A man walks with his girlfriend while looking back at another woman

Dating a former cheater – a no-no?

by Eharmony Editorial Team - March 4, 2010

You know they’ve cheated before, but does that mean they’re damaged goods forever? Find out how to make your way through this dating minefield.

Realising you like someone who’s cheated in their past is tough, and you’ll no doubt be plagued with doubts. How can I trust them? Will they do the same to me?

Your decision on whether you date them or not will be based on lots of factors, such as how you define cheating, or the circumstances in which it occurred.

The simple answer to whether you should date someone who’s cheated before is that you should be very careful before you make any serious decisions. Here are five crucial questions you need to ask yourself when you’re weighing up whether or not to date this person.

Have they accepted responsibility?

If the person you want to date appears to acknowledge that they have made mistakes, which went on to hurt people they cared about, then this is a good starting place. Of course, you have to assume they’re sincere – which can be tough with someone whose fidelity you doubt – but if this is the case then they are demonstrating necessary self-awareness.

However, if they make excuses for what happened – ‘she didn’t love me’, ‘he didn’t pay me enough attention’ – then you should be wary. Yes, sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that lead to cheating, but that person still chose to be unfaithful to their partner, and they haven’t faced up to that.

Has the experience changed them?

If a person cheats on their partner, and faces up to that fact, then they should undergo a maturing process. You should feel confident that their experience changed them; that they learnt something from their actions. Not only should this person be able to accept responsibility for what they did, but also be able to tell you how they will be different going forward, potentially in a relationship with you.

Have they undergone a transformation?

We still urge you to exercise caution when considering whether to date a cheater or not, but it is possible for people to undergo transformations in their lives. Significant events can spur change in a person, and may cause them to completely change how they view the world.

It will be hard for you to judge this if you haven’t known the person long, but look for clues in the choices they’ve made. Perhaps they made a conscious decision to change the route their lives were going down by changing jobs, moving, or even undergoing therapy. These will help you see if they have made that all important transformation.

Will you worry about them cheating on you?

Now we turn to you, and your ability to forgive, and forget.  If you’re the kind of person who believes that the past stays in the past then you should have the faculties to deal with this situation. However, if you are someone who constantly worries whether your other half is being faithful, then the added knowledge that they cheated in the past will likely eat away at you. You can’t spend the your time together wondering where your partner is, or who they’re texting. If you fall into the latter category then you should seriously consider passing this person by.

What does your gut say?

Your gut feelings about nearly every emotional situation should be listened to. If it is telling you that you could trust this person, and that they really have changed, then you should listen. However, if your gut is squirming at the thought of being with this person, telling you that you could be making a big mistake, then run with it.  Ultimately, it’s you who has to make this decision, and live with it, so you need to be sure.

If you’ve read these questions and feel you can answer them all positively, then you should be on the right road. Everyone makes poor decisions in their lives – it’s how we deal with them that matters. If we show ourselves to be mature, and admit our mistakes then we deserve a second chance.

The most important thing to remember is that you deserve to be treated as the great person you are, and if this person can earn your trust, and treat you accordingly, then they may well be worth your love.

What do you think? Can you ever trust someone who’s cheated before? Add your thoughts below.