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Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater?

Posted: 04/09/2013 7:22 am

Last year, at the end of Mad Men's season 5, we were given reason to speculate about Don Draper's ability to change his philandering ways. "Are you alone?" asks a woman at the bar where Don sits. He turns to her with a look of indifference and the scene fades to black. Although what looked like indifference at the time, now seems like a despondence -- a man void of the hope that he will ever change.

Can a man change? Especially a man like this?

I first heard the statement, "Once a cheater always a cheater" when I was in high school. I was dating an older boy who was quite popular and cute. Pleased with myself, I carried on with him despite his reputation with the ladies. This reputation was that he flirted a lot, with everyone. I must have thought I was pretty remarkable to expect him to stop flirting and kissing and dating these girls while we were together, but hey I was 15. And I was different from all the other girls. He was way too interested in me to have time for anyone else. Hah!

Two months passed, and I was getting bored. This guy had a pretty face, but man, was he vacant. I was in the throes of becoming a deep individual; strumming my Les Paul to Pearl Jam and writing poetry about the walls in my head. It was the early nineties and I was getting my grunge on. I broke up with him on the phone, and his response was, "OK." Later that day I went to a party and a few people came up to give their condolences for our failed relationship. "I'm glad you guys broke up. He was seeing like three other girls. Once a cheater, always a cheater," some drunk girl said as she filled her plastic cup from the keg. I was shocked. He cheated on me? How could he? I mean, it's me!

This was my first lesson in boys 101: Do not think that I am going to be the one to defy past evidence that a guy is challenged in the monogamy department. Ever. I'll leave that up to women who are interested in that challenge.

This boy was so meaningless in terms of my dating career, but in actuality he taught me to open my damn eyes up. As I grew older and started dating for real, I had one very important question during those first few 'get to know each other' dates: Have you ever cheated on anyone? It may have been invasive, maybe too salient, but I didn't care. For me, it was like doing a background check, and whether they told me the truth or not, I could at least get a little sense of their history. By staying far away from the boys with cheating records and stories following them around, I was always led to the good ones.

In last night's season 6 premiere we see our bad boy Draper continuing to struggle and search for meaning in his life, but there is also a sense of lost hope revealed. "What do you want from the New Year?" asks his neighbor's wife from underneath his naked chest. "I want to stop doing this," he responds. And as we all know, wanting and doing are two decidedly different things.

So this in turn creates the ultimate conflict for this character: the quintessential cheater. And somehow, shockingly, some of us wondered all year if he was going to be able to resist yet another woman in a bar. Why in the world was it even a question? Of course he was going to cheat again!

Maybe some women are born with an innate desire to believe in the ability to change. I know I'm a little more evidence-based myself and if history is any indication, I'd say Don Draper will spend the rest of his fictional life appearing in the beds of women all over 1960s Manhattan. The reality is, as the drunk girl said to me 20 years ago, once a cheater always a cheater.

By Trish Bentley

The Purple Fig is a community where women share personal and relatable stories; no ego, no shame. We're about life, love and all of the stuff that makes us yearn, squirm, and giggle. These stories make up the authentic and intriguing journey of a woman.

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  • QUESTION: According to an online study, women with what color hair are more likely to cheat?

    <strong>a) Black b) Blonde c) Red d) Brown </strong>

  • ANSWER: Blondes

    Apparently, blondes really do have more fun. According to a recent online survey conducted by Cheaterville.com, a support website for those who've been cheated on,<a href="http://www.cheaterville.com/?page=press&id=299"> a whopping 42 percent of users said female cheaters</a> had blonde hair, while 23 percent cited red hair, 20 percent cited brown and 11 percent cited black. For men, it's brunette spouses you have to worry about. According to the site, <a href="http://www.cheaterville.com/?page=press&id=299">40 percent of male cheaters</a> had brown hair.

  • QUESTION: According to a 2011 study, men are more likely to interrogate their partners about the sexual nature of an affair, while women question this:

    <strong>a) How long the affair lasted b) If the other man or woman was someone they knew c) If the cheater was in love with the other man or woman d) If the cheater initiated the affair </strong>

  • ANSWER: If the cheater was in love with the other man or woman

    According to evolutionary psychologist Barry Kuhle's 2011 study, men who've been cheated on are more likely to grill their partners about the sex itself, while <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/15/cheating-study-men-sex-women-love_n_963872.html">women were more likely to ask whether their partner was in love </a>with his mistress. So how did Kuhle and his team go about collecting the observational data for the study? They watched the television show "Cheaters" to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/15/cheating-study-men-sex-women-love_n_963872.html">observe how partners in 75 different affair confrontations</a> reacted.

  • QUESTION: Men who hold this occupation are most likely to cheat, according to a 2012 online survey.

    <strong>a) Lawyers b) Teachers c) IT engineers d) Doctors </strong>

  • ANSWER: IT/Engineer

    What's the typical profile of a cheating husband? In 2012, AshleyMadison.com -- a dating site for married people looking to have affairs -- surveyed 11,453 fathers with accounts on the site and found that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/11/cheating-husband-ashley-madison_n_1582387.html">the largest percentage of would-be cheaters work in the IT/Engineering field</a>. Those in the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/11/cheating-husband-ashley-madison_n_1582387.html">financial industry (8.2 percent) and education (6.5 percent)</a> came in second and third, respectively.

  • According to recent studies, what percentage of women have had affairs?

    <strong>a) 30-35 percent b) 15-20 percent c) 5-10 percent d) 2-5 percent </strong>

  • ANSWER: 15-20 percent

    Fifteen to 20 percent of women have had affairs, <a href="http://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex/2012/01/men-and-women-more-alike-than-different-in-relationship-fidelity/">according to studies from Indiana University and Manchester Metropolitan University</a>, while a comparative 20-25 percent of men have cheated on their partners.

  • According to an online survey, mothers who cheat had been married for an average of this many years:

    <strong>a) One year b) Five years or less c) 16 years or more d) 25 years or more </strong>

  • ANSWER: Five years or less

    In May 2012, infidelity-based matchmaking site Ashleymadison.com polled 2,865 of their married female members and found that the typical cheating married woman was <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/typical-cheating-mom-ashley-madison-2012-5?comments=all#comment-4fad4fa86bb3f71c7a000015">married for five years or less, in her 30s, and had a daughter under three years old</a>.

  • A recent online survey showed that 66 percent of Americans believe that people cheat on their spouses while...

    <strong>a) At the office b) In Las Vegas c) At work conferences and trade shows c) At bachelor and bachelorette parties </strong>

  • ANSWER: Work Conferences And Trade Shows

    Yep, a surprising <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/20/cheating-at-work_n_1812041.html">66 percent of Americans believe that people cheat on their spouses at work conferences and trade shows</a>, according to an August 2012 online survey conducted on behalf of ON24, a webcasting and virtual events company.

  • QUESTION: Infidelity-based matchmaking site AshleyMadison.com has recently seen an influx of married women signing up for its services on the day after this holiday.

    <strong>a) Valentine's Day b) New Year's c) Mother's Day d) Christmas </strong>

  • Answer: Mother's Day

    For the past four years, AshleyMadison.com<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/26/mothers-day-2012_n_1450803.html"> claims to have seen a rush of married women signing up</a> for its services the day after Mother's Day. In fact, according to the site's founder, Noel Biderman, more married women sign up for the site on that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/26/mothers-day-2012_n_1450803.html">day than on any other day of the year</a>. Why? Biderman said he thinks the women feel especially under-appreciated on Mother's Day. "If that day comes to pass, and once again what [women] experience is a lack of appreciation, affection and respect, that is when the idea of taking on a potential lover takes full form," he said.

 

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