by Sara K.

men who cheat
Why do we – and TV- glamorize men who cheat?

I was recently watching a rerun of AMC’s Madmen and came to a realization. We in America are so fascinated with men leading the double-life. As someone who is married to a finally come clean man from the secret life, this got me wondering. Why are we so obsessed in glamorizing these men who cheat?

Years ago my husband and I decided to foray into the twisted life of Tony Soprano. Night after night we would watch the Soprano’s DVD hungering for more of Tony’s lies and womanizing. There was a need to see more, find out if anyone realizes his secret. In the real world, the affairs, the murders and the money would be the secrets. But, in Tony’s case his personal secret was actually the therapist he was seeing on the side – not for sex, but for mental health. The immorality of the Sopranos world was never hidden in fact in this show it was high-fived. It was the healthy act of trying to deal with his past that Tony was too embarrassed to let anyone know.

My husband and I would watch this show snuggled up together – all the while he was actually his own version of Tony – lying to me about his own deeds on the side. That was the irony of it all…

Once we finished the many seasons of Sopranos and said our goodbyes we began to watch the Showtime show, Dexter. This show is premised on a seemingly nice guy cop who just so happens to also be a vicious and methodical serial killer. His secret is a little more scary and horrifying. However, there is a lovely little twist. Dexter only kills the bad guys – rapists, murderers and child abusers. Instant moral dilemma, as you find yourself hating to love a murderer.

Recently we added another show to our repertoire (maybe we need to get out more…), Madmen. Initially we were attracted to this show because it seemed rich in modern history. The clothing and the scenes were amazing to watch. But, then we realized we were once again drawn into the double-life of Don Draper – womanizer, alcoholic and adorable ad man just simply assuming a dead person’s life when he realized his own was going no where fast.

In thinking about these themes (for those who think it’s just men portrayed as the cheaters and the liars – take a look at Weeds) of secret lives I realize how sad they are.  My husband and I recently discussed, post coming clean, that these men and women are missing out on the reality of a life without secrets. How free it is to never be looking over your shoulder, to always mean what you say and say what you mean? But trust is never glamorous; no one wants to watch a movie or television show about an actual good guy husband, who honors his vows and commitments. No one wants to see a day-to-day life that involved sacrifice and hard work to keep a marriage healthy. For some reason, those types of shows are put into the comedy genre. Interesting to watch, but too funny to be reality.  During my healing process after I found out about my husband’s infidelity, I saw a very relevant episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. Any couple that has watched this show can definitely identify with the themes and the writing in that sitcom. All laughing aside, this show shares more reality but, less popularity than someone who schemes, lies and cheats.

Maybe one day we’ll be interested in watching a television show where they all just live a normal boring and real life. Men and women working, eating, taking care of the kids, paying bills…. Eh probably not.

Then came Reality television….

 

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    47 replies to "Liars, Liars, Television On Fire – Glamorizing Men Who Cheat"

    • Natalia

      Sara K., thanks for your post. It made remember “Father knows best.” I used to watch the reruns when I was a child. It portrayed the idyllic presentation of family life. Perhaps the way it should be. I know I wanted to have such a father and mother. Then when I got married I secretly hoped my family resembled such a perfect family. However it was too good to be true and there’s never been another show like that one.

    • chiffchaff

      Shortly after Dday we bought the series ‘Allo ‘Allo (it may have been on PBS in the states) box set as we’d both remembered it being very funny as children. But after what we’d been through I couldn’t stand to watch the sneaking about of the husband, the lascivious waitresses fawning over him but worst of all was the portrayal of the wife. she was always referred to as ugly, tone deaf, ridiculous and stupid. the message clearly was – no wonder he cheats with a wife like that. The cheating husband was characterised as clever, witty, charming and basically doing the best he could in the circumstances.
      As you say, there’s so much glamourisation of adultery.
      A good film to see which deals with this slightly differently though is ‘Closer’. It does show the pain of betrayal without glamourising it at all I feel.

    • Dave

      You can also find plenty examples of women in movies and television who cheat. Nearly as many women cheat as men, and they are less likely to be caught because they are usually more discrete.

      A Knight’s Tale, A Perfect Murder, The Graduate, Titanic, To Die For, Unfaithful, Jarhead, Chloe, Crazy Stupid Love, Along Came Polly, Red Shoe Diaries, The Descendants, Legends of the Fall, The English Patient, Random Hearts, I Heart Huckabees, Bridges of Madison County, Waitress, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Good Girl, The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Royal Tenenbaums, Up in the Air

      …the list is far too long to post here, but I found dozens more on IMDB.

      …and that doesn’t include ever soap opera ever made and half the Lifetime Channel “movies”

      My only point is that men do not have a monopoly on cheating, in real life or on the screen.

      • chiffchaff

        Dave – the cheaters in Closer were male and female. The male reaction to his wife cheating was interesting but the pain was the same.

      • tryinghard

        Dave,
        I’m glad you spoke up. I think the movie with Diane Lane is Unfaithful with Richard Gere. Richard Gere actually kills her lover in the movie. I always thought that would be a natural reaction for a man until DDay. I was so distraught I could have killed both of them. Thank God that phase passed. Now I just watch the bad Karma the OW is having and is she having a ton. HAHAHAHAHA

        • Disappointed

          I keep waiting for the bad karma for my H and the OW… And nothing so far. Has not cost her a thing. And in fact I heard she has another married man on the line. The only that has paid is me. I hope someday she knows even just half of my pain. She had so much (husband who provided well, no need to work and two wonderful kids) and she had to take the only thing I have, my H. He made it so easy. I will never understand how I could mean so little and that he says there was never an us. That I am the enemy and described as non-empathetic and self- centered. How do feelings just die after 20 years?

    • Sara K

      Absolutely true Dave, I referenced Weeds in my posting above. In most of these shows women cheated as well. The point is our society needs to stop glamorizing cheating and start creating environments of portrayal of real life situations where couples work through their issues.

      • Dave

        Ah, never seen Weeds. Thanks for the inclusion. Speaking as the husband who has been cheated on, sometimes it feels that most content about healing is biased towards wives and the cheats are men.

    • Battleborn

      Unfortunately that is true Dave. But all of us here have tried to include men when referring to the BS. I think the whole misconception is that the men always cheat because most men do not or will not admit that they have been hurt. I am not a psycho dr but I tend to think that it goes back to the macho man era when they would not admit they are on the losing end of the affair. Sad, huh?! If more men would open up and tell their stories perhaps the stigma of “she” and “he” would be less apparent.
      Rest assured Dave, we all know you (men) exist and we are not slighting you in the least!

      • Dave

        I didn’t feel slighted. I just felt like commenting on it.

      • Dave

        I do know the stigma you talk about though. I have struggled with it myself. I don’t know the word for a BS female, but for a male, the old and very offensive word is cuckold.

        Until this, I didn’t think I had a so-called male ego to bruise. I’m not effeminate, but I’m not a machismo guy either. I’m just an average guy. But when this hit, the shame I felt really was overwhelming. It touched a primal nerve I didn’t even know I had.

        Anyway, sorry for getting so far off-topic.

        • Battleborn

          Everything is “on-topic: here Dave. We are here to support each other and your insight is important. YOU did bring up a good conversation and something that all of us need to be reminded. This can happen to anyone regardless of sex.

    • Kali

      Wow, Dave, that was powerful. Thanks for sharing your feelings so openly.

      • Dave

        It’s easy when there are people who listen. Thank you to everyone who has been supportive and lends an ear. These are difficult things to think and talk about, and in my small circle of friends, all of this makes everyone very uncomfortable. We’ve had so many friends fall away or disappear when we really needed them the most.

        I think all of this has been especially troubling for my guy friends. I think some guys are trained from an early age to not be emotional or introspective, and when something like this hits, they are terrified to think about it because they don’t know how to deal with it. I think it makes them think about their own situation and wonder if it could fall apart as easily.

        My current friends met me and my wife before her confession and long after her affair. They only knew here as the sweat, outgoing, generous person they saw. They never met the deceitful, selfish, and destructive person she was during her affair. I think they probably worry that if she could do that, could their wives or girlfriends do the same. I wonder if some of our friends pulled back because they were worried that her affair would somehow “infect” their lives too and spread like a disease.

        Anyway, besides my counselor, this is the only place where I felt comfortable discussing any of these issues or my feelings, and my feelings are so raw that I can’t help but throw it out there, especially when there are people here who understand.

        • exercisegrace

          It does make all the difference in the world to have this group of supportive friends. In our situation, NO ONE knows. They see my husband as the same as ever, and perhaps think I am a little sadder, more withdrawn, but don’t know why. It is very difficult to try and put that “mask” on all the time. For me as well, this and my counselor are the only two places I can discuss what has happened, how I am “really” feeling, and what we are going through. I am very greatful. This and a few other blogs have saved my sanity and made me feel less alone on this road.

        • tryinghard

          Dave
          I get so much from your male point of view so please don’t ever feel like what you have to say isn’t valid. We too have lost most all our friends and I’m ok with that because now it’s only he and I going out. He has to talk to me!! Poor guy I yak his ear off and he better be looking at me 🙂 This is how we connect that we failed to do earlier. I thought I was respecting him with his private thoughts but he obviously had other things on his mind.

          I think our friends are threatened by our situation thinking a marriage in trouble is contagious. Maybe it is. I now question (along with everything else) the validity of their friendship.

    • Rachel

      Isnt there an oath that we women took? Thou will not cheat with another women’s husband??
      As I said in my “I hate you letter” to the other women, hands off bitch, he’s married!

      • Recovering

        Rachel, did you send your letter? I am dying to send a hate letter, but at the same time don’t want it thinking it still has any hold on MY husband… I do HATE it… I would NEVER cheat, and ESPECIALLY with someone who is married! I guess that is one of my biggest hangups as to why my husband hooked up with this OW, because they were BOTH married!!! He probably looked at it more as a safe thing because then she couldn’t rat him out (not that I think he really did any real thinking), but SHE wanted MORE from them… hmmm… so how does that work? They end up like LeAnn Rimes and her cheating now-husband? RIGHT! THAT would work!! What a B! Don’t think for a SECOND that I am excusing my husband, because I am not!! I am fully aware that HE is the one that made promises to me, but nobody seemed to remember that, him OR HER, or HER promises SHE made!! ALL LIARS! UGH!

      • tryinghard

        Rachel
        OMG when did you send the I Hate You letter? Good for you girl. Did you feel better? How long after DDay did you do it? HAHAHA I saw the OW working at a local store. She has put on so much weight!!! She’s working 2 jobs now. HAHAHA I texted her “HAHAHA I love Karma. Oh yeah, I WIN!” I felt so good doing that.

        • rachel

          I sent it in February 2012. D day was Nov. 2011
          I want Karma for both but it’s a sweet happy road for H.
          He just moved into a beautiful home yesterday. Everything always goes his way. This really brings me down.Because he is so happy and my tears don’t stop.

          • Tryinghard

            I’m sorry Rachel. I thought he was trying to work on staying together. He has to have some remorse. He has to be having pain for the destruction he caused and for what. He has to be questioning if his life is so much better. It’s not. He traded one set of problems for another. Sure it might be fun playing around for a while but soon he will be a lonely old man with nothing and no one. I hope you have a good lawyer to get what you deserve. Karma WILL get both of them. Just wait and see.

            • rachel

              No he never wanted to work on things after his affair only divorce. He wanted his freedom to fall in love with someone else. He wanted to put himself first.
              I’m at a bad place after being at an ok place for quite some time. Perhaps it’s the holidays coming.
              He still blames me for all of it even his cheating, he texted me that las night after he asked my son if I was healing.
              I also heard that my attorney isn’t a fighter so I’m losing hope with that too. Things never go my way but things always goes his way. He’ll never crumble to the ground.

    • Disappointed

      I also feel extreme shame and humiliation a year later. I have tried to keep it quiet to save face and for the good of our nonprofit. I recently heard from a friend that rumors are spreading around town and that the OW is known for pursuing married men. She is supposedly involved with someone else’s husband now and she is a married mother of two. I will never understand. I feel even more humiliated because he has not chosen me. He has moved home but is not making any effort. When I have a new job and can stand on my own financially I will have agonizing decisions to make. I still love him. And I agree with Rachel, there is nothing lower a woman can do than to go after someone else’s husband. The OW was also a friend.

    • Lynsey

      Oh…don’t you wish that there could be a national register or list somewhere to warn us of who the cheating whores are who go after married men? Trouble is, it’s be a darn long list!

      • Rachel

        Lynsey,
        LOL!!!!!! Best blog that I have ever read!!

      • Recovering

        Lynsey,

        Is called cheaters.com! LOL! I have been sooooooooooo tempted to post the OW on there, let me tell you!!!! 🙂

    • tweet

      Far more disturbing that fictional views of infidelity are current depictions of this in the media. Recently, on “Katie”, Katie Couric giggled her way through an interview with a woman who admitted an affair with a married man. The David Petraeus incident has generated articles such as this:

      http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-11-17/news/bal-the-frump-factor-and-holly-petraeus-20121116_1_female-governor-women-huma-abedin

      Really?

      • Disappointed

        My husband’s first reason for his affair was that the OW looked like a woman, meaning she was not overweight asI was. Of course he never looks at the fact that my weight was in direct portion to his emotional abuse and distancing. I am working to forgive myself for allowing him to make me feel so low.

        • exercisegrace

          I have to say that this reason is likely not the “real” reason, as I am sure you know. My husband’s AP was about 100 pounds HEAVIER than me. He admits that it was NOT about physical attraction, it was the emotional piece. How great and wonderful she made him feel about HIMSELF. That’s a hard thing for most men to admit.
          I feel very down on myself too. It IS a struggle. Even though I know it’s not the right way to think, I keep wondering what the heck….did I do, not do, etc…

          • Disappointed

            It was totally about how she made him feel about himself. She could have been anyone spewing exactly what he wanted to hear. And when I say the same thiings he doesnt believe me and calls me desperate. Too bad I am not the kind to look elsewhere. If I had someone else he would probably want me again. Human nature sucks! Was told again how I eroded our marriage single handedly… Yeah right.

            • exercisegrace

              You have stated what I consider to be one of the biggest steps towards healing…..”She could have been anyone”. YES. EXACTLY. It took me a long time to realize that. The AP was nothing special. Anyone could have been subbed into her place. The main qualification was a willingness to devote yourself completely to making him feel the way he needed to about HIMSELF. This false inflation of self was and is something that CANNOT exist in a healthy, mature adult relationship.

    • Broken2

      I listened the other day to a woman who was having an affair with a married man and the whole premise of the interview was that it is becoming “acceptable” to cheat with a married man and the other woman or man has a right to do this. I wondered what has become of our society that this behavior is ok

    • Virginia

      How about “The Tudors” from HBO. Now in reruns. It covered nearly every aspect of debauchery. Gives the old line”it’s good to be the king” a revolting twist.

    • exercisegrace

      It is just a sad truth of our culture today. It’s all about ME. I deserve it. I want it. I don’t care who gets in the way.

      How many ads can you think of that spout this theme? It is everywhere. The minute we begin to worship “self” and glorify putting ourselves before everyone else, we are DONE.

      • Rachel

        Wow !! You just described my ex!!! K
        It’s all about meeeee!

    • Recovering

      So of course this topic goes right along with how my day is going! First thing this AM I look up yahoo news and there is LeAnn Rimes whining about being called a Homewrecker… couldn’t we find something more “original”… Yes, please, lets… or not to keep it clean, but the point is, you play, you pay. If she didn’t like it, she shouldn’t have done the deed! She was married… he was married!!! And now THEY are married!! I cannot WAIT for the day THAT divorce is announced! That couple lives in drama… its all they’ve ever known together… the drama of the lie, and now the drama of being together in public after what they did… I wonder what they would be like in REAL life… like how she would react the day he asks her to go buy him hemeroid cream! Or the day SHE decides she wants kids! Once the drama dies down they will have nothing… which is why she seems to keep the pot brewing, because deep down she knows the truth!! If you don’t want to be labled as a homewrecker, or something worse if you are asking me, then don’t wreck homes. Wait ’til he is single if you are so hot to trot for the guy! Plus, it is a TOTAL lie that we don’t have a choice in who we love! You absolutely do too!!! Damn homewrecker anyway!! LOL!

      • exercisegrace

        One of the biggest problems with our world today is that people don’t want to own their choices. They want to MAKE the selfish choices, but they want someone to excuse them for it. Pretty it up, downplay the hideousness of what they have brought upon themselves and the people that love them. The best thing we can do for ourselves and the people in our lives is to expect accountability. I heard a saying the other day, said jokingly, but sadly its true: “it’s easier to beg for forgiveness, than to ask for permission.”

    • Natalia

      Lately I’ve been trying to take my mind off all this EA stuff. I’ve started reading other books. But I came across a book titled: “The Lover’s Dictionary” by David Levithan. It’s the story of his relationship as a dictionary. This is my favorite entry, I plan to use it in the journal I’m writing about my life after Dday. My H will get to read it on the 3rd anniversary (3/2013):
      “Livid, adj.”
      “Fuck you for cheating on me. Fuck you for reducing it to the word cheating. As if this were a card game, and you sneaked a look at my hand. Who came up with the term cheating, anyway? A cheater, I imagine. Someone who thought liar was too harsh. Some one who thought devastator was too emotional. The same person who thought, oops, ‘he’d gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar.’ Fuck you. This isn’t about slipping yourself an extra twenty dollars of Monopoly money. These are our lives. You went and broke our lives. You are so much worse than a cheater. You killed something. And you killed it when it’s back was turned.”

    • Broken2

      I dont know if you listened to on the higher healing forum “What your Husbands ARent Telling You” by Murrow. While I really appreciate Doug and Linda putting up all the articles I have to disagree in many ways with this one. Its premise was that men are the way they are because they have learned to change to adapt to what has happened to them in their lives and when they cheat 75% of the time its because they arent getting emotionally what they need at home. So the man you married in other words isnt really the man you thought he was because he has learned to be fake. So woman thats something we need to think about. Really?????Yet another book making excuses for men and their fragile little egos. What is a womans excuse for cheating? I am so tired of our society and its view that no one needs to take responsibility for their own behaviors and JUST SAY NO!!!!!!! I am not responsible for my husbands behavior nor is he responsible for mine. We make choices in life and you either do the right thing (even if you dont want to) or the wrong thing.

    • CBB

      I feel like it’s not only media making cheating acceptable.
      even within our social groups- hate to call them friends- no one seems to wat to take any position because there’s always to sides to a story… It’s true you never know the story but it doesn’t mean you can’t comment on some of the principles. I remember long before DDay we were discussing this topic with ‘friends’ . I knew this guy was a lifetime cheater. He didn’t know I knew so he talked in general telling me some guys just needed that and that it didn’t mean that they didn’t love their wives. I replied that that could be true but that they schould realise that this doesn’t mean their wives schould be willing to except and that they might be very hurt. I told him those men schould think before they cheat and be willing to accept their wives reaction and the consequences. He hadn’t thought about it that way… Last week I heard the OW taking about a mutual friend getting divorced because of cheating and how devasted she must feel because it must be the worst thing that could happen to a women!!!??? Maybe she never thought of an EA in that way… This time I found it very hard to believe th naivity. I’m sure it was her B” y way of getting at me in public

      • Disappointed

        Some of our friends know and no one cares. No one says it was wrong and they all continue to interact with both of them one friend even told me they dont care about the final outcome as they arent emotionally invested in us as a couple. And that is a friend of over ten years. It has been very disheartening.

        • Surviving

          These people aren’t “friends”

        • exercisegrace

          I agree with Surviving. These are not “friends of the marriage” and they need to exit your life. We have had to make similar adjustments. I don’t have room in my life for people who would willing support betraying me.

    • chiffchaff

      I think our society really has the whole love thing messed up. I read an article recently about online dating and the people that used it most often. They frequently spouted that they went on numerous dates but had yet to ‘connect’ with anyone who seemed like their soulmate so they would keep searching for their soulmate. It’s the concept of soulmate that’s a heap of crap. It was contrasted with a couple who had had an arranged (not forced) marriage. They had met a few times socially before they were married and both of them admitted to not being attracted to their partner on marriage but then again, not repulsed. They had similar interests and the same morality and standards. Both of them entered their marriage determined to make it work and that love would grow from that. Which it did.
      The contrast was that while ever you’re searching for Miss or Mister Absolutely spot-on Right you’re passing over the acceptable people that, with some affection and work, you could grow to love and cherish. This passes into our modern marriages where people can suddenly decide that after years of marriage they just haven’t found their ‘soulmate’ and someone better is out there for them. Because it’s easier to keep searching than it is to stop and put in the work.
      Basically our society is becoming more selfish and more lazy with every passing day. In the UK the soaps are all about infidelity, fighting, drama, anger, telling it like it is, getting what you want, trampling over people – it’s no wonder that people see that as normal.

      • exercisegrace

        Couldn’t agree with you more. Love that is true, deep and real grows over time. Infatuation is not love, although many confuse the rush of that as such. Real love endures the hard times, learns to compromise, seeks to put the other person’s needs first and above their own. The “high” of the initial attraction settles somewhat, but never has to become boring or dull. Because love is largely a decision. A commitment. We choose to nurture it, to grow it, to give ourselves to it even when it takes work, even when the other person isn’t at their most attractive for whatever reasons. We hang in there. We don’t leave.

        • Disappointed

          Problem is some people like my H dont want to do the work. He said the OW was his soul mate and looked disdainfully at me and told me we never were. As to my friends comment. Many of our friends are also his students. He is the best teacher they have ever found, so there is no contest. They will choose their lessons and own self improvement over supporting me. And since that will make things awkward it will be easier to disassociate from me. I am about to have to start my life over on my own from scratch. Not sure how I am going to do it, but I will. No other choice being given to me. The man I love really no longer exists. He has been replaced by a cold hearted, selfish asshole who looks at me with dead eyes and resentment, if he looks at me at all.

          • exercisegrace

            I am so sorry. I hate that he has been turned around so completely. I hate that you have to experience this pain, and that you are forced into such a hard decision. You deserve someone to see you for the person you truly are. You deserve to be treasured. I believe that he will regret his decision someday. Most cheating spouses regret their choices eventually. I think my husband saw me as the “enemy” for a long time. It was partly his own justification for what he was doing, and also partly the influence of his AP who was quite eager to tell him how much I “didn’t deserve him” and how awful I was. Between them they magnified my faults and turned me into someone I never was. Be who you are. Whatever that looks like, however hard it may be. It will lead you to a place you won’t regret.

            If the affair taught me one thing, it taught me that I could and would live without him. I will never, ever let someone treat me that way again. I would call bullcrap so much faster if it ever happened again. I would know next time that while it hurt to leave, it wouldn’t kill me. Sadly that’s something i never thought before.

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