Dear Harlan: I used to cheat on a boyfriend I had from high school to freshman year of college. I ended it. I’m now in an amazing relationship and couldn’t even imagine cheating on my boyfriend. Do you believe in “once a cheater, always a cheater”? My mom always says that.
Once a Cheater
Dear Once a Cheater: Unless you’re cheating while writing to me, I don’t believe you’ll always be a cheater. You used to be a cheater. You’re not one now. Here’s the rule: Once you cheat, you MUST know why it happened so that it will NEVER happen again. You didn’t cheat because you’re a horrible person. You cheated because you couldn’t deal with horrible feelings. Cheating is just a symptom of something deeper — fears, insecurities, trust issues, shameful secrets, childhood trauma, etc.. Once you know exactly why you cheated, when your partner asks you about your cheating past, you can explain, “Yes, I cheated. I was young, immature, and insecure. I had little self-esteem and was too scared to face the truth. Through the years, I’ve worked to be a better version of me. I love myself now. I understand why I did it and I would never do it again.”
P.S. Share this answer with your mom.