In my last post, about How to Leave a Scary Person, a “smart ass Texan” raised a very good point.
CL, learning of your story it seems as tho it is a tale of overcoming abuse , more so than cheating. I will will admit that I was looking to you as a model of not accepting adultery, and find out that your story is more dealing with abuse, which is NEVER acceptable and should NEVER be tolerated…. the “cheating” is a “footnote” on list of great reasons to leave… not THE reason to leave. Now knowing this I think many of your followers will think… since he isn’t threatening to kill me , or my kid… perhaps the simple fact that he is “just cheating” really isn’t so bad. I’m I alone in this opinion?
No, you are not. (And for the record, he never threatened to kill my kid — just wished his ex-wive’s baby dead… Oh! that makes it so much BETTER, I know. )
Early on I wrote the post “A Spectrum of Cheaters” to make the point that cheating falls on a continuum. Some might have a one-night stand, others might be full blown sociopaths. I have never argued that all cheaters are the same, that they all have personality disorders, (that is, fall at the far end of the spectrum). I am of the opinion, however, that anyone who can conduct an affair and lead a double life for an extended period of time is profoundly fucked up, and yeah, probably clinically disordered. I am also of the opinion, based not just on my experience, but watching the same stories play out over and over again on infidelity boards, (and in the lives of people I know), that reconciliation is a unicorn. I also firmly believe that infidelity is abuse.
I’ve made those arguments a lot elsewhere, so I won’t go down that rabbit hole today.
Does my ex’s scariness cloud my opinion of infidelity and cheaters? Oh sure, probably. Is he more abusive than your average cheater? I don’t know, I suspect he is. He’s clearly some sort of combo plate of several different kinds of abusivenesses — which really is just all about control, gaining advantage, and entitlement. He was super, SUPER entitled.
I definitely concede your point, however, that because my ex was “an extreme case” that people would be inclined to dismiss my point of view. I get that all the time. Oh, well, he was a SERIAL cheater, that’s different. He was verbally abusive and had rages too? Yeah, my cheater is nothing like that. So I’ve got a fighting chance at this reconciliation thing.
As relationships with cheaters go, I got off very lightly. Really, I think if anyone should dismiss my advice it should be on those grounds. I was married to him a whole 6 months when his long-term mistress called. I’d been with him nearly two years at that point (dating and marriage). I spent the next 18 months mostly separated from him, as he moved back in and out of the house and I had false reconciliations. All in, I spent less than four years with a cheater. I’m a rookie compared to a lot of chumps.
Threats should NEVER be tolerated? They weren’t. The day after he threatened me, I was at a courthouse and he was packing his shit up in a duffle bag under police supervision. I did, however, “tolerate” his rages. Until I didn’t. The guy spent a lot of time in rentals on air mattresses. I spent a lot of time in therapy.
Back to the question of — OH, you had abuse, and so that’s a King’s X on the infidelity — I don’t think I’m that unusual. Infidelity involves all sorts of emotional abuse — lying, gaslighting, blameshifting. Those mindfucks are every bit as damaging, IMO, as someone screaming at your face.
Is my ex as bad as my husband’s ex? She never raised her voice to him or threatened to burn down his house. No. She just cheated on him for two decades, exposed him to STDs, and made him paternity check his children. Is that better?
What about the “loving” spouse who is the model partner, except for their pesky sex addiction? Or the person who invests decades of their live with someone and they run off and leave them for some high school sweetheart they met on Facebook? They weren’t threatened. They just lost their entire investment to date.
To me, leaving a cheater, leaving an abuser, required the same thing — freeing myself from mental slavery. I had to undo the mindfuck. That’s what this blog is — what I learned from this experience. And what I learned from other people who went through it. I thought I was so freaky, so different, and then I spent 6 years reading on boards going “Wow. Mine said that too. Mine did EXACTLY that.” The predicability of cheaters is not a phenomenon I have observed alone. Heck, when I was going through it, people on SI would tell me what he was going to do next, and damn, if he didn’t do it.
Part of the reason I wrote yesterday’s post was to demonstrate that yeah, I got taken in. And I got myself OUT. I wanted to de-stigmatize the experience of domestic abuse. I’m a smart woman and this happened to me. My ex-husband was a patent attorney with three advanced degrees. He did this shit to other smart women too. His first wife had a PhD in chemistry. His second wife graduated first in her law school class.
Class, smarts, station in life — none of it matters when it comes to being a chump. We all can be chumps.
And now on a different note — just fyi, guys. I’m out of town for a wedding, so won’t be checking in as often. But I’ll try to get a post in here and there. Thanks!