How about we break it down even further into once a cheater who has an/multiple affairs?
I have been on SI for over 6 years and have witnessed the tremendous change that can occur to a WS; even after multiple affairs. One shining example is the member BrokenRoad who is the FWW of moderator wifehad5. They are now happily reconciled even though his wife had multiple affairs.
Personally, I believe everyone is capable of changing their behaviors and who they are; no matter what they have done in the past.
He did. I made him wait a couple of months before I'd date him. I later found out that during that time, he was giving his phone number to the check out women at the local supermarket, but making it look like he was "waiting" for me.
I guess I thought that his would-be cheating with me was excused because I ended up being his W... so it was a unique case. I was effing special, right? So stupid when I look back at it now.
I don't think he cheated during the first 10 years because he just couldn't. We went to school together, so we were either in class or home working. For awhile we lived with my parents to save money. He just didn't have the opportunity. And, quite honestly, I do think we had about 4-5 years where we were really happy and in love.
But as soon as he started a new job I was out of town for work, he started sleeping with some coworker. Pretty much the first willing vagina on the same office floor.
He was so hysterical after the first time he did it with her, I'm pretty sure it was his first time cheating on me. I thought I was going to have to take him to the hospital.
But I'm now realizing some of his dating timelines before we were together don't make sense-- including the time line around when he broke up with a previous fiance. I don't know why I didn't notice it before!
And I have to mention that he had terrible boundaries in other areas of his life. He was a binge eater and a binge exerciser. An EPIC procrastinator (never seen anything like it). I think he was in the early stages of a drinking problem in the last year of the M (I kept threatening to pour his alcohol down the sink).
Anyway, does it mean once a cheater, always one? I don't know. I think it shows that cheating is one among a possible spectrum of bad coping strategies that an individual can have if they are not proactive about maintaining their mental health (I consider lying, living a double life, failing to make healthy or secure intimate emotional ties, codependency, etc all part of poor mental health).
[This message edited by PhantomLimb at 1:14 AM, January 5th (Sunday)]
Me: fBH 46
Her: exWW 42
DDay: Nov 1, 2012
Divorced: September 17, 2013
We certainly hope everyone learns from their mistakes but those who are constitutionally predisposed to easy answers, breaking commitments, and not facing their own issues are people we are naturally wary of.
This is my XWS. Perfect description.
I fooled myself into thinking that, even though he had NO CONTROL or discipline in any other area of his life, he would be faithful to me.
When we went home for the holidays, my family literally had to hide candy and cookies from him because he'd get up in the middle of the night and hunt them down and eat them all. One time he ate a whole effing decorative gingerbread house because he couldn't find anything else. That event is still a Phantom Family legend.
I remember wondering to myself after he did that, "why is it that he has no control in any other area of his life, but me?".
Logically I knew it didn't make sense. But when we're in love, we spackle.
The alcoholic analogy above is spot on.
Ironically, XWS himself said this to me on DDay. He sort of muttered it to himself and I didn't get it: "I feel like an alcoholic. I'm going to have to wake up everyday and deal with this. Get away from me. You deserve so much better. I always knew you'd end up leaving me someday for someone... easier."
I still don't totally understand what he's living with in his head that makes him think of himself as an alcoholic. But I didn't stick around long enough to find out...
When I met him, he was already divorced. We were friends for a few years, but I knew he was interested (I wasn't, he's not my type).
After a few years of friendship, we got closer, and things evolved.
He told me that he had been very unhappy in his marriage (bla bla bla, cry me a river) and that he'd had an affair... get this: for 3 years! I was so na´ve and unaware of what affairs were, I didn't really absorb what he told me.... And just chalked it up to his 'terrible' marriage.
Later, he told me about his high school experiences, where he was dating one girl (soon to be wife) and screwing her best friend! No kidding! And he even admitted that the best friend had never even given him a second look until he started dating her friend (his GF)... She was one of those girls, you know- those awful sluts you think only exist in the movies (or daytime soaps), but they really do
exist and they really do pull this kind of shit.
so, yeah, in high school, he's screwing his girlfriend's best friend, knowing full well that the friend is out to hurt his girlfriend, and doesn't give a fuck about her...
then later, he's screwing around on his wife (H.S sweetheart) with a woman from church.... yes, church. She's married, of course. He knows her BH, so well in fact, that he hangs out at her house, with their kids, and plays Basketball w/ the BH.
Who the fuck does that?
I knew all this, and married him anyway. It's hard for me to admit that I'm stupid, but when I take the time to write it all out, and re-read it, I have to face facts.
I am stupid.
And once a cheater, in this case, always a cheater.
And by cheater, I mean confused, unhappy, no coping skills, compartmentalizing, unexamined life sad sack. But some of these assholes are still really endearing and easy to fall in love with. fuckers.
And, I swear, you guys, if you met him, you'd be fooled too. I can't believe how some of these guys come off as such wonderful people, and yet they've left all this destruction in their wake...One of the reasons my ex has gotten away with it, is his first wife has no clue about any of this, she never found out. The woman he was involved with during his marriage was never discovered either, and none of his family know why we are divorced (they would have ex-communicated him had they known, and I did not want that for him).
I guess he's been enabled all his life
[This message edited by PRNDL at 2:28 AM, January 5th (Sunday)]
I call him wxh, as opposed to those that say xwh.
Hm. Something to think about. But keep in mind that mine is still a wayward- he's just not MY wayward.
I liked the alcoholic analogy. That's how I see my WS.
I think a remorseful WS is actually much less likely than the average person to cheat. They know the extreme costs that are hard to fully imagine if you haven't been through it.
It is actually the least of my worries with FWH. I seriously think he'd rather die than do this again.
Nobody is a cheater until they cheat. There is no guarantee that any other man I would be with wouldn't put me into this exact same place. I trust that my H is doing all the work necessary to make sure that he never puts me in this suffering again.
I have thought about that 'once a cheater, always a cheater' thing... I think of it more like, 'Once you have cheated, you will always be seen as a cheater'. It seems to me that's true. It's that Scarlet A... you just have to wear it. Shoulda thought of that before, that's all I have to say about that.
Not saying they ALL re-offend, but it sure seems to be a common occurrance.
In terms of trusting new partners (or choosing to stay with the one with the known history), I don't think you can rely on statistics.
The guy who's never cheated can still cheat.
The partner who's been unfaithful in the past may have learned well from the experience and hard work that followed--and may be a wonderful partner.
My personal opinion is that most WSs don't do the hard work to become former waywards. Often, it's because they don't know it's required. The fallout of infidelity is just as shocking to the WS as it is to the BS---no one has a manual for appropriately coping. (If we did, I would not have been the lunatic I was.)
It's not enough to stop cheating. Alcoholics who stop drinking without retooling their thinking via Twelve Steps, IC, and/or rehab retain their faulty thinking processes, making them FAR more vulnerable to recidivism. (It also makes them the same disordered assholes to live with as they were when drinking, only with new problems added.) Smokers who stop smoking, but do not retool their thinking to think of themselves as NONsmokers are at far greater risk of lighting up again.
And cheaters who stop cheating, unless they change the ways they think about themselves/others/relationships AND gather tools to be successful, are likely to cheat again, IMO.
Many cheaters stop. For one reason or another, they find the personal cost of cheating to be too high.
But until they do the work necessary to change the way they think of themselves, others, and relationships, they are still cheaters, in my book. They are "dry drunks." I lived with one for well over 20 years. And coming from an alcoholic FOO, the similarities are astounding.
Those who do that hard work, and become and remain faithful to themselves and others do lose the "cheater" status, in my book. These former waywards are as safe as any partner---and probably safer than many/most.
Sadly, I do think that, among people who have been unfaithful, these are not the norm.
At least not at first. I think there's a learning curve even for those who genuinely want to make the necessary changes. And there are obstacles: lack of (or poor) counselors, not knowing what to do, family opposition, and so on. These can make it very difficult to achieve the necessary changes.
Many, with the right resources and insight, overcome the obstacles. Many don't bother. It's too hard, or too .... <fill in the blank.> The cost of infidelity must become greater than the "benefits." And for many, this does not occur.
I also think there are a lot of white-knucklers and dry "drunks." Some just want to hang on long enough for the pain to "pass," so that "things can go back the way they were." They may be immature. They may have had terrible role models. They may utterly lack coping tools and have no idea how to be in a relationship. Whatever--it doesn't matter, really. The end result is that they are concerned primarily with their own comfort and want things "back the way they were" for minimal effort. And often, they're pissed they can't have their drug of choice, too.
And this group, too, with the right resources and guidance, can become FORMER waywards who respect themselves (first and foremost) and others, and become safe partners. But it takes a LOT of work, and a LOT of help---and sometimes, a LOT of "falling off the wagon" that can be VERY hard for the BS to experience. But they can do it. Their marriages may not survive--but THEY do, and can be safe and healthy partners.
Sadly, I think there is a fairly strong subset of cheaters who have no intention of ever changing. My husband is among them.
There's no test we can administer to evaluate a person's odds of cheating, whether that person has a known history of infidelity or not.
(And frankly, when looking for a new partner, I'd also be looking hard at the known former BSs, because unless WE do some hard work, too, we carry a lot of baggage unfair to a new partner.)
To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity of reflection.
- H. Poincare
I think this applies equally to maxims like "once a cheater . . . "
I think that cheating, in itself, is a giant warning flag that should encourage any BS to seriously, skeptically, re-evaluate their relationship with the cheater. But, as many others have said, remorse and hard work by the cheater can (and in my case, has) help heal the BS.
"What God has joined together, let man... no man put asunder" -Pastor at our wedding concluding the ceremony
[This message edited by WearingTheHorns at 3:28 PM, January 7th (Tuesday)]
Do I think he may cheat in the future? Highly doubtful but everything is possible. He still struggles and he still comes and tell me his thoughts stray sometimes. Would that deter me into working on our M? No. The future is not my concern. The present is. I need to continue to work hard on my M as well as he. A real M requires attention and hard-work as you would a plant that needs to be watered and cared for everyday.
I think the real question is: if your wayward cheats again, would it break you irreparably? If the answer is yes, then maybe R is not for you. R is not for the faint of heart. R is not for people who think "once a cheater...". That doesn't allow room for improvement, it doesn't allow love back in.
[This message edited by Simple at 3:42 PM, January 7th (Tuesday)]
True love is harder to come by than soul mates. True love requires work.
Ignorance can be cured with knowledge. There is no cure for being an idiot.
Met when we were 17 and 15. Together since 1983, married since 1985. Two kids, B21, G15.
Life has a way of making us get our panties in a wad.....I refuse to wear panties ever again.