When you get cheated on, the chances of it happening again plummet. If, that is,you can learn to ask the hard questions like the emotional boss you are.

How to ask the hard questions like an emotional boss when you get cheated on.

"Once a cheater, always a cheater." It's the first thought people likely have about new partners after they've been cheated on before.

It’s a completely understandable response from anyone who’s been through it. Ascribing to that belief is easy; it seems to protect the body from further pain by giving an ability to dismiss unfaithful partners' seemingly flimsy promises that they’ll “never do it again.” In theory, doing that takes away the potential for getting hurt, because in saying that, it's decided. Don't trust them and you don't have to go through the emotional gaunt of rebuilding a relationship. It's just done.

Problem is, cheating is much more complicated than that. “Once a cheater, always a cheater” fails to acknowledge the complexity of why people cheat in the first place — which is arguably a much more important question to ask if you are a victim of infidelity.

The right question isn't, “Can I ever trust them again?” Rather, the deeper, healthier question is, “Why did they choose infidelity in the first place?”

The first question is unanswerable. Trusting your partner after they cheat has more to do with you and how you chose to respond to betrayal than it does with them. You decide how you want to feel and if you want to bear the emotional burden of perpetual distrust.

The second question is much more interesting. If answered correctly, it’s likely to keep you safe if you decide to heal and evolve together following an affair, because it aims to fix the underlying causes of the actual cheating. It’s a hard question to ask, because often it requires you to question both the legitimacy of your relationship and your own flaws as well as those of your partners — but if you chose the arguably easier route of ignoring that, your relationship is good as K.O.’ed.

While there is never a good excuse for cheating, there is always a reason for why affairs happen. Failing to understand what those reasons are robs you of the opportunity to learn from the experience and can remove the chance to save a relationship, assuming that’s what you want.

Instead, get smart by understanding what drives someone to betrayal and determining the “purpose” of the affair. It could be that they believe the rules don’t apply to them. It could be that they’ve made up that you’re the cause of their unhappiness. It could be that they lack confidence and the feeling of control in their life. They could just be a total asshat. But whatever it is, understanding it is the first step to working through it. Now go psychoanalyze yourself in a foggy bathroom mirror.