Should You Trust Your Partner If They Cheated In a Past Relationship?

Once a cheater, always a cheater—right?

But is that really the truth? If someone cheats one time, are they destined to make the same mistake over and over again? The answer, of course, is no. People are human and they're certainly capable of making terrible choices. The defining factor, however, is how they choose to move forward after making such a hurtful decision.

New Girl: Cece and Schmidt fighting

(New Girl via FOX)

If your partner cheated in a past relationship, it can be tempting to label them a cheater and refuse to give them your full trust. If they cheated once, who's to say they won't do it again? That mindset, however, might only keep you from being happy with someone who genuinely learned from their past mistake.

So should you trust your partner if they cheated in a past relationship? Keep scrolling to find out if it's time to put your all into this relationship, or if you should cut your losses and move on.

Trust Them If…

They recognize that their action was wrong. 

Cheating is difficult for both parties. While it doesn't seem like the cheater should have anything to be upset about, they're probably full of shame and guilt that accompanies the choice to hurt someone they cared about. Admitting that they were in the wrong requires putting their ego aside and taking full blame for the situation. If your partner can admit that they were fully in the wrong, you can probably trust that they've learned from their mistake and won't repeat it again in the future.


(Insecure via HBO)


Don't Trust Them If…

They try to blame someone else. 

Cheating doesn't happen in a bubble. It's very likely that there were other factors that led to your partner's decision, including a general unhappiness with their relationship. However, cheating is never the answer. If your partner tries to blame someone else for their decision, such as the person they cheated with or the person they cheated on, you can't trust them. They're not taking full responsibility for their own choices. Not only is that an immature approach, but it also communicates that they're not truly sorry for making such a destructive choice.


Trust Them If…

They show genuine remorse. 

While taking responsibility is important, your partner also has to show that they're sorry for how things turned out in the past. They don't necessarily have to apologize to you, since you're not the person they hurt. But they should express genuine remorse in one way. If your partner exhibits some emotion when talking about their past decisions and makes it clear that they regret it, you can likely trust them. They've recognized the pain they've caused and they've internalized it to some degree, which means they probably won't do it again.


Don't Trust Them If…

They try to hide it from you. 

Honesty is one of the most important facets of a relationship. Infidelity doesn't just break the trust in the partnership, it also ruins the honesty between two partners. If your partner is truly sorry for their past actions, they'll do their best to be totally honest moving forward. Hiding their past instance of cheating from you is not entirely honest. If they're already omitting important details and avoiding tough conversations, things will only get worse in the future. They can be a liar without being a cheater, and you should never carry on a relationship with someone who's dishonest.


(Gossip Girl via The CW)


Trust Them If…

It was a one-time thing. 

Some people are serial cheaters. They cheat in every relationship, leaving a string of broken hearts behind them. You can't trust those people. They don't think twice about hurting someone, and they clearly aren't learning from their mistakes. If your partner's instance of infidelity was a simple mistake in a single relationship, however, you can probably trust them. They don't have a history of injuring people just for the sake of it. Anyone can make a mistake once. If it really was a one-time thing, you have no reason to believe that they can't be better moving forward.


Don't Trust Them If…

They refuse to talk about it. 

If your partner was unfaithful in a past relationship, they should also be willing to talk through what exactly happened. Admitting that you cheated isn't something you can tell someone and then simply shrug off, though many partners take this approach. They believe that it didn't happen in this relationship, so it doesn't matter. However, it can drudge up fear and insecurity in you that's difficult to overcome. If you want to talk about it and gain reassurance from your partner, that's entirely okay. If they refuse to discuss it with you, they obviously don't recognize what a big deal it is. If they can't be mature enough to understand why it would affect you, you probably can't trust them to make better decisions in the future.


Trust Them If…

There aren't any other red flags. 

Sometimes your partner's past infidelity is just one in a long line of potential complaints. You're dating someone who's practically made out of red flags, but you're still convincing yourself that things will be different in your relationship. Other times, their past instance of cheating is the only thing that gives you pause. If that's the case, go ahead and trust them. If your partner has given you no reason to worry, you shouldn't worry. If they've treated you well up until this point, that behavior will likely continue.


(Scandal via ABC)


Don't Trust Them If…

They haven't learned from their mistake.

Once again, there's no excuse for cheating. That being said, your partner should have some understanding of why they made that decision. That doesn't mean that they can blame their ex or justify their choice. Instead, they should be able to express what drove them to cheat and how they plan to avoid that situation in the future. If they can do that, they're proving that they learned from their mistake. If they can't, they gained nothing from the experience that would lead them to make a different decision in the future. In those situations, they don't deserve your trust.


Looking for more advice on cheating? Click HERE for what to do if you're falsely accused of cheating on your S.O.