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A Public Service Announcement to Remorseless Cheaters

Dear Cheaters,

Apparently there is still some confusion out there that your extracurricular shenanigans are wrong. In the interest of members of the unsuspecting public that may hook up, marry, or have children with you, the following PSA is offered.

1. You aren’t “edgy.” You think we lack the sophistication and intellect to understand your complicated love rhombus. On the contrary. You lack the intellect to keep both your security clearance and your pants on. Cheating on your spouse doesn’t make you special, misunderstood, or star crossed. It makes you rather embarrassing.

2. Quit with your Darwinian theories already. We didn’t evolve to be monogamous? Well, we didn’t evolve to do a lot of things. Farm. Use indoor plumbing. Buy sequined crap on QVC. And yet we manage. Why is it that you blame your primal self for infidelity, yet are quite adept at technologies such as placing personal ads on Craigslist? Why point to the reptilian part of your brain as an excuse for boinking whomever you want to? When the spouse of that person comes after you with a shotgun, neither you nor the court of law will be much impressed with the argument that the reptilian part of his brain would like to splatter your guts on the sidewalk.

3. Admit that you like the deceit. Come on, it’s a high. Playing hooky is a lot more fun than getting a day off from school. Everyone there in the classroom, playing by the rules, listening to a boring lecture on the continental Congress, while you smoke dope behind the bleachers. Renegade! The secrecy and lies are what gives the frisson of danger to your affair and make it so delicious. Otherwise you would have an open marriage, same rules for everyone. But no, the power imbalance is what you’re after. You enjoy a position of advantage over your trusting partner.  They’re at home, devoting their energies to you and your home life, faithful to the wonderfulness that is you. Sweet gig you got there — and you know it.

4. Stop minimizing. Cheating is no big deal? Quit getting those puritanical knickers in a twist? It’s just a quick naughty with the boots on. Nothing to get so huffy about. Geez.

Tell that to the man who had to paternity test his children. Or the spouse who gets an STD thanks to you. Or the stay at home mother who made herself financially vulnerable to your cheating ass. Or the children who lost their intact family and get shuttled around next holiday season, having to play nice with your latest flame.

When your family reminds you of your selfish choices that led to these outcomes, you’ll be tempted to tell them they are bitter and should stop playing at “victimhood.” They are not pretending to be victims — they are victims. How they navigate away from that pain is up to them. You’ve got no business telling them to suck it up. When the urge strikes  — distract yourself, perhaps with a sparkly object like a mirror, taking some exercise, or slapping yourself.

5. Swingers, open marriage aficionados, the polyamorous — no one is judging you. Have at it. It’s not cheating if everyone is consenting and on board. This public service announcement does not apply to you.

6. No one is forcing you to stay married. If you don’t want to be monogamous, don’t be. Find another person like yourself and quit feigning monogamy.  If your marriage is truly awful and sexless and your love language is seething passive aggression — find your guts and just end it honestly. But your spouse and children couldn’t function without you? They need you too much? Let them be the judge of that. You may find that they get on quite well without you. Your partner is a person deserving of respect and honesty, not a consolation prize. It’s condescending to act like life with them is a huge sacrifice. Lay your “burden” down already.

7. This is not your best self. It is understandable that you want to think of yourself as a good person. Our character, however, is made up of our actions. Not how we wish to perceive ourselves. People who don’t care who they are hurting, who lack empathy synapses and introspection? We call those people sociopaths. Don’t be like that. (And if you are truly like that, no public service announcement in the world can save you.) You’re better than this. Please go live an authentic life.

Thank you.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Don’t ever take this down, ChumpLady. I wish that I had found this shortly after DDay. Giving it to STBX now would be pointless since our relationship is over, and I have no wish to engage him in anything more than kids and finances.

    But… if he ever tries to come crawling back or to justify his piss-poor decision making to me… I’m printing this out and handing it to him!

  • Great vent. Unfortunately , only a very small percentage of these folks would understand even a small part of this. Thye are wired much differently than normal folks.
    Now, off to take a crap on someone’s lawn and smoke a little dope.

  • I am so digging this! Especially that one’s character is made up of one’s actions. Although I am NC with stbxh, I am going to hold that line close in case of an emergency communication need!

  • Love the bit about telling the person they screwed over that they’re bitter and playing the victim. I get a version of that every so often, right after I hear ‘get over it’. Which I’ve been hearing since two weeks after dday.

    I’m over him, but it will take a long time to recover from finding out I was married to a serial cheat for many years. I don’t see myself as much of a victim anymore, just someone who operates by completely different values.

    Well done, CL.

  • You are doing SUCH a great job communicating your message clearly. What HuffPost has taught me is that there are MANY MORE PEOPLE THAN I THOUGHT WHO (and I am putting this as delicately as possible) share a WAY different value system than mine. The goal is to try to suss them out before you get too involved. That can be tricky when you are dealing with a professional liar who already is smart enough to tell you what he/she thinks you want to hear, rather than the truth.
    These comments on HuffPo came too late in the year, Halloween would be more appropriate. YIKES!!!!

  • Bravo and thank you so much, CL, for making the moral compass so clear in this essay! Chumps like me sincerely appreciate it!

  • Who cares what cheaters think, anyway?

    Why listen to their empty protests.

    Don’t give two shits for their explanations.


  • I heard a number of these reasons from the ex-serial cheater husband especially that I was playing the victim after I found out more of his especially disturbing behavior. I agreed I was a victim and listed every synonym for victim I could think of. It was his way, though, of minimizing the damaged he’d done to me.

    I walk around with a scream in my chest ready to go off. It feels like I’m in a horror movie where events occur that are against the laws of physics. His betrayal was so complete and debased that I have no reference to attach it to. There’s no, well at least he wasn’t…or at least he didn’t do what her husband did to her…

    I’m not where Stephanie is. I’m still dragging it along behind me. At least I can get up, go to work, keep my house clean and get out of the house a bit.

    Someday I’ll be better but I’m not going to shove it under a rug and not expunge it from my heart. I’m going to scour it out and drop kick it as far as I can. Last weekend I moved back into newly remodeled kitchen and sent everything with reminders to Goodwill. Working on the rest of house. New bed, new table, new paint…

    Thanks, CL.

    • Hang in there, Duped, it does get better with time — we are more than what our cheaters called us or did to us. And I know what you mean about redecorating! It helps to reclaim our spaces and get rid of their sh** on all levels…I’m sure your home is looking beautiful. Be proud of each step you take to make it your own again.

  • Don’t be too tough on Huffpo, i found chumplady there. Unfortunately there seems to be way too many people with “other” values that have internet access. Great article by the way. I have held those beliefs close to my heart forever and it was nice to see it in print and confirm that i’m not crazy to think like this. I have been gaslighted, bamboozled, crapped on, and somehow i’m still here…..currently working on the path to enlightenment and freedom.

    • Welcome Kadian! Not tough on HuffPo at all. Very grateful to them for the blogging forum and soap box. I agree with you, a lot of other folks have a different value system when it comes to infidelity — and are outspoken about it.

  • Wow. This is so spot on, I’m finding myself nodding my head, smiling and cheering. Chump Lady you rock! Too bad the Chumps already get all of this – when its the cheaters who are the ones needing the PSA!


  • “It is understandable that you want to think of yourself as a good person. Our character, however, is made up of our actions. Not how we wish to perceive ourselves.”

    I can’t tell you how many times I heard “I’m a good person!”. Really.

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