Relationships can be tricky to navigate once trust has been broken. For those who’ve been cheated on and are willing to give their partners a second chance, there can be insecurities and mistrust that can complicate moving past infidelity. Not every cheater will make cheating a habit once caught, but being able to recognize some telltale signs will help you discern if there can be a future with your partner, or if, as the old adage goes, “once a cheater, always a cheater” is true in your case. Enlisting the help of a relationship expert, we’ve gathered some red flags to watch for — which may indicate your unfaithful partner is likely to cheat again.
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The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour
If you’re looking for some insight into where your relationship is headed, you may want to “roll the tape” on previous events. If it feels as though you and your partner are going through the same motions that led to infidelity the first time around, you may want to pay attention. “If your partner does not express personal responsibility for past betrayals, this does not bode well for healing and growth in your relationship now,” says therapist Alyson Jones.
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Pay attention to your partner’s relationship history
Does your partner have a history of moving quickly from one relationship to another? This may be a red flag, according to Jones, who explains: “Some people fear being alone and have a relationship history in which they go from one relationship right into another. This type of relationship history can be a warning sign that this pattern may be happening again.”
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If your partner cannot reassure you of their “good behaviour,” past or present
Once a person cheats, it is their responsibility to ensure that they are creating a safe space for their partner to heal, and exercising patience in the journey to regain that partner’s trust. “If your partner cannot give you the verbal reassurance you need and be open about their past or present behaviours, they may be cheating again,” says Jones.
Related: 10 signs your partner is a narcissist.
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Is your partner willing to do the work to heal the relationship?
How willing your partner is to manage the aftershocks of their behaviour is a key indicator as to how likely they are — or aren’t — planning on cheating again. Jones explains, “A person who has a history of lies and deception in relationships is much more likely to cheat again than the person who has shown remorse and is able to do the hard work to rebuilt trust.”
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How much stock does your partner put into being honest, in general?
How honest is your partner in areas outside of the relationship? According to Jones, this could be a reflection of the amount of stock they put into their transparency within the relationship, explaining, “If your partner approaches truth in an “elastic” manner in other areas of their life, they may be able to do this in their intimate relationship with you, as well.”
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If your partner will not respect the boundaries you set to help in coping with infidelity
Trying to recover from infidelity in a relationship will often involve a couple setting new boundaries in place to address — and avoid — previous issues that resulted in a betrayal of trust. If your partner refuses to respect these boundaries, Jones advises there may be good reason to doubt their commitment to change. She says, “When healing from a betrayal, it is not uncommon to have an agreement between partners on how they handle social occasions. Often a couple will communicate where they are going and with whom, but if your partner will not share this information or ignores your texts while hanging out with friends, that may be the beginning of another betrayal.”
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If your partner is not caring, considerate or patient with you as you deal with their infidelity
Once cheated on, the partner whose trust was betrayed may be left feeling vulnerable and deeply hurt for some time after the fact. If the person who cheated is truly committed to rebuilding trust and saving the relationship, they should be making every effort to acknowledge and be kind about your healing process. Jones explains, “Healing takes time. If your relationship has patterns in which your partner does not show compassion for what you went through and prefers to focus on your shortcomings, then they are most likely trying to deflect responsibility and avoid making the changes that are needed.”
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If your partner is “gaslighting” you
A term often used in therapy to identify situations in which one person deflects from a subject by turning the blame or anger toward the person questioning them, this is another red flag to watch for when suspicious of your partner’s behaviours. Jones explains, “If your partner is acting in a “gaslighting” manner — which means they dismiss your concerns by calling you paranoid and speak with intense conviction and outrage when you question them – this is a sign that they are deflecting and avoiding personal responsibility.” This behaviour, notes Alyson, could also be one of the signs of an affair.
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If you remain on high alert and cannot get back to a trusting place
Trust your gut, advises Jones, who says, “Your gut may be telling you something is off. If your partner is continuing to hide information and refuses to be open with you, they most likely have something to hide.”
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If your partner continues to flirt with others and seek external validation
Cheating can mean physical or emotional infidelity, and in either case, this can lead to irreparable fractures in your relationship. When trying to move past such a serious betrayal, it’s imperative that your partner makes every effort to make you feel secure in the relationship and work to regain your trust. Alyson Jones identifies behaviours contrary to this, such as “continuing to flirt with others and always looking for external validation” as a clear sign that they are either still cheating, or open to doing so in the future.
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If your partner continues to be overprotective of their technology
Everyone is entitled to their privacy, however, Jones warns, “If your partner continues to be overprotective of their technology and unwilling to share their communications with you, this may indicate they have something to hide.”
Related: 10 signs you're falling out of love.
Written BySusy Alexandre