I sometimes hear from women who are engaged and who have found out that their fiancé has cheated on them. Sometimes, this happens at the bachelor party and other times, it happens randomly, but while the engagement is active.
Understandably, many of these women consider breaking off the engagement and not going through with the marriage. After all, if he will cheat on you while you are engaged, won’t he cheat once you are married? Isn’t “once a cheater always a cheater” almost always true? Shouldn’t you get out while the getting is good? Why would you go through with a marriage to a man who cheats before there is really any marital stressor?
Someone might say: “I was all set to get married and then I got an instant message on Facebook from my fiancé’s ex girlfriend saying that her conscience mandated that she admit to me that my future husband has been coming over to her place and sleeping with her for the last two months. She said that it started when he basically contacted her to tell her that he was engaged and to, in a sense, get closure and tell her goodbye. They met for dinner and one thing lead to another. She does admit that he broke it off a few weeks ago. She admits that he told her that he was so guilty about what they had done and that he was committed to me and could never see her again. So I am not sure what her motivation was in coming forward now. But I am sort of glad that she has because that is something that I needed to know. Of course, I confronted my fiancé about this. And he admitted it, but has been following me around crying about how he can not lose me. Well, perhaps he should have considered this before he ever called his ex. My first inclination was the end the engagement and to never see him again. And this is what I told him that I was going to do. I wasn’t trying to scare him. I was totally being sincere. That was my plan. But then I spent a few weeks without him and he was calling me and enlisting all of our mutual friends to help him. So that’s when I started to change my mind ever so slightly and opened my mind to the idea of only postponing the engagement. But many of my friends tell me that I am crazy. They say if a man will cheat on you during your engagement then he is most definitely going to cheat on you during your marriage. Are they right?”
I don’t know of any one who can successfully predict the future. However, infidelity before you are ever actually married is not the best sign. That said, I would suspect that healing from this infidelity is going to be the same as it would be if you were actually married. After all, when you are engaged, the commitment is still there. Sure, it’s not as big of a commitment as actually being married, but it’s about serious as it gets.
In order to have confidence that this won’t happen again, you are going to do have to extensive work to find out why this happened, to figure out a way to keep it from happening again, and to restore the trust and goodwill. Your fiancé has to be willing to take an honest look at his motivations and behaviors. What made him reach out to the other woman in the first place? Once they’d crossed the line once, why did he go back again? Was he going to confess or would you have never found out if the other woman hadn’t told you?
All of these questions need to be answered and then the work truly begins. I would highly recommend getting counseling. That may seem overwhelming or like not a lot of fun. But it’s much better to go ahead and do it then to live with a troubled marriage. At the very least, some good self help is needed. Very few people have the skills to see the issues necessary to heal the relationship on their own. Most people just can not be objective enough or see their relationship in the way that it needs to be seen.
But to answer the original question. Cheating once does not always mean repeat cheating. However, it is a warning sign. And you have enough notice of this warning sign that it may be prudent to make sure you do all of the necessary work until you are completely comfortable going forward with the wedding. It doesn’t make sense to walk into something that you know may be a future problem when you have the time and foresight to avoid this, and to work until you are completely comfortable going forward with the wedding.