Anyone who's been dating for a while will know that everyone comes with baggage. Each person brings a package into a new relationship. They might be divorced, have kids, have trust issues, come from a broken home, have been bankrupt, are currently in between jobs, or have had past issues with alcohol and gambling.
So what do you do if you find yourself dating a new love interest and their baggage is that they’ve cheated on their last partner? Should you consider this a red flag?
In my opinion, yes, it is a warning sign and should be taken very seriously.
Now that’s not to say that you have to write this new person off immediately, unless previous cheating is a deal-breaker for you. We all have things that we can and cannot put up with, and if infidelity is one of those absolutes, then you must move on.
However, if it’s just a warning sign for you and not a deal-breaker, then you need to explore this further. You must to get to the bottom of the infidelity and get some closure around it.
The best way to do this is to explore exactly what happened and why. This may be a very complex situation and can take time to understand. To help you do this, consider asking some of these questions:
How did the affair begin?
How long did it go on for?
What attracted you to this other person?
What wasn’t working in your long-term relationship at the time?
In what ways did you stay in contact them and how often?
Did your partner find out and how?
Did you confess or deny the affair?
How do you feel about the affair and hurting your partner?
What impact did it have on your long-term partner?
Have you done this in other previous relationships and why?
Did your parents have affairs?
What do we need to do as a couple to stop this from happening?
How can we develop a strong level of trust in our relationship?
By taking the time to get answers to some of these questions, you can then calm your mind down and gain perspective. You can increase your sense of trust that this is not going to happen to you in your new relationship moving forward.
However, if they don’t like you asking these types of questions or get defensive and try to avoid being honest with you, then it’s an even worse sign. It’s suggesting that the pattern will likely happen again. So look out for this response, and keep moving on if they can’t give you the reassurance you need.
John Aiken, RSVP dating and relationship psychologist, as seen on the hit show Married At First Sight, and on Ch 9’s Today show, Today Extra and A Current Affair. He is a best-selling author, regularly appears on radio and in magazines, runs a private practice in Sydney, and is a sought after speaker. (www.johnaiken.com.au)