Updates: “Once a Cheater” Responds

It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing today. After the jump, we hear from “Once a Cheater,” who had cheated on previous boyfriends in the past and expressed some concern that she was beginning to fantasize about other men again now that she has been relocated away from her boyfriend for six months. After the jump, find out how her relationship with her boyfriend is going now, halfway through their separation.

Thank you for posting my letter. After reading everyone’s advice and having a lot of self reflection, I’ve found myself in my most happiest state of mind. As everyone knows, I have been a cheater in my past relationships and the reason why my current boyfriend does not know this is because he really doesn’t need to. For what? I don’t plan on cheating on him so why should I? When we went exclusive I had no doubts in my mind if I could maintain my monogamy.

Yes, I do still have these thoughts occasionally but you know, who the hell doesn’t? I have many thoughts in my head circulating throughout my day such as “Hmm…I wonder what everyone would do if I just screamed at the top of my lungs in this death by Powerpoint meeting?….” or while speaking to my boss sometimes I just think about saying “My chocolate poodle is waay smarter than you are.” But do I say or act upon these thoughts? No. Do I make it known? No. I just hold my bearing and go on about my merry way.

I have, however, thought about the repercussions if I DID cheat on my boyfriend. But I didn’t even let my mind get past that point. I just kept thinking about that day I’m going to run into my boyfriends arms at the airport or how I just miss him cuddling with me and how he still pulls me back even when I eventually tend to roll over on my other side. I want that plus more from only him. We have gotten closer throughout the past two months and I am just so happy that we are both on the same page. I have no worries and neither should he. Thank you to everyone who responded. Everyone’s advice really put me in place and I needed to know where I stood to myself as well as others.

If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at wendy@dearwendy.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.


  1. Ummm…ok? Kind of a strange update.

    1. bittergaymark says:

      Um, yeah. It’s GREAT that she decided that there is NO reason whatsoever for her boyfriend to know the truth about her past! That’s just great and a resounding triumph for truth and honesty… Meanwhile, her miraculous ability to restrain herself from making a complete and utter fool of herself during bad powerpoint meetings does precious little to convince me that she won’t ever cheat again. Talk about utterly irrelevant. Sorry, but WTF? We aren’t even talking apples and oranges here, but apples and the planet Jupiter…

      1. ele4phant says:

        Hey, people can grow up and mature. While I’ve never been a cheater, I haven’t unloaded every detail about my past relationships to my boyfriend because that was then, this is now. I am not that person anymore, and since I’ve grown and moved on, there’s no need to weight down the present with things that aren’t relevant anymore.

        As for her powerpoint example, yeah it was weird and poorly explained (but I did get where she was going with it, not every impulse we have has to come out). She sounds kind of quirky, no big deal.

      2. bittergaymark says:

        They can. They can. But often — they don’t. Why is it I can already hear the follow up’s follow up…

        “I don’t know what got into me, but I did it! I cheated again! Now, I am totally, totally wracked with guilt! What if I lose my boyfriend! What if I never again feel him pull me close in the middle of the night? What if I never run into his arms at the airport again? Oh, I would die! I would simply DIE! So, for those reasons, I have decided to simply NOT tell my boyfriend… Why should I? I have no desire to ever cheat again! And I mean it THIS TIME! Besides, now that I have TRULY decided this — I won’t! Really. Trust me on this. Never again. Moreover, just the other day I realized that even though I often want to smash car right into whomever cuts me off on the express way, I don’t! So all is good and right with the world!

      3. ele4phant says:

        Oh mark, I feel genuinely feel for you. I can’t imagine looking at everyone with pessimism and doubt, it must be miserable.

        Yes, sometimes people don’t change. But most people DO change a lot from teenagerdom/early twenties to full fledged adulthood, especially in the relationship arena. They make mistakes, do things to hurt others and themselves, and they learn from those mistakes. I know I changed alot in that time period and became less self-centered and more compassionate.

        Have a little faith in people; it makes life a little more bearable when you don’t look at everyone with suspicion.

      4. Now THAT is some of the condescending shit I have read all day, and I don’t even completely agree with bittergaymark. You feel for him and his pessimistic view of the world? Ok. I bet.

        Sure people can change, but her response only indicated that her way of addressing the issue of her cheating ways is to act like she doesn’t have those issues anymore just because she says so. It’s a weird update! If you can even call it an up date.

      5. ele4phant says:

        Oh, you’re right, that didn’t come off the way I intended. I didn’t mean to presume that he was misreable, or that my way of looking at the world was superior.

        What I was trying to get across was that in my experience, people often rise to what you expect from them. Therefore, if you expect good, you are more likely to get it. Of course there are some bad apples, but people often project what they get. Perhaps I am naive, but that’s been my experience.

        So mark, if I’ve offended you, or anyone else, that wasn’t my intent.

      6. WatersEdge says:

        I think what she meant to say is, having a thought about cheating is just a thought, it doesn’t mean she’s going to act on it. Just like having thoughts about screaming during meetings doesn’t mean that she will act on those thoughts, either. I think she makes a valid point. I also think that this is exactly what she needed to learn: If you don’t want to cheat, then don’t cheat. That voice inside your head doesn’t need to rule you. You make choices about your behavior and you can decide what kind of relationship you want to have, and who you want to be.

        Bittergaymark- On one of the previous letters I challenged you to say something constructive to the next letter writer. I’m not sure you ever saw it. All I ever see you do is trash letter writers, snidely insulting them and being scornful. Sometimes even hateful. I challenge you to give a constructive, thoughtful piece of advice to the next person who writes in. Put something positive out into the world. I DARE YOU.

      7. AGREE!

      8. bittergaymark says:

        Sorry, but I fail to see how being positive about people doing decidedly negative things (such as blatantly LYING to ones boyfriend about one’s hopelessly trashy cheating past) would actually be positive. What should I do? Maybe say: “Wow! Way to go! You sure fooled him! Ha Ha!”

        I am also severely encumbered by the fact that people who actually make sound, positive decisions in their own lives typically do not have to pen advice columnists for advice. Why is this? Because they haven’t messed up their lives… That’s why?

      9. WatersEdge says:

        I am down with scathing responses if they have SOMETHING constructive about them.

        Do you even know how to be constructive? Or thoughtful? Because I don’t think you got my meaning at all. I told you to give someone a piece of advice they could potentially use or benefit from. You took it to mean that you should lie, use exclamation points, and encourage people to be idiots. Maybe you only write snarky useless commentary because it’s the only thing you know?

      10. ForeverYoung says:

        I think *sometimes* it’s constructive. His comment in the girl worried her bf would cheat on her while on vacation today was helpful. But I mean sometimes LW’s are a certain level of clueless that i’m glad someone can just force them to cut the shit. This particular update reeked of denial and i’m glad he pointed it out.

      11. WatersEdge says:

        All I ever see you do is make fun of letter writers. I am challenging you to go further. Dig deeper. Keep your mean/angry edge, I don’t care if you make fun of LWers. It’s your lack of constructive input that bothers me. I actually think you could really get through to people, but you don’t bother to even try. You just hit and run.

      12. bittergaymark says:

        Gee, for somebody who seems to all but demand relentless positivity from others — you sure seem to be relentless in your personal attacks on me on me today. Weed, meet Marijuana…

      13. WatersEdge says:

        If after reading my previous clarification that “giving constructive advice” is not the same as being “being positive” you STILL don’t understand the difference, then I truly feel sorry for you.

      14. ForeverYoung says:

        I actually really appreciate BGM’s comments sometimes. This coming from someone who would love to never read anything David Jay ever has to say again. I guess for me I think BGM is playing devil’s advocate a lot of the time and is willing to say the things no one else is willing to point out. Not always helpful, but I think it is good from time to time for someone to mention to the LW that they are being ridiculous/whiny/self absorbed/creating their own drama.

        For example when it came to the LW yesterday that was worried about her baggage from her divorce, I think it kind of did need to be pointed out that she was playing the victim card a little too much. She married someone who she had never lived in the same city as, and considering she is divorced at 21 it can be assumed she wasn’t even old enough to drink at her wedding. I mean it’s hard to take people like that seriously in general if those are the life choices they make. Yes we all make mistakes in life, but come on. Where were your family and friends in this situation? Did no one tell you it might be a great idea to actually live the same city as the man you plan on marrying. I guess I just like that he is willing to take the fall for the things a lot of poeple are probably thinking. Yes, he can be extreme, but there are many times when his blue thumbs are out of control.

      15. Can I challenge you to put something negative out into the world? Or rather, “positive” in the slightly different way bittergaymark is actually positive.

        Anyway, I wouldn’t, because not everyone has to be the same, and people can specialize. I think Bittergaymark provides a perspective otherwise lacking from responses. Indeed, he provides one of the few truly different angles; why you would want to diminish that with more of the same escapes me. It doesn’t benefit the letter-writers since Bittergaymark is usually a lone voice in the wilderness in any given comment section. If you think it would help him to be more positive for his own sake, then turn about is fair play, and you should think about the sense in which he might regard his behaviour as positive and yours as not (pretty obvious).

      16. ForeverYoung says:

        Oh my gosh random we agree on something. Miraculous.

      17. Disagree. This site has more than its fair share of carebears and hug bugs. Bgm keeps it real. Keep on shining bgm!

      18. lol @ carebears and hug bugs!

      19. callmehobo says:

        I would just like to say, that I wouldn’t change BGM’s comments for the world. I have yet to see him give a harsh comment on letters that are of a more serious nature: I.E. the cancer letter, the bisexuality letter, the bulimia letter.

        I think his sometimes (and mostly well-deserved) snark is reserved for those who warrant it. I mean, sometimes you need someone to kick your ass a little bit to actually get in touch with reality and make a change.

        Keep on truckin’ Mark!

      20. silver_dragon_girl says:

        He definitely has my all-time-favorite screen name 🙂

      21. I think the name says it all…bittergaymark. He is not being anything other than what he has stated he is. Maya Angelou said it best…when someone tells you who they are believe them.

      22. “I think what she meant to say is, having a thought about cheating is just a thought, it doesn’t mean she’s going to act on it.”

        Then why even write into an advice column about it if it’s not a problem? You took a few minutes of your time to write it, send it and read replies. I’m sure it was more than just a passing thought. I’m not convinced.

  2. ” When we went exclusive I had no doubts in my mind if I could maintain my monogamy.”

    Then why did you write in? I agree, very strange update. With that said, I’m glad she’s sure she won’t be cheating on her boyf.

    1. I was wondering the SAME thing. What was the point of writing in if there was never a problem to begin with…?

    2. ForeverYoung says:

      I think she means when the first became exclusive she knew she could be exclusive because she would never cheat on him. Then with her relocation she started to doubt herself because in the past this would have been the time she would have cheated. She needed tough love and she is back to trusting herself. I think? She kind of seems like she’s in la-la-land, but i’m hoping maybe she’s just not good at expressing herself through writing.

      1. I vote la-la-land.

    3. Exactly my thoughts. She’s sure she wouldn’t cheat, and she already knew that, so she decided to write into an advice column about it? It’s just plain odd. She must have read a different comment thread than I did if she came away from that reassured that she would never ever cheat on this guy.

      I’m just perplexed. It’s like she put her fingers in her ears and went “la-la-la-la! I already knew I’d never cheat on him, I’m just checking if you guys thought I would. You think I might? Nope, no way, I’m so in love!” wtf?

  3. BoomChakaLaka says:

    Good for you, LW. Happy that you are happy with your guy.

  4. “As everyone knows, I have been a cheater in my past relationships and the reason why my current boyfriend does not know this is because he really doesn’t need to. For what? I don’t plan on cheating on him so why should I? ”

    I hate to say it, but this struck me as strange, because it’s almost like the LW is saying that she DID plan to cheat during her other relationships. If the LW didn’t plan to cheat in her other relationships, how is this one any different?

    1. TheOtherMe says:

      I felt that sentence was to try to convince herself more than anyone else…

      1. ReginaRey says:

        I think she’s trying to convince herself she won’t cheat all around. The whole thing reeks of denial. I wish she’d talk to someone about WHY she has such a history of cheating, and why she’s trying so hard to convince herself she won’t do it again. The only reason people try really hard to convince themselves of something is because they’re SO CLOSE to giving in.

  5. “Yes, I do still have these thoughts occasionally but you know, who the he’ll doesn’t?”

    Me. I love my husband. It simply wouldn’t occur to me to cheat on him, even in our darkest or most emotionally distant moments. Sorry, but you don’t think about breaking the things you value. You don’t “want” to keep a relationship and then commit a relationship-ending act.

    LW, I think you may need more help than an advice column can provide. I wish you well.

    1. *hell doesn’t
      Stupid auto-correct. Sorry.

    2. This was exactly what I thought, too! I don’t think about cheating on my husband, and never thought about it when we were just dating. THATS WHY I’M WITH HIM! He is more than enough for me and I’ve always known that.

      Although I do have married friends that are super flirty, so I don’t think everyone thinks this way. But no, not everyone thinks about cheating. . .

    3. WatersEdge says:

      I think about cheating on my husband! And I know he thinks about cheating on me, too. We don’t REALLY want to, which is what the LW says. Sometimes, other guys are hot. I’m not dead, I’m married! Doesn’t make me a cheater, and it doesn’t make her one anymore either.

      1. There is a difference between fantasizing about some random guy and actually thinking about cheating. Your comment sounds more like fantasizing rather than actually thinking about cheating. I’ve fantasized about men before but wouldn’t even so much as think about cheating on my beau.

      2. I totally agree. It’s like in the episode of How I Met Your Mother when Marshall wants to fantasize about another woman, so he makes “something happen” to Lily in the fantasy (I think Lily dies in the fantasy, nice Marshall :)), so that it’s OK for him to go for the other woman in the fantasy, because he doesn’t want to think about cheating on Lily. I definitely think there’s a difference between having a fantasy about someone else, and actively thinking about cheating on your significant other.

      3. Thanks Melanie. That’s exactly where I’m coming from.

  6. spaceboy761 says:

    This is a pretty odd update, but hey, at least she seems happy.

  7. Congrats on finally realizing you don’t have to act upon every thought you have.

  8. Strange, much? I think either her original letter was a put on or this response is a big FU to all the commenters from a woman who has already cheated on this BF.

  9. Strangely enough, I get where she’s coming from. For me, as a reformed slut, this is where the important recognition that “my actions have consequence that I am responsible for” starts being taken to heart. With the LW’s case, it would be “I have no desire to cheat because I have no desire to lose HIM.” I think she’s writing this update to reaffirm what she’s learned – a personal recognition of sin so that she can sin no more, if you will. Continue your acceptance as a reformed slut and acknowledge your temptations that cause you to cheat so you can execute an action plan to avoid them.

    1. WatersEdge says:

      I get it too. It seems like, as MsMisery said, she finally sees that she doesn’t have to act on her thoughts. Except without MsMisery’s sarcastic undertone (no offense, MsMisery 🙂 ). That’s actually a big lesson to learn when someone has been a slave to their thoughts and acted on them for years. I actually think she got what she needed to out of her letter-writing.

    2. ForeverYoung says:

      I just had to thumb you up for the ‘reformed slut’ comment. I did not know there was a term for that, but I can now think of a lot of productive, respectable, people fit that title.

      1. ForeverYoung says:

        **that fit that title

      2. I don’t think “reformed slut” is really a term either. It’s another one of those that I made up relevant to my history, much like “severing fuck”. When the LW originally wrote, I referred to myself as a “reformed slut” because when I was exploring my sexuality in my early 20’s, I did a lot of irresponsible, slutty-bad-as in-wrong acts. I related a lot to her letter when I read it and I really understood where she was coming from since I used to act like her. Yet one can justify and rationalize the act cheating all they want, yet it’s ultimately an act of an irresponsible slut (the bad type). So now that she knows this, and owns up to it, she needs to have an action plan to ultimately MOA from her cheating ways. Then she can do all the slutty-bad-as-in-orgasmically-AWESOME things in the monogamy she wishes to adopt – she can be a good slut. 😀

    3. as a public declaration of her reformation? it could be, but yet she doesn’t address how this column helped her (or not) to come to that conclusion. after all, she came here to discuss her struggles (which now seem not a big deal) and ask for advice.

    4. ReginaRey says:

      You say to “acknowledge your temptations,” but I’m wondering if she even knows what’s lead her to cheat in the past. That requires a fair amount of analysis and self-awareness, and I’m personally not convinced she knows why she has a pattern of cheating. And until she becomes clued-in to her own patterns of behavior, I doubt she’ll make progress.

      1. true: a pattern doesn’t go away in two months, especially when she doesn’t acknowledge her struggles but a denies that they even existed. nevertheless, i hope she’s in a better place no

      2. oops *now

  10. Does anyone find it odd that Wendy didn’t write her usual 2-3 response to this update letter?

    1. The LW asked me the same thing. I didn’t respond because I knew commenters would respond for me, and since the LW wasn’t asking for my advice any longer, it seemed nicer to keep my mouth shut… I do wish her success and happiness though.

      1. Addie Pray says:

        Your nonresponse was the best response. If the LW is so confidant that she won’t cheat and that her thoughts of other men are normal and nothing to be worried about, why did she write in in the first place?

      2. You knew we would all have something to say! Sometimes, saying nothing at all is enough. Keep on rockin’, Wendy!

      3. RavageMaladie says:

        Ha ha, my immediate reaction to that noncommittal generic message underneath the letter was ‘ouch…Wendy doesn’t buy it’.

  11. LW, I am a reformed serial cheater. From my first boyfriend when I was 15 until I met my husband when I was 28, I cheated on every. single. guy. I. dated. Every one of them. But I changed the cycle. I’ve been with my husband for 8 years now (married for 6) and I have not cheated on him or even danced along the dangerous line of flirtation. Not one time. Not even when we were forced to live in separate countries and sometimes went as long as 3 months without seeing one another. It’s been easy to stay faithful, too. How did I change? How did I accomplish this amazing transformation? Three words: therapy therapy therapy.

    That’s what I think you need, too, LW. Since you’re in this new town for 6 months, I suggest you use this opportunity to find a therapist (preferably a female one) and start seeing her once a week. You will thank me for it! Because you will learn so so soooo much about yourself – like what REALLY makes you happy and satisfied. You’ll also be able to figure out the REAL reasons why you keep acting on those temptations to cheat and, with that information, you’ll find out what longings you need to fulfill and how to do so in a healthy, satisfying way.

    Believe me, LW. This is not something that you can wish away. Will power alone is not going to make you stop forever. You need to understand this on a deeper level so that you can make conscious, educated choices that will help you be the person you truly want to be. Do yourself the biggest favor of your life and give therapy a try.

  12. If you had “no doubts” that you would remain monogamous with your boyfriend, why did you write in for advice?

  13. sobriquet says:

    This update seems a little… all over the place. BUT, I went back to the original thread and read the advice I gave and the update actually makes a little more sense. I wrote:

    “…This takes self-control, yes, but I would say that the majority of the decisions we make each day require a bit of self-discipline. I didn’t want to go to work this morning, but I did because I need money. I would have preferred to eat greasy pizza for lunch, but I knew that it would make my stomach hurt, so instead I ate a sandwich. And deep down, I think it would be a lot of fun to make out with cute rocker guy. But I know that would end my relationship with my boyfriend and he is MUCH more important to me than a silly crush.

    Think of the consequences your actions could have before you act on your impulses. Maybe thinking about the long-term repercussions will help you to gain a little more self-control.”


    I think her update is describing how she now thinks about the consequences her actions have. She just made it sound like she knew this all along.

    1. Yeah that definitely makes more sense!

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