Recently an infidelity therapist of the unicorn persuasion tweeted an article at me from the Huffington Post to which she’d contributed, on the issue of “once a cheater, always a cheater.”
Here’s a sampling, this one from Tammy Nelson (not the person who sent it to me, btw):
“People who say a cheater can’t change have never felt the awful guilt that comes when you realize you’ve made a terrible mistake by having a one-night stand or an affair,” she said. “They’ve never gone to bed at night staring at the ceiling, wishing there was anything you could do to take back the hurt you’ve inflicted on your partner. If they had, they would perhaps not be so self-righteous in their judgment.”
Likewise, Tammy, people who say cheaters can change have never suffered their fourth D-Day and found a scary Pap smear to the contrary.
Oh, and people with actual remorse don’t characterize those they’ve harmed as self-righteous. Perhaps you need to stare at that ceiling a bit longer, Tammy.
Let’s substitute some other wrongdoing and see how dumb this sounds.
People who say slave owners can’t change have never felt the awful guilt that comes when you realize you’ve made the terrible mistake of enslaving Africans. Whether it was one slave or several thousand… They’ve never gone to bed at night staring at the ceiling, wishing there was anything they could do to take back the hurt of lashing Jonah for not making his cotton yield quotas. If they had had one of those long, horrible nights of regretful ceiling-staring, perhaps they would not be so self-righteous in their judgment.
Why, when someone does a shitty thing, is the emphasis on the hope they may change over recompenses for the actual damage they did? You stared at a ceiling? Well, bully for you, Sad Sausage!
“Can cheaters change?” is asking the wrong question. It’s not about whether or not people can change (they can) – it’s about at what personal cost will you take that risk in another’s potential? You’ve been harmed. You bought a lousy Ford Pinto and the gas tank exploded. Can Ford rework the Pinto? I suppose. That doesn’t mean you want to get back into the charred shell of a car and drive. We have lemon laws for a reason.
Putting aside the whole issue of personality disorders and those folks not being wired for empathy (Cluster Bs), why would your average cheater want to give up entitlement? Power and cake feel so awesome. Humility not so much. My arguments on the odds of character transplants can be read here.
Anyway, “can cheaters change” is not even the little nugget of stupid that got me upset. After sending me unicorn links for my edification, it was these follow up tweets:
I worry about so-called experts, too, like ppl who are cheated on and then offer advice
The greater danger: professional offering advice based on falsehood. Or on anecdotal
OH MY GOD. Somebody got CHEATED ON and OFFERED ADVICE? Jesus Christ! Like, they actually based their advice on something they EXPERIENCED? And didn’t go to a sexologist Orlando, Florida strip mall diploma mill (coughTammyNelson…cough) and get a degree in bullshit? Or have some preconceived idea about religion, or polyamory, or divorce busting, or WTFer, but instead gave trial-tested advice based in REALITY?
Hey, I’m just an African history, M.A. and my fuzzy liberal arts brain doesn’t do science, but as I recall science is based upon observable data. And patterns. And drawing logical conclusions. You get several million people on a blog recounting stories that bear startling similarities to one another, I think you can draw a few conclusions. What’s your data set, asshole?
Anyway, you don’t have to like the advice I give. I don’t pretend to be anything other than a chump. My credentials are prominently on display. Fact is, I don’t need your permission to tell my story.
Sorry Gatekeepers of the Infidelity Narrative, they have these modern tools now and anyone can broadcast anything they want. Blog, podcast, twitter…
Of course you can broadcast all you want. If it resonates, is another matter. Blog is about to flip 12 million this week. I think it resonates.
Chumps, here’s your Friday challenge — SPEAK UP. You don’t need ANYONE’s permission to tell your story. Got advice? Got a story? Tell me how you’re getting it out there in the world and across the inter webs. TGIF.