Is there a fool-proof way to test people for this cheating fuck-wittedness disorder, before we get hooked by them? (Like with vampires, where you can hold a mirror up to them and see they have no reflection). Do these people represent a third of the population? Are they difficult to detect? Will I ever be sure the next one isn’t a wolf in sheep’s clothing?
Yeah, wouldn’t that be nice if we had a field guide to monsters, complete with antidotes? Like you just have to drive a stake of holly through their hearts, problem solved! Alas, it’s not that simple. Cheaters don’t come with forehead tattoos. You have to use your powers of discernment. Or as we say around here — “fix your picker.”
Will you ever be 100 percent certain that someone isn’t a wolf in sheep’s clothing? No. But that’s a chumpy way to frame the problem — certainty about someone else. Instead, fixing your picker is about YOU. Know how to enforce your boundaries when you encounter a red flag and then watch very carefully how this person reacts. Picker fixing is putting down the spackle (what you want to believe about this person) and paying attention to actions. Judge people by their actions. Does he take responsibility for his mistakes? Is she kind to the waitstaff? Does he live beyond his means? Does she apologize? Does he work hard at his job? Is she sober?
Actions reveal character.
In the process of picker refinement, remember that no one is perfect. Any two people are going to experience some conflict at some point. So when those issues arise, watch what happens next. If you enforce a boundary — how does this person react? Do you get the three channels of mindfuckery? Rage, charm, or self-pity? Or is this person capable of self-reflection? Most important, do they care if they hurt you? Do they want to please you? Does the relationship feel reciprocal?
Generally, when someone asks this question, what they want is a list of red flags for cheating. (We can give you those in a moment…) But the fact is, some people are good at concealing double lives. What they are NOT good at concealing is superficiality and lack of character. So know your worth. Know what you will tolerate. Know how to enforce your boundaries. You control that, and if you don’t put up with shit, fact is character disordered people probably won’t want you. They’ll move on to easier prey and better kibble supply. They don’t want to work that hard.
Now then — for the shady signs someone is cheating. CN — please add your own in the comments!
- They’re bad at time management. If they cancel dates or can’t commit to next weekend? Red flag. Juggling a double life requires lots of flexibility.
- They’re secretive about their technology. The phone is glued to them. It’s always on silent. They take it to the bathroom.
- They have a lot of exes who are “friends.” They keep a large circle of auxiliary kibble supply. Yes, I believe people can think fondly of their exes, but I don’t believe that healthy people in healthy relationships spend significant amounts of time and centrality on exes.
- They have a lot of exes who are “batshit crazy.” If this person’s marriage ended because “bitch be crazy” or some other nebulous slur? I’d want specifics. If every person who got ever close to them was hideously flawed and horrible, and their bosses don’t understand them, and you’re the only super, special person they can let their guard down with to love again? RUN.
- They’re okay with lack of reciprocity. If you’re working hard to please this person, if you’re picking up the check, if you’re lending them money, if your gifts are more thoughtful and extravagant than their gifts? If this person is A Okay with you doing the lion’s share of ANYTHING? RUN.
Cheating is about entitlement. You see entitled behavior? That should be all the red flag you need — NEXT.
And remember, there is always a next. Never feel like you need a relationship to complete you. That notion makes you prone to spackle. There’s nothing so lonely as being invested in a cheater. Know your worth, GP! And good luck!