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Serial cheating in marriage: How to deal

Should you ever stick by a serial cheater? Anthony Weiner’s wife is, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for you.

Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner

Once a cheater, always a cheater?

It certainly seems that way when it comes to New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner. A 20-something woman told gossip website The Dirty that the politician carried on a sexting relationship with her last year, starting about six months after he resigned from the U.S. House of Representatives for sending explicit photos to a variety of women.

The problem? He’s been married the whole time.

Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, stuck by him after the first scandal — they even welcomed a child in 2012. Weiner seemed to turn over a new leaf as a family man, but apparently his obsession with selfies of his down-below never stopped.

Abedin is still sticking by him, though.

“We discussed all of this before he decided to run for mayor, so really what I want to say is, I love him, I have forgiven him, I believe in him, and as we have said from the beginning, we are moving forward,” Hillary Clinton’s former aide said during a press conference earlier this week.

She expanded on her views in an essay for the Harper Bazaar September issue:

So why am I doing this? Because Anthony has always been a smart, caring, and dedicated person, and while he’s the same public servant who wants what’s best for the people he represents, he is now something else — a better man. New Yorkers will have to decide for themselves whether or not to give him a second chance. I had to make that same decision for myself, for my son, for our family. And I know in my heart that I made the right one.

It seems like Abedin has her own reasons — and her own agenda, if you believe some political watchers — for staying in the relationship, but her willingness to stick by a serial cheater doesn’t send a good message to women in similar situations, says psychotherapist and divorce expert Deborah Hecker, Ph.D.

“Serial cheating and a trusting partnership are, by definition, incompatible,” Dr. Hecker tells SheKnows. “If a woman is seeking an intimate, monogamous relationship with someone who is unable to make a sexual commitment to her, she is barking up the wrong tree.”

Dealing with betrayal

Such a betrayal in a relationship breaks trust and causes serious trauma, but Dr. Hecker has a few tips for dealing with the pain.

  • Confront the pain and take charge of how one wants to handle the situation. “One should not blindly stay with [one’s] partner and never address why the betrayal occurred,” says Dr. Hecker.
  • Ask yourself: Should I stay or should I go? “This means taking time to explore their options and not act impulsively,” she says.
  • Learn from the affair. “This means examining both their role and their partner’s role in the relationship,” Hecker says.
  • Rebuild the trust. “The betrayer needs to show, with concrete actions, that their partner is safe with them. In addition, other relationship dynamics must be addressed,” she says.

“Sometimes a relationship needs to fall apart to rebuild it in a stronger, more durable way,” adds Dr. Hecker. “On another note, one must question why they are attracted to a cheater and why they can’t break free.”

Dr. Hecker also has a few words of advice for Abedin.

“In order for Huma to make the right decision about staying with her husband or not, she must fully understand the nature of his problems and consider his willingness to seek help,” she says. “Once Huma recognizes that he has a treatable psychiatric problem, which may likely involve relapse, she can stand by him most effectively by encouraging his need for medical help.”

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Should you ever try to make a relationship work after one side cheats? Sound off below!

More on cheating in relationships

Women who have resisted the urge to cheat, and how
Red flag! 5 Perfumes preferred by cheaters
Why people cheat: Understanding infidelity

Photo: Carrie Devorah/

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