Have you ever encountered this? My husband says that the cheating had absolutely nothing to do with me. He says he always has loved and cared for me. To me this makes absolutely no sense! If you love and value someone, then wouldn’t you want to do everything you can to keep them? Not push them away?
I had emailed you before asking do you give a cheater who seems remorseful a chance to change? Your advice was amazing and you were spot on, what I knew was only the tip of the iceberg! There was a blow job here, a hand job there, never with the same woman, all one time encounters from strangers. It gets worse! He has paid for hand jobs a few times at Asian massage parlors. Never a long-term affair but lots of incidents of betrayal. I had been begging him to just tell me the truth about everything for months now; and of course when the confessions started I was devastated by what I heard. But on the other hand I was also thankful for the truth; it gave me just enough to finally say “enough is enough.” As painful as it is to leave this situation, it seems like it will kill me if I stay. I don’t think I could bear another confession and the anxiety, shock, disbelief and sadness that comes with it.
So as I wait for him to move out on the first of January, we still talk a lot and I get these explanations: “It had nothing to do with you” “I have always had a problem, I just thought I’d be able to control it,” “my self-esteem is fucked,” “I never wanted to be this guy, I wanted to be a good husband and father and I just failed, I fail at everything,” “I think I am self-destructive because I never learned to accept and love myself,” “You are a good person, you deserve better than me,” etc.
So what is this? Is this manipulation? Or is he actually trying to help me move on without a bruised self-esteem? I know you discuss the general patterns of behavior of the cheater. Is this a typical ploy to make me question my discussion to separate? Or his trying to actually make me feel sorry for him so I don’t tell our mutual friends the truth about why we are divorcing? You know, to protect his “good-guy” image he always wants people to see. I am a bit baffled and I know its a time suck to try to figure this out, but I am curious; how can someone possibly love and care but cheat? All people have some sort of issues, but EVERYONE weighs out reward and punishment before they make decisions, so I just don’t get it.
No, not everyone weighs out rewards and punishments before they act. Disordered people don’t. They think they are the special exception to every rule. Rewards? Oh yeah, they can see those. Punishment? But they are more clever than you! How could they ever get caught? And they’re more deserving — so of course you won’t enforce any sort of punishment, because you are but a mere chump.
Okay, if really pressed into a corner, they’ll do the kabuki theater of “I’m sorry.” This is impression management. It’s not really an apology or a desire to change. How do I know? Because Abbie, your husband keeps cheating. He pays for sex. He likes it like that. His actions say so.
Let’s take apart his explanations for his behavior.
“It had nothing to do with you.”
Of course it did. He knew this would hurt you, which is why he kept it a secret. Could it be argued that his sexuality is rather impersonal? Any orifice will do? Okay, in that sense, “it had nothing to do with you” works. Yes. You are just one set of orifices he fucks. There are others. You’re all quite interchangeable, depending on his whims.
Or should we argue, that he jerks off with other women, but You’re The One He Really Loves? Bullshit. You thought you were in a monogamous marriage. He let you think that while he was buying sex from other women. He made a unilateral decision to do that. He also made a unilateral decision to pay for it with your resources. This is not loving. People who love us do not endanger our health and make unilateral decisions that affect our emotional and physical well-being. Or our finances. I’ve tackled the whole how can they love me while they’re cheating on me issue here.
“I have always had a problem, I just thought I’d be able to control it.”
Poor sausage. He has a problem. This is a play for pity. Don’t you feel sorry for him? Don’t you want to help? He thought he’d be able to “control it”? But — horrors! his sexuality is off the leash and Cannot Be Controlled! He tries mightily to rein it in, but it gets the better of him every time.
Seriously, Abbie. Do you think this is how men are? Sure, they have powerful sex drives — and they control them. Otherwise they’d be humping every pantleg like a German shepherd in heat. They’d be feeling up every co-worker, propositioning every rounded bottom that walks past. They’d all be rapists and sexual harassers — those people who have Problems Controling Their Sexual Urges.
Can you see those excuses in court? “Your honor, I didn’t really WANT to be a rapist, I just thought I could control it.” Or “It’s but a mere coincidence, Sir, that I sexually harassed my subordinate — a single mother who had a lot to lose by reporting me.” No, these assholes are predators — it’s the sex AND the power trip they’re after. It’s premeditated. They feel entitled to do it.
Am I saying your husband is a rapist? No, I’m saying he’s a schmuck. He operates from the same set of entitlement. It’s a power trip to pay for sex, naughty sex that your wife doesn’t know about. He can control his sexuality, just like any man. He chooses not to. He’s very premeditated about letting his dick wander — and he has his credit card ready.
“My self-esteem is fucked.”
So don’t tell anyone why you’re divorcing, okay? You wouldn’t want to be responsible for his fragile self esteem. Poor sausage.
“I never wanted to be this guy, I wanted to be a good husband and father and I just failed, I fail at everything.”
He gilded the lily on that one. “I fail at everything.” Really? Even making coffee — do you suck at that too? How about tying your shoes? Do you have any core competencies?
“My self esteem is fucked” and “I fail at everything” are your cues to bolster him. Yes, even as your world is falling apart, he would like you to tell him, oh Gosh, you’re not a failure! I see your shining potential! I know how much you want to be a decent husband, but it’s such a struggle for you! I will hold your hand. How do you like your kibbles? Scrambled, or over easy?
He’s directing the attention to himself. His self pity is about HIM. I hear nothing in there about how his CHOICES hurt YOU.
He never wanted to be that guy? He IS that guy. His choices made him that guy, so I’m going to assume he WANTS to be that guy. He’d like you to believe he’s a different guy, a guy who doesn’t like that guy, because then you’ll stick around and be of use. Yum, yum, cake. But I promise you, he likes that guy just fine. In fact, he takes that guy out to massage parlors and a few rounds of beer quite often. They’re very chummy, That Guy, and The Guy Who Doesn’t Want to Be That Guy. Besties, in fact.
“I think I am self-destructive because I never learned to accept and love myself.”
I think he loves himself just fine. He buys himself all the blow jobs he wants. It’s you he destroys. He accepts your love just fine — and takes it for granted.
Saying he’s “self destructive” is another cue for you to save him. Poor man, he’s never known love! Won’t you show him your big, chumpy heart? Let your love envelop him and then, if you’re really good Abbie, and you try really, really hard, you’ll be able to FIX THIS!
Translated this reads — more kibbles please.
“You are a good person, you deserve better than me,”
Well, he got that one right. You do deserve better. But this isn’t how he intended this statement. Watch him get very ugly when you step out on that truth and find someone who does deserve you.
Again, this is self pity. He wants to trade on your goodness, to love his brokeness. Why? It gives him cart blanche to keep being broken. Oops, I got another hand job. But I’m really working on controlling myself!
He’s telling you who he is, (probably only a small fraction of the truth, I imagine), on the hope that you’ll stick around and try harder to “help” him.
Don’t. The game is rigged. He’s a manipulator. Start the New Year right — divorce this guy.