Like a lot of people on TAM, I have seen firsthand how awful the effects of cheating can be. It was pretty devastating and I feel like I have worked on myself to the point to where I can trust my own judgment, and to where I don't have an automatic distrust of people in general, and men in particular.
I'm now wondering if there is a way to ask someone when you're first going out with them: "Have you ever cheated?" I saw someone do it on a TV program recently, and it occurred to me: wow, that's really ballsy, but as important a question as something like "ever been in jail?" to me.
Like any other question you ask someone when you first date, of course, they might not answer honestly. If they have cheated before, they might so "no," but there is a small chance if they answer honestly, it could help weed out people who have cheated in the past, and have poor boundaries.
I can't quite find a good time to ask, and feel like it's an awkward and very personal question, but one whose answer is kind of important to me. If they have cheated in the past, it's kind of a deal breaker.
1) What is a good way to phrase the question so they won't feel offended?
2) Is it OK to ask someone this?
3) If so, when should I ask? First date? Second date?
If I were asked that on a first, second, tenth date, I'd be very, very wary.
One of the things that 'the books' say that women do far more than men is continue to look for red flags.
Red flags are a way to use an easy-to-spot litmus test, so that you don't have to depend on your actual ability to get to know someone properly. "If he hates his mom, I won't have anything to do with him." Not that I hate my mom, but I met a woman once who hated HER mom, and as I got to know the family, they ALL hated her and when I met the woman, I saw why. Litmus tests are shortcuts and like all shortcuts, they make things easy, but less accurate.
I seriously doubt that if a person had cheated in the past, a direct question about it probaly won't get a truthful answer, especially if you're early in the relationship (less than, say, six months).
But if it's really important to you, the way I get 'round to sorting out a person's likely behavior is to engage in conversation about other topics, getting a general sense of how they approach life and people. This actually is part of that bigger thing called "getting to know someone".
What it means to "know someone" is that you understand how they make decisions, you understand what some of their dreams are, their long-term goals, what are their current joys and struggles and what are they doing about this. Most of "getting to know" falls right into "how do they make decisions."
Direct questions can be perceived as confrontational, so you simply have chats about third persons.
"One of the sales guys I work with told me something that - well, I'd have never thought of this before! When he and his wife got married, they wanted a simple affair and she just bought an off-the-rack dress, nothing custom. They got married, and then she took the dress back, saying it didn't fit the way she wanted it to."
How does the person respond?
"Geeze, I'm frugal, but that's kind of low."
"Wow, cool, way to stick it to The Man, who deserves it!"
Those are two different answers. The second person is fully capable of doing things to intentionally hurt people. They may have ethics, but sometimes their ethics say that revenge is OK, and that there are people or organizations who deserve to be treated with less respect and/or honesty.
The first person hasn't revealed a whole lot, but at least they have exposed the fact that they consider their ethics before making decisions.
Just my thoughts and I'm just a mangy old dusty dawg....