Of all the relationship problems a couple may have to deal with, infidelity must be the most damaging to a relationship. After the first shock of betrayal and breach of trust, the deceived partner has a choice: do I end the relationship, or do I try to save it? The central question for this decision is: can ‘cheaters’ change? The answer to that question is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’.

What causes cheating?

Cheating can indicate a pattern of not being able to handle relationship problems, which might go back years. Instead of communicating with the partner about problems and solving them to the satisfaction of both parties, cheaters look for temporary distractions.

The chances that someone who cheated will change increase when:

  • it was the first time that they cheated;
  • they sincerely regret what happened;
  • they take full responsibility for what happened;
  • they still love the partner;
  • they are motivated to repair the relationship;
  • they realise, and especially feel, how much pain and sorrow they caused their partner;
  • they are critical towards themselves and have taken a thorough look at their behaviour, preferably under the guidance of a professional in the field of relationship coaching.

Taking responsibility

If the cheater doesn’t take full responsibility for their actions, he or she will place the blame somewhere outside of themselves. It’s the current partner, circumstances, alcohol, or perhaps the person he or she cheated with is to blame. “It just happened!” is something you’ll often hear. These excuses come across as if they’re trying to justify the incident and will decrease the chances that they’ll change. Cheaters will not be able to quickly change their behaviour if the cheating is a pattern in their current or previous relationships, and if there’s little to no motivation to do things differently.

Having a critical look at yourself

If the partners choose to try and save the relationship, they need to realise that it takes time and energy. Especially when it comes to winning back trust. First, you need to find out together what led to the cheating and what personal changes will be needed for it not to happen again. That goes for both the person who cheated and their partner. They also need have a critical look at themselves: what was my part in what happened? What should I change?

Fixing underlying patterns

In other words, the answer to the question “Can ‘cheaters’ change?” is: yes, they can change if they effectively solve the underlying problems they have with their partner. This requires insight into the mutual communication and behavioural patterns, as well as typical differences between men and women. Then, they’ll need to actively work to change these patterns. If you don’t change ‘the blueprint’ of your relationship (the way you interact with each other), one of the parties is very likely to cheat again, which could lead to the end of the relationship. After a divorce, people often find that they regret not having worked harder on solving their problems. Make an appointment through the Contact page for an initial interview!