Stop Telling Women ‘Once A Cheater, Always A Cheater’

The phrase is being thrown around today after reports that Tristan Thompson was unfaithful to partner Khloe Kardashian. It's harmful and cruel.


by Guy Pewsey |

Tristan Thompson today stands accused of being unfaithful to his partner, Khloé Kardashian. The athlete is alleged to have cheated with Sydney Chase, an Instagram model, who told the No Jumper podcast that Tristan 'told me he was not in a relationship anymore.' He has previously been embroiled in two such scandals, following allegations that he was unfaithful with Lani Blair and Jordyn Woods. The validity of these latest claims are still in question - neither Khloe nor Tristan have commented as yet - but that hasn't stopped one phrase being thrown around all over social media today. It is, perhaps, the most unhelpful thing you can say when a man - or, of course, a woman - is unfaithful: 'once a cheater, always a cheater.'

Type that into Twitter and you'll find this phrase repeated again and again in relation to this new story. It has become something of a reflex. It's catchy! It was used in Friends, when Rachel and Ross get back together after he sleeps with the Xerox Girl. It may even go through your mind when a friend tells you that their boyfriend has been unfaithful. But if it does, you need to hold your tongue. It needs to be stricken from the vernacular. Because it is cruel, harmful and childish, however you look at it.

First of all, it's inaccurate. People cheat. All the time. But some do so once, suffer the consequences and move forward with their lives, recommitted to the person they love. Labelling all cheaters as serial philanderers is simply inaccurate. Perhaps you'd argue that a cheater deserves to be maligned in such a way, but don't you think that saying such things to them may actually push them to fulfil your so-called prophecy? We know that people have a tendency to behave in a way that they are expected.

But let's say that it's true. Always. Someone who cheats, will always cheat. Leopards - or more appropriately, cheetahs - never change their spots. Why say it to their partner? If they have had enough of the infidelity and kicked their partner to the proverbial kerb, then 'once a cheater, always a cheater' tells them that you think they were stupid to give them another chance in the first place. They ignored a bonafide fact. You may as well call them an imbecile. At a time where they are going through pain due to a hurtful betrayal, you're rubbing salt into the wound and kicking them when they're down.

Alternatively, they may have decided to forgive and forget. They have accepted an apology and decided that the life they share with their partner holds too many positives to abandon because of infidelity. They may look back on that choice with great relief, knowing in their heart that moving on from a blip meant a lifetime of happiness. Or they could regret it, realising that they should never have forgiven someone who could hurt them in such a way. Either way, that is not your call to make. It is theirs.

When someone is cheated on, you should offer a sympathetic ear and a supportive shoulder. If pressed for your opinion, you should offer measured and heartfelt words specific to the situation. Does this person think that they can truly forgive? Do they want to? Deep down, do they think that the relationship is worth saving? Could professional help in the form of counselling be of use? These are all valid contributions to someone in despair. But 'once a cheater, always a cheater' is not. You may think that it is the perfect way to criticise someone who has done something unacceptable. But in doing so, you're also showing yourself up as lacking compassion at a time when that's all that's needed.

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