Entertainment Dating

Entertainment Entertainment Dating

Advice: Can cheaters change?

The old saying goes, "once a cheater, always a cheater." I have the opportunity to date someone I'm really, really into and who is really, really into me. Trouble is, he was in a long-distance relationship several years ago in which he cheated on his girlfriend multiple times. Mutual friends of ours informed me of this, even though he's never confirmed it himself. The same mutual friends, however, assure me that they don't think he'll cheat on me. I'm torn. On the one hand, I want to trust my friends’ judgment, and I really like this guy. On the other, I'll feel like a fool if I ignore the conventional wisdom and get burned. I'm all for communication, but I'm afraid to broach the subject with him, because if I imply that I think he might cheat on me then that might destroy any resolve that he had not to cheat. The question is, can people change?--Cautiously Optimistic

Like all common sayings, there is a certain degree of truth to the adage “once a cheater, always a cheater.” Like all common sayings, however, it’s far too simplistic to describe the complexity of human behavior, nor is it an accurate predictor of whether someone will commit an infidelity again. It’s easy to dismiss a past cheater as “bad” and write them off forever--I don’t blame you for having the impulse--but it won’t do a lick to address your insecurities and doubts.

In this case, you’re going on hearsay, which I (hopefully) don’t have to tell you is a dangerous way to assess a person’s character. Ask him what happened. Simply having a conversation with him about his past indiscretion isn’t going to “destroy any resolve” he may have not to cheat. It’s just a conversation. And an important one at that. Get talking and I bet your fears will start to dissolve immediately. Also, not to justify his behavior or anything, but long-distance relationships are really hard, and not the best indicators of someone’s future faithfulness.

Once you’ve done that, here’s another adage to ponder: “You can’t make an omelet without cracking a few eggs.” Love is inherently risky (or intense, like in your case). The potential to get hurt or hurt someone else is always there, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying simply because we might get hurt down the line. We can’t know how the cards are gonna play out, but given the choice, wouldn’t you rather live your life now than worry about something that hasn’t occurred? I’m not saying you have to swish about your life blindly hoping that everything will work out OK--by all means, be cautious, keep your eyes open--but don’t let fear run the show. “Fear is an asshole,” as the adage I just made up goes (let’s make it happen, people!).

As to your last question, I’ll tell you that I’ve cheated on people in the past, and that I don’t anymore. I’ve also been cheated on a fair amount too. It’s a painfully common problem in many monogamous (and sometimes non-monogamous) relationships. Trying to safeguard yourself from the pain of infidelity before things have even begun is understandable, but it’s an illusory safeguard. You can’t run from hurt; it’s always there, like joy, waiting to burst out from nowhere and change everything. The question shouldn’t be, “Can people change?” But rather, “Will you allow yourself the courage to find out?”

Want to ask Anna an anonymous question about love, sex or dating? Email your quandary to redeyedating@gmail.com.  Need to give your dating life a boost? Sign up for RedEye Dating.

Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Quick 'n' dirty sex advice, summer edition

    Quick 'n' dirty sex advice, summer edition

    Happy summer, hot stuffs! It’s that time again, time for beer gardens, tankinis and another round of quick ā€˜nā€™ dirty sex advice, because though the days may be long, our attention spans are short. Let’s hit it and quit it (but not before sharing it with all your friends please. I work very hard!).

  • Bold predictions for Lolla 2015

    Bold predictions for Lolla 2015

    The Lolla schedule is sort of like the NCAA tournament: there are millions of possible combinations, and it’s anyone’s guess what the winning picks will be. With that in mind, we make some bold predictions about how this year’s fest (returning to Grant Park Fri.-Sun.) will turn out. Breakout artist...

  • 2010 killing of Chicago cop detailed at trial; man claims self-defense

    2010 killing of Chicago cop detailed at trial; man claims self-defense

    The man on trial in the killing of Chicago police Officer Thor Soderberg hated police and surprised the officer as he changed out of his uniform at shift end and placed his duty belt down, a Cook County prosecutor alleged Monday.

  • Aldermen to hold hearing on untested rape kits

    Aldermen to hold hearing on untested rape kits

    Chicago aldermen on Monday called on police officials to provide information on how quickly rape kits are being tested by the state crime lab, part of a largely symbolic effort to determine whether a large backlog is hampering work to apprehend rapists.

  • Alderman's 'Chi-raq' criticism falls flat

    Alderman's 'Chi-raq' criticism falls flat

    A South Side alderman's effort to tweak filmmaker Spike Lee for using "Chi-raq" as the title for a movie about Chicago violence fell flat Monday with his colleagues.

  • ComEd to hold energy fairs to help low-income customers

    ComEd to hold energy fairs to help low-income customers

    Commonwealth Edison will hold energy fairs at satellite locations across the region Monday in order to get money to thousands of people struggling to pay their electricity bills in northern Illinois.

  • PAWS Chicago "Muttshots!"

    PAWS Chicago "Muttshots!"

    These adorable pups are on the loose looking for a place to call home. They have a warrant out for their arrest. Their crime? Being irresistibly cute and cuddly. If you're interested in adopting any of these dogs, please visit www.pawschicago.org for more information.

  • Wabash Lights exceeds Kickstarter goal, hopes to begin test this fall

    Wabash Lights exceeds Kickstarter goal, hopes to begin test this fall

    The designers of an ambitious plan to install colorful LED lights on the underside of the Wabash Avenue "L" tracks raised almost $60,000 in a Kickstarter campaign that will allow them to move forward with a test of the project.

Comments
Loading

79°