comes to serial cheating. “They can choose to not cheat at any time,” Klapow says. “This is not something they don’t have control over.”
If your partner seems to be tuned into your needs and someone who’s considerate and kind, that can be a sign that a one-time betrayal isn’t representative of their personality. But if they’re someone who makes selfish choices, that might be a bad sign.
5. They’ve Incorporated You Into Their Life
“A partner who has nothing to hide, hides nothing,” Klapow says. “You ask, they tell.” Honesty and transparency can be some the best antidotes to trust issues. If they allow you access to their life — their friends, their family, their work colleagues, even their apartment — it can be a good sign that they’ve got nothing to hide.
On the other hand, a lot of secrecy and enigmatic behavior mixed with a history of cheating might be something to worry about.
6. They’re Vulnerable With You
If your partner is willing to be open with you, that’s a good sign. “Finally — vulnerability — a partner who shows you who they are, their flaws, even their temptations is a partner who is laying their cards on the table,” Klapow says. “They trust themselves and you enough to let you see who and what they are.” That’s a very good indicator that they’re committed to the relationship.
7. Your Gut Often Knows
Don’t underestimate the power of a gut feeling. “If it’s a one-time thing in the past and you feel in your heart you can trust your partner to be faithful (you know when you know), then you are good!” Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and the owner of Exclusive Matchmaking, tells Bustle.
There’s no guarantee that someone who has cheated before will be faithful — but then again, there’s no guarantee that anyone will be faithful. Look for transparency and how willing they are to take responsibility, as well as how much they consider your feelings. You may not know for sure, but there are some very strong indicators of how faithful your partner will be, physically or emotionally.
Originally posted on Bustle