excuses for infidelity“I thought you didn’t love me anymore.” “You don’t listen to me.” “I’m not happy. I haven’t been happy for years.” “Our marriage hasn’t been good for a long time.” “We don’t have anything in common anymore.”

The statements above are just a few of the justifications, rationalizations and excuses that cheaters use for their infidelity. However, the cheater virtually never realizes this until much later – if ever.

These statements are often big lies built on tiny grains of truth which allows the cheater to blame their actions on someone, or something else – usually the betrayed spouse or the marriage itself. By doing this, it helps them to control their internal conflict they may be experiencing.

Unfortunately, the result is a rewriting of the marital history which subsequently causes the betrayed to question what was ever true in the past and manages to make them feel responsible for their partner’s infidelity.

Why does the cheater do this? Well, it could be due to a theory called cognitive dissonance.

The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the uncomfortable feeling that results from holding two conflicting beliefs. When there is a discrepancy between beliefs and behaviors, something must change in order to eliminate or reduce the conflict. Something has to give.

A common example of this cognitive dissonance theory is present in most people who smoke. Most would wonder why anyone would be a smoker these days, given what we know about the link between smoking and cancer and lung disease. Well, most smokers know that smoking causes cancer and/or lung disease, but might rationalize it by saying “I don’t smoke very much” or “I’m only a social smoker.” Or “My grandfather smoked two packs a day and lived to be 95 years old!” By coming up with these rationalizations, smokers are able to preserve the impression that their behaviors and attitudes are consistent.

Most people believe that they are moral and good. They also believe cheating on a partner is wrong. How can they be moral and good and also cheat at the same time? How to they reconcile this in their own minds?

In short, cheaters know that infidelity is wrong, but they still do it. And when they do, most will usually feel pretty bad about it. They find it difficult to take responsibility for their own bad behavior because it conflicts with their self-concept. But through various forms of cognitive manipulations, they are able to discount their indiscretions to feel better about themselves. Since they feel better about themselves, they may continue in their affair and could possibly then be susceptible to cheating again in the future if they don’t learn from their mistakes.

I’m convinced that cognitive dissonance was the driving factor for my own rationalizations and excuses for infidelity. I believed I was a good and honest person. However, good and honest people do not cheat on their spouses and lie.  Therefore, I must have had good reasons for doing so. Now what is really messed up is that that Linda then started to think, “I must have somehow caused him to act this way. It had to be my fault. He was justified.”

The article on cognitive dissonance below provides more insight into cognitive dissonance and might also provide some understanding for why some cheaters cling to the affair and the affair partner, despite their inner conflict.

Elliot AronsonMistakes Were Made (But Not by Me)

By Elliot Aronson, social psychologist; professor emeritus, psychology, University of California Santa Cruz & co-author, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me)

 

Cognitive Dissonance: The Engine of Self-justification

It’s fascinating, and sometimes funny, to read doomsday predictions, but it’s even more fascinating to watch what happens to the reasoning of true believers when the prediction flops and the world keeps muddling along. Notice that hardly anyone ever says, “I blew it! I can’t believe how stupid I was to believe that nonsense”? On the contrary, most of the time they become even more deeply convinced of their powers of prediction. The people who believe that the Bible’s book of Revelation or the writings of the sixteenth-century self-proclaimed prophet Nostradamus have predicted every disaster from the bubonic plague to 9/11 cling to their convictions, unfazed by the small problem that their vague and murky predictions were intelligible only after the event occurred.

Half a century ago, a young social psychologist named Leon Festinger and two associates infiltrated a group of people who believed the world would end on December 21. They wanted to know what would happen to the group when (they hoped!) the prophecy failed. The group’s leader, whom the researchers called Marian Keech, promised that the faithful would be picked up by a flying saucer and elevated to safety at midnight on December 20. Many of her followers quit their jobs, gave away their homes, and dispersed their savings, waiting for the end. Who needs money in outer space? Others waited in fear or resignation in their homes. (Mrs. Keech’s own husband, a nonbeliever, went to bed early and slept soundly through the night as his wife and her followers prayed in the living room.) Festinger made his own prediction: The believers who had not made a strong commitment to the prophecy—who awaited the end of the world by themselves at home, hoping they weren’t going to die at midnight—would quietly lose their faith in Mrs. Keech. But those who had given away their possessions and were waiting with the others for the spaceship would increase their belief in her mystical abilities. In fact, they would now do everything they could to get others to join them.

At midnight, with no sign of a spaceship in the yard, the group felt a little nervous. By 2 a.m., they were getting seriously worried. At 4:45 a.m., Mrs. Keech had a new vision: The world had been spared, she said, because of the impressive faith of her little band. “And mighty is the word of God,” she told her followers, “and by his word have ye been saved—for from the mouth of death have ye been delivered and at no time has there been such a force loosed upon the Earth. Not since the beginning of time upon this Earth has there been such a force of Good and light as now floods this room.”

The group’s mood shifted from despair to exhilaration. Many of the group’s members, who had not felt the need to proselytize before December 21, began calling the press to report the miracle, and soon they were out on the streets, buttonholing passersby, trying to convert them. Mrs. Keech’s prediction had failed, but not Leon Festinger’s.

The engine that drives self-justification, the energy that produces the need to justify our actions and decisions — especially the wrong ones — is an unpleasant feeling that Festinger called “cognitive dissonance.” Cognitive dissonance is a state of tension that occurs whenever a person holds two cognitions (ideas, attitudes, beliefs, opinions) that are psychologically inconsistent, such as “Smoking is a dumb thing to do because it could kill me” and “I smoke two packs a day.” Dissonance produces mental discomfort, ranging from minor pangs to deep anguish; people don’t rest easy until they find a way to reduce it. In this example, the most direct way for a smoker to reduce dissonance is by quitting. But if she has tried to quit and failed, now she must reduce dissonance by convincing herself that smoking isn’t really so harmful, or that smoking is worth the risk because it helps her relax or prevents her from gaining weight (and after all, obesity is a health risk, too), and so on. Most smokers manage to reduce dissonance in many such ingenious, if self-deluding, ways.

Dissonance is disquieting because to hold two ideas that contradict each other is to flirt with absurdity and, as Albert Camus observed, we humans are creatures who spend our lives trying to convince ourselves that our existence is not absurd. At the heart of it, Festinger’s theory is about how people strive to make sense out of contradictory ideas and lead lives that are, at least in their own minds, consistent and meaningful. The theory inspired more than 3,000 experiments that, taken together, have transformed psychologists’ understanding of how the human mind works. Cognitive dissonance has even escaped academia and entered popular culture. The term is everywhere. The two of us have heard it in TV newscasts, political columns, magazine articles, bumper stickers, even on a soap opera. Alex Trebek used it on Jeopardy, Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, and President Bartlet on The West Wing. Although the expression has been thrown around a lot, few people fully understand its meaning or appreciate its enormous motivational power.

In 1956, one of us (Elliot) arrived at Stanford University as a graduate student in psychology. Festinger had arrived that same year as a young professor, and they immediately began working together, designing experiments to test and expand dissonance theory. Their thinking challenged many notions that were gospel in psychology and among the general public, such as the behaviorist’s view that people do things primarily for the rewards they bring, the economist’s view that human beings generally make rational decisions, and the psychoanalyst’s view that acting aggressively gets rid of aggressive impulses.

Consider how dissonance theory challenged behaviorism. At the time, most scientific psychologists were convinced that people’s actions are governed by reward and punishment. It is certainly true that if you feed a rat at the end of a maze, he will learn the maze faster than if you don’t feed him; if you give your dog a biscuit when she gives you her paw, she will learn that trick faster than if you sit around hoping she will do it on her own. Conversely, if you punish your pup when you catch her peeing on the carpet, she will soon stop doing it. Behaviorists further argued that anything that was merely associated with reward would become more attractive — your puppy will like you because you give her biscuits — and anything associated with pain would become noxious and undesirable.

Behavioral laws do apply to human beings, too, of course; no one would stay in a boring job without pay, and if you give your toddler a cookie to stop him from having a tantrum, you have taught him to have another tantrum when he wants a cookie. But, for better or worse, the human mind is more complex than the brain of a rat or a puppy. A dog may appear contrite for having been caught peeing on the carpet, but she will not try to think up justifications for her misbehavior. Humans think; and because we think, dissonance theory demonstrated that our behavior transcends the effects of rewards and punishments and often contradicts them.

For example, Elliot predicted that if people go through a great deal of pain, discomfort, effort, or embarrassment to get something, they will be happier with that “something” than if it came to them easily. For behaviorists, this was a preposterous prediction. Why would people like anything associated with pain? But for Elliot, the answer was obvious: self-justification. The cognition that I am a sensible, competent person is dissonant with the cognition that I went through a painful procedure to achieve something — say, joining a group that turned out to be boring and worthless. Therefore, I would distort my perceptions of the group in a positive direction, trying to find good things about them and ignoring the downside.

 

Despite what the unfaithful partners (and Ashley Madison) often think, affairs resolve nothing. They do not improve the marriage, nor do they address any problems that might be present in that marriage. Rather, they are destructive and do nothing but cause pain and problems for all involved parties – and the cheater is clearly aware of this.

When the cheater is confronted with the, “How could you?”question, they often respond, “I don’t know.” To the betrayed spouse, that answer is usually seen as nothing more than an infuriating cop-out – yet even the most remorseful and open cheater may respond in the same way because they simply do not have an explanation for their conflicting choices.

 

 

    33 replies to "“How Could You?” – The Psychology of Justifications, Rationalizations and Excuses for Infidelity"

    • gizfield

      Good article, Doug! My husband supposedly confessed being a cheater to me “because I couldn’t stand lying to you anymore.” Here’s a thought: stop doing things you have to lie about, lol. Oh, and he proceeded to lie about the same crap a couple more years, minimum.

      • Doug

        Thanks Giz. I had to chuckle with your statement. It sounds so elementary doesn’t it?

        • Strengthrequired

          Giz, I agree, if you have to lie about doing something that you know is wrong then stop doing it. It’s the same as when you know that it is hurting the people you love the most, and you know it doesn’t feel that great anymore, then stop. I don’t understand why the cs keeps doing it even though they know it doesn’t feel good anymore. When they know that feel good feeling just isn’t there and it has turned into making them feel worse. Why keep going back for more…. It’s like punishing themselves….

    • forcryin'outloud

      Great post and enlightening article by the professor. Like a smoker my H admitted he knew the whole EA was wrong from the beginning but continued to come up with excuses and justifications to make it seem less than what it was. Then when it blew up in his face he had so much guilt and self loathing he became an angry, ugly person. Like SR said I think that’s when the punishment phase begins – it’s like self destruction because there’s no good end in sight.

    • Rachel

      I need some opinions please.
      My dad passed away on Saturday after a 7 month battle of cancer.
      You all know that my ex will show up to the funeral and he is not welcomed.
      I know I can’t stop him from attending the mass but I don’t want him in the receiving line after. My dad hated what he did to my kids and me. And my mom doesn’t need this stress.
      Any suggestions as to how to deal with these pain in the ass ex’s?
      Thanks

      • Doug

        Rachel, I’m so very sorry to hear about your father passing away. I think the only thing you can do is call your ex in advance of the funeral and let him know what you want – or don’t want – him to do. Hopefully, he is respectful of your and your family’s wishes. You might also ask him to stay towards the back of the church during the mass where he can’t be seen – if he comes at all.

    • Gizfield

      Very sorry for your loss, Rachel.

      What a sociopathic turd your ex is. If you were still married you would have to drag him there. I would notify him in writing that he is not welcome there. If I were you, I would end all contact with him and get a restraining order. If you can’t just have everyone completely IGNORE him. Maybe he will leave.

    • tryinghard

      Rachel

      I am so sorry for your loss. I think you should call him too and ask him please do not come. Maybe if he knows it will upset your mother he won’t. Appeal to his narcissistic side because if you act mean he may do it out of spite!!!

      Sending hugs to you and your family Rachel.

      • Strengthrequired

        I’m sorry too for your loss Rachel, it’s a very sad and emotional time for you and your family. Ask your exh to not attend. Plead your case by telling him, that it is too soon after the divorce for both you and your mother as well as family to have him there, that you do appreciate him wanting to pay his respects, but you just can’t deal with your father passing, and seeing him too. You need time and your family need time too. Loads of hugs, I hope he hears your wishes, and follows them.

    • Rachel

      Thank you all.
      I did email the ex and asked him to please honor our wishes.
      Fingers crossed.

    • Tryinghard

      Good for you Rachel. I’m so sorry about your Dads passing. I hope the wake and mass go smoothly for you and your family.

      He may show up just because he’s an ass. But I know you will handle it gracefully if he does.

    • Rachel

      Well, his response to my email is basically all about himself and it sounds like he is not honoring our wishes.
      He doesn’t get it that it’s just not about him.
      Enough time and energy wasted on him. My dad knows that I tried.

      • tryinghard

        Unfortunately Rachel with narcissists it’s ALWAYS about them. They have to have the spotlight all the time. If they don’t get it, they will make one up. He’s a sad person. I hope you can rush him through the line of well wishers. As if your father’s wake isn’t going to be hard enough Mr. Wonderful has to show up to let everyone see just how wonderful he is. I hope you and your Mother are able to ignore him.

    • tryinghard

      When I started reading this article it occurred to me that my husband used ever.single.one.of.these lines!!! They are so shocking to hear. I truly thought he believed what he was saying and I think that only adds to the shock of the whole event. Looking back, and of course hindsight is always 20/20, I can see he was making excuses for what he knew was a very bad behavior and choice.

      To that end, it makes me crazy how we faithfuls feel the need to, as said by another blogger, “unskein their fuckedupedness”. Jeez we read every single freaking book about personality disorders, infidelity, mid-life crisis, liars, psychopaths/sociopaths till we feel like we could teach a grad class in the psychosis! Now we can attribute their hurtful words to their cognitive dissonance. Great another area of study I have to pay attention to. Before the only thing I knew about cognitive dissonance was the guilt I felt about buying an expensive pair of shoes!! Like Giz said, You know/knew it was wrong. Don’t do it!

      I guess I can go along and even agree that their words, especially at the time of discovery, are coming from cognitive dissonance which is a natural occurring psychology in ALL humans with regards to decision making. But till the day I die I will never understand how he could do all the horrible things he did, look me straight in the eye and tell me he loved me, still think it was “OK” as long as I didn’t ever find out.

      Lately I’ve just truly been giving up on trying to sort it out. I have to satisfy myself that there will NEVER be any valid answers. Words were said that can NEVER be taken back. Deeds were done that can NEVER be undone. I can live with my choices. It’s a comfort and a validation that it’s NOT only me when I read the histories are the same as mine on these blogs.

    • Gizfield

      I agree, Trying. I think cheaters know it’s wrong, they are just trying to convince you that it’s not. I think the main thing I would advise as being absolutely crucial to find out is if they are a serial cheater or not. These are the people who “once a cheater, always a cheater” were written for. There is no reforming them, it is a waste of your time. I know for a fact that someone can cheat once and never again but that will not be true for everyone.

    • lin

      TH- My husband has also said every single one of the things at the beginning of this article. I also took the statements to heart. It is like they are all actors and say the same lines. Of course they have to justify their behavior- how else could they live with what they are doing? Another statement that I heard was “I love you but I’m not IN LOVE with you.”
      I want to say, “guess what- after decades of marriage I am not in love with you either-but I made a commitment to do my best to love you.” Long story short- I believe that as long as they believe there is ANY excuse for cheating they are at risk for doing it again.

      • Confusedman

        Yes I had to say that to my wife then I added I loved you enough at least not to purposely hurt you.

    • tryinghard

      Giz and Lin

      Yes I agree Giz, some are incorrigible and this is what makes me shake my head and worry all at the same time. This last affair was not my H first one. He had 2 at the same time 25 years ago. I thought we worked through it but looking back I can see that I did not scare the shit out of him enough. I was too nice, too understanding, too early to forgive. All the nice shit one does when you’re stupid. Our marriage was new and shaky. I handled it all wrong. I never said the words, “you do this again mother fucker, you’re dead”. I assumed that was a given!! Obviously not?! I had two young children to raise. I truly bought into the remorse. And he was straight with me, I think?, for the next 25 years. So when this affair happened and it was a lot longer and deeper and I assume emotional as well, although he does seem to have gotten “over her” pretty easy, I asked him, “WTF the last affairs didn’t teach you anything?” He said those past affairs weren’t even taken into consideration when he started this one. Those past affairs were so insignificant and such a long time ago he had pretty much forgotten about them.

      So yes you are completely correct, some are just incorrigible and maybe there truly is no hope for him. So what does that make me now? Wait, don’t answer that, still stupid right 🙂

      So yes the shaking of my head is directed at myself.

      Oh yeah Lin my genius husband used that line too. I never thought of saying what you just wrote but seriously? Hell yes! No I wasn’t stupid, high school, heat pitter pat in love either but I was honorable and true to my words and him!

      I guess my point was that I’ve read enough and learned enough about this subject to last a lifetime. I will never get the answers I want or need. No one has them so I’ve found my own answers. If he said those words out of cognitive dissonance so be it. I think they do it because they are selfish, stupid, scared, and without conscience. My comfort, in some pathetic way, is in knowing that I’m not alone in this perverted sisterhood!

    • lin

      TH- Please don’t be so hard on yourself. We are not stupid for WANTING to believe our husbands are honorable, true and caring. We want to believe the things they tell us. After an affair of any kind, it is so hard to know what to believe. Do we believe them when they say the affair is over . . . when they say that they do love us . . .etc. Our cheating spouses have been playing mind games with us and we don’t know what to believe.

      • Strengthrequired

        Lin, th, my h used the same lines as well. Even the I love you but not inlove with you.
        He told me how he found the one he wanted to be with, how he wasn’t going to waste another 10 years on me. He would tell people about how wonderful his new love was, as if trying to convince himself. Yes after all the hurtful words and hurtful behaviour, I still gave him nothing but love. Now that’s crazy and stupid. Yet the reason you stay is because you know they are talking out of their rear, you know they aren’t making sense, you know that they are not their normal selves, some stranger is standing in front of you, as if brainwashed. So what do people who love another do, when they see their loved one sick or in trouble, help them. That is what we did, stood by someone that needed our help, but they didn’t realise it at the time. They tried to beat us down, and they did for us to keep getting back up, until that light in them came back on, and they started to help us help them. Yet in all honesty it’s their turn to return the favour, after all we saved them from making the biggest mistake of their life, losing their family, now they need to help us recover from what them and their lowlife ow did to us. Now they have a lot of work to do, and a lot of bad memories to work hard at helping us erase. They may have lost their mind and memories during the affair, but we haven’t, and a lot of words and actions can’t be taken back. So their work is cutout for them.

    • tryinghard

      Lin

      You are so kind to say this. Maybe it’s the control freak side of me but I have always looked to myself to examine where I screw up in relationships. And I’m sure a lot of the time I bring it on myself. I’ve NEVER been one to hold grudges or hate anyone. I trust and I forgive way to easily, always have. I love unconditionally and assume others do as well. I am learning that I shouldn’t judge others by my own sense of integrity and moral code. I’ve let my kids, husband, family and friends run over me. And I come back all nice and sweet pathetically “..oh please love me. promise I won’t disappoint you…” Well like Dr Phil says, How’s that working for you??? Yeah not so much right? Do out of self defense I guess I’m bringing out the bitch on wheels side of my personality. I’ve written off more “friends”, family member, etc and learning to say NO.

      I feel so sad for all of us reading and searching for those elusive answers to those crazy questions that we. just.can’t.stop.asking!! We read, we research, we find “excuses”, but you know what, you can’t rationalize the irrational. Can’t make sense of nonsense.

      People are assholes and human. Susceptible to the most abhorrent of lies and betrayals. It’s the devil we chose to live with because we no longer have the excuse of ‘well I just didn’t know”. We freaking know now!!! We/I have looked the devil in the eye and said “welcome back to my bed”. WE have to take responsibility for that, not the liar, cheater. We can say get out or stay. We have a say. No one is trapped, not by children, finances, societal pressures, religion, we are free to make our own decisions and by golly we’ve made them haven’t we?

      Please don’t think I am judging ANYONE here but myself. LOL, it’s what I do 🙂

      • Strengthrequired

        Th, I let everyone walk over me too. I’ve learnt to say no as well. I always tried to be the good polite one, now I can’t tolerate much, lol. Maybe that’s why I don’t mingle with many people anymore, I get annoyed to easily.
        Yes we accepted our cs back into our bed, as if rewarding them for their bad behaviour, but we did out of love for them, we wouldn’t have if there was no love. We didn’t win out of all of this, no one won, yet I am sure the ow would have thought otherwise if our cs chose to stay on the dark side. I’m sure the ow would be gloating all the way to the bank, and divorce court, may have even had a parade with a marching band and circus entertainers dancing in the street to celebrate her big win.
        Yet that just distinguishes us and them, morals and lack of morals and good taste.
        I’m just happy that for now my family is together and I see my children happy.

    • Gizfield

      I dont know if this is the right spot for this, but oh my god, I am so pissed. I have a situation going on with my 66 year old brother. He got a notice on september 8 that he had to vacate his house by october 1 because it was sold. He was scheduled for bypass cardiac surgery but theyare postponing until until November because the house was sold. His car broke down last night so he also has no transportation. I went over there while my daughter was at church tonight. I was telling him that this when I got home. The husband I mean.

    • Gizfield

      Continued. Anyway, I was telling him and trying to think of ways to help and this guy acted like he was just bored shitless. He made sure to tell me he couldn’t help. Suddenly I was just filled with what I would consider Cold Fury. It was like I felt complete anger and complete nothing at the same time. When I think of all the time he spent listening to a no count WHORE about her problems like finding her brat a Boot Camp for juvenile deliquents it just infuriates me. Or all the time he spends doing crap for his mother and crazy sister while I’m at work. He can spend all day over there cutting bushes or putting in a kitchen floor, or hell several days resealing the frigging driveway while he won’t even hang an effing curtain rod here. Like I said I feel like a pissed off zombie. WHYYYYYY did I stay with this selfish, cheating, lying prick? I just immediately stopped talking and left the room. as far as I’m concerned, mommy and sissy and the whore can HAVE him. I’m going to bed. Lol. Rant over, for now. He has the same callous crappy attitude when my house flooded too.

    • Gizfield

      I think this entire day has just made me mad. It is the three year anniversary of my fabulous text fight with the whore. Actually, that wil be about 3 am.

      October 1, 2011 was a clear beautiful day but suddenly COLD like it gets here. He was playing at the VFW that afternoon. It was kid friendly, so my daughter was there and we were having a great time, playing games, dancing. Etc.

      After they were done playing, my husband was in the stage area, packing up. I walked up, he had his phone, and he jerked around in the other direction so I KNEW he was texting the whore. He denied it, naturally but the day was literally ruined. At the time, and also in my memory. I had not caught him in contact with this slut since the previous December and I was devastated.

    • tabs

      TH-

      I think you articulated what I’ve been feeling. I’m pissed at myself for letting my CS get away with the affairs. I should have thrown his ass out of the house, at least for a couple of weeks. Even though my CS is trying to “make up for his mistakes”, I feel he had his cake and got to eat it, too. I can’t stop thinking back to the lies and cheating and my inept ability to throw my H out of the house. I told my daughter, who knows the entire history of the cheating, that I just couldn’t throw away 25 years of marriage. I now see that it was an excuse to do nothing. I’ve been trying to salvage what’s left of my marriage, but there’s a nagging voice in my head saying that I should have ended everything.

    • Gizfield

      Continued. Anyway I got up about 2 a.m. and there was a text waiting from the Whore . Her friend had a parakeet she didn’t want and wouldn’t (my daughters nickname) love a parakeet? I lost it and called her from his phone. She called back, called me a c@&t, and hung up on me. We then had the text fight, lol. Fun times, huh. Wish I had dumped his loser ass that night, for good. He and this skank deserve each other.

    • Rachel

      Thank you all for your help with my most recent question for advise.
      The ex is coming to my dads funeral with his precious sister and mutha.
      Screaming match with the ex and my oldest on the phone, when I got home last night from a day of making arrangements with my mom.
      It is basically all about him. His way or the highway.
      We have honored all of my dads wishes except that sperm donor ( new name) coming .
      Again my daddy knows the fight and that I have tried.
      He once said, ” you will be dealing with that idiot for the rest of your life”.
      Thank you all again, PEACE.

    • tryingtomoveon

      When I read this post it struck a chord. I heard most of those things from my h, but his ap (no caps intended) was even better at it. She consistently referred to their affair as “friendship”—I wasn’t aware that friends talked about what they would do if they were single (her), provided dates that their husband’s would be out of town so they could meet (her), wrote about how much they loved each other and wanted to be together (him)—and justified their relationship by saying she wished she could be a good and faithful wife, but her husband just could not meet her “emotional needs.”
      To his credit, when my h ended their affair—by email, just as most of the rest of it was conducted—he referred to their relationship as an emotional affair, a term he told me later he was not even aware existed. It just sounded to him like that’s what it was. When I asked him later what he thought of her, he said it really annoyed him that she constantly referred to their intimate relationship as an “overblown friendship” when he knew it was an affair. Didn’t stop him from engaging in their illicit and contemptible correspondence; he said, like so many other cheaters, he just didn’t think I loved him any more and she made him feel cared about. Thankfully, he is utterly remorseful and has spent the last 3 years trying very hard to make amends and help me get through it.
      His little whore had already had at least one physical affair (the guy dumped her after 2 months, but she was supposedly devastated because she lost her “dream mate”) that she admitted to after my stupid, in-the-fog husband told her he loved her one of the two times they actually met (no sex, which is verified by long, poignant emails neither ever thought anyone but them would enjoy). After a year of self-described anguish in getting over him, she began placing ads on Craig’s List for men to “’talk’” to her, which is how my h. found her during a time when our marriage was in tatters. “I’m married and just looking for friends to share part of my day with me.”
      She obviously has no qualms about dallying with other women’s spouses, and spends so much time on her computer writing to other men that her h. confronted her about her secretive behavior (she apparently won’t give him the pw, won’t let him see what she writes—with good reason—and actually wrote that she has a secret life). She wrote that he was worried that she was again sleeping with other men because she spends so much time writing her so-called pen pals—several men from cities all over the west from her description, and actually told him that my h. was a dear writer friend from another state. “His reaction surprised me—he was completely ok with it.” And then the requests to meet really started! By his own admission my h. was starting to come out of the fog and wake up to her neediness, and he found one excuse after another not to see her.
      Frankly, I think she’d be a good case study for any psychologist studying affair behavior and how cheaters justify their actions.

      • StarterWife

        Damn. My husband and his EA partner swear they are “just friends”. So many similarities here. She told him she loved him while she and he were both married. Her husband was an awful person (according to her). But I doubt he’s as bad as she made out. I can’t imagine she’s easy to live with.

        I too have heard all the lines at the beginning, and also “I love you but I’m not in love with you”. What he means is I don’t put up with his crap anymore while she caters to his every need. When he says “jump” she says “how high?” I can’t and won’t compete with that.

    • tryingtomoveon

      Oh, and here’s another gem.
      “We were just 2 needy people….”
      And what did he think was happening in our marriage while they consoled each other? Nothing pleasant, I assure you. Just another way to justify their affair.
      To my husband’s credit, in the email he sent ending the affair he wrote her that he thought the time they spent on each other would have been better spent working on their own marriages. He has since said many times he rues the day he ever saw and answered the ad. I just wish he had thought about that before and during the EA instead of justifying their relationship by saying he was lonely, depressed, needed someone to talk to….
      I doubt the ap told her h anything other than she’d lost a pen pal. After the earlier confrontation regarding excessive computer use, she wrote my h. that her increasingly suspicious husband suggested they separate. This was actually the 2nd time during their 14 month EA that he confronted her about her pen pals/secret life/computer use and, I suspect, some pretty nasty behavior at home. Her response: our relationship may change because I can’t stand the tension because “he’s so scarred by what he knows about my relationship with Brian”, which I take to mean she’s never even told him the truth about what she was up to. “I don’t want to leave my marriage; I just want to get needs he can’t fill satisfied. “
      I wonder whose husband she’s using to do that now? I’m sure she’s back on Craig’s List since she’s had such great success there in the past.

      • Strengthrequired

        Tryingtomoveon, glad your h came to his senses. Yet isn’t it frustrating how it takes them so long to work it out. Your h is right, he would have saved a lot of unnecessary hurt to those he loves if he just spent his time working on his marriage and family instead of wasting his time on their so called relationship.

    • lost

      This certainly was my experience. However I unfortunately early on fell hook line and sinker and took all the blame. 3 years later, no improvement and we are now starting divorce hearings. And due to the fact I fell for it, he.never really ever had to take any blame for the absolute failure of our marriage. It is still about I had done and how I never made him happy, how he drank because I made him feel so unloved and unappreciated. How he disassociated himself from the family and.kids was because I made him unhappy. Now seperated he wants 50/50 time with kids and I am being told that he filed because never seemed to be happy. As stated above I have read all the.books and articles I can and evaluate his behavior all I want but it doesn’t change the fact his choice completely damaged our marriage, and no effort to rebuild trust meant we just cycled in circles for 3 years. I had stopped focusing on him a while ago and kept myself healthy and happy for the fact I knew we would.never last because he will never take the first step. The cheater must take the first step in.order for the.betrayed to feel secure enough to follow. Unfortunately I didn’t have a leader. Time to make my life happy again and move on, and maybe someday I can have a relationship that is secure and trustworthy again. You must fix what you broke. And that’s what mode cheaters need to remember….if they break it, they fix

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