Once a cheat, always a cheat? Should you ever forgive cheating in a relationship?

Expert Judi James weighs up cheating in a relationship and whether couples can get past it – listen up Paul Hollywood

Baking ‘bad boy’ Paul Hollywood has contritely launched a very public campaign to win back wife Alex via what the newspapers have described as a ‘charm offensive’, after admitting to an affair with his American co-host in a BBC Radio 5 Live interview.

But though his wife is yet to take the baker back, she has reportedly joined him for date nights and Hollywood is hoping his humble pie will be good enough to patch up the relationship.Paul Hollwood with wife Alex before their split [REX]

Die-hard romantics will be egging him on to a happy ending, while cynics will witter that a leopard can never change its spots. So what if your partner cheats? Can you (or should you) ever trust them again?


Seven reasons to give a cheat another chance:

There are plenty of practical and emotional reasons to forgive your partner if he or she cheats. These include mutual objectives such as children, a joint career, finances, lifestyle or property. And if you can tick off these reasons, your relationship's got a shot.

1.  You’ve considered having an affair yourself. This might make you more understanding of why your partner strayed and empathy can help you move forward.

2. You know everything and there is no more lies

3. You can identify and deal with a specific problem that caused the affair. Spending too much time apart, for example.

4. You don’t rush into a ‘sticking plaster solution before you’re ready. Having another baby or renewing wedding vows might help you feel you’ve moved on but the brain has its own way of processing things and if it’s not ready, the original problems will come back to bite you. Paul admitted having an affair with is US Bake-Off co-host Marcella Valladolid [Getty]

5. The cheater accepts blame. We are all responsible for our own actions and a cheat shouldn’t try to persuade his or her partner that they’re to blame for the affair.

6. The cheater understands how long the healing process can take.  If you’ve been cheated on, pretending everything is OK can be fatal if you’re dying inside.

7. You can get over the mourning. The person that you thought you loved isn’t what you thought and accepting that they’re not the person you thought can be difficult to get over.



Seven reasons to cut your losses:

1. If they learned the wrong lesson. We tend towards behaviour that earns us a reward, and when we are taught that something doesn’t work we will normally stop doing it. By taking a cheat back and forgiving them you teach them that cheating doesn’t end a marriage. No matter what hell you put them through prior to that forgiveness the basic message learned will be that although it might not be OK, it’s not a fatal offence.

2. Because you have changed too. The cheated on person will never be going back to the same person they were because that person no longer exists. That person was probably funny and soppy and trusting and loving and saw their partner as their best friend. They will have been replaced by someone who is frightened, angry, suspicious and bitter who will cry a lot and keep asking ‘why?’ Small, silly rows will no longer exist because they will tend to trigger those keg loads of resentment.

3. Because the only way to be perfect again is in someone else’s eyes. You will no longer act as a mirror to your partner’s own ego and vanity.  Only a new partner with no history of resentment will be able to do that. Hating yourself and feeling guilty can be exhausting, which is why a clean slate can be tempting.

4. Humble pie is an on-going dish. If your partner grovelled on hands and knees to get back into the marriage they might not realise they’ve written off all rights to be cocky, arrogant and opinionated again, ever. If they held power before they will want it again and might start to feel they have run out of ‘sorry’s’.

5. Your loved ones will probably hate them. The people who love you might act as though they don’t hate your partner because they want to please you, but it will always be simmering just under that smiling exterior, which will make things like Christmas really difficult.

6. They lied once and may need to again. Affair lies tend to be ongoing because often the truth is un-tellable. Hence the lines: ‘It was just the one time’ or ‘I was too drunk to remember’ or ‘I swear it will never happen again’, or ‘I never meant to hurt you’. A complete, purging, coming-clean is almost always impossible because the cheat won’t want to risk the one chance they have of getting back into the marriage.

7. The cheater craves sympathy. Cheating is stressful, meaning the cheat often feels as much in need of sympathy and understanding as the ‘victim’ and even feel like a victim themselves. This can make them vulnerable to a sympathetic ear outside the marriage.