My cheater and I met when I was 19 and he was 24. Fast forward two years and I am a 21 year old, who has had only one sexual partner, and he was an emotionally abusive cheater.
I was in a very fortunate position where the other woman was a classmate of mine who was manipulated by my then boyfriend into thinking he was single. So when she found out about me from a mutual friend, she nearly immediately stepped forward. She provided me quite a bit of support surrounding “D-Day.” Without her honestly and kindness I never would have had the strength to leave the guy who I thought was the love of my life. Three months later the OW and I have established a slightly awkward but solid friendship.
I have a plethora of issues to pick from, but the one I’d like to focus on is the idea of demonizing a cheater. Many friends, the OW included, have told me that I should not adopt an attitude where I think of my cheater as a “bad person.” They say that while what he did to me was not acceptable, he is still a “good person” who was simply driven by a bad life situation to cheating.
Every time I hear this I find myself launching into a rant about how for months he had been using me as an emotional punching bag and how I almost had to take an incomplete for that semester of college when in three weeks I went from 120 pounds to barely 100 (for perspective I am 5’6). While I do recognize that he had a streak of bad luck resulting in some serious financial troubles, I still don’t see how any “good person” would turn to abuse the person they apparently love to get through any rough time.
Often this statement comes with the logic that it isn’t good for me to deliver absolutist statements regarding another person’s character. It’s said I will be happier recognizing him as simply a flawed human rather than a remorseless and sociopathic waste of space.
I guess what I’m wondering is — really, will I be happier?? I do not think I am still mad at him, but I honestly believe he is an alcoholic narcissist who occasionally shows kindness to others in order to stroke his own ego. I am confident one day he will provide you with many more chumps. I am just lucky to get out when I did.
Sassy Name Here
The important thing is that you left. Cheating was a deal-breaker and you LEFT. I wish the emotional abuse had been a deal-breaker, but we’ll address that in a minute.
It doesn’t matter what he is — a flawed forest creature or Lord Satan himself — what matters is YOU. What you will tolerate. What is acceptable to YOU. What you think a healthy, reciprocal, loving relationship looks like, and whether you think you’re in one. Only YOU determine the price of admission to your relationships. YOU set that price, and you get to say who’s tall enough to ride your ride.
When you look at it this way, we can chuck the issue of you being an absolutist about him. (Poor sausage is being demonized!) You’re an absolutist about yourself. Boundaries are absolutes. I will not be cheated on. I will not be verbally abused. I will not let this relationship destroy my health.
Those are your boundaries and you have every right to enforce them. All this blah, blah, blah about what kind of person Dickface is? Irrelevant. That analysis is untangling the skein of fuckupedness. Who he is, is someone who demonstrated that he was unworthy of you. Next.
He doesn’t have to be All Bad for you to next him. You can acknowledge his fine collection of argyle sweaters or his lovely singing voice or the kindness he shows to his pet ferret. He was Bad ENOUGH. And no handsome sweater can possibly eclipse his deceit.
Now about this emotional abuse — I’m sure you put up with it because you suffered from some chumpy thoughts. Spackle is not just denial out of self-interest, it’s also based on some erroneous ideas. Notions such as — Terrible Life Events Make Him Abuse Me. Or The Crazy Shit He Does Doesn’t Define Him. And so you gave him a pass.
Part of un-chumping is examining those fallacies and learning to do better. Having boundaries means enforcing consequences. That’s not “demonizing” someone. Not accepting crap excuses for bad behavior is not demonizing someone either. It’s recognizing that Dickface has agency and makes choices. You had a bad semester — whose life did you ruin?
How we face adversity and how we treat the people we purport to love is what defines our character. Dickface has lousy character. You do not. Bad match. Next.
It’s said I will be happier recognizing him as simply a flawed human rather than a remorseless and sociopathic waste of space.
You will be happier being away from him, period. Let God sort out his flaws from his sociopathy.
At 21, Sassy, you have an advantage that many of us wish we had at your age — you know that remorseless sociopathic wastes of space exist. And they disguise themselves as mild-mannered boyfriends who will suck the life out of you.
There are disordered people in the world who know right from wrong, but don’t care. They don’t think the rules should apply to them. They don’t have empathy or remorse. And there’s no conscience there to appeal to for better behavior. They aren’t wired for conscience. Cluster Bs, sociopaths, Bad People, whatever you want to call them — they walk among us.
And they succeed at their manipulation games when people act like chumps and excuse their crap behavior as “flawed” or think they can manage it into some semblance of civility.
It’s good information to have. Use it going forward. The freaks can’t hurt you if you know your worth first.