Therapist's Advice For Trust When You're Dating Someone Who Has Cheated Before - Exclusive

When your significant other tells you that they've cheated on their past partners, it can immediately cast a shadow on the relationship. While it's commendable that your partner told you they were unfaithful, how you proceed after receiving such news can bring up a lot of emotions and questions. For example, will they do it to you too? When it comes to facts and figures regarding cheating, definitive answers can be a little iffy, but a 2017 study had some interesting findings.

According to the study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, people who had cheated in their first relationship were three times more likely to do it in their relationships that followed. The same study found that those who had experienced infidelity by a partner were twice as likely to be cheated on again compared to those who had never been cheated on. Not only does this research sort of confirm the "once a cheater, always a cheater" mantra, but it also suggests that people who have been cheated on just might be subconsciously attracted to cheaters in general. 

While this study is telling, it doesn't mean it's an accurate assessment of everyone who's ever cheated. People cheat for a myriad of reasons and just because they've done it before with others, doesn't mean they haven't moved past such behavior. In an exclusive interview with, Kalley Hartman, LMFT at Ocean Recovery, shares advice on how to trust the person you're dating when they've cheated on past partners. 

Ask your partner to explain the circumstances

As much as you may not want to know the details about their cheating, turning a blind eye to problematic behavior won't get you anywhere. In fact, you deserve to know everything about their infidelity. Don't just let them drop the bomb and move on. Ask for the specifics. Get to the heart of the matter. It's only in knowing the ins and outs of their cheating that you'll be able to understand or, in some cases, not understand why they did what they did. 

"Talk openly and honestly with your partner about their past behaviors," Kalley Hartman tells exclusively. "Ask them to share more details, such as when the infidelity occurred, how they responded to it, and what steps have been taken since then to ensure that it won't happen again. This can help you gain insight into both their thought processes and actions regarding the cheating behavior so you can make an informed decision on whether or not you want to stay in the relationship."

For a lot of people, cheating is a non-negotiable even if it didn't happen to them. You're allowed to be upset, angry, disappointed, and sad. You're also allowed to give them the third degree about it for your own peace of mind. In talking about their cheating with them until you've exhausted the subject, you can ideally get to a place where you know what's the right move going forward. 

Decide what's best for you

Because most people don't want to run the risk of being cheated on, what you decide to do once you know about their past is entirely up to you. You might be able to get over the fact if their cheating was the result of a relationship that had soured and your partner found love with someone else for the long term. Whereas a long parade of drunken one-nightstands may not evoke such understanding.

"It is definitely not being 'unfair' if it is something you can't get [past]," Hartman exclusively explained to "Everyone has the right to decide what they are comfortable with in a relationship... Staying with someone [you] don't trust or haven't forgiven will only build more distrust and resentment." But while the inability to trust your partner based on this news makes sense, as Hartman points out, ending things with someone whose past includes cheating, prevents them "from growing and communicating openly with their partner." It really comes down to what you know about them, the type of cheating it was, and whether you're okay with it. Although there may be no "good" type of infidelity, there are different levels that can have varying effects on people and how safe and secure they feel in their relationship. When your emotional and mental health is at stake, no one can fault you for deciding you'd rather not pursue a relationship with someone who has a cheating past. 

Share your insecurities

In a relationship, it's always important to share your insecurities whether or not your partner has cheated. Insecurities can stem from a lot of different places in our past and present, and they're something that should always be communicated so your partner knows where you are in your thoughts. However, if your partner has cheated in other relationships, sharing your insecurities becomes even more essential. No one can live in fear of what their partner might do every time they're not together. It's not only unhealthy but a way to hasten the end of a relationship.

"Openly talk about your insecurities and express how it makes you feel," Hartman exclusively shared with "It's important to listen to what your partner has to say, so they can understand where you are coming from as well." Although being able to quell every insecurity you have may not be possible, if your partner can at least put your mind at ease for a large percentage of your concerns, then that's a good thing. As Hartman explains, a great way to make you both feel safe in the relationship is to set up a clear understanding of what infidelity looks like to each partner so there are no blurry lines. "Make sure that you both agree on boundaries or guidelines for the relationship going forward so that everyone feels secure and respected," says Hartman. You're not just doing this for your own sanity but for your partner's too. 

Work on building trust

It's normal for past betrayals to haunt us. If your trust was broken by anyone — family members, friends, partners — learning how to trust again is difficult. It's something that doesn't require just working on it together with your current partner, but working on it within yourself too. "Building trust takes time and effort, but it is possible," Hartman exclusively told To start doing this, communicate everything you're feeling with your partner — leave nothing out! — most especially when it comes to infidelity. "Be willing to listen to your partner's perspective without judgment or criticism so that they can feel heard and understood... work together as a team to come up with ways that each person can contribute to rebuilding trust and strengthening the relationship," says Hartman. Trust is a two-way street and it only really works when you're both committed to working on it together so it can truly flourish.

If you don't think you can handle building trust without a therapist, then consider doing some sessions either together or separately. "A trained professional can help you both talk through past issues, as well as any trust or communication problems that may arise due to your partner's disclosure," says Hartman. "They are equipped with the necessary skills to help you both process this new information in a healthy manner so you can move forward together effectively." Sort of like Paris, therapy is always a good idea for all relationships — even the seemingly perfect ones.

Focus on the present

As much as your partner's past may haunt you, you need to remember that it's their past. People evolve, grow up, and yes, some are even capable of change. No one is defined by their past — this includes you — so don't limit those around you to their behavior that might be three, five, or even 10 years ago. Be aware, but don't box them into the person they used to be. Your relationship with them is unique to the ones they had with others. 

"It's important to acknowledge that things may be different now than they were before, but dwelling too much on their previous indiscretions can be counterproductive and can start to create resentment," Hartman exclusively told, adding that there are signs that someone has learned from their problematic behavior. "These [signs] might include things like an increased level of communication and openness, maturity in how they handle difficult situations, willingness to talk about past behaviors (without making excuses), taking responsibility for their actions, and ultimately demonstrating trustworthiness over time," says Hartman. 

Although nothing is a guarantee because no one is perfect, sometimes it's worth giving someone the benefit of the doubt. Passing up something that could be great due to someone's past behavior isn't giving them the opportunity to prove they've changed. If you wouldn't want someone to do that to you, then think twice before doing it to them.