On Cheating But Not Leaving

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to watch people make mistakes (and make my own mistakes, of course) and see how we learn from our past experiences.  For plenty of us, after we make a mistake in our lives, be it big or small, we try to take steps to correct that mistake.  Whether it’s by keeping a safe distance from the mistake, eliminating the behavior/person/situation that created the mistake, or even rationalizing the mistake into something that could produce a great outcome, we try to do something about it.  Even if our attempts are unsuccessful, if a real effort was put into avoiding that mistake, you know going forward that more drastic measures will be needed.

Then there are those unique people that make the same mistakes, knowing they’re mistakes, and chooses to continue to make those mistakes.  There’s a difference between someone who’s rationalized their actions so that they don’t view them as mistakes, and someone who still knows they’re doing something that they shouldn’t and continues to do it anyway.  Think of the difference between Aladdin, who knows that stealing is wrong and continued to do it because he had to survive, and a bank robber who thinks he deserves to be rich and it didn’t matter if robbing a bank was wrong to get the job done.

Well, one thing Aladdin didn’t do was cheat on the Princess, and this specific group of people are those that I’d call “loyal cheaters.”  They know they shouldn’t cheat, but it’s as though they cannot resist the temptation of new people and they dive in every now and then.  Sometimes they keep a side person, a go-to when in need like a tight end in the NFL (by the way, as a native St. Louisan I cannot cheer for any Boston sports teams and enjoy when they lose.  And yes, this is a common mentality in St. Louis.  Giants win a thriller, 24-21).  It’s becoming a more common trend publicly, which does worry me.  As a faithful sort of fellow, it’d be pretty hurtful to find out my girlfriend (or worse, my wife) is cheating on me.  Before jumping on these cheaters’ heads, one question to be asked is, “What made you cheat in the first place?  What weren’t you getting in the relationship that this person was able to give you?”  The cliche is that for men, the answer would generally be something physical and for women, it’s something more emotional.  In my experience, you can’t separate the two that easily to begin with, so I would say that there’s likely a combination of both going on (unless of course, you’re drunk, high, and horny in the strip club with $100 bucks in your pocket and you know she tricks off in VIP – anything that happens then is unavoidable).  Another question to ask is, “If you’re actively cheating, or just open to cheating, why don’t you leave the relationship?  Clearly, you’re not providing the same monogamy you’re asking of your partner, the relationship must be lacking something for you to want to stray to begin with, so why not leave and be single?”  But why would any person who can have their cake and eat it too not do so?  They get the creature comforts of the relationship and the bachelor/bachelorette experience of being free to do what they want.  It’s the best of both worlds (provided their partner doesn’t find out).

On a more serious note, many of these people don’t leave the relationship because they truly do care for their partner.  I know men and women who have cheated on their significant others and who, I believe, are truly in love with them.  This is where it’s become difficult to explain, but I think I can understand the impulse to cheat and yet truly love your partner.  Even as I wrote that (and this is something I’ve been thinking about for weeks), it’s still slightly jarring that this stance could have some, dare I say, merit, to it.  In some cases, they’ve invested in that other person, and they truly love that person but when temptation crossed their path, they bit the poisonous fruit.

We know they shouldn’t commit such infidelities.  They know it, too.  We would charge them with not loving their partner. There’s truth to that statement – they aren’t giving their partner the kind of undivided love and affection that a relationship merits and they are certainly raising the amount of potential harm the relationship will endure if their partner finds out.  But how can we so quickly dismiss the overall amount of “love actions” that the cheater provided throughout the relationship and say that this person, without a shadow of a doubt, doesn’t love his or her partner?  That’s the contentious issue with cheaters who don’t leave the relationship – the claim is that they don’t love their partner, but can one mistake really undermine the overall amount of love that the cheater possesses for his or her partner?  Our inclination is that cheaters don’t love their significant others, but I just can’t buy it (completely).

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not condoning stepping out on your significant other.  What I am saying is that, while I can’t clearly explain it, my belief is that plenty of cheaters value their relationship much higher than they value the cheat (if they had to choose, they’d stay with their significant other in a heartbeat), and they value their spouse much higher than they value who they cheat with…they simply make poor value judgments.

Here’s an example.  I know one man and one woman who regularly cheat on their spouses, and I’ve known about it for a little bit (another obvious question is what’s the responsibility of a third party, like myself, with knowledge of cheating with respect to the person being cheated on).  They both put in a little bit of work with the people they choose to cheat with, getting to know them a little bit and saying what the other person wants to hear, but not investing themselves emotionally into the other person.  When, in the past, the person they’ve been cheating with wants more, the cheating ends with that person – the emotional tie was too great for them.

Still, I struggle to reconcile how cheating displays a lack of love (or at the very least, respect) and yet I firmly believe that there are cheaters who love their spouses – the man and woman from the example, who I know personally, would give their lives for their spouses.  One metric of love that I developed in college was that when you’re willing to truly sacrifice yourself for someone else, be it physically, emotionally, or otherwise, that person has love in their heart for their partner.  This might all explain why the old line, “Love isn’t enough,” perhaps does ring true.  One question that I have is for people who have been cheated on and stayed with their partner.  What kept you?

14 thoughts on “On Cheating But Not Leaving

    • I was cheated by my wife. We have been married for seven years already with two kids. I am thinking of staying in the relationship because of the children and my potential fault in not being able to give emotional support for my wife. She says she still loves me and i want to believe and maybe help her more with the emotional emptiness she is feeling. I know it will be very hard to forget everything and behave like nothing has happened but other options are not easy to bear with either. I am from Turkey and culturally it is also very hard to accept such an affair. It is a very old post but if you are still actively posting here, i would like to hear about your opinion. Have a nice day.

  1. Noneof Yourbusiness says:

    All of this is making me want to smoke a fat blunt by myself. I’m so sick of cheaters. So sick of it. Let someone else try to justify it one more time and I’ll be turning into Hulk and ravaging through cities like Godzilla. To top it off, social media is only going to continue to make cheaters multiply. I’m so excited! How thrilling is that??…someone pass the damn blunt!

  2. Corey says:

    I don’t believe in soul mates. There are many people that are compatible to each of us which makes it possible to find someone else that is more deserving.
    My wife cheated on me and I wrongfully thought it was because of me. She has insecurities and sought out someone else to make herself feel good instead of me. The person was someone she had known in elementary and junior high school. They reconnected through a mutual friend that planned alumni get togethers for their class. Social get togethers and happy hours. Facebook is the source of her infidelities.
    Unbeknownst to me, she had been cheating off and on for about 6 years before I found out usually texting, emailing, and calling while I was at work.
    Yes, I took her back but I can never fully trust her and I will never forget. I don’t think anyone should completely trust their spouse…all people are capable of becoming weak to temptation. But I do feel that people need to look at a relationship much the same as a gardener tends to the needs of the plants in their garden. Look after your relationship and nurture it. Communicate with your partner DAILY.
    For me learning that my happiness does not need to be dependent on my wife has made me stronger. I don’t need my wife to be a happy person. This belief is powerful and my wife knows that I can do much better if it was my choice and I have let her know this.
    If she were to walk out on me, I would let her go and I would move on. One reaps what they sow and I’m sure she would catch hell eventually since cheating seems to be rampant and widely accepted behaviors.
    Cheaters generally cheat on people they never want to leave with people they never plan to keep. They have lowered standards and generally lack integrity.
    They risk it all for literally nothing. The guy that my wife cheated with had a stroke, had been hospitalized and had had major surgery on nerves in his head, and is currently living with his 70 year old mom and collecting disability. she had been planning to move out with our kids and get an apartment with this loser. Had I known, I would have let her go and watch it fall to pieces. Some people are willing to accept what they feel they are worth.
    I have a good job, am in excellent health, and look young for being 44 years old. And I’m decent looking. The guy she was cheating with looks like he’s in his late 50’s, wears old sweaty t shirts and filthy jeans, has a shaved head and a long grey beard that looks like it hasn’t seen a shower since Woodstock. I told her that if that’s what she wants then leave but you can’t stay with me and cheat or I will serve divorce papers and seek custody of the kids. And I would let everyone on Facebook know what you did to our family.
    She’s still here. She’s apologetic. But I still don’t think she truly understands what she did to our family and how it adversely affected how I see her as a spouse and overall human being. Some days I love her other days I despise her and feel sick thinking about what she and this guy did and had done for 6 years behind my back.
    Should I cheat on her? After all she cheated on me for 6 years off and on. Would I be justified in my actions by getting back at her?

  3. Shark says:

    The person who wrote this has obviously been a cheater at some point in their lives. I sense a hint of justification.

    Nevertheless, I understand the sentiment.

    The cheater may very well love their spouse, however when choosing to cheat it is acting in selfishness and the cheater is at the time of cheating uncaring of this spouse whom they allegedly love. The damage being caused to their relationship (regardless if the spouse knows or not, damage IS being done) and knowing the devastation that will be brought to the one whom they love ISN’T being a loving partner. Making a choice like this isn’t loving, it’s hateful. They may love their spouse, have deep attachment to their spouse, wouldn’t want to live with anyone other than their spouse, yet still selfishly act as though they’re not in a relationship where they have someone being faithful to them, someone who believes they’re out in the world on their best behavior, someone who believes and trusts them because of the love they KNOW they share. It’s a real asshole move.
    If cheaters stopped and thought, “if I do this it could come to me never again seeing my partner”, which is the reality of cheating, maybe it would stop them.
    Most cheaters don’t think, though, do they. They just act impulsively because it seems fun at the time, not considering of how much fun it won’t be picking ip the pieces later of the relationship they actually want to be in later on. Morons.
    It’s never really THAT tempting. I’ve been in situations where there was mutual attraction, those situations will always arise in life, and you just behave right and make clear boundaries. If cheaters would conquer their insecurities rather than seeking attention from “someone new” to make themselves feel good they’d be a lot better off. I pity cheaters; poor low-self-esteemed cheaters need a good ego stroke to feel good about themselves. Disgusting.

    If you want a marriage and have a person devoted to staying with your ass until you’re old and fat ACT LIKE YOU’RE MARRIED. If you don’t want to behave like a married person, you shouldn’t be married at all. Be authentic.

    Cheating is SO stupid, thoughtless, and selfish. If you want to be with other people why not be in a polygamous relationship, at least this way you’d be being honest.

    If you truly love someone you make loving choices and put your partners emotions before your own. Love involves sacrifice, compromise, and caring for the others needs. If all married people thought about their partners needs before their own, cheating wouldn’t happen.

    Cheaters like to blame their partner or the relationship being not everything they wanted it to be. Why not look at yourself, what did you bring to the table that made your relationship suffer before the cheating took place. YOU. Take responsibly for your own idiotic actions.

    If you were able to keep your marriage after infidelity then you were shown grace; you didn’t deserve it. Your spouse really loves you for taking the risk of continuing a life with you. Earn the relationship, learn how to cherish your spouse the way you should, they’re putting a lot of faith in you.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh my gosh!! This is so me right now. And yes I took him back but what you just shared is everything I wish he could understand. My heart is in a million pieces and I’m trying to pick up the pieces and everyday it’s hard to put the pieces together. If I could truly believe my husband wanted to change himself for me, I would not be looking for answers on the internet. Sadly, I love him, and I am not strong enough to walk away or see that somebody else will cherish me and love me madly, deeply & honestly!! So for now, I take the brunt of what those broken pieces of my heart on the floor mean. It’s as if his life gets to continue and mine is stuck in neutral, deciding if I should go in revers or just drive. I know I will get crucified trying to tell people that I love my cheating husband, and it’s easier said than done to walk away from him.

    • Ella says:

      Oh my gosh!! This is so me right now. And yes I took him back but what you just shared is everything I wish he could understand. My heart is in a million pieces and I’m trying to pick up the pieces and everyday it’s hard to put the pieces together. If I could truly believe my husband wanted to change himself for me, I would not be looking for answers on the internet. Sadly, I love him, and I am not strong enough to walk away or see that somebody else will cherish me and love me madly, deeply & honestly!! So for now, I take the brunt of what those broken pieces of my heart on the floor mean. It’s as if his life gets to continue and mine is stuck in neutral, deciding if I should go in revers or just drive. I know I will get crucified trying to tell people that I love my cheating husband, and it’s easier said than done to walk away from him.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I believe that a big reason people cheat and don’t leave their significant other is fear. They fear what life would be without them especially if they have been together for way to long. They fear being single. They fear being confronted. They fear the guilt they will feel from the pain they will inflict. They fear simply ending the relationship, because they dont have the courage to do it. To me this is cowardice, plain and simple. If you fear a life without your significant other yet you feel the need to cheat, instead of working so hard to cover up your infidelities try at least half as hard to fix whatever it is that your current relationship is lacking. Talk to your partner and let them know how you feel. Being honest about having thoughts of cheating is less harsh than admitting to actually cheating. It’s important to also think about how you will eventually hurt the person you’re cheating with. They are just as important as your significant other even thought it may not seem to you so. They have just as many thoughts and feelings as any other person does.

    I jumped to a couple of different tangents here but I was trying to make a point. Cheating is wrong, plain and simple. The only exception I might add is in cases where someone is in a relationship not by their own choice and they do not have the freedom to leave that relationship for one reason or another.

    • Anonymous says:

      AND. Fear of alimony and child support !!! So they stay and continue to cheat. Cheating is not a mistake it is a selfish choice and I have 0 tolerance for excuses for it. Call it what it is ADULTRY and SELFISH

  5. Very tough question. When my relationship hit the “cheating” snag my friends called me an idiot for staying with him. I considered their opinions and tried to get to the bottom of “why?”. He obviously cheated for a reason, you don’t just decide to step out on your girlfriend of three years on a whim. This is when I discovered a major piece of his personality that I had missed until now. His need for validation. I hadn’t stopped giving him the emotional attention he needed, however I was not giving him enough. Not to say this was my fault, but I’d found the problem and knew how to prevent it. We stayed together after all of this, but things were never the same. Ultimately we ended the relationship and if given the choice again, I would walk away. The relationship was never the same. Second guessing every move he made, worrying that I wasn’t paying enough attention to him… I truly loved him, that’s why I tried again, but sometimes love is not enough.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s