The first rule of writing publicly, they tell you, is Never Read the Comments. But hey, I’m a chump and rejection is my superpower, so I’ve been known to follow my link backs… and read the commentary about this blog.
It’s an interesting exercise. I encourage anyone trying to make a convincing argument about anything to read their harshest critics, because their shit just makes you stronger. Last year I had the honor of listening to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg address an incoming class of law students at Georgetown. She talked about her friendship with fellow justice, and jurisprudence arch nemesis, Antonin Scalia. Apparently Scalia was a hoot at dinner parties and had very fine taste in rugs. (They shopped together.)
However, when it came to matters of law, the two couldn’t be further apart. Take for example, the decision to allow women to attend the Virginia Military Institute (a public institution). Scalia wrote the dissenting opinion (to not allow women in) — but before he released his opinion, he first gave it to Justice Ginsburg.
Well, said Justice Ginsburg, Scalia was a formidable opponent and he tore her arguments to shreds. And all that did, she said, was make her more determined. A sneak peek at Scalia’s attack, gave Ginsburg the opportunity to redraft her opinion and NAIL THAT MOTHERFUCKER DOWN. (Um… not her exact words.)
He just made her stronger. So with that inspiration in mind, let’s discuss this recent Reddit thread.
My problem with CL, which is the same problem I have with a lot of people here, is that she doesn’t allow for the possibility that different cheaters are different. IF you are someone who has an unrepentant cheater and can’t see it, she’s great. And maybe truly repentant cheaters aren’t terribly common, but they absolutely 100% are not as rare as she makes them out to be…
I guarantee there’s been cases of people who did have a cheater that would have never done it again, who were convinced by CL to leave because according to her, cheaters never change.
She takes her experience with an unrepentant serial cheater and projects it to all cheaters. That’s as wrong as if someone who had sucessfully reconciled were to say “I did it, anyone can.”
My problem with her is that she doesn’t just say that redeemable cheaters are rare, she comes very close to denying that they even exist.
Ah, the Redeemable Cheater fallacy.
The argument goes, that the message here (Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life) might make you scurry away and miss an opportunity to reconcile with your cheater.
They were going to come around! And I scared you off. Not all cheaters are the same! You might have an Exceptional One!
Let’s throw some logic at this shit, shall we?
1.) It doesn’t matter What Kind of Cheater you have. What matters is what you will tolerate.
This blog is all about YOU, the CHUMP. I know that is radical in the infidelity discourse, but I have zero interest in going down the rabbit hole of cheater potential. Can they change? Will they do their therapy homework? Will that affair fog ever dissipate?
See what I did there? I put all the focus on the cheater and off of YOU. We get so mired in untangling cheater skeins of fuckupedness, that we don’t stop and ask ourselves what WE want. It always comes back to — IS THIS RELATIONSHIP ACCEPTABLE TO YOU?
People in reconciliation squirm away from this question. They muster defenses of the cheater. Their potential. How thoroughly the affair partner has been vanquished. NO. The question IS — are you okay staying in a relationship with someone who is capable of casually betraying you? Can you live with those mental gymnastics?
You do get a vote you know. Your needs matter. It’s totally OKAY to have a deal breaker.
If you bond deeply and love with your whole heart, betrayal is devastating. It’s not a “bump on the marital road” — it’s an improvised explosive device that just cratered your armored vehicle.
You can stay with the saboteur and engage in a lifetime of peace talks… or you can walk away from the flaming mess.
Yes! But maybe it was a one time kind of sabotage! They got drunk and built a bomb! This wasn’t an experienced, serial bomb-maker! It was a kid with a pressure cooker and some nails!
Look at the crater and tell me what kind of difference that makes.
2.) How “redeemable” they are does not matter.
Let’s say your business partner embezzled $50,000 from you. They are NEVER going to embezzle again. They promise! Do you still want to stay in business with them?
Cheaters may very well change. I don’t argue here that they can’t — I argue that entitlement feels great, and humility and consequences do not. To cheat means you can suppress empathy (or have none). Character change is slow and painful and its rewards are not immediate. I don’t think this is an attractive path for most cheaters.
And the fact remains that if someone embezzles from you, and transgresses to this degree, you cannot reasonably be expected to ever trust this person again.
Sure, they could go on and form a new business partnership and never steal from the till, but they destroyed YOUR relationship. It all comes down to risk and what you’re willing to tolerate. (See point #1.)
3.) I am “projecting” my experience and we cannot draw any conclusions from 16.5 million other experiences.
How nice and reductionist this is. Well, Chump Lady is just One Bitter Woman’s take on infidelity. Or Bully For Her, That New Life Thing Worked Out. Do not draw any conclusions!
Ah, instead of the cheater being exceptional, I am exceptional. Got it.
Except that I’m not exceptional. My story is very ordinary. What’s not ordinary is that I shared it. Because most people graduate from this shit storm, go on to lead better cheater-free lives, and do not look back. (Why would they? Why would you want to revisit the painful shit storm?)
I keep the place going because 99.9 percent of the advice out there SUCKS. And I want there to be the kind of resource I wished existed when I went through this. And now there is.
Leave a cheater, gain a life. Draw your own conclusions, CN.