Dear Chump Lady,
I LOVE your blog. In a society that basically condones cheating and keeps urging women to just accept it and reconcile it is SO refreshing to read. Thank you.
I’m a young lady that grew up in a society that basically says women should expect to be cheated on and that we should just accept it. Men in my society are allowed to marry up to four women (but the women are not *insert eye roll*) and the ones that don’t? Usually they have mistresses that they look after (have children with them, give them a house, car and care for them. Sometimes more than they would their wife).
I used to think that it was just men in my society that were unable to control themselves or chose to behave this way due to the blatant sexism in my society and their sense of entitlement. But after living in other countries I still hear the same old story “Most men will cheat. Get over it.”
I’m currently in a relationship with a guy and I’m in love for the first time. He’s wonderful and everything is going really well. I find myself wondering a lot lately if he will cheat on me. Now I consider myself to be confident and attractive so this is not a self esteem issue. Its just that with all these stories (some on your blog) and things that I’ve experienced (Guys I know that worship their girlfriends that turn out to be cheating or vice versa) I can’t help but worry.
Chump Lady, Narcissistic men aside, do all men cheat? Are some men more prone to it? Is there a way to tell if a guy would cheat?
No, all men don’t cheat. Of course not. Are some men more prone to it? Sure — those with bad character and entitlement issues. Now, it’s a real problem if you live in a culture that legitimizes that sense of entitlement, but that doesn’t mean that you Ms. Confused have to tolerate that shit.
If you read this blog, you’ll see that many men are cheated on too. Guys who were faithful and true, who invested of themselves wholly and got blind-sided. Infidelity isn’t just a man problem — it’s a woman problem too. In your culture, for every piggish man that cheats, is a woman putting up with being a crumb — who is tolerating the disrespect of not being a full partner, whether she is agreeing to be a mistress, or wife #4. Both sides have bought into this crap. Both sides are perpetuating it.
Women’s oppression is real — in your country and in mine (hello, I live in Texas — have you seen what the legislature is trying to do to our reproductive freedoms?) — there are consequences for riding against the tide. Maybe in your country, if you don’t put up with infidelity you’re unmarriageable. But things aren’t going to change if you don’t get uppity.
We don’t get any guarantees about other people. I have no idea about your boyfriend’s character. But the good news is that you’re in control of your own character. As you write, you’re attractive and self assured and you know your worth. So if that boyfriend of yours cheats? You dump him. You have control of your own boundaries. Would that be painful? Absolutely. It hurts like a motherfucker. But you know what hurts more? Staying with a cheater.
And every time a young woman like you dumps a young man who cheats, she sends a message to her generation — I’m not tolerating abuse. My mother may have tolerated it. My grandmother may have tolerated it, but I am NOT tolerating it. Change starts with you.
Now, as to how to find a good person who isn’t inclined to cheat? While I don’t think there are any guarantees, I do think you can improve your odds for sure. Have you talked with your boyfriend about his values? How he feels about infidelity? How he would feel if you cheated? How he feels when other people cheat? Does he demonstrate good character in other parts of his life? Is he empathetic? Does he treat you with respect? Does he love his mother, or his sisters, or the other women in his life? Does he treat those people with kindness and respect?
If your culture is rife with infidelity, perhaps you need to date outside your culture. Or find a fellow pioneer in who’s in the This Is Bullshit camp.
In my own story, I found a fellow chump. My husband was formerly married to a serial cheater. He gets it. He’s also just a really decent person. I observed him closely as we were dating, and in a story I repeat a lot around here, early on I noticed his kindness and care taking. While we were enjoying a weekend together, I got a chest cold. It came on rather quickly, and he immediately ordered me a cup of tea. Room service, stupid expensive tea. Whatever was in his power to make me feel better in that moment, he made it happen. And that’s when I realized EFFORT IS SEXY. This is a good guy.
Surround yourself with people who make effort. Who reciprocate. Who check in with you and demonstrate through their words AND their deeds that they care about you. And be that person to the people in your life. That’s the best insurance policy I know of to choose a good one.
But if you don’t choose a good one, don’t worry, you will survive. Loving someone entails risk, no getting around that. Feel secure in your own strength, that whatever happens to you, you will live your life with integrity. That you can control — and a good character is its own reward. By not accepting abuse, you’ll inspire others to do the same. And by choosing a partner who treats you with kindness and respect, you’re setting the bar for other women to expect the same sort of treatment. All you get to control is you — but you alone can do a lot. Sounds like you already are! Best of luck to you and your boyfriend.