Can you comment on “revenge affairs”?
The common cliche is that they are just as wrong. But, that simplistic analysis fails to consider several factors. First, the contract has already been broken and it would seem the non breacher is no longer under an obligation to the breacher. Why abide by a voided contract?
Also, revenge affairs are often said to be worse than the original breach. This is often put forth by cheaters, with the rationale that — unlike the original cheater — the betrayed that then cheats is fully aware of the type of damage cheating causes.
But, I take issue with that. First, any person who is old enough to be married knows that infidelity is a huge abusive blow, causing major damage. That is why they hide it.
Second, a recently betrayed spouse is in such a traumatized condition, that, essentially, he or she may be somewhat non compus mentis, having diminshed capacity, thus mitigating any poor decision making.
Finally, a cheater who in turn is cheated upon can look to their own cheating as the cause of the betrayed’s infidelity. Whereas a betrayed person typically looks at him or herself and accepts the allegations of deficiencies as reason for the cheating.
So, it is much more personal to the originally betrayed.
I know this is not politically correct on some infidelity support sites. But, I feel that a betrayed person who then cheats has done nothing wrong. The contract is already kaput. They are often not trying to get revenge, but rather trying (perhaps misguidedly) to re-establish some sense of being halfway attractive. And, the original cheater is nowhere near as personally attacked as the originally betrayed, as they would link the cheating to their behavior, versus their innate self worth.
Short answer — whatthefuckever if you’re going to divorce any way.
Long answer — Is it the same? No, I don’t think so, but it’s a pretty terrible idea.
Let’s go point-by-point on the issues you raised.
1. The contract is broken so who cares? Yes the cheater broke the contract, so IMO that’s a reason to get divorced. Infidelity is a legitimate deal breaker, which should excuse you from having to try marriage counseling, reconciliation, and other kinds of witchcraft. But if you have a revenge affair and stay in the marriage, what is the POINT? To have a marriage that has no contract or commitment? Hey, you cheated, so I get a Get Out of Jail Free card for my own affair! Is the point to renegotiate the terms? Let’s be swingers and chuck monogamy? Or is the point simply revenge? You fucked someone, ergo I get to fuck someone.
Because if the point is revenge, you aren’t going to win. There is no way you can hurt the cheater as much as they hurt you. They got there first. To cheat you have to be emotionally disconnected from someone. (I reject as bullshit that people “love” you all the time they are still cheating on you.) The cheater was already checked out. The betrayed person was the more invested party.
Now does it make revenge affairs as wrong as plain old affairs? No. Because the intentions are different. Cheaters cheat to get ego kibbles, because they’re greedy, because they lack intimacy. Presumably the betrayed spouse is only motivated to cheat because they want to even the score in some way. Out of a perverse sense of justice. To get back at the cheater who doesn’t really give a shit.
Human, but it’s still a dumb idea. A) Because you’re lowering yourself to their level. B) If it has some effect on them, all it does is convince them that you are Just As Wrong. C) It gives them ego kibbles. You want a reaction from them (pain, humiliation, jealousy). It’s all directed at the cheater, which is just narcissistic supply to them. Centrality! I matter! D) When you do divorce, you’ve just fucked yourself over legally. It’s a risky move if custody is at stake, and it’s a staggeringly stupid thing to do in a fault divorce state. Don’t think for a second that a cheater will not POUNCE on your affair. And E) If you stay married (how? WHY?), you have an even crappier marriage than the one you had at DDay. And if you have to fuck other people for revenge to stay married to someone… HELLO? Isn’t that CRAZY dysfunctional?!
2. The poor sausage excuse. You wrote: “the recently betrayed spouse is in such a traumatized condition, that, essentially, he or she may be somewhat non compus mentis, having diminshed capacity, thus mitigating any poor decision making.” Meh. Do I feel sorry for betrayed spouses? Absolutely. I think infidelity can drive you to some pretty extreme lengths. It’s not a surprise to me that people murder or commit domestic abuse because of cheating. But homicide would also be a bad branch of the decision tree. Cheating (unlike a sudden “crime of passion”) is pre-meditated. Again, I think at the point you want to screw around on your spouse — for revenge or because you’re a run-of-the-mill douchebag — is the point at which you should be divorced.
If we give the poor sausage excuse to BS, we have to give it to cheaters as well. Maybe they were in a “traumatized condition.” Frankly, the most convincing case I’ve read for infidelity are those poor saps trapped in truly sexless marriages. Assuming they’re telling the truth, and the person hasn’t put out in years and refuses to discuss it, I can understand being driven to find someone who will have sex with you. It’s a human need. To deliberately be withholding is cruel. But AGAIN, that is a reason to get DIVORCED. To issue an ultimatum. To draw boundaries.
3. The “my motives are better!” excuse. You wrote that after a revenge affair cheaters will think… well, they did this because of me. And after an affair affair, the betrayed spouse believes the blame shifting, that they suck. IMO, they’re both wrong. Both parties cheated BECAUSE THEY COULD. Because they feel ENTITLED to. The BS feels entitled in an eye-for-an-eye way, but it’s still entitlement.
Look, if the cheater thinks “they cheated because of me” — I doubt the resulting emotion is going to be sorrow and regret. I think cheaters will feel anger, they will feel central (“you’re only doing that to make me jealous!”), and they’ll also feel like they have a green light to cheat on you further. (The contract is broken, now we both know it, what the hell!)
Also cheating to feel attractive to the opposite sex is moronic. Get DIVORCED and feel attractive to the opposite sex. Be truly available. It is NOT okay to self medicate with other people and draw them into our psychodramas because we want to feel pretty.
Arnold, I get your hunger for justice. I really do — and I’m all for karma. I just don’t think it’s best delivered via a hookup ad on Craigslist. In my next post, I will outline exactly what true revenge looks like. Stay tuned.