I was on a HuffPo panel about infidelity recently, and one of the commentators made an interesting observation to us fellow panel members before the program began. She was a shrink and she said “Oh, you guys will come on here and admit you’ve been affected by infidelity? Huh. Most people don’t out themselves.” I joked that not only did I “out” myself, I publicly call myself a “chump lady.”
But it got me thinking. She is absolutely right. People don’t talk about this. Maybe they do anonymously on online support forums, or in the privacy of their shrink’s office, or on comments on HuffPo (also generally anonymously), but in real life people have a veil of shame around infidelity. That’s understandable if you’re the cheater, but betrayed people also keep their mouths’ shut on the subject. And who can blame them when you consider some of the idiocy out there. So far on HuffPo I’ve been told I’m the reason my ex cheated — I must be fat, sexless, and bitter.
“Bitter” is the go-to slur of choice. Often it’s dressed up as patronizing concern. “I’m sorry for your pain, but please let go, you’re bitter.”
If I were teaching self defense to people who had been mugged, I wonder if people would consider me “bitter.” Oh, that’s just muggers! So you got pistol whipped and had your wallet stolen? Jesus, move on already.
I suppose that is why a lot of people don’t confess to anyone they’ve been cheated on — they probably want to prove their stoicism. I’m not going to dissolve into a puddle of tears and tell you of my greatest pain — you’ll call me bitter, or think I caused this.
And betrayed people often believe this about themselves (I caused this!) and need a lot of therapy to learn otherwise.
So I understand why we don’t “out” ourselves about infidelity. Especially those folks who reconciled (do you really want people to hate your spouse or gossip about you?)
But I think our silence must end.
If you want to turn the tide of a public culture that thinks infidelity is a big shrug and Mistakes Were Made and you brought it on yourself and if you say otherwise you must be bitter — you need to SPEAK UP.
“Bob’s a pathetic loser for cheating on Darlene.” Or “I was cheated on and I dumped that motherfucker.” Or “No, I did not cause this. Maybe her penchant for hooking up with strangers on Craigslist caused our divorce, ever consider that?”
As Nomar phrased it — start speaking Truth to Stupid.
Now what does all this have to do with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)?
Between 1970 and 1990, the consumption of HFCS increased more than 1,000 percent. That’s like a tsunami of sweetener. Arguments have been made on both sides, that it’s just like sugar, no big deal. Or no, it’s a highly processed ingredient that wreaks havoc with your body because your system just free bases the stuff and turns you into a diabetic.
Anywho, whatever your personal feelings about HFCS, the Corn Refiners Association has spent millions and millions of dollars to convince you that HFCS is natural, delicious, and benign.
The opposition? They have a face book page.
Guess who is winning? More than half of Americans (according to a recent New York Times article) think HFCS is hazardous to your health. And marketers have gotten on board and reformulated their products to state “No high fructose corn syrup.” All because of public opinion.
One of the wealthiest lobbies in Big Ag has lost consumer hearts and minds on this, all because people said essentially “Ew, gross.”
Imagine what we could do to public opinion if when cheating was mentioned, if instead of staying quiet, we said “Ew, gross.”
Totally agree and learned this lesson the hard way.
The one affair I knew about was kept very, very quiet. Only a handful of people were told and they were sworn to secrecy.
Turns out he was cheating the whole time and this time I have told everyone. Taxi drivers, my dermatologist, people at parties…if you ask why I’m getting a divorce I will tell you it’s because my husband was a serial cheater and I finally found out.
Funnily enough most people get it and don’t judge me. IN fact, it’s more’ well done, you and good luck’. The few that have given me the hairy eyeball and either outright said or just implied that ‘there must have been something wrong with the marriage’ get back from me: ‘yes, there way, he liked fucking other people while lying to me the whole time’.
I totally agree, CL, we need to stop bearing their shame. As my therapist told me ‘you lived a lie for many years, it’s time to start living the truth.’
So I am living teh truth and yes, it really does set you free.
I was ashamed at first that my spouse cheated, and did keep it too myself. Soon, however, I learned that almost the entire town already knew about my spouse being a cheater.
Now, I tell everyone exactly why I am divorcing. I also mention red flags from the past that indicate he was likely cheating on me my entire marriage, and they all agree, that many of his actions were red flags as well as his frequent men’s only camping trips and boy’s nights out.
Now I am actually glad everyone knows I know and filed for divorce after at least trying to reconcile for awhile.
They all know, too that prior to learning of his cheating. I always said great things about him and never complained about him. They must have thought me a fool, all who knew of his escapades behind my back.
I agree but I’m not quite there yet. I have noticed, much like when you get a new car and start seeing the same make everywhere, that it’s a lot more common than I thought and happens to lovely, interesting, vibrant people. I’ve been too ashamed to tell any details to more than just my closest friends and therapist because his cheating was so sordid but lately have been able to say to some people that there were “shenanigans” going on that I didn’t know about. Lame description, I know. People have been only kind and understanding.
At first, I kept quiet, feeling humiliated and ashamed. Then, I started reading on support sites and saw so many kind, intelligent betrayed spouses, attractive, articulate folks whose scumbag spouses had cheated. then, i spread the news.
Interestingly, my XW cliamed I ” trashed” her to folks by telling the truth. this is fairly common, I have found.
Hahaha…I was recently accused of ‘ruining his reputation’. Erm, no, I was not there the many times you chose to cheat and it’s your choices that made your reputation. Incredible that they even blame us for them coming out of this looking like an asshole.
I just shrug and grin with a twinkle in my eye and say, if asked, “Oh, he walked out on his family for an alcoholic he met on Facebook. Old girlfriend of his. You know.”
Pretty much people are shocked–and universally they say, “Wow, well, I bet he’s sorry!”
And I reply, “Yeah, probly.”
No hint of bitterness. I don’t offer explanations that weren’t asked for. And, anyway, I am living the best revenge, that is, very well, thank you.
I have taken the high road. When people ask, “Do you mind if I tell So-and-So?” my answer is a befuddled, “No, of course I don’t mind–I didn’t do anything I’m ashamed of.” (Well, I did tell him off pretty good on his way out the door. Glad nobody but he heard all the truths I told him. Wow. Verbal castration, and all.)
My kids are proud of me for carrying on and living well without boring people about the past and without wallowing in public self-pity. Actually, my middle child worries more about his father’s reputation if it is found out his father left us over an affair. (I don’t actually think that’s why he left, I do think the affair is just a symptom of deep angst.) And, so, sometimes, in order to protect HIS reputation, I might just say, “Oh, well, you know…he’s just really having a hard time right now with life. He left.” People get it, and I think they admire my non-bitterness. Oh, if people want to know, I’ll tell them, but, really, nobody really cares–that’s important to keep in mind.
Frankly, if it weren’t for my children’s pain, I’d say the whore did me a favor–she took an ass off my hands. Now he is her ass, and she is his problem. She is pretty, at least. And also pretty disgusting.
I don’t have time to be super bitter. If I’m bitter, then it means I’m not focused on living a good life–it means I need to find something better to do. Way better.
Oh, hey, CL–we talked about these over at the Hero’s Spouse. (No, I’m not “standing” but I do think that RCR has done a tremendous amount of important research into a certain type of cheating and I love her and our HS community.)
Check these out–hilarious! http://soulmateshmoopies.wordpress.com/
Oh, I’m a big fan. I’m well acquainted with her cartoons series. She was “Marzipan” over at SI before they banned her. Funny stuff!
They banned her? Why?
There was a thread after she was gone asking why, and a mod wrote that she said something that was deemed political. But who knows why, really.
Holy cow, they banned her too? More and more I think the Jim Joneses who run that place are threatened by anyone who divorces, refuses to involve oneself in self-flaggelation, or does not drink the “we must reconcile” brand of kool aide that is offered on intravenous drip as soon as one signs up!!
Anyone counseling self respect and a path out of co-dependence is obviously anathema to their cause.
Seems like they ban anyone who speaks strongly about ditching a cheater. I figure my time is coming on SI. 🙂
Oh hee hee, my ears are burning!
I posted a link to a news article about a supreme court nominee’s infidelity and was instantly banned and blocked without a word. Not a political thought, no agenda, nothing in my head at the time, just something I thought to share, because sharing was something I did there. In retrospect, I suppose you could call it a political article and yes we were warned, but for what was in my brain in the moment (nothing) it was if I were banned because no one said ‘simon says.’
The good news is that I’ve been doing great since then. I went to Africa for a month and helped at an orphanage, then a few months later deployed to New Jersey with the Red Cross for Sandy. I’m having adventures and doing good deeds, so I’m feeling good.
But on your other topic, telling people, only a few weeks ago I got a phone call that went this way:
Hello, this is the Zoo Association. Is XWH there?
No, he doesn’t live here anymore.
Oh, is this OW?
No, that’s the woman he was having an affair with, why I kicked him out. He lives with her now.
Oh – I was very curious.
It’s funny how Amplexor, one of he mods at SI, tells people they need to forgive, yet he doesn’t seem to realize that banning people whom you disagree with shows a major level of intolerance and an inability to forgive.
Moderators dont make the rules, they only enforce them. Fault lies with the admins. And honestly, the whole site is a big ego snack for a couple of dubious nature, in my opinion. If it were really about helping those struggling with infidelity, they would protect their membership better than they do. People there are bleeding through some of the most heart-wrenching moments of their lives, and that forum is wide open to the public, including a hoarde of other women who use it as a resource for checking up on how the reconciliations of their MM are progressing. The admins should lock it up and protect their members instead of caring only about their optix in the online reconciliation community.
So true! I told everyone because I am not ashamed at all. The support has been unbelievable, and I like to think I’m doing my part to educate people about cheaters and how it’s not the fault of the BS.
So many people have come to me, in confidence, and told me about their spouse cheating on them. They stayed out of fear, and have all congratulated me for getting out. I can’t believe how many have said they’re envious of me. These are people who project a very happy marriage to the world. Kind of makes you wonder.
We didn’t have kids, and looking back, my husband was never who I thought he was. I never would have left him as I’m anti-divorce for myself; I would have made do and existed. Now I get to really live. Amazing how something that I thought was my worst nightmare turned out to be one of the best things to happen to me!
That’s usually the way and I’m reaching that point as well, one year out. I feel so..peaceful? Is that the word? I don’t know, I just feel BETTER and while I do have twinges and pangs and my moments of thinking ‘you dumb motherfucker, how could you act like that for YEARS? And lie to me the whole time?’ they’re much fewer and further between.
Nope, life is not perfect right now and I’ve got my share of worries, but my life is pretty good, I’m healing nicely, I have a lot to look forward to and I do sort of thank current OW for taking him off my hands, because now she gets to jump through hoops to keep his attention–which apparently is already wondering. 🙂
I will say that I am embarrassed about one thing–that I felt at some point in my life that he was good enough. That I picked someone really damaged to partner with. That I ended up with the short straw. I knew it before he left, but honestly I wanted to make things work with him once the kids came along. I’m embarrassed that I’m the woman who had the husband who never loved her–the ugly duckling who has to grow into a swan on her own. I do struggle with that. That’s what I did wrong–I settled, and that’s what’s embarrassing to me.
We didn’t choose incorrectly, we simply trusted and believed when someone was showing their false self to us. Don’t blame yourself. YOu only could work with what you were given. If he was lying and very good at what hiding who he was this is not your fault. And don’t be embarrassed. It’s not your fault that someone else chose to lie to you and cheat on you instead of being honest. He carries the shame, not you.
I tell people who I’m not close to, simply, that there are breaking points for all of us, and sometimes we don’t know what the breaking points are until we’re in the midst of being broken. My cherished ones know the deeper story.
The one I loved was cheating online … to me, this felt like he was ‘doing’ other women right under my nose, in our home.
It’s been about three years for me, and I’m coming along. I’ve been graced with staunch friends and a few relatives who have shored me up, made me laugh, let me cry and rage, reminded me of my goodness (and insisted on it!) … I’ve been living with long illness since a few years before the desertion — that made it a worse devastation … and although I’m still not well (and I’ve learned to redefine ‘well’), I’m stronger in mind and spirit than I’ve ever been. No more of his Heartless F**ked-up Cad Skeeziness (HFCS!) for me! At the same time, despite all, I wish him well. As an old friend said to me, “May God bless him and keep him … far, far away.”
Dear SoOverHim and Stephanie,
Your poignant comments make me wish I could give you words of comfort. It sounds like you are both rising gracefully from the ashes.
Thank you, Duped. The comfort’s in the company 🙂 Kind thoughts extended mean so much.
“… rising gracefully from the ashes” ~ yes, in fits and starts 😉 As someone once said to me, “S**t happens, and so does grace.” Lately, oh phew, there’s been more grace.
I find that the people who are most likely to admit to having been betrayed are those who make the choice to divorce.
And that seems to make sense I suppose, because if you choose to reconcile, you are faced with having to justify your choice to stay married and reconcile, because (**obvioussssly**) none of them would EVER forgive their cheating husbands/wives. They would immediately divorce. Of COURSE they would. Anyway, at that point I think people worry that they would be deemed foolish by their peer group or the brunt of gossip, or, and this would be killing for me, the focus of collective pity.
Easier to pretend it didn’t happen, sweep it under the rug, go hang out at online forums with other like-minded folks and vent to the MC/IC and whatever other mental health professionals have been marshaled to the cause of bringing the wayward back to course.
But the people who stand up for themselves and actually kick a cheater to the curb have no reason to not rise up and say: “Hey I divorced because I deserved better than I was getting in that situation…” I think that we do need more positive representations of how it is okay to not put up with crap in marriages. The more people who come out against infidelity, the better. I don’t think it will curb cheating, necessarily, but it will curb people feeling compelled to remain in soul killing situations.
I agree– I’m the one who wanted a divorce, so it has been easy for me to slowly but surely reveal the “why” to people. I first told my closest friends and family members, and then, slowly but surely, I began widening the circle as I got farther and farther. I gave others who knew permission to tell the people they knew (like my mom has told her extended family members that she sees more than I do), and no one person has said, “Couldn’t they do anything to patch up the marriage?” or “What did MO do?” Everyone immediately understood my decision and told me things like, “You shouldn’t have to put up with that” or “He doesn’t deserve you.”
I don’t know why we still put the burden of guilt/shame/blame on the BS. I agree that exposing infidelity for the ugly, homewrecking entity that it is would be helpful and healthy for all of us. CL, I think you need a talk show!
That should say, “farther and farther away from DDay.” The distance and lessening of the pain helped me to become more open to telling my story.
Wow–such kind words here….thanks.
I agree with you, Kristina. I like to think I’m a testament to the fact that being suddenly single is not the end of life–I am thriving, and I am a good example of how to make lemonade.
I used to worry that I make men nervous–“Obviously she doesn’t need a man….” I worried about coming off as stridently independent, no matter how sweet I am, smiling there in my tool belt. Then it occurred to me that I don’t want a man who would be put off by a woman like me.
I had to , sort of , finesse the revelations, in some cases and, thought that, perhaps, I might pass on the technique I employed(althoug I am sure it is not original).
Many men, in particular(I have talked to a lot of betrayed guys), will be painted by their cheating wife as abusivve or controlling or jealous etc.
This is the “fundamental attribution error” deal, I mentioned in an earlier post, that folks have to watch out for. essentially, the concept is that the betrayed spouse, in such a traumatized state, acts sort of nuts, and outside observers assume this is the way the person normally acts. So, they sympathize with the cheater.
One needs to be aware of this when revealing the cheating to outsiders who are not neccessarily, aligne with you. Perhaps they are neutral or have an alignment with the cheaters.
So, when disclosing, you have to apear less than overzealous. With this in mind, I would disclose like this:
Say I was approached by someone marginally connected to my XW and her family, but who had come to know me through my marriage into her family. Often, this would occur when I was out , say grocery shopping or something.
The person, or couple wpuld have heard of the impending divorce, but had no knowledge of the cheating. They would inquire “How are you doing, Arnold?” or somethiung like that.
I would , typically reply along the lines of ” Oh, much better. It was tough, when the affairs were first discovered, but, things have calmed down now etc”
Of course, they would be surprised “Affairs? What affairs?”
“Oh, I am sorry. I just assumed you knew that L had been having affairs with X, Y and Z.”
That way, the disclosure looks , somehwhat, incidental. It also makes it sound as if it is fairly well accepted , common knowledge, thus defusing any denials to a certain extent.
You do not come off as “vindictive”, as you merely mentioned it in passing, having assumed it was already known.
I must admit, I instinctively used this technique, but later began analyzing why I was drawn to it. For whatever reason, I somehow sensed that there was this “fundamental attribution error” aspect I had to deal with, although I had never heard the concept labeled as such.
Here is the deal about disordered folks: they , instinctively, know about this “fundamental attribution error ” deal. They are , often, masters at playing to an audience. Those of us who are not practiced in these techniques, as they are, are often victims of this type of manipulation.
You really need to be careful as to how you “come off” to an audience, when dealing with these folks. Thye will try to provoke you.
Guys, in particular, need to watch how they react , as there is a climate where men are , easily, viewed as abusive.
Yes, cheaters are masters of playing to an audience and making the victim look crazy by provocation.
My STBX did this during marriage counseling. Some bought it, but others were not fooled.
After one counseling session my STBX engaged in this crazy making, manipulative, provocation in the sweetest most innocent way throughout the session, as the counselor appeared to only observe and say nothing. I left the session feeling frustrated and feeling like a fool.
The next day, I was surprised to receive a phone call from the counselor in which she apprised me of the fact that she noticed my STBX was doing this manipulative, sweet provocation act, during the entire session, and we discussed it on the phone.
I was so relieved that he had not fooled her that I cried. I rarely cry.
Sara, they are masters at this technique, having practiced it a long time(together with lying, which they are also incredibly adept at).
My first wife just kept trying to provoke me into belting her. I came close.
Once, after months and months of her being out until the wee hours of the morning while I was home with the kids, she awakened me from a sound sleep to describe, in detail, the physique of the man she had spent the night with. She was dying to have me go ballistic so she could accuse me of abuse. Fortunately, by that point, I just did not give a shit and just rolled over and went back to sleep.
I am glad you didn’t let her provoke you into hitting her. I bet she would have baited you and then gleefully called the police.