Have You Cheated? Would You Forgive a Cheater?
Two sets of strangers open up about their experience—on both sides— of cheating.
More about this episode
A Conversation on Cheating
There are various forms of cheating when it comes to relationships, such as physical cheating and emotional cheating. The latter involves flirtatious communication with someone other than your partner without having sex. Research indicates 45 percent of men and 35 percent of women have admitted to having emotional affairs at some point in their life.
For many couples, trust can’t be repaired once it’s broken. However, if you decide to forgive your partner for their infidelity then you shouldn’t hold it over their head—doing so could further ruin the dynamic of the relationship you’re trying to rebuild. Discussing what happened in the past and making sure there are ways it doesn't happen again is fine. It’s also important to establish a clean slate and have equal footing for your relationship to have a chance at growing stronger than it was before.
Opinions. We all have them, especially when it comes to love and sex. So what happens when two people who've never met get to share their opinions in an open and honest conversation? Maybe they learn something about the other person and maybe they learn something about themselves.
I'm Dr. Judy and this is "Well, in my opinion." Today, we're asking the question, "Have you cheated? And would you forgive a cheater?"
I don't necessarily think I would be okay with someone cheating on me or cheating on someone, but I've already experienced it in my short life, so I kinda almost feel like it's something that everybody goes through.
I'm pretty sure it's gotta be normal, you know? Cause I feel that if something is lacking in a relationship, you’re going to go find that lack-ment, you know? We're trying to make ourselves happy.
Let me ask you: have you ever experienced being cheated on or have you cheated on someone before?
Yeah, I've experienced it as well, too.
Yes. And the way I feel is I couldn't blame anyone but myself. Right? Because if my significant other is going out to find something that's out there, then I did something wrong. Right? I did not please the hundred percent that I should have done. So if anybody cheats on somebody, it's technically that person's fault because why are they not doing whatever they can to keep that person?
I can understand that. It's kind of something that you have to go through in order to realize your own self-worth. I'm not saying everybody needs to be cheated on, but I have became such a better bitch because I leveled up, grew from the experience,
You leveled up—it’s like a game. Because it is all just a game. Society tells us what is and what isn’t right. That's not your actual feelings.
One thousand percent. I agree with you on that too.
Let's say you grew up in the woods, you didn't know any better. Maybe you just had a Bible next to you that says go out and prosper. Go make life. That's really what it said to do. It didn't say, "Hey, take hold of one person. That's when the tower of Babel came about—to make people separate.
For me personally, I kind of went through that situation where my boyfriend was hooking up with other people, not necessarily emotionally more so physically. So it did hurt me a lot because I didn't necessarily understand where it was coming from. And I was young. Like I keep saying, I had to go through it.
When you're young, it's a whole different ball game.
It’s a whole different ball game, ‘cause you’re so naive.
There's possessions, there’s "Hey, you can't go here. You can't go there. I don't want you over there." Not until I hit my mid twenties and I went through all that bullshit, was like, "Oh my God, that's way too much stress." You're going to work and I’m like, "Hey, are you out there fucking?"
I experienced the situation where my boyfriend was hooking up with people physically, not necessarily emotionally. And it did hurt me because I didn't process it as a physical need because he needs to do what he needs to do. And I was either going to be okay with it or move on. And eventually I had to move on, but I feel like now, if I were to enter a relationship like that, I would kind of be okay with him sleeping with other people if it wasn't an emotional attachment. I don't want you taking him everywhere we go. I don't want you to go shopping at the same thrift stores. I don't want to see you doing the same stuff. If you want to hook up with him while you're on vacation and we're thousands of miles away and I'm busy building my empire and you're doing your thing, then so be it. I have no control over that. And I feel like I've finally come to that point in my life where I'm like, "I'm done trying to control everything."
Once you get down to the coexisting part, it doesn't matter. When you're with me, you're with me. When I'm not with you, I’m not with you.
That can go throughout the whole thing, whether she's out cheating and doing whatever she's doing out there. If I don’t know about it, who cares?
Do I think it’s right to cheat on someone? No. Do I think it's something that everybody goes through? Yes. Do I think it's okay? No. Do I think it helps you grow? Yes. Have I? Not necessarily.
Forty-five percent of men and thirty-five percent of women have admitted to having emotional affairs at some point in their life. Surprisingly one study found that eighty-eight percent of women were far more concerned about their husband cheating emotionally than they were about them cheating physically.
I've never cheated on anyone, but like with one relationship, it depends on who you ask. Where I think we were on a break, but if you were to ask him, then no, I cheated on him.
Because we broke up that day in my head. We were done.
And he thought it was like a, "Well let's get back and talk later"?
So then I went out that night and met up with someone I had been interested in and I made out with him. Then the next morning I woke up and I had a voicemail from my recent ex and he's like, "I can't believe we got in this fight yesterday. I love you. I'm so sorry. We're gonna build on top of this and make our relationship better." For me, the reason why I do not cheat on anyone is because in-the-moment gratification isn't worth the long-term feelings of guilt in my mind. And so I had to tell him, because I can't keep a secret like that in. And then it just ruined everything.
Oh, that's awful.
I was like, "But we were on a break!"
Oh, that sucks. And he was pissed, I'm sure.
Yeah, he was upset.
Yeah, I've never cheated because I'm too honest, to the point in relationships—I'm so honest with them that I'll say things that I'm like, "I really don't like this about you" where it's like, I should just shut up. And so if I cheated, I would just immediately be like, "I cheated." So every time I've wanted to cheat in a relationship, I've just ended the relationship.
I hate the age-old expression, "Once a cheater, always a cheater," because I don't agree with that.
I don't either. I know people who are so different than that.
One hundred percent. We're always evolving in terms of romance and relationships. And I have friends who I've been friends with for a really long time, and I've watched them grow into a completely different person in their relationship now than what they were back then. So I think that there is a level of forgiveness in cheating. I think it just depends on the extent, was it a one night stand, or was it a feminine, lone relationship with someone else? Yeah, because the one night stand thing, or was it a full—
Are you having a full-blown relationship with someone else?
Yeah, because the one night stand thing, I think I would be able to forgive it under the right circumstances. I have a girlfriend who found out that her dad had an entire family in Idaho that nobody knew about. So now he lives in Idaho and he's married to that woman, but it's like in that case scenario, no! I wouldn't be able to forgive that. You're like, "Yeah, let's just pick up where we left off before you started a family in another state."
Put our families together.
If you decide that you want to give this relationship a shot after one of you has cheated, it really needs to be a reset to almost a blank slate. The most common thing that I see in my practice is that the partner who's cheated is basically always in the doghouse and the person who didn't cheat is always suspicious of them. And that just ruins the dynamic for a long-term relationship. If you really decide to forgive the person, you really have to reset and to give them your trust again, obviously by discussing what happened in the past and making sure that there are ways that it doesn't happen again, but you do have to kind of start over and be able to be on the same and equal footing for this relationship to have a chance.
I'm Dr. Judy and this has been "Well, in my opinion."