I have been unfaithful to my ex-boyfriend in the past, and now I have a new boyfriend and I’m afraid he is going to ask if I have ever cheated on someone. I used to drink a lot and that’s why I cheated; they were drunken hookups that I hardly remembered happening. I don’t drink anymore and would never cheat again, so I don’t want my new boyfriend to think I’m still like that. People CAN change… I did. What should I do?
Once a cheater, always a cheater. People may cheat for a lot of different reasons, but the root cause usually has to do with a lack of respect for themselves and others. Despite what you may want to believe, people rarely change. It’s completely insane to expect someone you’re in a relationship to change the way you want them to, whether it’s drugs, drinking, cheating, eating, or whatever. Never hold out hope for someone to change. Won’t happen.
However, we all do stupid things when we’re young. Many of us, but certainly not all, grow up and become better people. All kinds of crazy immature stuff happens in our high school and college years and it’s part of the natural process of finding ourselves. I think this is less about people changing, and more about discovering who we really were all along. Or maybe that’s just a bunch of psychobabble BS and I’m full of shit. Hell if I know.
But look, in this case, you’ve completely changed your lifestyle. You used to be a drunken party girl that would at least occasionally sleep around. Now you no longer drink and feel confident that you’d never cheat again. Ask yourself if you were ever really a cheater or if you were just an irresponsible drunk who did lots of stupid shit, one of which included drunken hookups. But also ask yourself what it means if you ever decide to drink again: Can you just not handle your booze and your inner slutty ways will re-emerge, or could you get as drunk as a CWU freshman cracking her first can of Four Loko and still not make the same mistakes you once made?
Once you answer those questions for yourself, you’ll know what to say if your boyfriend asks if you ever cheated. I think it’d be perfectly fine for you to answer, “I never cheated, but I used to get really drunk and do stupid shit that I am not proud of, but those days are behind me.” A sloppy drunken hookup is much different from a cold sober decision to have an affair behind the back of your boyfriend in a committed relationship.
Worst case, you can always explain that while you DID fool around on your ex-boyfriend, you definitely didn’t inhale.
I really believe it is possible for people to change, especially when alcohol is taken out of the equation. What can just be a “girls night out”, can turn into “Oops, I went out with the girls, got really fucking wasted on Jager, called my boyfriend and started yelling at him for no reason, made myself out to be the victim, found some dude who looked hot and fucked him in the bathroom stall out of spite” when you bring enough alcohol into the mix. Don’t be afraid to bring up your past with your new boyfriend. It’s not like you’re still doing shit like that. In my opinion, the fact that you are being honest with him is a tell-tale sign that you have made a turn for the better.
All I can really do to answer this question reasonably is put myself in his shoes. If I were dating a guy, and I asked him if he had ever cheated before and he told me the absolute truth, I would take it for what it is. If he was no longer a drinker and didn’t just tell me the old, “I cheated on her but I would NEVER cheat on you” bullshit, I would believe him. If I truly believed he had made efforts to change that part of himself, I would give him a chance. To be honest, I have dated guys who have told me they had cheated before, but I had reason to believe it was their past and that they had grown from that point in their life. They never cheated on me.
So, what should you do? Well, don’t lie. There really isn’t any need to. Telling him you’ve never cheated before will just make you feel guilty. If this guy wants to stick around and believes you’re the good person that you are, he will take what you said at face value. A LOT of people have cheated. Not everyone continues to do it. Hell, HE may have. You never really know. The people that DO continue to cheat are those that are continuing on with their shitty ways of life, expecting different results. Let him know you have taken all the necessary steps to move on from that point in your life, and hope he can trust in what you tell him.
Unless you’re totally bullshitting, or you have given him any reason to believe you’re dishonest, he should understand. If he doesn’t, that’s his problem. Nobody is perfect, and I applaud you for making that change in your life. Once a cheater, NOT always a cheater.