Cheating when drinking; can he change?

Hi Guys, 

My partner of four years recently left me; he ran away without leaving a note or anything. He had been drinking heavily for the duration of our relationship and during September last year he borrowed £10,000 from his Mum to open his own hair salon. When I finally found him a week later, he was living in London with an ex-girlfriend.

It turned out that he had spent all of the money that hadn’t gone on equipment for the salon on drink (approx £4,000) and that was the reason he had run away because he didn’t have the money to cover building work and rent to open the salon, and he was scared to tell his Mum and Stepdad that he had blown all of their money.

He admitted that he was an alcoholic and that he wanted to get sober and start his life over with me. He came back to Manchester but went to live with his Mum as I didn’t feel able to accept him back into my home at that point.

Since then we have been seeing each other once or twice a week and things are looking good for us. He has been sober for over three weeks now and has been attending AA meetings. (I know it hasn’t been long but it’s promising.)

However, when he was in London he told me that he only stayed with his ex for one night and then moved to a hostel. This weekend I found out that was a lie. He had spent the ten days he was there staying with her, sleeping in her bed; they had sex twice. (Not very successfully apparently because he was so drunk.)

I have also found out that he cheated on me with this ex during the first 6-10 months of our relationship and has had one-off sex with another woman in July last year. He blames the drinking and has said that if he had been sober he never would have cheated on me. He wants to start again but I don’t know if I can ever trust him again.

Do you think that being an alcoholic can effect his judgement that much that he would cheat? He says that to ease the guilt of cheating he just drank more and so the vicious circle continued.

Should I give him another chance?


Dear Jane,

Thanks for your question.

It’s absolutely possible for people to change the course of their lives. Certainly confessing to his indiscretions, admitting his faults, and attending AA meetings is a great start. But like you said, three weeks is a very short time and alcoholism is a lifetime battle.

People do become sober, but every single day of their lives they have to choose sobriety. We’ve been told it gets “easier” as time goes by, but we’ve also been told it never actually gets easy.

The even potentially bigger issue is WHY he began to drink in the first place. Those are issues he’s going to have to work through with help from professionals. (Counselors, etc.) AA is a good place to help him get the services he might need. And certainly support from friends and family will help him be strong enough to face his demons.

You obviously care about this man a lot. Otherwise you wouldn’t even be considering taking him back. But it’s really a matter of whether you can forgive him and trust him again. What do you think? Can you?

We think you’re rushing that decision a bit. Why don’t you wait and see how you feel in a few months, or even longer? Because as he stays sober and starts to work through his issues, you may start to feel differently, one way or another.

We imagine it’s hard to believe he’ll change. He cheated on you many times, lied to you, and has basically been an untrustworthy person and partner. Drinking can certainly impair a person’s judgement and make him do things he might not normally do, but not everyone who drinks chooses to cheat on their partner. They might display other destructive behaviors that they are prone to but not cheat. So the question is whether or not he’ll cheat on you when he’s sober. And we think it’s too early to tell. (We also don’t know him, so you’re going to have to be the one to make that call.)

Jane, much of this is up to you. Are you strong enough to forgive and start over with this guy? Give it some time and see how you feel. Because it sounds like you’d really like it to work out if possible. Be supportive of his journey, but we’d stay away from an actual “relationship” with him for a while. Be only a PLATONIC friend. And keep tabs on how you’re feeling. What’s your gut telling you to do? And what do your friends think? See if they think he’s actually changing, or if he’s just putting on an act.

The last thing we’ll say is don’t wait forever. Sometimes people don’t win the battle of alcoholism. As sad as that may be, you have a life to live as well. And you ultimately need to look after yourself.

Take care and good luck. Please keep us posted—leave us a follow up comment and/or question here in the comments section; we’ll respond to you here.


ps. Please let your friends know about us. Thanks!

Other questions about cheating: 

Cheating Part 1: Three guys on cheating

Cheating Part 2: I was Tiger

Cheating Part 3: Inner Child

Is cheating ex playing me?

Possible porn addict

Help; can my guy change from his cheating past?

Cheating boyfriend; how do I know it won’t happen again? 

My boyfriend is on dating sites; is he cheating? 

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