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Dear Chump Lady, Is following your heart ever justified?

Dear Chump Lady,

I recently read an article entitled “How To Live with No Regrets.” The author said something about listening to your heart. He says that “If you listen to logic and make decisions based on logical arguments, you might end up regretting it much more than if you follow your true desires from the heart.” When I read that sentence, I agreed with him somewhat although not entirely. Listening to your heart is important, but most times you can’t go wrong with making logical decisions.

He then continues to use having an affair as an example to support his argument. This example upset me a little, because I don’t think that following your heart justifies lying to your partner (having an affair does involve lies and deception doesn’t it?). And following your heart is suppose to mean being honest with yourself (though this is where you have to be careful, because doing so can sometimes lead you down the wrong path). His logic just seems to be too simplistic, like he’s giving people reasons for being unfaithful. What do you think?



What do I think? I think the author of that article would be more honest if he wrote: “How to Follow Your Genitals,” or “Duping Others for Shits and Giggles,” or “Whatever Makes Me Happy is Okay! And Fuck You.”

Look, Kate, cheaters gotta dress this shit up. If they can get it published, so much the better. But that’s no hallmark of quality. Look at all the drivel that gets published. Arnold Schwartzenegger’s autobiography anyone? Trees die for worse every day.

But the question you asked is — do I think that “following your heart” justifies lying to your partner? No. I don’t. People who actually have hearts don’t lie to their partners and cheat on them. So it’s one of those theoretical questions that I’m not very good at. Like if a tree falls in the woods and there is no one there to hear it, did it make a sound? kind of connundrums. Let me ask my husband the philosophy major and get back to you.

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  • The stuff that passes for decent advice these days boggles my mind. I would bet if you asked Adolph Hitler if he was “following his heart”, he would say yes.
    The fact that the author brought up affairs as an example is pretty good evidence that you are hearing this advice from a cheater who is either so twisted he actually believes it, or has his defense mechanisms so firmly entrenched, that he can battle against what he knows to be right. But, in the still of the night, if he is not totally corrupt, he may still hear that little voice speaking to him. I wonder if, on their deathbeds, these folks ever , finally, take responsibility.

  • “Whatever Makes Me Happy is Okay! And Fuck You.” LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That’s it in a nutshell, right there.

  • When a cheater says he/she had affair beause he/she chose to “follow my heart,” it’s just a fancy way of saying, “I wanted it.” Which is, FWIW, slightly less misleading than a pure gaslighting response (e.g., “because you won’t have sex with me,” “you work too much,” “you don’t understand me”–always the fault lies with YOU).

    It makes as much sense to say a person “follows his heart” to shoplift. Or torture kittens. Or molest children. Yo, some people just have really dark and f*cked up hearts, you know? Like, vampire dark. Like, monster dark.

    When it comes to big decisions, there’s no reason heart and mind should be opposed. When I finally told my cheating, unrepentent ex to leave? It was practical and the result of very careful and rational deliberation—but it also felt wonderful deep down in my heart.

    • You forgot the ever-popular ‘you didn’t give me enough attention’, something usually spouted by two year olds.

    • Well, I’m kind of willing to give the following one’s heart thing a moment’s thought.

      Admittedly, many cheaters who are actually leaving a marriage for their other person do say silly things like; “the heart wants what the heart wants…” and “I’ve got to be free to follow my heart.” Snort. That’s ridiculous.

      But listening to one’s heart (and in this case I’m probably conflating “gut” and “heart”) if one is unhappy and says: “I’m unhappy in this marriage and I need to leave it so I can follow my heart” BEFORE one actually meets someone new or cheats, well, that’s not necessarily a bad thing in my mind — of course that’s just my opinion (the keyword there is BEFORE one meets someone or cheats).

      I wish I’d listened to my heart and gotten out of the marriage before being faced with the insanity and pain of betrayal. I stuck it out because my brain told me the marriage wasn’t all that bad, and wasn’t it awfully childish of my heart to want to be legally unbound, because honestly, my heart was just no longer in it. He, on the other hand, followed his heart away from me once he lined up someone else. However, that relationship did not last either. He just wanted out and didn’t know how to actually do it appropriately.

      And now we’re both happier. So I don’t know. Maybe there is value to following one’s heart.

      As long as there is no cake eating. Where I take great offense is these emotional infants who claim they’ve found a soul mate and are “following their hearts”, but then when it comes to brass tacks their hearts really don’t know where the hell they want to be, especially when faced with realities like funky custody issues and big lawyer bills and huge CS and SS payments. And then suddenly their hearts are with the BS, and have been all along. They were simply lost meandering in the fog. And that’s an awful kind of torture for the BS who has to try to cope with that kind of nonsense.

      • Sorry, you had to bring the old ‘the heart wants what the heart wants’, which is what someone told me before they realised that my STBX is a serial cheater. Then they realised it was ‘the dick wants what the dick wants’ and started singing a different tune.

  • Some comments are conversation enders. They are meant to shut the other person up, to deny their opinion, to deny their reality in fact.

    I was very active in a movement to diversify the faculty at my law school 25 years ago. Our state was 30% Hispanic at that time (now closer to 40%), but our faculty of nearly 100 had no Hispanic members. So, I spent a lot of time in very passionate discussions with other very earnest young lefties, and during one of those someone pointed this out about the phrase (popoular back in the ancient late-1980s) “It’s a Black thing.” (Anyone remember “Do the Right Thing”?) It was a way of telling White students that they couldn’t understand, and so really couldn’t have an opinion or make judgments about, racial issues.

    I think “the heart wants” (THWWTHW) is also a conversation ender. It raises the shields to comment, to criticism, to judgment. Shut up. You don’t understand. You can’t have an opinion. You can’t judge.

    I call bullshit.

    What my spouse wants to do with her body and her life–after taking vows of monogomy with me and having children with me and building my fanancial life with me–damn well IS my business. My opinions count, as they must in any marriage.

  • That is, “The heart wants what the heart wants,” in the context of infidelity, is another way of saying. . .

    “It’s a Cheater Thing.”

    • Agree, nomar. It is designed to end the dialogue. I think it also gives the person saying it some kind of easy out — like: “I’m not in control here…my heart is controlling me, and the ‘rules’ don’t apply to the heart.”

      The stupidest thing about “the heart wants what the heart wants” is that it puts the heart in charge. Good lord. I mean, it seems to me that the heart can be a particularly greedy little organ, if the heart is directing people to hurt others who trust them by cheating.

      I don’t know, bottom line for me is: “I’m following my heart…” or “the heart wants what the heart wants” takes away personal accountability. Like: “oops…I can’t help it. Heart running the show here…and I just have no control over it.”

      WTF? Be courageous and stand up and say (BEFORE you cheat): I’m not happy and I want to leave this marriage. Then follow your heart all you want. But do not insult your partner by indicating that your heart is totally out of your control and so that’s an okay reason to have betrayed him or her. That is selfish beyond measure.

  • How about ” my heart wants what the heart wants, and you should, unknowingly, subsidize that, supporting my affair while you forgo similar opportunities and put up with a lot of abuse”.
    I doubt many of us wanted to force our cheaters to stay put. Follow your heart, but on your own dime.

  • I hate articles about stuff like this. I LOVE this blog.

    I would regret never understanding what love really is. Most of these people do not, and never will. Sadly they don’t even know enough to know they should regret that.

  • Those sheherds are smart as heck, nomar. Don’t sell it short.
    And, I doubt your dog apprciates being compared toa cheater. Cheaters are so disloyal. Dogs, on the other hand…

  • My shep can catch a Frisbee like you can’t imagine, but smart? Uh, no.

    Still, I will revise as follows:

    My ex misses love the way the dog turd on my front lawn misses Beethoven.

  • We had an austrailian shepherd at the golf course where I work. Great for chasing geese, until she became arthritic.
    I have a good story about her that helped me see how disordered and an a-hole my XW is.
    My kids wanted a dog, badly. Each Friday, we would go to the course and spend hours with this dog. My XW hated animals(red flag), but, for some strange reason, once suggested we bring her home for the weekend to see how things would go with a dog.
    Kids were fired up. Talked about it all week. I made arrangements wit the greenskeeper.
    When Friday came, my wife heaeded out for her alone time(re affair time).
    We headed over to get the dog, Nan. Brought her home and the kids were in heaven. Played frisbee in the backyard with er.
    Wife gets home and goes ballistic.
    “What the hell is that dog doing here? Get her out of here.”(must have had a fight with affair partner, who knows?)
    Kids are in tears. We have to bring her back to the course, with kids crying the whole way.
    It was a lightbulb moment. Finally, kids could verify that she committed to something and then denied it(happened all the time, but only to me. Thought I was going nuts((gaslighting)).
    The whole idea was hers in the first place. What a disordered asshole(redundant).

      • OWuld have been even nicer if Nan bit the hell out of her, IMO.
        The kids are figuring her out, I think.
        When she moved out, to the place she and her affair partner had been setting up for months, unbeknownst to me, the guy would wait for the kids to fall aslepp, then park down the stree at a Dental buillding, and go in for the night.
        Apparently , on a few occassions, bad dreams etc caused the kids to intrude.
        So, she began barricading her bedroom. Told the kids it was in case robbers came into the house.
        Nice, eh? “Kids, I’ll be safe. You are on your own”
        You cannot make this stuff up. Kids told me about it.
        My then 7 year old is really sharp. When her mom told her that the guy on the couch was just a friend and did not sleep with her, she became irate and tried to insist that mom install a video camera in her bedroom to verify this.
        Who puts their kids through this/ Try to explain how you are going to Holy Communion each Sunday while committing adultery.

        • Arnold that is deplorable. Your kids will, if they haven’t already, lose respect for their mother. And they should. Any woman that puts her selfish desires over the well-being of her children deserves nothing. She sounds spiritually and mentally ill. Kudos to you for being a good dad and leaving your ex-wife in the dust where she belongs. God will deal with her in His way. Keep on trucking Arnold. Prayers to you and your kids.

  • “Duping Others for Shits and Giggles”? I didn’t know my ex had written a book.

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