At times, I’m asked do I mean all cheaters? Shouldn’t I distinguish between the remorseful and the remorseless cheaters?
Remorseless? My answer is leave. Get the hell out. Remorseful? Your odds are long, consider the risks, and know that there is a cost in investing the time to see how long the remorse lasts.
But look, even if they are the most repentant cheater and tick every box for making amends — I’d say you’re still not obliged to honor a broken contract. You don’t owe a remorseful cheater reconciliation.
I believe the truly remorseful cheaters understand this. Because to do reconciliation right, it has to come from a place of humility. You have to acknowledge that YOU are the person broke the marriage vows and the chump owes you nothing. You broke it, and if the person you betrayed helps you fix it? That’s a GIFT. And that effort doesn’t come with guarantees. It’s conditional upon your behavior. You, the cheater, the responsible party, are going to have to do the heavy lifting for the foreseeable future.
Now, I could insert a tangent here about how difficult such a marriage would be, forever on probation, slowly earning back trust, giving up all the goodies of entitlement and facing the emotional ruin of the person you hurt. But if you were a remorseful cheater, you’d take that on — you begged for this chance and if you’re all in, I’m assuming you’d do the hard work for as long as it takes. (Including signing a post-nup.)
This is very hard, which is why there are so few remorseful cheaters who go the distance.
But what I see that is way more common, especially on infidelity forums with cheater members, is that self-described “remorseful” cheaters feel absolutely entitled to reconciliation. It’s an unquestioned given.
Why OF COURSE my chump is going to work with me on this. And by “work” I mean, delve into all their inadequacies that drove me to cheat on them. I mean, they have to own at least a few of them — their low sex drive, their incessant criticisms, their depression, their devotion to their children and neglect of me. Yes, what I did was “wrong” (see Caveats A through Z) — but you still have to stay married to me, of course. And if you don’t shape up, or your triggers just bug the ever-living shit out of me, I reserve the right to cheat on you again. Did I say cheat? I meant “employ a coping mechanism because I am broken.”
Do they admit that, or is it just an implied threat? Because that’s the way I read it. If cheaters don’t own the affairs 100 percent, then they’re blaming the chump for THEIR issues. They’re externalizing the fault. So, if the fault lies with someone else, and conditions are not kept favorable — well, hey! they might just cheat again! They can’t help what YOU do that makes them cheat!
So mind your Ps and Qs, chumps.
Marriage is only conditional for the chump. (Pick me dance, anyone?) It’s assumed chumps will keep their commitment to the cheaters. It’s irrelevant that cheaters didn’t keep their commitments. You’re still bound by your honor! Cheaters deserve all the time they want — and you must forgive whatever lapses of no contact they have with the affair partner — they’re suffering a “fog.” These things take time. What’s your time worth anyway? You’re a chump.
These “remorseful” cheaters natter on about unconditional love. Don’t judge them, they’re still good people who did “bad” (see Caveats A through Z) things. What’s important here is that you recognize their inherent goodness. Unconditionally. It’s good because… well, they have some FINE QUALITIES other than cheating. Have you tried their homemade peach chutney? They are more than the sum of their fucking around. They’re people deserving of love and respect because they said so.
To me, these “remorseful” cheaters who assume reconciliation is their right and due fail to understand the gravity of the offense. And I’m unclear why they even want their chump back anyway. They paint quite an unattractive picture of their marriages, (the ones that compelled them to cheat). What are they trying to save? Plan B? Lack of financial consequences? The world’s good opinion of them? They seem rather on the fence about their chumps. Mostly, IMO, they seem aggrieved that their list of complaints about the marriages isn’t foremost on the Fix It list.
Now I’m not saying chumps shouldn’t work on their marriages and their issues when in reconciliation. One person can’t save a marriage by themselves, chump or cheater. Both people need to be invested, working to be their best selves. But it’s hard to have that zeal of working togetherness when someone just gutted you with betrayal. THAT is the crisis that needs addressing and it’s not some peripheral issue. It seems to me that in a lot of therapy the priorities get muddled, and the narrative “marriage issues made me cheat” is given legitimacy.
No, you had a marriage with issues, like any marriage, and the cheater just put a bullet through it. The cheater can’t then say “Well, the marriage was having difficulties, so I had to put a bullet through it” and then want the focus to be on the difficulties and not the bullet! The thing is now at near death. How on earth are you going to revive it if you don’t address the gunshot wound?
These “remorseful” cheaters IMO don’t want to put down their guns. They’d like to retain the high ground of True Victim Status, the superiority, and the entitlement thinking. Nothing screams entitlement more than putting a proverbial bullet through your marriage and expecting it to still serve you.
Help me here, I’m not seeing the “remorse.”