Why are cheaters so brazen?
Because we are such chumps.
Really, can you imagine anyone cheating on Vladimir Putin? Couldn’t happen. He’d have every room bugged, every phone wire tapped, and the Other Man would be trailed by the KGB and slowly poisoned by radioactive isotopes during his next overseas vacation.
If you want to go through life like Vladimir Putin, chance are you won’t get chumped. Don’t put your heart out there, don’t trust anyone, and spend your life spying on your friends and enemies. What you term brazenness is really laziness. It’s easy to fool someone who trusts you. Brazenness would be cheating on Vladimir Putin and spray painting “I fucked your old lady” on the Kremlin sidewalks. Cheaters aren’t brazen — they are duplicitous. Their “brazenness” is predicated on the love of a chump.
As I say on Chump Lady, a big part of the high of cheating is the deceit. It’s no fun unless it’s a secret. Living a secret life, I suppose is brazen. That’s what makes it fun for them — ooh, I’m so edgy. I’m getting away with something! You aren’t the boss of me! Nannernannerbooboo!
Over time cheaters get sloppy. Maybe that’s because they need more of a high-wire act to keep the high going. Maybe it’s because they’re lazy and they get so used to you being a clueless chump that getting away with it is their normal. At some point, the house of cards falls down. And that’s when they’re going to appeal to your chumpiness, to trust them. Either they’ll gaslight you into doubting the evidence (don’t you trust what I tell you?), or they’ll make up some bullshit about how they loved you all along and are just confused right now.
That’s when the “brazenness” gets exposed as entitlement. What? You aren’t going to keep this sweet cake gig going?
Funny how not brazen they are after exposure, with pleas not to tell the children or ruin their reputation, or tell the affair partner’s spouse. Suddenly it’s all about caution and rectitude and not doing anything rash. Funny how not brazen they are when you stop being a chump.
This column ran previously.