Will The Cheaters Keep On Cheating?

As I sat at Starbucks yesterday waiting for my friend, I overheard a loud conversation between two baristas. I don’t know why, but suddenly I turned their way and one of them, a handsome guy in his early twenties (who earlier addressed me as “madam”, which only goes to prove you won’t cheat your wrinkles), asked me: “Do you agree with me?”. When I admitted I had no idea what their conversation was about, he asked: “Do you think a guy who cheats once will continue to cheat?”. It took me longer than I expected to give an answer, which made him very happy since my hesitation apparently supported his theory that the matter wasn’t that clear-cut.

Back in the old days, I would have immediately answered: “Yes”, but nowadays I am not so sure. I said that if I knew a guy I liked had cheated on his girlfriend in the past, I would think twice before I dated him. But I don’t think I believe a person who has cheated once will always be cheating. I also told him I have girlfriends who cheated when they were in one relationship, but then became very faithful once the right guy came along. My answer has animated him enough, so he started asking other people at the place (I love that about New York: you never know when you will become a part of a vigorous discussion with people joining in).

A couple sitting behind me, her in her 40ties, him in his 50ties, immediately said “Yes” – the guy didn’t hesitate and confirmed it after a while, but the woman wasn’t that sure and said that it depends – they were too into their own conversation to develop the subject. A woman sitting nearby supported my view. I did not hear what others have said, but the guy returned happy “See, most people agree it’s not that clear-cut”. And even though I was trying to write a post on something else entirely, I couldn’t stop thinking of the issue now. 

Questions kept popping up in my head: why do we decide to be with someone of whom we know he or she has a history of cheating? Why do people cheat? Will a person stop cheating once they find the person they been seeking for? Of course, there are compulsive cheaters who won’t be helped by anything, but I think they form a relatively small margin. I want to believe that people cheat because something is missing from their relationship and they either don’t have the courage to fight for it, or they did try to fight and nothing came of it, and as they delude themselves, they try to look outside the box. Now I think I probably would date a man who has cheated in the past, for every act like that has a genesis of its own, just like every relationship has a genesis of its own – things may be a bit more complex than we initially think. I think it’s much more important to ask the question: “What do we do when we discovered someone cheated on us?”. For if the answer is: “Nothing”, our problem runs much deeper than the question of whether our partner will stop with the nasty habit or not.

I can tell you one thing, though: the question proved thought-provoking enough for me, I reached for my phone and canceled a meeting with a guy I had planned for this evening, since for the past two days I had the feeling that his “Me and my girlfriend are having a break now, things just got too complicated” wasn’t sincere enough. You won’t fool your intuition.