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Why do women try to police men?

(50 Posts)
tiredofwaitingforitalltochange Tue 11-Dec-12 21:28:09

I don't want to offend anyone here.

This is a genuine question, I would like to know why a woman would try to police a man who has been/might be/is being unfaithful. I'm not a journalist and anyone who's seen my many posts will know that.

I just can't identify with this: why is it worth the effort? What's the point? If someone wants to do this, why would their partner still want them?

And if you do avert an affair, or make one end, isn't it a pyrrhic victory?

If there are kids involved, I almost get it. But two people are responsible for keeping a family together and cheating on your children's mum makes someone a crap dad as well as a crap partner IMO. Why would anyone want to stay with someone who was so thoughtless and disrespectful? Whether it's someone who is 'at it' whenever he gets the chance, or a partner who seems to have fallen in love with someone else who is a genuine threat... why bother trying to 'keep' them or pull them into line?

dequoisagitil Tue 11-Dec-12 21:35:23

Maybe it's a (misplaced) feeling that if you don't try to stop him, it's you giving up on the relationship, rather than it being him?

VelvetSpoon Tue 11-Dec-12 21:38:39

I don't understand it.

However I have never been in the position of being cheated on so probably am in no position to comment.

A friend caught her DH out in an affair; even before that happened she has always kept him on a short leash, she's actively prevented him from having female friends and he only sees his male friends infrequently when she agrees to it. She has checked his emails and FB for years, and his phone. Since the affair she now has something set up on his phone so she can see every call he makes and every text sent and received. She speaks to him before he starts work, when he finishes and whilst he's there to be sure he's where he's meant to be at all times.

It doesn't seem much of a way to live tbh, obviously it's her choice but I couldn't do it.

badinage Tue 11-Dec-12 21:42:39

Do you think every woman who cheats while in a relationship is a crap mum then OP?

RogueEmployee Tue 11-Dec-12 21:43:46

Because they bloody need it! grin

Sorry, have read op, will get back to you.

RogueEmployee Tue 11-Dec-12 21:44:42

Ok read it, agree that must be a horrible way to live. Just soul destroying.

OrangeLily Tue 11-Dec-12 21:47:28

I think probably because she falls madly in love with him, she wants it to be happy ever after.

He cheats.

She finds out and is devastated.

She wants to make it work, especially if she has kids with him.

Tries to give him another chance but is driven a bit demented by the whole thing. hmm

fiventhree Tue 11-Dec-12 22:07:12

Good thread. I can't imagine. I did do it for a few weeks after my h finally admitted his long term internet infidelity but I soon came to my senses. I realised that I would know anyway by his general crap behaviour if it ever returned and would throw in the towel. 20 years or not.

HollyBerryBush Tue 11-Dec-12 22:12:26

It doesn't seem much of a way to live tbh, obviously it's her choice but I couldn't do it.

If I were him, I'd have baled out yearsago - that is no way to live. If the wife can't get past it then there is no relationhsip. pair of them a living a poor existance.

tiredofwaitingforitalltochange Tue 11-Dec-12 22:18:46

Do you think every woman who cheats while in a relationship is a crap mum then OP?

That's a good question and it's made me think...and I think the answer would be 'no'. But I suppose my OP was a bit crudely worded, because I don't think every man that cheats is a bad dad, either.

Some people cheat because a relationship has broken down and they are terribly unhappy, and I have some sympathy with those people. Though of course it is better to just leave (as I have, fwiw).

I guess in my original post I'm talking about those situations where one partner polices the other because they just can't trust them or are pathogically insecure. By definition they want to 'keep' them, hence the policing. Like Velvetspoon's friend.

But I think any relationship where someone cheats is kind of by definition not a good relationship. And any relationship where one partner feels the need to police the other is unhealthy.

Does that make sense?

amillionyears Tue 11-Dec-12 22:24:39

I suppose once your partner has cheated, and you both decided to try to make a go of it, then the person who has cheated is going to be understandably very wary. So may choose to start to keep tabs.
But agree, that it does not seem a very healthy thing to do long term.

tiredofwaitingforitalltochange Tue 11-Dec-12 22:24:39

But I think any relationship where someone cheats is kind of by definition not a good relationship.

Actually that's probably a bit sweeping as well. I accept that there can be good relationships where someone makes a stupid mistake, eg when v drunk after a Xmas party, etc and regrets it terribly.

I just find the idea of having to keep someone 'on a short leash' so crazy... and it must be terribly wearing. I don't think I would ever do this...

badinage Tue 11-Dec-12 22:25:53

I don't think people who cheat are by default bad parents, but they aren't thinking of the shitstorm their actions will wreak on their kids if a divorce is a result of it.

I think people cheat for all sorts of reasons and not just because they are in bad relationships. It's mostly because as individuals they are weak, selfish and are sometimes at a vulnerable point in their lives.

Policing someone's behaviour is a waste of time though and is the wrong approach. If someone wants to cheat, they will.

FBworry Tue 11-Dec-12 22:33:56

Intresting question op.

I made a brief attempt to stop my ex cheating when I knew he was on the cusp of it

I suppose I couldnt stand the feeling of loss of control over my life or face the eventual humiliation and pain.

Looking back it makes no sense as I didnt even like him, let alone love him.

Self preservation maybe? Protecting my dc?

Pantofino Tue 11-Dec-12 22:40:54

For me - keeping them on a "short leash" inherently means you don't trust them - in which case the relationship is done, unless counselling is underway.

tiredofwaitingforitalltochange Tue 11-Dec-12 22:47:56

I don't think people who cheat are by default bad parents

No, nor do I. I agree completely with this.

But I think someone who habitually cheats on the mother (or father) of their children is letting down their kids as well somehow because they are not showing due respect to the other parent or the family unit.

But I didn't really start this thread to examine the whys and wherefores of why people with children stay together when one partner has been unfaithful, because I understand why and how children complicate the issue and the pressure to keep the family unit together.

But a lot of people who don't have kids, and aren't even married (so do not have all the legal and possibly religious, depending on the individuals, aspects to consider) will keep their partner 'on a short leash' and try to avert cheating.

And I really don't get this and would like to understand the mentality. I'm not judging anyone, it's just such anathema to me and I thought it would be an interesting thread to hear others' perspectives.

izzyizin Tue 11-Dec-12 22:52:56

An ego that has become over inflated as compensation for feelings of inferiority or insecurity can lead to possessiveness and a desire to control one's romantic partners and others in general.

I couldn't be kept on a short leash and I'd have no respect for anyone who allowed themselves to be restrained in this manner.

garlicbaubles Tue 11-Dec-12 22:57:07

I'm just going to post and run for now, as I can feel an urge to write at length and get involved - and I'm shattered!

I did it. To try and summarise a fairly nasty layer-cake of underlying causes: I was raised to believe that all men cheat given the chance, and all women would try to 'lead men astray'. Despite knowing these were fucked-up values, and having rejected them intellectually, the beliefs were still immensely strong. Consequentially, I chose partners who were liable to cheat and lie - it was what I expected and, basically, I didn't believe there was any other sort.

Said underlying values naturally led to my being suspicious, even when a more secure wife wouldn't be. Although I had/have a sophisticated arsenal of subtle policing techniques, the men I chose were alert to my suspicions because they did, in fact, have something to hide. Have I lost you yet?!

There were lots of rows, of course. My beliefs said "He will cheat if he gets the chance, and it's up to me to try and stop him." Daft, but that's the way my parents operated and, tbh, stories in the media tend to support their view. A woman's job is to be so fabulous a wife that her man can't find any better, and so efficient a guard that he doesn't get much chance to look hmm

Obviously, normal life provides endless opportunities to cheat. I couldn't police them all without locking him in the cellar. Despite knowing this and being logically calm about it, I was in constant torment underneath. It didn't help that my partners were, in fact, lying. Thanks to all the suppression, fear and self-control over my urge to police the relationship, I didn't have any proper functional means to deal with fairly obvious dishonesty. I just got more and more fearful, veering wildly between denial and accusation.

The second Mr Garlic was a horrendous game-player. I now believe he enjoyed seeing how far he could push my denial and how guilty he could make me feel for doubting him. The bastard. It worked, and was utterly horrible. I felt completely trapped. What was really trapping me was the inherited belief system - he played on it, abusively - but I didn't see that until some time after we divorced.

tiredofwaitingforitalltochange Tue 11-Dec-12 23:11:32

Wow, amazing post, garlic. Thanks very much for sharing that.

It's a very interesting idea, that policers and those policed somehow feed off each other, and the pathologically mendacious/duplicitous enjoy creating insecurity and are attracted to those who are already insecure.

she's actively prevented him from having female friends

Your friend, Velvetspoon. That is interesting too... and he did end up cheating, so I guess she had instincts that were right. A bit like 'garlic*'s situation.

It doesn't always work like that. I had a great male friend at University. We were really close but there was never any frisson or attraction on either side. I 'lost' him as a friend when he met his later wife. He told me when we made contact again a few years ago that he knew as soon as she and I met that he wouldn't be able to be friends with me any more. He didn't have any other close female friends, so it wasn't me specifically.

I don't get this either. He definitely wasn't a potential cheat. He and I are friends again now and have the occasional lunch - she tragically died of breast ca six years ago. And he hasn't been with anyone else since.

izzy your post is succinct and also insightful. There is a really interesting website that talks about a particular personality in relationships who the writer calls 'the loser', who is basically someone who is very controlling and wants to own their partner. (I think I read it from a link from MN, actually). It's very extreme and I think the profile has traits from certain personality disorders (borderline and narcissistic).

But there are lots of women who are pretty well-functioning in their everyday lives who still think that policing a man is worth their time.

I wouldn't tolerate being policed and I couldn't be bothered to police anyone either.

But what some have said about wanting to avert cheating before it happens because if it does it is humiliating and painful kind of makes sense.

NomadsLand Tue 11-Dec-12 23:12:15

I can tell you why: insecurity and fear of loss. There is no other reason.

I had a BF who cheated on me for years and I turned into a mini-detective during our entire relationship. This was before mobile phones so I had a lot of work to do when he left the house! Seriously, it was a miserable time and I used to wake up to an empty bed at 3am and get in my car and go looking for him in "his usual spots". If I found his car at a friends house at 3am, I'd feel "happy" he was somewhere safe and I could go home and go to bed. If I couldn't find his car, I knew he was somewhere he shouldn't be and I did such jealous things, that I can't even admit to them (even on Mumsnet!).

{Should add his father was murdered during our time together and he became addicted to coke and started to party and never come home -- hence why I was happy he was 'safe' with friends.}

It was simply down to fear of loss (god, I was stupid!) and sexual jealousy.

Eventually, I got sick of getting up at 3 or 4 am to find him and just slept through. THen I realised that I didn't care anymore. Being a detective is hard work. Then I left.

I swore that since then, I would never, ever do that again. But I totally understand the wallet-examining aspect of it all.

The answer is: fear of loss.
It's hell. YOu cannot change the outcome. Ever.

tiredofwaitingforitalltochange Tue 11-Dec-12 23:13:11

I couldn't be kept on a short leash and I'd have no respect for anyone who allowed themselves to be restrained in this manner.

Nor me. But would you respect someone who tried to keep someone (or you) on a short leash either?

Because I don't think I could. Insecurity is so unattractive.

fackinell Tue 11-Dec-12 23:21:55

I don't have a scooby. I've always told men I'm in a relationship with: I don't want to be with someone who doesn't want to be with me. I have more self respect than that. Happy people do not cheat. End of. I'm not married but have stuck to my word even with a booked wedding and a 7yr old relationship. I left. It takes guts but IMO once the trust is broken, it's broken. Hats off to any person that manages to stick around and fight though. I just see it as winning the booby prize...

Feckthehalls Tue 11-Dec-12 23:29:44

I don't know and it's something I've often wondered.
Of course men sometimes do it too, in which case they are labeled controlling confused

tiredofwaitingforitalltochange Tue 11-Dec-12 23:31:25

*The answer is: fear of loss.
It's hell. YOu cannot change the outcome. Ever.*

Thanks for your brave and honest post, Nomads. What an awful time you had, I'm glad you're not in that place any more.

But I'm not sure I agree with the bit of your post I quoted.

I have a close friend who fell in love with a man and I'm pretty sure it was a massive big deal - a proper coup de foudre - on both sides. Nobody did anything 'wrong' though; they were both married and she had children.

His wife's radar was on high alert and she really shut it down good and proper. Set up routines so they had no contact with each other, and they still don't. She had IVF and started a family with him. It was a few years ago but I think he and my friend still pine for each other. They have no contact but he walks past her house all the time looking miserable, torturing her.

But each is in their 'proper' place, with their spouses. So the wife 'won' and still has her prize. She did change the outcome.

Dunno if I'd want to be with someone on those terms myself. He's got a good job though, maybe money comes into it too... not to mention the 'respectability' of marriage.

I called time on my marriage recently and I'm not sorry I did - I'm a lot happier. But I do feel a bit vulnerable without my wedding ring... I feel like I look a bit unloved without it. Maybe for some people it's just really important for their self esteem that they have a partner, at any price (?)

tiredofwaitingforitalltochange Tue 11-Dec-12 23:35:24

fackinell what is a scooby?

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