The other day my friend and I were chatting about cheating. She mentioned that she'd cheated on every boyfriend she had until she met her husband.
The former guys constantly asked her to put a title on the relationship: boyfriend/girlfriend, dating exclusively, or what? This habit of looking for titles made the guys appear insecure and also made my friend feel trapped.
She couldn't take the relationships seriously.
My friend admitted her reasoning was not a good excuse to cheat, but she rationalized it by telling herself she cheated because she felt trapped.
But she changed when she met her husband. Somehow he was able to allow her space, and he wasn't always demanding answers about their relationship. The cheating stopped and they lived happily ever after.
My friend is an example of a rehabilitated cheater. She had gotten to the point where she rationalized and accepted her cheating behavior, but she found a way to change.
Personally, I believe a cheater can be rehabilitated, but a number of the following things must happen to spark the change:
They Must Feel Guilt and Shame at Some Point
One and done cheaters feel guilt that first time and never want to hurt anyone like that again. Shame grows out of guilt. Instead of being proud of the number of conquests, someone must feel shame for their immoral behavior.
They Must Be Cheated On
Some people don't know how it feels until it happens to them. When I wrote about my broken heart, I didn't mention that he left because he thought he liked someone else. When I think about the pain it caused, I realize I'd never want to cause that harm to anyone else. If you've ever been cheated on, I bet it's easier not to cheat on anyone else.
They Must Form Healthy Relationships
If you're in a string of unhealthy or unsatisfactory relationships, you're more likely to look elsewhere — like my friend did when she felt trapped in a relationship.
They Must Be Self-Aware
Some people convince themselves they are ready to settle down and they're done sewing their wild oats. But the toughest part of self-awareness is admitting weakness and what you don't want to admit to yourself...it's the most important and defining part of self-awareness.
They Must Be Secure
People love to have multiple adoring people to prove that they are worth something. Very few people can deal with not having anyone or even one person adoring them — they get greedy.
They Must Be Held Accountable
Some cheaters do what they do because no one ever holds them accountable. Maybe the girlfriend keeps taking them back, or they never face the music in some way.
They Must Be Emotionally Mature
Emotional immaturity leads to flakiness, flightiness, and infidelity at times.
They Must Be Strong
This is related to emotional immaturity, but loyalty and honesty are associated with strong personalities. It takes strength to resist temptation.
They Must Want to Change
Just like any rehabilitation, the change doesn't happen unless the person wants to change.
Do you think a cheater can be rehabilitated? Why or why not? What would you add to my list?
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