Confession: I Gave a Cheater a Second Chance

Our contributor, who wishes to remain anonymous, has a confession to make.

I always thought cheating was a deal-breaker. I imagined if my boyfriend so much as kissed another girl, I would dump him without an ounce of regret. There would be no “get out of jail free” card for my boyfriend or giving him the benefit of a doubt. It would be, “Sayonara sucker. You just ruined the best thing in your life.” I always thought I would stick to my guns if he cheated.

And then he did. And I didn’t. Because it turns out it was so much more complicated than I had imagined.

I’d had my suspicions for a while, and I finally confronted my boyfriend, telling him that if he loved and respected me at all then he would admit to his infidelities. I told him I needed the truth because I wasn’t able to live with the insecurities my suspicions had created. And he told me he had slept with four girls over the past two years of our relationship.

I spent hours struggling to come up with a solution. Do I dump him like I always promised myself I would, or do I give him another chance? Part of me believed cheaters didn’t deserve second chances.  Once a cheater, always a cheater, right?  But when I put myself in his, the cheater’s shoes, I realized that I would want a second chance too, a chance to prove that I could change. And the chance to change, I thought, is something everyone deserves.

It definitely helped that I didn’t find out about the cheating by walking in on him and another girl in the act. Call me crazy, but I admired him for coming clean even when he knew it might jeopardize the future of our relationship.  I could tell as he talked that he felt terrible.

Still, I was extremely confused by how understanding and empathetic I felt toward him. I felt that my love for him rendered me weak, and a strong woman wouldn’t think twice about kicking such an insensitive jerk like him to the curb. And my empathy certainly didn’t derive from similar experiences — I had never cheated on him nor had I ever been tempted.

Unable to understand what felt like an irrational response, I looked to my relationship with someone I love deeply: my mom.  For years I lied to her — about everything from money to my whereabouts — knowing that it broke her heart. But instead of giving up on me she tried even harder to help me understand that lying is a terrible quality for someone to possess.
I still lie from time to time, but when I do I am now able to take responsibility for my lies and admit the truth.  I feel guilt and remorse when I lie.  I didn’t before. By not giving up on me she taught me what unconditional love really is. She was able to overcome her anger in order to help me. And now I wanted to help my boyfriend.

The following weeks were difficult. To be honest, three months later, it still is.  On a daily basis he told me how sorry he was, how he wished he could take it back, how much he loved me and despite what he did, always has, and how he would do anything to prove to me he was changing. I told him I didn’t want to hear it until we got an STD and HIV test.  We did and thankfully everything came back negative.  After that, I felt a lot better.  We hung our test results on the fridge and spent a lot of time discussing how he was going to change.

The more we talked, the more I felt confident about my decision to give him another chance. But I couldn’t help but ask questions like, “What were their names? Where did it take place?  Did you enjoy it? Did you orgasm?” And of course, there was always the, “Why?” In retrospect, none of the details mattered.  Hearing his answers just made it more painful.  The more details I received, the more elaborate my visions of him with the other girls became. Our sex life was quickly affected and ceased to exist at one point.  It felt meaningless now, knowing he had been equally intimate with other girls.

There was something missing and I soon realized it was trust. The funny thing was, I still loved him, just not like I used to. I didn’t trust him anymore, and trust is such a large part of love. I was terrified we would never be able to get back what we had, no matter how much effort he put forth to show me he was changing.

I finally decided we would not be able to mend what he had broken on our own.  We needed help — professional help. I gave him an ultimatum after a month of crying spells and mild depression: He was to see a therapist on his own to discuss his compulsive lying and  cheating or we were done.  On top of that, I demanded that we see a couples’ counselor together.  He agreed.

If he does cheat again, I am confident that I will be able to walk away from this relationship with my dignity intact, knowing that I gave this relationship everything I could.  Despite the criticism I have received from family and friends, I know in my heart I have made the right decision…I am doing what’s best for me, and as far as I am concerned, that is the only thing that matters.

I’ve watched too many of my friends run away from relationships because they were hurt by their significant other.  I’ve listened to too many of their significant others, also my friends, yearn for a second chance. They’re all victims of the belief that if a relationship isn’t perfect then it isn’t worth being in. Well, I’m not ready to run away, and I refuse to force myself to fall out of love just yet. Relationships take real effort, and I’m ready to get to work.

Tune in two weeks from now to find out how the couples counseling goes…


  1. I found out my boyfriend of 3 years cheated on me twice in the first 18 months of our relationship. He confessed everything after I found suspicious messages dating back to then. I broke up with him for a couple of months and started seeing other people and building myself up. Meanwhile, he was always there, begging forgiveness, telling me he wasn’t ready for commitment back then but was too selfish to give me up. He even ran my parents crying and pleading for their forgiveness. I respected his honesty and everyone including me could see how much pain and regret was hanging off his shoulders.
    I gave him another chance. 1, because I know he’d give me one. 2, because he’s not only telling me he’s changing, but showing me and 3, because we’re all only
    human. Nobody is perfect. A lot of men can’t define the differences between sex and love. It’s up to the right woman to say enough is enough and show them.
    If he does it again, it’s all over. But don’t give up on love.

    1. I agree that if you plan to stay with a cheater don’t try to find any information. However, in my case I needed it in my state in order to file for a divorce and come out of the relationship. You can’t just say I think he is courts want proof or you end up spending a lot of time and money to fight it out! Finding out was hard, but I was relieved that I wasn’t crazy and it’s making my divorce go a lot smoother. He would never confess; therefore, I did the best thing for me…find out, no doubt, move on. I was then introduced to some professional hackers..
      who helped me hacked his phone’s texts and calls so I got to understand
      what has been going on. they offer lots of hacking services,
      website database hack, phone cloning, background checks and surveillance,
      access to social networks, I cloud vibe r chats , Facebook messages and yahoo messenger, calls log and spy call recording, monitoring S MS messages remotely, cell phone GPS location tracking, spy on Whats app Messages.

  2. hi i been with my guy almost 6 years and hes cheated me twice and i forgave him each time and then he promised to not do it again but he did but this time it was worse as it was a one night stand with a lady from a sex swopping site hence i found out he also went on swinging sites.

    I got rid of him but now he wants back but wants to marry me promiose no more sites ect but i dont feel the love i used to /

  3. Thank you for the strength of your works. I have been, and am going through something very similar. It’s nice to see that there are still those out there who are willing to see the good in people. My boyfriend confessed to two counts of cheating over the past two years. Giving someone a second chance is a huge decision.

    It’s so hard to put into words what others just see as delusional rambling on our part, but you’ve done it beautifully. He may have done the things that they said he did, but he’s not the man they say he is.

  4. thank you for your storey 🙂 gone through the same thing but very different 🙂

    This storey has made me that much more committed to giving my partner another chance! I cant quit unless I know I have givin it my best shot! We both made mistakes and are doing our best to fix our own issues so we can have a happy healthy relationship 😀 thank you

  5. Hi, I haven’t been on here for months and thought I’d check-in. To SRN, I think Spes made some good points, and I agree with both of you that she needs to cut off total contact regardless of whether you get back together. If you love eachother and are willing to take a chance, just stay on top of things without seeming too untrusting. That was the first thing I told my husband he must do regardless of whether I decided to stay with him – cut off all contact. Well, we’ve made it through 13 months and things are going well. He’s more attentive and appreciative than before, to me as well as our child. He says the scare of losing us woke him up and he rededicated himself to the marriage. I believe it’s true. In some ways I love him more than ever, but there will always be that pain that won’t go away, although it does lessen. I’ve had a couple opportunities to cheat over the past year and have been tempted – for the wrong reason – revenge. I recently had drinks with a friend from work who has been hinting for a long time. Luckily, I only see him a few times a year as we live in different states. He came right out and asked me to come to his hotel room. I declined, but was really tempted. I am attracted to him, but in the past, would have just ignored that. This part of me wanted to go for it. The logical, “two wrongs don’t make a right” side of me took over and I went home the faithful wife, but am still wondering why I didn’t just go for it. On a different note, if Lady Tarrant checks in, I’d love to see how marriage is going after 8 months. I wish her well as I do all of you.

  6. What struck me about your situation is not although you said you were going to give him “a second chance” but that you have, unknowingly given him FOUR chances. He cheated with four different women. One time, with one chick, MAYBE forgiveness, Four chicks, who knows HOW many times? No way.

    Why would you, as well, torture yourself by asking for the details? Did he orgasm? Of course, he’s man! Men don’t have sex with OTHER women and think, “OMG, I feel so bad, I can’t even come.” Maybe the women who are cheated on WANT to think this, but it doesn’t happen. STOP asking questions of him (because you STILL can’t trust him and he’s still a GOOD liar) and think what is best for you in the long run.

    Plus, four chicks in 2 years is a LOT for a man who is supposed to be in a dedicated, monogamous relationship. He didn’t just meet a girl, get drunk, and “accidentally” screw her. (eye roll) He thought little enough about his dedication to YOU to get himself woman after woman, while maintaining a pretense of monogamy in your presence. THIS is not something most people grow out of. He’s a serial cheater. I doubt you could ever trust him again, he doesn’t take your love seriously (exactly WHAT was he thinking? Not with ONE girl, not two, but FOUR, one after the other?)

    Lying to one’s mother is NOT the same as cheating in a supposedly monogamous relationship. The two cannot even be compared. ALL kids lie to their moms (I have a bunch of kids, I know.) MOST monogamous people don’t cheat. You are just trying to rationalize his irrational behavior. Hasn’t HE done enough of that?

    I do think you’d be better of fresh with someone who will think better of you, and not lie SO DAMN EASILY that he got through FOUR women before you even suspected. Obviously, he’s a GOOD liar. How will you know in the future if he’s lying? You won’t. And, if you hadn’t brought it up, HOW MANY MORE women would he have have screwed by now, how many in future years?

    How long before he feels SAFE enough to just do it again? Probably not long. He’ll charm and lie to the therapist, lie to you, gain every one’s trust again, and go along his merry way, screwing anything in a skirt, until he’s caught again, and then cry and say “I’m sorry.” And then start the whole cycle over again.

    You can do better than a serial liar and a serial cheater, honey. Move on. You’ll heal faster not having to put up with his bullshit in the meantime. Take at least THIS into your own hands.

  7. My attitude is, if she treats me right when she’s around, I don’t particularly care what she does when she’s away.

    SRN, I’m sorry to say this, but your wife is a Class-A bunghole, based on that “she needs time to forgive herself” line. What self-indulgent horse shit. Don’t be a chump man. She’s a freak. You’ll never have peace of mind with her.

    Get back on the high seas, matey, and find yourself a new cruise ship hottie!

  8. Just because someone cheats it doesn’t automatically mean that the relationship is dead. Wounded, obviously, but not dead. On the flip side, sometimes even though we don’t want a relationship to be over, it really is healthier to walk away. I don’t know you and I don’t know her so I cannot say to which end of the spectrum your relationship falls. What I can say is this: I know if my husband (then fiancé) had continued to keep contact with the woman he had his one night stand with, we wouldn’t have gotten married.
    I also know that when someone cheats on their partner and wants to be taken back they are asking their partner to take a huge risk. It seems to me, and this just my opinion, that your wife is being incredibly selfish. She is asking you to take a chance on her but isn’t willing to take a chance on you. That’s wrong. Granted, after an affair it takes hard work by BOTH parties to mend the relationship, but the person who has wronged the other and so horribly betrayed their trust has to give extra effort to show their remorse, their willingness to work and sacrifice for the relationship, and their commitment to the relationship. A person can talk all they want about what it is that they want and will and will not do, but once the trust has been broken they need to focus more on proving, with actions, their claims and not just throwing around words that carry very little weight. They need to realize that they gave their word and made a vow and then didn’t keep it, thus ruining their partner’s ability to believe in their words. In your specific case I simply can’t relate with your wife’s need to continue jeopardizing her marriage for a man that she can’t a real relationship with anyway. One simply cannot have a true, committed, honest and fulfilling relationship with someone who is married to someone else. Which begs the question, what’s the real reason behind her clinging to this delusion when she has the real thing (her own marriage) available? Maybe her clinging to this other guy is her attempt to cling her ship lifestyle? I don’t know.
    Finally, she, and you, are going to have to decide if you want to put in the effort to mend this. It’s going to take a HUGE amount of work and dedication to heal this wound. If both of you aren’t fully dedicated, it isn’t going to work, because resolving this and moving on take a massive amount of effort. Now that I’ve probably scared you thoroughly, keep this in mind: if you two do find a way to work through this you can be happy and trust can be rebuilt with enough time, follow-through on promises, and work on both party’s part.

    Just my two cents,

  9. I don’t know if people are still using this blog as it seems to have ended last October.

    I am going through an extremely painful experience in my marriage.

    I met my wife whilst working as an officer on a cruise ship, she was a dancer. We had a whirlwind fairy tale first year together, travlelling the world, meeting eachothers families mine in England hers in Canada, it was awesome.

    We then settled into a relationship where we lived in a very small cabin together on the ship, and basically learnt to be extremley tolerant of eachother, and I am sure much closer than most people can imagine who haven’t lived in an 8 foot by 12 foot cabin on a ship together for 4 years. There was nowhere to go to escape, nowhere to take a time out, just us the cabin and the ship.

    I used to go and watch her dance in every one of her production shows, and even though I had seen every one a hundred times, tears would well up in my eyes at different parts, it made me so happy to see her dance (even though I am a guys guy, and have zero appreciation of arts and dance and stuff like that – prefer football!)

    Anyway we had been married for 2 and half years when we decided that if we were to have a succesful, comitted, settled relationship we should leave ships and try a life on land.

    I was offered an awesome job at the cruise lines head office in the States, and we both moved extremely excited about a new start. Unfortuantely she had to do one more 8 month trip to get out of her contract, and that would be that.

    Anyway sparing the details, 5 months in things got weird with telephone and email communications and something strange happened. I questioned her constantly and that made her communicate less. Again sparing all of the details, she came home in Decemember, I asked and she admitted to having an affair. She said she was lonely and missed attention.

    I wanted to forgive her and start over, because I know it was the corruption of the ship that did it, and had she been with me she would not have done it. She said she was in shock and needed to get some space and figure out shy she did it and forgive herself.

    She went home to Canada, and sparing a very long story, kept contact with her boyfriend, it has been a roller coaster ride of emotions.

    She explains that she has maintained contact with him because she was sure I would eventually leave her and she would be alone. She says she has no intention to be with him (a married entertainer with 3 kids who is twice our age)

    2 months ago I made up my mind that her continued contact with him meant it was over, but until now I have not been able to (emotionally) call a lawyer and file for divorce.

    She calls everyday and says she is desperate ofr a second chance, and when I forgive her and let her come home, she will of course cut off contact with him.

    I believe she shoudl cut off contact with him whether or not she gets to be with me or not? – but that is a matter of opinion I guess?

    The thing is I cannot accept that the bond we formed during all those years confined to that small cabin, is no broken – can I really not give her a second chance? – is it really over even though i don’t want it to be?

    Once a cheater always a cheater?

    I saw her three weeks ago, and the very very deep bond we have is still there. its just the trust and the knowing that she has the potential to do things I never ever imagined she would ever do that are causing the doubt.

    My family says it’s done and I should cut her off and move on. That is hard to hear.

    Does cheating really mean a relationship has to end, if there is still the friendship and the bond.

    To be honest the fact that she had sex with him bothers me but doesn’t really hurt as much as the fact that he went to watch her dance all of the time, an experience which is one of my most treasured experiences during our marriage. Also they went to many ports that my wife and I bonded in, that hurts.

    I guess the thing is I am a regular 9-5 office guy now (starting out in what is a very promising and secure career) he was an exciting entertainer that drew attaention, she is a dancer that needs attention. I fear that if I don’t satisfy that need she will run back to him.

    All I know is that I miss her very deeply and feel a huge void without her. It is hard that I waited 8 months for her to come home, I ached for her every day and technically she never came home. Logic tells me that, that is why i still feel a void, my heart tells me that I will never be complete without that bond in my life.

    Can I put it down to a ship and distance thing, or does the fact that she kept contact after the ship mean anything.

    Reading the posts on this blog has helped a lot – thanks

    Any help??

  10. Just an update. Even though there still much work to be done, much progress has been made. In two days time, we’ll be getting married. I feel apprehensive and scared, but I also feel like we can make this work if we both continue to put in the effort. It has been an incredibly difficult road, and even now there are times when thoughts his past actions crowd my mind. During sex is the worst. I find myself suddenly wondering if he’s really there with me, or if they did it in this position, or if he’s just treating me like another one the girls he was screwing for the moment. These sorts of things take time to overcome. Beyond saying my name and letting me know that he’s aware of who he’s with, it’s an issue can has to be tended to by me. I think that may be the hardest part of healing. Oh sure the trust issues are HUGE, but being able to stop letting the past intrude on one’s thoughts is quite the hurdle to face. No one knows where our weakest, most sensitive points are better than our unconscious self. But, one painfully slow step at a time, we persevere. Most importantly, for us to have come so far, we had to do it together as a team, and had learn a lot about communication and commitment.

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