Why on earth do chumps (or any of us who have found ourselves in a skein of fuckedupedness of any relational sort) fall for cheaters’ crocodile tears? Just today I was reading on an infidelity site about how a guy was listening to his wife (justify) explain her actions in the affair as happening when she was in a “dark place” — as in, an “out of body” experience. Then she turned on the waterworks in front of him as a sort of exclamation point to the whole: “please believe me and stop hassling me about why I did this…” thing. In his response he said: “She cried, so it obviously was pretty deep.” Likewise, I have seen elsewhere women describing their partners as sobbing over something to do with the relationship and these women say: “I mean, he must be serious…if he cries.” Or, “we had a profound moment today in our reconciliation journey, he literally sobbed and he just doesn’t normally do that.”
I mean, okay, call me totally out of the stone ages, but first off, if somebody sits and cries to me after he’s cheated on me, well, forget it. Total fail. These weepers just make me cringe. Cry, of course, watching “Field of Dreams” or if your dog dies, or you’re at a wedding, or if a parent is ill or a child or whatever. Sure, absolutely. But cry because you cheated and got caught? Fuck that for a game of soldiers.
Why on earth do we code tears as something sentimental and profound and not just another tool in the box of manipulation techniques that these jerks bring to bear? Or am I wrong? Is there a moment when there are real tears that mean something other than the tears of a 8-year-old throwing a tantrum so as to get his way?
I will look forward to your insight!
Well, for most people — the non-disordered — tears are something “sentimental and profound.” The mistake chumps make in believing tears is the same mistake chumps make when believing lies — you’re seeing the world through your moral lens, and not theirs. You know that you wouldn’t cry unless you felt deeply ashamed, or moved, or frightened by loss. It’s quite unimaginable from your experience (unless you are a toddler) that you would cry to manipulate an outcome.
I don’t know about you, but when I cry it’s unbidden. I’ve lost control of my emotions. I just blub. I could no easier cry on command than I could lose 20 lbs eating Christmas cookies.
“She cried, so it obviously was pretty deep” is an example of a chump viewing the Rorschach test and seeing what he wants to see — depth. And crying is often a sign that someone is deeply moved, so it’s not exactly a stupid guess.
Problem is, most cheaters are usually crying for themselves and not for the chump. That’s our mistake — seeing remorse where there is really self pity. It is usually pretty obvious over time. Cheaters say things like “This is so hard for me!” or “I don’t want to lose my family!” They tend to focus on how this infidelity shit affects them — as if it was a toxic cloud that just unfairly settled over them and not the direct result of their actions.
The more artful among them pay lip service to how they’ve hurt you, but they usually cannot sustain it. My ex used to say he was sorry, do these operatic scenes of weeping and remorse and begging for another chance. But if I asked him later, how are you sorry? What do you think of? What triggers regret? He couldn’t answer. He got angry and defensive. Whereas, consider, if you’ve ever given offense to someone you love and you’re sorry, to summon it up should make you feel sad and ashamed, mortified even. You could remember those feelings because THEY ARE THERE. It took me forever to clue into the fact that my ex simply didn’t have any remorse to draw on because it wasn’t there. Really blew my mind. I fell for the tears over and over.
Now, I would add, I’m sure there are cheaters who do regret what they did, and cry and feel shitty about it. Hard to know what percentage of those tears are for themselves, at being found out, or having done it at all, or the loss of the affair partner, and what percentage of those tears are for you and your pain. I tend to think that if you’re as narcissistic as to cheat on someone, you’d have to be pretty emotionally disconnected from your chump. To suddenly get a rush of empathy seems unlikely. That’s why consequences are so important, drawing boundaries. Cheaters tend not to connect the dots until the pain is theirs.
Why do chumps fall for weepers? Because we want to believe that remorse exists. The quest for justice and understanding is so, so strong in the beginning, it does make you vulnerable to manipulation. Chumps want to believe that they MATTER. Tears are evidence that, gosh, we matter! There is drama and emotion and we assume it is for us. Cheating is a clear demonstration that we didn’t matter to the cheater, so when discovery happens, we assume (or hope) that okay, NOW they get it! Now I matter to them! Because I am so devastated.
It’s telling how much cheaters pay attention to your tears, how comforting and present they are. So much of the Stupid Shit Cheaters Say are lines like “Stop your crying! It’s abusing me!” or “The problem is not what I did, it is your emotional reaction to it.” As I say here, cheating is about entitlement thinking. If they hate your tears, but expect you to be moved by theirs? Yessir, you are not in reconciliation. No unicorn for you.