Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater?

 

Hey Evan! I’m dealing with an issue that I can’t find explicitly addressed on one of your old posts, so I thought I’d write and see if you can help. I am 38, and divorced three years. I am looking for a relationship, but perfectly happy with my life in the meantime.

I’ve been seeing a man (40) over the past month. He is very attentive, a great listener, and has put in all the effort of someone who is boyfriend material. He calls, plans dates in advance, and is genuinely interested in me. His kids are the same age as mine and we have great conversations and a lot in common. I enjoy his company and can see this continuing into a relationship, as he has told me he doesn’t want to date anyone else.

However, the reason he is single is that he cheated on his ex-wife. They have been legally separated for a little over a year, and are working on finalizing their divorce. He told me on our third date, and was very upfront about it. He said that they married young, had grown apart, and their relationship hadn’t met his needs for a long time. He had an affair with a woman that he knew (I don’t know from where) with the intention of continuing to see her.

He told his ex, they went to counseling for one session, and then decided to separate. The woman with whom he had an affair didn’t want to continue seeing him, so he’s been single for the duration of his separation. He doesn’t intend to cheat again, but also doesn’t appear to regret it. He seems surprised that people are bothered by it, like how the “couple” friends he had with his ex no longer want to get together with him. It worries me that he doesn’t regret it or even feel bad (but maybe that’s more about me than it is about him). He also said that he has worked on himself about noticing when he’s not happy, being more honest about his circumstances, and not flirting with women in his life as much (that last part also was a red flag to me).

My question is, how much weight do you give to someone’s past? Should I stop seeing him because of his prior actions? Or do I give him a chance because it’s more important to pay attention to how he is today, with me, than how he treated another person before? I appreciate any insight you have for me.

Stacia

Well, you have to appreciate his honesty. He’s saved you a lot of pain and heartbreak.

I’ve written about infidelity plenty before, but I never bothered to gather any data on whether “once a cheater, always a cheater” is, for the most part, true.

Turns out, it is.

Those who cheated were three times more likely to cheat again.

Those who cheated were three times more likely to cheat again. Which isn’t terribly surprising. Nor is it surprising that women who’ve been cheated on are twice as likely to get cheated on again (thus making them feel like all men are cheaters. They’re not. Some women are just bad judges of character and are drawn to certain types of men.)

Now, is it POSSIBLE for a man to have cheated and still be worth a chance? Sure.

If he kissed a stranger on a Vegas weekend when he was 23 and he’s 45 now, we can probably write it off as a drunken, youthful aberration.

If he had an affair when he was 30 and felt terrible that he wrecked his marriage, it may be forgiveable.

Hell, even if he cheated because his relationship was miserable and sexless and he saw no way out that wasn’t really painful and expensive, I’d be willing to listen.

But he didn’t. You’re dating a guy who cheated who feels absolutely no remorse.

That’s some sociopathic shit, right there.

As a dating coach for women, I tend to be risk averse.

  • Don’t sleep with guys you barely know.
  • Don’t commit to any man who hasn’t committed to you.
  • Don’t fall in love with men in other states and countries.
  • Don’t stay in a relationship where you don’t feel safe and happy.

I think it would be pretty safe to add:

  • Don’t embark on a relationship with an unrepentant cheater.

Like hiring an embezzler to be your accountant or electing a con artist to be your president, you can’t be too surprised when the shit hits the fan.

I hope you have the strength to walk away now, rather than doubling down on your chemistry and his potential. I GUARANTEE there’s another great guy out there who HASN’T proudly cheated on his wife.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Clare

    I love how Evan’s letters always provoke an insight in me about my own dating life.

    I’m one of those women who has never been cheated on, or almost never. So I know not all men are cheaters. The guys I have dated/had relationships with have been pretty much exclusively extremely monogamous, faithful types. A guy like the one the OP is talking about would make me run a mile.

    Any hint of infidelity or player-type behaviour is a huge turn-off for me. It’s a bit like a man who is not generous. It’s just a no go for me. Wouldn’t get involved with such a man.

    I think because, for me, cheating is a character weakness. It’s not just a behaviour or a “mistake.” When someone makes the decision to be unfaithful to and deceive their partner, that goes deeper than just a mistake. That is like the employee who takes money from the petty cash box. It’s not a mistake… there’s something in your character which says that it’s ok.

    Like Evan, I think there is a tiny bit of leeway on this issue. Someone who gets very drunk on a trip away from their spouse and gets taken advantage of momentarily by someone else is something you can maybe get past. Someone who has a lapse of judgment when they are very young is something you can forgive. But a married man who cheats on his wife and then intends to pursue a relationship with his mistress because he and his wife have “grown apart”… that is not a bet I would take. Not in a million years.

    I think what’s concerning in the OP’s letter is that this guy truly thinks his “unhappiness” was the problem. The fact that he has resolved to talk about his unhappiness going forward as a way to forestall future cheating is alarming. He doesn’t see the cheating behaviour itself as the problem. This kind of behaviour reminds me of people who always think the relationship is broken, and choose to focus on that rather than on what they personally can do to change or make it better. It’s a way of avoiding responsibility and putting back on external things.

    One’s happiness and relationship health is within one’s own power. And if you’ve tried everything and the relationship can’t be fixed, it’s time to leave. But to throw your hands up in the air and say “my relationship was unhappy so I had to cheat,” that is just not something I can respect at all.

  2. 2
    Stacy

    Even if he had no intention of ever cheating again, you would never have the complete peace of mind and always wonder on some level, if he would ever do it to you (especially when things aren’t going well).

    So, even if it is possible that a past cheater won’t cheat again, you are the one who will always be tortured by the possibility. Even it is for this reason alone, it makes the relationship not worth it because you will forever suffer inwardly and sacrifice your peace of mind to be with this man.

  3. 3
    ScottH

    There isn’t enough information provided to determine whether it’s cheating.  And not to sound like Bill Clinton, it depends on how you define cheating.  I’ve shared my story too many times here already so add a +1 to that number.  Some people will define cheating in very black and white terms but I think there’s quite a bit of grey involved.

    He said that they grew apart and the relationship wasn’t meeting his needs.  Was his wife not interested in meeting his needs?  Did she try?  Did he try to work with her to get his and her needs met?  If she unilaterally withdrew from sexual courtship and refused to deal with the issue, he’s a free agent and I wouldn’t call it cheating.  If they were indeed intimate, or working on it, and he succumbed to weakness, that is indeed concerning.  And maybe it’s the first situation and he calls it cheating because he’s thinking in terms of black and white like most of the non-discerning society would.

    As I’ve shared before, my former wife unilaterally and quite nastily withdrew despite my protest and after 18 months, I decided that she had no right to impose on me a life of celibacy.  I found a fwb and never looked back.  I never had and still don’t have any regrets about what I did.  Why should I?  She broke the marital contract, not me.  Some people will disagree, and I really don’t care.   I don’t need everyone’s approval (something that is impossible anyway).

    OP, with the information you provided, it’s impossible, IMO, to determine if what he did is a character flaw or not.

    I share my story again to provide some thoughts and context for the OP.  My story has been commented on before in this forum and further judgments really aren’t necessary.  Thanks in advance.

    1. 3.1
      Yet Another Guy

      @ScottH

      If she unilaterally withdrew from sexual courtship and refused to deal with the issue, he’s a free agent and I wouldn’t call it cheating. 

      I have to bullshit on that one, Scott.  Nothing justifies cheating.  Cheating is cheating.  There are no shades of gray.  If he wanted to be with another woman, there was remedy to that problem.  It is called divorce.  I went without sex for ten years.  I called it quits when I could not take it any longer.   That is the right thing to do.

       

      1. 3.1.1
        ScottH

        well i guess that makes you the martyr.  just like you left a sizeable check on the table when you got divorced because you didn’t want to lose your man card.  that one made my eyes pop, obviously.

        1. Yet Another Guy

          @ScottH

          just like you left a sizeable check on the table when you got divorced because you didn’t want to lose your man card.

          What check did I leave on the table?  You mean not seeking spousal support?  That would have hurt my children more than it would have benefited me.  The only response that one of my daughters made when we told them that we were divorcing was “but we will be poor.”  I do not know about you, but that one cut at my core.  I lived in a fairly affluent area in which there were two high-income earners in almost every home.  To say that the kids in the area were privileged is an understatement.  However, my daughters had witnessed what happened when their friends’ parents divorced.  Many of them took a huge hit in standard of living, especially in the homes in which the father fought for 50/50 custody because he did not want to have to pay child support.  That was not going to happen to my girls.

        2. Clare

          Wow YAG, I must say that my respect for you has gone up quite a bit now too. I did not know the full details of your story.

          Speaking as a daughter whose father did do everything in his power to weasel out of paying child support, including suing for full custody and tying my mom up in maintenance proceedings until I was in high school, it is honestly very touching that you put your daughters’ comfort before your own financial state.

          I can’t tell you what it’s like, as a child, to watch one of your parents who would rather screw over their ex and save a few pennies than create a stable and secure environment for you. It’s just one of a few reasons why my relationship with my father will never recover.

          Anyway, kudos to you… not only for that, but also for not cheating and rather choosing to end the marriage.

      2. 3.1.2
        sylvana

        YAG,

        You were the first person I thought of when I read ScottH’s reply. And this, right here, is why I have full respect for you.

    2. 3.2
      sylvana

      ScottH,

      I often find myself defending men against “male entitlement” claims made by women. Yet, much to my surprise, reading your reply the word “entitlement” actually popped to mind.

      She broke the marital contract. How? If you’re referring to sex – neither my nor any marital contract I’ve ever seen specifically states that by entering into marriage, she is forced (or even agreed) to endure sex for the rest of her life. As a matter of fact, mine never even mentioned anything about children, or me having to provide them for my husband (which, until recently, still required sex). None of that was listed in the contract I signed, or the contract that anyone else I know signed. So unless your particular contract specifically listed sex as a requirement, there was no breach of marital contract if you’re referring to you not getting laid.

      Times have changed. Marriage no longer gives a man the right to rape his wife. A man is no longer “entitled” to sex just because he’s married.

      While I agree both parties should try to work things out, this is a subject as touchy as erectile dysfunction. And just as reliant on the body’s ability to perform for sex. Which is something men rarely ever take into consideration. Arousal, or the physical ability to function during sex is NOT something a woman can choose to do. It is a physical response completely unrelated to whether she actually wants to have sex or not. And the complete equivalent of a man unable to get hard. If it was simply a matter of wanting to or being willing to, men with ED would be singing hallelujah.

      1. 3.2.1
        shaukat

        Times have changed. Marriage no longer gives a man the right to rape his wife. A man is no longer “entitled” to sex just because he’s married.

        @Sylvana,

        How the hell did you identify that statement as a logical inference of the notion that if a marriage is sexless, one of the parties may be justified in cheating? I’m not even taking any position of this topic, I’m simply pointing out that your assertion above is pure hyperbole.

        1. sylvana

          Shaukat,

          It’s not. I was referring to the “she broke the marital contract” statement. Fact is, women used to have no rights whatsoever to decline “marital relations” – aka sex. Once married, a man pretty much owned her body and had legal right to use it as he wished (at least sexually). There was no such thing as rape within marriage legally (although it was rather common), because it was considered a woman’s duty, and therefore something she was forced to endure whether she wanted it or not.

          Times have changed (at least in most civilized nations, thank god). Sex is no longer a right for a man (even if married), or a duty for a woman (even if married). It is something both partners freely choose to give, which includes a woman’s legal right to decline.

          Now while most men will definitely agree that marital rape is horrible, unacceptable, and should be illegal, a lot of men still seem to have a bit of an issue with the fact that sex really isn’t a wife’s duty.

          Sex is certainly a wonderful bonus of marriage and relationships, but being married does not mean that you have a guaranteed right to sex (and this goes for men or women. If a woman came here, claiming her husband broke the marital contract because he has ED, I’d tell her the same thing).

          So IF (and I did say if above, in case it was a different reason) he is justifying cheating based on her breaking the marital contract due to lack of sex, he is either saying that a) they signed a contract that states that it was her duty to see him sexually satisfied, or b) that marriage gave him the right to sexual satisfaction. Basically, he’s trying to justify it with something that isn’t true.

          Now, does it suck to be stuck in a sexless marriage? Absolutely! I couldn’t even imagine, and I truly feel bad for anyone, man or woman, who finds themselves in that position. I can fully understand the frustration, anger, even emotional hurt that comes with it.

          What I absolutely cannot wrap my brain around is the fact that so many men (even if not of the privileged mindset) seem to think that withholding sex is just something a woman chooses to do for basically no reason whatsoever.

          Truth is, if you’re not getting sex, it pretty much boils down to one of two reasons. 1) the sex isn’t doing anything for her – at best, she feels nothing, at worst, it constantly leaves her with the female equivalent of blue balls. 2) her body does not function properly for sex – due to physical, hormonal, or emotional reasons. No, she can’t just pretend to like it and let you get it over with. Muscles need to stretch, the cervix needs to lift. If that doesn’t happen, she will tear and bruise. Physically very uncomfortable at best, severely painful at best.

          Blaming the woman for withholding sex is the equivalent of blaming a man for not being willing to have regular sex without opportunity to orgasm, or having his dick tortured to see her satisfied. Or not feeling attraction or desire for her. Or having ED.

          Once again, it definitely is a crappy situation to be in, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But this attitude of making it sound like she has a choice in a physical response that is completely out of her control, or like it is her duty to endure pain and suffering so he can be sexually satisfied (since – well, you’re married) is beyond privileged.

          I’m with YAG. I don’t think there is anything that justifies cheating. If you’re in a sexless marriage you have one of three choices. Tell your partner you have to have your needs satisfied – and see if they will either try to work on fixing the issue, or allow you to have sex with other people (which is not cheating, but an open marriage). Get divorced. Or stick it out without sex.

           

      2. 3.2.2
        Tron Swanson

        sylvana,

        I wish that I could give you a bullhorn and have you proclaim “A man is no longer ‘entitled’ to sex just because he’s married” to the masses. It would do wonders, in terms of further lowering the marriage rates.

        I never physically cheated…but I most likely would have, if my relationships had lasted more than a few months. And I was never truly “emotionally faithful” or whatever you want to call it. I’ve never regretted any of it, either. (Oh, and while I never cheated on my girlfriends, I most definitely helped women cheat on boyfriends and husbands.)

        Marriage is ultimately an imaginary construct, as is monogamy. It’s a manmade idea, not anything natural (or even logical). This much-praised, so-called “foundation of our society” is powered by the unstoppable force of…a pair of people saying some magic words and pretending that it actually means something. Yeah, that can’t possibly go wrong. Surely I can’t be the only one who sees how silly it all is.

        One of the reasons I love living in 2018: I get to watch the lie finally fall apart.

        1. sylvana

          Tron,

          Who said anything about “no longer.” I’ll take that bullhorn and proclaim that no man or woman is EVER entitled to sex. Married or not. It is a bonus of marriage or relationships that completely depends on both partners physical ability to perform. It’s not something neither I nor they can force – whether they want to or not. I am a true and legit sex addict. But even I have not once in life felt entitled to having sex.

          If women adopted the same attitude about sex as men, the marriage rate might just decline to nothing. Men ain’t exactly known for holding up their end of the bargain when it comes to satisfying in bed.

          And, just so this is clear, my opinion of cheating applies equally to women and men.

          How is monogamy not natural or logical when plenty of species in nature practice it? And while I’m sure you’re not the only one who thinks marriage is silly, there are also plenty of people for whom it works. There’s no right or wrong. Only whatever is right for the individual person.

          And while I personally don’t ever want to get married again, I find it a bit disconcerting to hear you looking forward to watching the “lie” finally fall apart. Even if the whole thing is just a fantasy or fairytale, it ultimately means people believe and are looking for connection, intimacy, love.

          I, for one, would hate to see humanity lose that all together. We are cold and selfish enough as it is.

          I understand being disappointed with the reality of it all. But that doesn’t mean I’ll start enjoying other people’s pain and suffering.

           

  4. 4
    SpecialK

    Oh, Scott. They all say that after the fact. “You weren’t meeting MY needs,” “I was unfulfilled,” “You drove me to it.” Just deflection and blame-shifting.

    Unless your name is Lucrezia Borgia and your dad sold you off as a teenager, cheating is evidence of deep, deep, unforgivable character flaws: entitlement, opportunism, deceit, unwillingness to communicate, narcissicm, and complete and total disregard for the emotional and physical well-being of the one person who has every right to believe they can trust you. Ewwww. And honestly, the fact that the mistress dumped him as soon as he and his wife split up suggests that he had been pretending he was single.

    You can’t live a double life and be a good person.

    Stacia, the world is full of honorable guys. Don’t waste your time on the few who can’t keep it in their pants.

    1. 4.1
      ScottH

      oh how clueless some people can be.

      1. 4.1.1
        SpecialK

        Indeed.

    2. 4.2
      Emily, the original

      SpecialK,

      And honestly, the fact that the mistress dumped him as soon as he and his wife split up suggests that he had been pretending he was single.

      Not necessarily. She could have been fine with hooking up but never saw him as someone she wanted as a boyfriend — either because she wasn’t feeling it enough or …. well, she didn’t trust him.

  5. 5
    Yet Another Guy

    Cheating is something that tests one’s sense of right and wrong.  Cheating, like a a lot of other morally challenged acts, is hardest the first time the act is committed.  After that, it becomes much easier to cheat.  One of the reasons why it will be difficult for me to settle into a long-term relationship is because I was forced to make the call between cheating and going without.  That is a call I am never going to have to make again in my lifetime.   I used to believe that my situation was unique; however, I have dated enough women who dated men that went through the same type of experience that it is a common problem in marriages.   I am certain that there are men who do the same thing to their wives, but I doubt that it is anywhere near the same extent.

  6. 6
    AdaGrace

    Thanks for the link — it’s nice to see that my gut instincts re: men with a history of cheating (without some profound change in their view of relationships/truth/accountability to self between then and now, anyway) are backed up by actual data.

    (I’ve been in a few poly relationships as well as monogamous ones — my experiences, and those of people I’ve met, suggest that the same thing is true if you replace the word “cheat” with the phrase “violate relationship agreements.”  For those who have been in both mono and poly relationships, history of cheating in mono relationships seemed to be an excellent predictor of failure to follow poly relationship agreements.  Obviously that’s is just anecdotal evidence rather than a proper study, but I STILL think it was a smart idea to stay away from dating men who claimed “I practice polyamory because I couldn’t help cheating in my monogamous relationships” and similar.)

    1. 6.1
      sylvana

      AdaGrace,

      Absolutely. There are certain agreements in any type of poly relationship as well. And a cheater just proves that he/she cannot be trusted to stick to any of the “rules”.

  7. 7
    Emily, the original

    Why on Earth did he tell her that he had cheated on his wife on their third date? How long had they known each other by then, 2 or 3 weeks? Isn’t that really personal information? Always watch out for oversharers.

  8. 8
    Noone45

    Are we not all the heroes of our story? From the LWs intended to the commenters below. It seems people lack self-awareness.  I admit to being a self-doubter and spending more time than I should thinking about how I can improve. The LW needs to take a hard look in the mirror. The man isn’t being upfront. He’s probably not being entirely honest about the situation.  In fact, he’s priming the pump. This is a huge “I’ll probably do this to you ” flag. Don’t spackle,  just run. As a person who went through betrayal,  I can see where I glossed over obvious problems. I’ve spent a lot of time working on that problem. It’s time for the LW to do that work.

  9. 9
    KK

    “He doesn’t intend to cheat again, but also doesn’t appear to regret it. He seems surprised that people are bothered by it, like how the “couple” friends he had with his ex no longer want to get together with him. It worries me that he doesn’t regret it or even feel bad (but maybe that’s more about me than it is about him)”.

    “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” ~Maya Angelou

    Stacia, he has shown you who he is. Believe him.

  10. 10
    Marika

    Hmmm, I’m not so sure. I think there is grey in all human behaviour, including cheating.

    And I say this knowing the pain of cheating, having experienced it first hand. However, I don’t necessarily think past cheating means a person should be destined to remain single forever and be shunned by the dating community. I do agree the lack of remorse is a red flag, but the fact he was honest about what he did counts in his favour, in my view. Most good people who do bad things do tend to try to play it down or explain it away, as none of us wants to think we are ‘bad’.

    I think there are (at least) two types of ‘cheaters’, 1. those who do it out of desperation even though it’s out of character (I get the sense ScottH is such a person, I also have a close relative I would put in this category) , and 2. those who think the rules of society don’t apply to them and their own self-interest outweighs the feelings of others. Obviously a no. 2 cheater is a massive risk, but I don’t personally think no. 1 is.

    Sylvana

    Can’t a marriage be annulled if it can be proven sex never took place? Doesn’t that mean that sex and marriage are intertwined in a either written or unwritten contract? Personally, I think it’s at the very least implied that you agree to regular sex with one person when you get married – and I would be surprised if most people don’t feel this way. I’d also be miserable in a sexless marriage myself. Wouldn’t you? That being said, if there was a medical issue, I would be open to exploring treatment options (medical or psychological), alternatives to actual sex (using hands, mouths, whatever), but you must be aware that some people (often women, but not always) do just decide for the couple to stop having sex. How is that okay? I’m not justifying cheating, but I also think if you announce ‘no more sex’ and aren’t open to any conversation, therapy, whatever, then you are making life (and faithfulness) very, very difficult for your partner. It’s pretty narcissistic and entitled to think your partner should remain happily loyal to you (the royal you) when you unilaterally withdraw from something crucial to a marriage.

    1. 10.1
      Clare

      I also found sylvana‘s comment about marriage not necessarily including sex to be odd.

      In South African law anyway, sex forms part of a bundle of marital rights called “consortium.” In this bundle is also included affection and emotional support.

      I think virtually everyone recognises that marriage is not sexless. Some marriages might take place for other reasons, but they are very much in the minority. Since sex is considered by many (if not most) people to be a need, it stands to reason that if you have pledged to be faithful to your spouse and not have sex with anyone else, you have a reasonable expectation of receiving sex from them.

      Of course there are reasons why sex stops happening. And the female sex drive is extremely complex, and sometimes a woman (or man) can stop wanting to or being able to have sex for reasons that are complex to solve. Towards the end of my marriage, it was not exactly sexless, but sex had tailed off a lot and it was due to the huge emotional distance between me and my ex-husband. Had we both been willing and able to solve these problems, I have no doubt that my sex drive would have returned. My point is, if you love your spouse and value their needs, sexual issues should be worked through just like any other issue in the relationship.

      To unilaterally call a halt on sex (for whatever reason) and declare that your spouse has no recourse in this regard is very selfish and tantamount to a form of abuse in my opinion. It would certainly cause me very extreme distress.

      1. 10.1.1
        Marika

        I agree, Clare.

        Even when things were really bad in my marriage we still had sex relatively regularly. Not because I’m a sexaholic or because I’m some poor, put upon woman who doesn’t know how to say no, but for the reasons you stated – it’s selfish and even abusive to withhold sex. Even if the other person is being immature and selfish, you don’t have to be. Anyway, sex feels good, physically and emotionally.

        Some author wrote that women should at times (not always) have sex even if they don’t feel like it (within a committed relationship). Not in terms of rape or out of fear, but if you’re just a bit ‘meh’ when the guy puts on the moves you will likely start to get more into it once things start progressing. Or, if you get to the point you are that completely turned off at the thought of some fun adult times with your partner, you have to be aware that is doom for the relationship.

        1. Emily, the original

          Marika,

          Even when things were really bad in my marriage we still had sex relatively regularly.

          What has to happen for the sex to stop? Emotional disconnection, you think the other person is cheating, they treat you really badly and make you feel unattractive? I was shocked when a friend of mine, who went on and on about how bad her marriage was –she  was also having an emotional affair with another man and claimed to be in love with him –would occasionally still have sex with her husband. She had checked out of the marriage. Why would she even want to do it? (They eventually divorced.)

    2. 10.2
      Noone45

      The study Evan linked proves your assertion about cheater #1 wrong. There’s a reason resumes list past employment: past behavior is a damn good indicator of future performance.  Cheaters lie about everything else too.  Why would you believe their tales of woe about their relationships? Never take what an admitted liar says at face value.

      Most of the cheaters I’ve seen spin tales of how their former partners wronged them.  It strangely seems to happen over and over to them. They also tend to be in financial crisis all the time. Not good mate material, reccomend a hard pass on that. Sure, people can change, but they rarely ever do.

      1. 10.2.1
        Marika

        Noone45

        Have you ever lied about anything? Does that make you an ‘admitted liar’.

        Studies show general indications, trends about certain groups. Before I decide how to proceed in a situation, I personally don’t jump onto Google scholar.

        People aren’t research subjects. We’re ALL complex and flawed.

        Let’s all give each other a break now & then.

        1. Noone45

          “We’re ALL complex and flawed.”

          Some more so than others. You are trying to suck the argument into a Kantian style dogmatic black hole.  Any lie makes one a liar, but some lies are far worse to tell than others. You can’t compare the average white lie to infidelity.  One removes another person’s agency, exposes them to STDs, and can cause PTSD in people, the other isn’t even close.

          If you want to give people a break, feel free, but the risk is there. We all take risks. Some situations are more risky than others. Some people are a bigger risk than others. Everyone feels like risks don’t apply to them. You give them a break, I’ll pass.

  11. 11
    SparklingEmerald

    Sylvania said “She broke the marital contract. How? If you’re referring to sex – neither my nor any marital contract I’ve ever seen specifically states that by entering into marriage, she is forced (or even agreed) to endure sex for the rest of her life.

    Any woman (or man for that matter) who considers sex something to “endure” should not marry.

     

  12. 12
    Yet Another Guy

    Let’s define cheating.  Cheating is the act of having an affair behind one’s partner’s back.  If one is having sex with another person outside of one’s relationship with the blessing of the other person in the relationship, then it is not cheating.

    A lot of people who are in sexless marriages claim that sex is a need when it is actually a want.  A need is something required to sustain life.  Human beings have exactly three needs; namely, oxygen, water, and food, in that order.  In harsh climates, we can add shelter to the list.  Everything else is a quality of life issue (a.k.a. a want).  Sex is a want, not a need.  No one has ever died from lack of sex.

    Now, I will admit that it is unfair for one member of a couple to unilaterally withdraw from sexual contact.  I lived through it.  However, there are two remedies.  The first is to seek a divorce.  The second is to inform one’s spouse of one’s intention to seek sexual satisfaction outside of the marriage before engaging in the act.  In this case, it is up to the spouse who is withholding sex to make an informed decision.  However, to cheat demonstrates a serious lack of integrity on the part of the cheater (i.e., a person unworthy of one’s trust).   I would go as far as to say that men who cheat on there wives in this type of situation are cowards who are unable to deal with the situation like a man.  If it gets to the point where man has the urge to cheat due to the withdrawal of sexual contact, then he should inform his wife of his intention to seek a mistress or end the marriage.  That is what I did when I decided that I could no longer live the way we had been living.  I gave her the option of agreeing to end our marriage amicably or allowing me to have a mistress.  She agreed to end our marriage amicably.  She was upset, but those were her two options.  My ex said that she would not be able to handle me having sex with another woman.  I thought that she was being disingenuous when she made that claim, but how she handled things when she discovered that I was dating during our separation confirmed that it was true (I live in a state that up until this year required couples with minor children in common to live in separate residences for a year in order to qualify for no-fault divorce).  It was old I do not want you, but I do not want you with anyone else paradox.

    1. 12.1
      Noone45

       I would go as far as to say that men who cheat on there wives in this type of situation are cowards who are unable to deal with the situation like a man.

      This is true. Most people have a picture of cheaters in their head that is opposed to reality. They believe it’s the extroverted, very good-looking, confident people who cheat. Sure, some do, but most cheaters are not any of those things. Introverted people are more likely to cheat as they have problems with confrontation. This isn’t just me talking – if you look at the data, most cheaters are a pathetic lot. They tend to be reaching a milestone age, are introverted, and are prone to being passive-aggressive. Low self-esteem is also rampant among them. Instead of confronting their issues, they just run. Into sex, drugs, booze, TV, whatever it is. They actively seek to escape life rather than deal with their self-inflicted wounds.

      Run far away from escapists.

      1. 12.1.1
        Yet Another Guy

        @Noone45

        I am an introvert, so I find your post to be a bit of generalization.   I am not shy nor am I socially awkward.  I am the “I need downtime away from crowds” to recharge kind of introvert.  That is really the only difference between an extrovert and an introvert.  Whereas an extrovert gains energy from being in crowds, crowds tend to zap an introvert of his or her energy.  Shyness in introverts is usually the result of avoiding over stimulation that can lead to exhaustion in crowds.

        With that said, my personal experience is that extroverted men tend to cheat more often than introverted men.  They do so because they have more opportunities to cheat due to their need to be around people.  Regardless of opportunity, what separates a cheater from a non-cheater is integrity, which can be defined as doing the right thing even when no one is watching.  Men who lack integrity rationalize anything they chose to do, even if they know it is wrong.

        1. Noone45

          And the data says your wrong. I can’t link things as this isn’t my blog. You can easily find that data. Why do people argue with science?

        2. Yet Another Guy

          @Noone45

          I am not arguing with you.  I am saying that it is not my experience.  The men I know who have cheated are all extroverts.  They had more opportunities to cheat.

        3. Yet Another Guy

          @Noone45

          I found the University of Alabama publication related to introverts being poached from relationships.  I wonder if these researchers actually understand what it means to be introverted.  They state that introverts passive.  I have to call BS on that one. That is a gross generalization at best.  I am an introvert.  I know how to pick my battles, but I am anything but passive.

          I believe that this piece explains introversion very well: http://unisoultheory.com/index.php/2016/08/20/introvert-not-shy/

           

        4. Noone45

          These researchers have PhDs in the subject of psychology.  What is your qualification?

        5. Clare

          Noone45,

          I have to say that your caricature of an introvert undermines your credibility.

          Do you know what an introvert is? I’m pretty widely read on the subject. Introverts are not shy, passive aggressive people who run from their problems. They actually often enjoy socialising and being with other people every bit as much as extroverts do; the only difference between them is that introverts get drained far more quickly from such interactions, whereas extroverts thrive on them.

          I would like to see the citation which links introversion with cheating. Or is it that you are just drawing the inference that these are introverts based on your poor understanding of the term? If you think introversion = shyness and passive aggression, that is little wonder. Introversion is a defined psychological concept, and one that is often misunderstood. You are lumping in a whole lot of problems which seem indicative of lack of maturity and poor coping skills with introversion, but this is not the case at all.

          On the contrary, introverts tend to be cautious and thoughtful. They also derive great comfort and security from their close relationships. Introverts also form less than half of the population. So I would be very surprised if introverts are more likely to cheat. Again, I’d love to see the citation for the source which links introversion and cheating?

        6. Noone45

          Lol no, Not all introverts are cautious or thoughtful.  Frankly, you are just reading off a MTBI profile. MTBI was not created by a psychologist.  Its astrology for the modern era. The OCEAN or Big five index is what is used in modern psychology for the most part. Most people score in the middle of introversion and extroversion.  I did not say all introverts will cheat, nor did I say all introverts have specific qualities.  Reading comprehension is fundamental.  I was talking about cheaters. I made that pretty clear. Yag referenced the study about mate poaching  earlier. I don’t put links in people’s comments because Google starts flagging you as spam when you get too many links in your comments.  I’m not going to screw up someone’s business to prove a point.

          Either way, its hundreds of man hours of research, tons of citations, and hard data versus your opinions.  Who should I believe?

        7. Clare

          Noone45,

          “who should I believe?”

          Not trying to convince you, Noone45. I just took issue with your caricature of introverts as lonely, misbegotten outcasts addled with addiction and low self-esteem.

    2. 12.2
      sylvana

      YAG,

      thank you, YAG! This, exactly.

  13. 13
    Marika

    Noone45

    “If you want to give people a break, feel free”

    Thank you, I think I will.

    I pretty much always err on the side of giving people the benefit of the doubt. If you don’t, that’s your choice, but I ask you who is being “dogmatic”?

  14. 14
    Marika

    Hi Emily

    It’s really, really awkward (for me, anyway) going to bed with the same person night after night and not having sex. I was looking for more emotional connection, I wanted things to work out and I didn’t want to lie there night after night ignoring each other. Also, I wasn’t having sex with anyone else, so if I didn’t have sex with him, I had sex with no one.

    1. 14.1
      Emily, the original

      Hi Marika,

      Also, I wasn’t having sex with anyone else, so if I didn’t have sex with him, I had sex with no one.

      I was just talking about this with a friend of mine who’s a few years older than I am, and we’re at the same place with dating/sex … every now and then we see someone and think, “Oh, who’s that?” … like a feeling of inspiration, but otherwise … if it happens, it happens. If not, I’m ok with it. At least for now. I know you and I differ on the topic of sex. You’ve always had good sex, which I admit baffles me. I’ve had about 9 collective months of Richter-scale 10 sex in my life. (And a lot of expended energy hunting it down.  🙂   )  I don’t know what my point is. I’m rambling.

      1. 14.1.1
        Marika

        Emily

        Maybe I don’t know what good sex is? Ha! Also, I was late to the game (Catholic upbringing), so maybe I’m making up for lost time 😉 I definitely had no idea with my ex (he could’ve been bad but I wouldn’t have known), and I’ve had better sex since..and worse, but it’s never ‘bad’. I always get something out of it, connection, warmth or even just the feeling of making them feel good. Only one guy wasn’t um..comfortable doing everything..which kinda sucked (pun intended), but I didn’t think that was grounds to dump him. It also still wasn’t bad…what constitutes bad (or is that too X rated for this forum?).

        1. Emily, the original

          Hi Marika,

          I was late to the game (Catholic upbringing), so maybe I’m making up for lost time 

          I was a late bloomer, too, and made up for it for few years. But usually the thrill of the seduction was always more fun than the sex itself. The sex ran the spectrum … really bad, bad, decent, pretty good, good. Fantastic was top 5%.

          what constitutes bad (or is that too X rated for this forum?).

          For me, great sex is based on a high level of physical attraction and a high level of sexual compatibility. It’s a very rare combination and completely arbitrary. It just happens, and you just really like what the other person is doing right off the bat. It’s all based on personal taste. I’ve experienced it twice. That friend I mentioned has experienced it once, and she’s in her 50s. There was another woman who commented on this site on another post about the great sex she’d had with a partner. How rare that was.

      2. 14.1.2
        Gab

        @Emily, the original

        The 10 sex – was it with guys who you felt loved you and you them  but were unavailable in some way? I’m wondering whether  a 10 includes an element of fear of losing the person that gets confounded with sexual arousal.

  15. 15
    Marika

    Noone45

    Did these studies you’re referring to take a random, representative sample of the world’s population? Did they follow them longitudinally? Was it questionnaire based (which introduces bias)? Who was excluded? Why? Who ran the study? Why? Was it funded? By who? What statistics did they use? What p-value?….

    The study of human behaviour is hardly a hard science. Most of my adult life has involved research into human psychology in some form. I know how research works. The conclusions are only as sound as the rigour of the study. Which on topics like this is really hard to achieve (we aren’t simple creatures in controlled environments and you can’t run double blind experiments with adults cheating on each other).

    Further, we all cherry pick studies that back our world view. Hey, researchers run studies that fit their world view.

    So, have a bit of flexibility. These things are interesting talking points, not set in stone facts.

  16. 16
    Marika

    Noone45

    Happy to provide a full list of my qualifications if you’d like to share your email address.

  17. 17
    Kitty

    This is an interesting thread/topic for me because I’ve been involved with a married man for 7+ years. I’ve recently called it off, hard as that is, because he finally ‘came clean’ to his wife, told her about ‘us’ and they agreed that I could continue to ‘meet his needs.’

     

    She wants nothing to do with him sexually but she wants to retain all the other aspects of marriage. In his mind he ‘won’ something. In my mind they’re both creepers preying on other women to prop up their crappy marriage.

     

    I wasn’t his first. He told me about meeting another woman for sex in a motel back when his 2nd son was a baby. That ‘other woman’ chose not to continue seeing him after that 1st meetup. If there were others he never mentioned it.

     

    He has spoken frequently of outliving his wife so she won’t get The House. He built it and loves it and it’s his holy place on this earth. But I also think he loves his wife, or at least his version of ‘wife’ that he’s superimposed on her. She told him unequivocally that she will retain every part of him except his sex life, basically making him a sex orphan.

     

    I advised him that, rather than asking her if they can be husband/wife again sexually, that he tell her he loves her and doesn’t want to be with anyone else. I think if she loved him once she can/will love him again.

     

    It’s not that she dislikes sex, I think. He had a paper he found some years back with a list of men’s names – her ‘sex list.’ It wasn’t a short list. She was a divorcee, he is 5 yrs younger than her and it was his 1st marriage.

     

    I wish him the best, truly. Re: the comment thread above – he’s very introverted, does not regulate his emotions well at all, runs from confrontation even though he often instigates it, and is self employed. He’s very bright and has good male friends. But he also tends to explode on people; for instance, he has a restraining order at his workplace for his behavior with women in other units of his commercial building. I’m his employee, so I’ve had to take out the trash because he would have to violate his restraining order just to get to the dumpster.

     

    Anyway – I’ve been reading this blog for quite some time and I think it has some of the best commenters ever.

     

     

    1. 17.1
      Henriette

      So, wait.  Let me get this straight… you happily slept with a married man for 7 years, but once he secured permission from his wife to continue screwing you, you decided to end your affair?

      1. 17.1.1
        Scooter

        Kitty is all over the place in her post; it’s a strange display of disjointed and (in some instances) contradictory sentences. Not only that, but she’s also calling this married man a creep?

        How many times did you have sex with this “creeper”, knowing he was/is married? And now you’re denigrating him?

        Am I the only one here who thinks Kitty is ba&^hit?

        1. Kitty

          Scooter you seem rather typical – trash the woman and defend the married man. Sexist much?

      2. 17.1.2
        Kitty

        I didn’t say it was an affair. I said I was involved. He was my boss and I needed the job. There wasn’t much ‘happily’ to it, at least not on my part.

        1. SparklingEmerald

          You also said you weren’t his first, and that he met another woman for sex.  So one could easily conclude that you were also having sex with him.

          So, did he threaten to fire you if you didn’t get “involved” with him ?  From your statement that he was your boss and you needed the job,that this “involvement” was unhappy on your part, and the fact that other women have restraining orders against him, he sounds like a real piece of work, and I would take all of his excuses against his wife for his extra marital ” involvements” with a grain of salt.

  18. 18
    Kim

    Hello,

    I’d like to weigh in on this. Cheating is wrong. But to me, I do have some empathy and sympathy because I do understand that many times a typically relatively ‘good’ person (someone who looks to help and not harm others) may cheat in very bad circumstances. I know it does not make it right, but unless we have also experienced the pain and misery of being stuck in a very toxic and harmful relationship or marriage – we shouldn’t be too judgmental because we do not know how hard the experience is. It doesn’t make it right and is not okaying it, but I think to a certain degree it can make it more understandable. Which is why I appreciate Evan for not vilifying all cheaters. Especially those who are remorseful and are not serial cheats!

    When I was 20, I was trapped living with an abusive boyfriend (after leaving my childhood home which was very abusive) I had an emotional affair. My ex was threatening me and bullying me when I tried to leave and I felt incredibly trapped – I couldn’t go home and I had nowhere to go. I developed feelings for a good friend and we would spend time together and he was very kind to me. It breaks my heart and I live with the deepest regret and remorse every day, but this emotional connection did help save me from a heartbreaking, abusive environment. It gave me some strength to leave, in a world where I had been abused by almost everyone I had loved and trusted.

    My very kind ex (who I had afterwards) said that cheating should be seen based on the amount of harm it causes and he asked me if I believed it caused harm – I replied no, because my abusive ex saw me as an object. However, I still don’t think it’s right but cheating – something seen as terrible normally – really did helped me to survive and leave and honestly, I could have ended up dead. I will always feel bad, but also my two lovely ex’s after that refused to brush me with the treating brush – they both said, “I trust you because I know you are a good, and honest person.” My heart was too broken and I was honestly struggling so much during my abusive relationship, and while sometimes I worry if I am just an awful cheater – I am happy my two ex’s judge me for what they see now – someone who always tries to be kind, loving, and honest (and surely not perfect at all!).

    While I do carry a lot of guilt, shame, regret and remorse, I will always carry it, but I do think often people are so frightened of the idea of infidelity that we do often struggle to be kind or compassionate to people who felt pushed to it in some way/were also struggling with circumstance and found some solance in another person. We all need love after all. This does not make it OK or right – AT ALL. But maybe we could all try to have a tiny bit of compassion for some people in certain cases.

    Other cases, aside from abuse, where I have more empathy: if someone is traumatised and self-destructing in general – I have a bit more understanding. Sometimes people suffer so much that it all spills over and people should never be collateral and I do feel that we should always treat people with kindness and respect, but sometimes people suffer badly and need help before they can be like normal people. In addition, I also have empathy for people who are gay or bi, and are in a heterosexual relationship and suddenly realize that they are not straight and fall for someone; yes, it’s best to be honest – for sure. But maybe they can’t yet understand themselves their own feelings.

    ANYONE who justifies their cheating and can’t empathize with the pain it causes or goes on a blanket, “yes, I know it’s wrong and I feel very bad.” in a manipulative, say anything kind of way should not be trusted to be faithful in the future.

    I hope people do not feel I am justifying anything.

    Thanks for reading!

  19. 19
    AnonymousMan

    Coming from me which is a man who cheated on a few of my ex’s when I was younger and an ass, yes we can change. I don’t cheat anymore as I lost the love of my life (and rightly so an I cheated on her with too many women to give it a number). I felt so terrible after I lost her because of what I did knowingly that it has changed my life since then to the point of where I would never risk a relationship to just have a side thrill every here and there, but then again thats just me.

    1. 19.1
      No Name To Give

      Kudos to you for honesty and self-awareness.

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