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(57 Posts)
greenjug Sun 30-Mar-14 21:55:54

I had an affair last summer. Since then I've read a lot of threads relating to affairs. Some to do with those who've had affairs but mainly from the perspective of the cheated on partner. I've learned from them. But, there are some things routinely said, both on threads and websites dedicated to the subject, that I'd like to challenge.

I've started a new thread as I don't want to hijack anyone else's nor get involved in one particular real life example.

Things that get said which are not true:
'If you have an affair with a colleague it will be obvious to people at work' - not necessarily
'Affairs are always found out in the end' - not true
'My DP is not the cheating kind' - you don't know that (see above)
'I am not the cheating kind' - maybe not but that doesn't mean that nobody who has said that about themselves has ever gone on to have an affair

Some of the things said about people who have been unfaithful are patronising and treat unfaithful partners as if they are one homogenous group. That is no more true of the cheater than it is of the cheated on and isn't helpful to anyone including the cheated on partner.

If the unfaithful partner says their affair was a 'mistake' it doesn't necessarily mean they're saying it happened 'by accident'. You can make an active decision to do something but realise later that it was wrong (a mistake). When I sold a house just before it doubled in value I didn't do it 'by accident' but it turned out to be a mistake all the same.

If there is a 'script' maybe it's because sometimes it's true. Like a cliché becomes a cliché because so often it is true.

If your partner has an affair it does not automatically absolve you from any responsibility for how your relationship got to that point. I say 'automatically' deliberately - sometimes of course there is no responsibility and the cheater is just an arse.

By saying this I'm not saying that if your partner has an affair it's your fault, it was their decision for which they are entirely responsible. I'm not talking excuses, I'm talking reasons. Every affair happens for a reason (or more likely several) and the reason isn't always that the cheater is a scumbag.

Right - I'll put on my hard hat now and dive for cover...

fairylightsintheloft Sun 30-Mar-14 22:19:49

I'll cover you. I agree with much of your post. Of course there will always be some genuinely thoughtless selfishfuckwits but many affairs are much more complex. I left my ex dh for someone else. I was the villain, lost friends etc but noone knew that my ex, whileadoring and doting was also smothering and impossible to live up to. He never ever could accept that anything he had done might have contributed to the affair, but it did.

Snoozybird Sun 30-Mar-14 22:45:50

You made a mistake with the timing of selling your house, however you couldn't have known for sure that property values would double, they could have crashed just as easily.

No one embarks on an affair without knowing there will be undesirable consequences if discovered otherwise there would be no need for secrecy. Making "a mistake" in the context of a relationship would be, for example, ending things with one partner to be with another, then realising that the grass isn't in fact greener. It is not a mistake to have a physical or emotional affair. Infidelity is as a result of deliberate choices, whether you're pursuing someone else with intent, or getting so drunk that you lose your inhibitions and have a one night stand.

I was financially trapped with an abusive ex for a long time. I had many opportunities to seek comfort elsewhere as ex worked away a lot, but I didn't.

Thanks for your insights, they have made me glad that I can wake up every day and look myself in the eye without having to make excuses to myself desperately trying to justify why I couldn't keep my knickers on.

Bogeyface Sun 30-Mar-14 22:57:37

I am at a bit of a loss as to why you posted this tbh.

Your "facts" (which I dispute) do nothing to assist in the recovery of a cheated on partner, in fact you do suggest that the innocent party may be partly responsible. Nothing justifies cheating, nothing at all. Many of those cheated on partners come here for help and support to get through a very tough time, why on earth would you want to post this on a board heavily populated with women who have had their lives turned upside down by adultery? Did you think it would help?! You were wrong.

And I bat right back at you your accusation of being patronising. You seem to have appointed yourself know it all of affairs, you are not. You know about your affair, no one elses.

And the script.....thats because people who need to justify themselves will invariably say the same things. If you are doing something you know is wrong you either have to blame yourself or someone else. Easier to blame someone else, which is why the rewriting of history happens, why the demonising of the innocent spouse happens, why the "it was a mistake" is said.

You may believe the bullshit you are spouting but I dont, you know what you are and so do I. Good luck with that.

Oh and for the record, yes your colleagues probably did work out something was going on but didnt say anything, as happened with the 2 affairs that were going on where I last worked. We all knew, we just didnt say anything.

MorrisZapp Sun 30-Mar-14 23:05:58

OP is quite sensible, however MN isn't and never will be a place to discuss affairs from other angles than the betrayed spouse.

Bogeyface Sun 30-Mar-14 23:14:40

Of course it isnt Morris because this is where women come to get through such things, the OW is never going to get sympathy or understanding unless she genuinely didnt know he wasnt single.

Thats why I am a bit confused as to why the OP thought this would be a good thing to post!

ormirian Sun 30-Mar-14 23:26:36

Gosh! Really??

Nothing you said was all that shocking or novel. All affairs don't get found out, anyone is capable of having an affair, no relationship failure is the fault of just one person, and people do drift in to affairs without meaning to....yep. Agree to all that. And?

An affair is still a crappy thing to do to a partner and does nothing to address problems in a relationship.

handfulofcottonbuds Sun 30-Mar-14 23:27:49

I don't get what you're trying to achieve by posting this, re-address the balance on a relationships forum full of people who have had their world shattered by deceit?

Affairs are mainly all different but the outcome is always the same - immense pain and a world of unbelievable hurt, not just for the cheated on partner but their children and their wider families.

I hope your post has helped you absolve yourself and justify your actions. It has done nothing for me to see it from a cheaters point of view!

MorrisZapp Sun 30-Mar-14 23:28:41

OP didn't say she was OW. She said she had an affair. So presumably she cheated on her partner.

I think anybody with relationship problems should be able to post here.

Bogeyface Sun 30-Mar-14 23:34:11

No she didnt and I realise that my post didnt read in the way I meant it to, I meant that the OW/OM/partner/Affair apologist is never going to get an easy ride. And for good reason, because the (mainly) women who have been cheated on know first hand the utter devastation it causes, so the all the BS in the world about "it was a mistake" will not wash when they are now a single parent, trying to deal with traumatised children, trying to pay a 2 income mortgage on one income or worse on benefits or trying to make a marriage work with a partner who you know you can never trust again.

handfulofcottonbuds Sun 30-Mar-14 23:34:32

Morris, not sure if your last post was directed at me but I never said OP shouldn't post here, I know it is open for anyone to post and in fact I have had some who have had affairs post on my threads and I appreciate the support they have offered me - I do not judge.

What I don't understand is this post and the justification for affairs being included. In my book, there is no justifying it. If you're not happy with your partner, move on, end it and then be with someone who you really want. Why should one person's selfish happiness be at the expense of hurting another?

Bogeyface Sun 30-Mar-14 23:35:00

I meant that the OW/OM/*cheating*partner/Affair apologist

TheGrassIsSinging Sun 30-Mar-14 23:40:14

I agree with some of what you have said. I think the 'script' is very simplistic and I do balk at the same 'by numbers' advice that is given on MN to every woman who has been cheated on. I find it hard to see things in such black and white terms - that the cheater is always a horrible human being. Life just isnt like that.

I dont mean that to sound dismissive - so much fabulous support, advice, hand holding and empowering going on here, too, which I can imagine must be invaluable for many - but many, many people fuck fidelity up and they arent all complete arseholes. Their actions might be selfish, hurtful etc, but that certainly doesnt mean they are all out and out bastards.

MorrisZapp Sun 30-Mar-14 23:42:22

I don't want to be a cheaters champion. I'm disgusted with cheating too. But I just see a lot of imbalance and sexism on threads about cheating and I can't keep my gob shut.

Can I ask a question, you mentioned the pain that cheating causes, including becoming a single parent, living on one income or benefits etc. of course that would be utterly horrible, but wouldn't it happen anyway if the other partner came clean and left before cheating?

TheGrassIsSinging Sun 30-Mar-14 23:42:29

Must also add - MN is teeming with women who have been betrayed by a partner...but very, very few women admitting to cheating themselves. For obvious reasons. I think it can give quite a skewed image of what is really going on out there.

Flippsy Mon 31-Mar-14 00:04:58

Is the OP male or female? Does this make any difference?

Bogeyface Mon 31-Mar-14 00:35:32

Can I ask a question, you mentioned the pain that cheating causes, including becoming a single parent, living on one income or benefits etc. of course that would be utterly horrible, but wouldn't it happen anyway if the other partner came clean and left before cheating?

Well yes it would to a certain extent, but it would happen without the hurt, the spite and the utter betrayal that happens with affairs. Read any "he cheated" thread and they all say the same thing..."I thought we were happy". Thats because they were! Ime (sadly, extensive) the marriage history is rewritten so that the cheater was miserable for just slightly longer than the affair was going on. So if they say "I have been miserable for 5 years" then he has been cheating for atleast that long.

What hurts is the fact that you were living in what you thought was a good marriage, only to find out that you were part of a menage a trois only no body bothered to tell you! Thats the hardest bit of being single after an affair. The "was it my fault?" the "should I have done XYZ?" the constant self examination that the cheater (conveniently) never has to go through.

And the traumatised kids. the financial issues etc would not happen if the unhappy partner left pre affair and dealt with it properly. I am not suggesting divorce is a walk in the park, I had the worlds most amicable divorce and it was still hard, but being on the same page re finances, kids etc makes it better for everyone.

I stand by what I said, there is never any justification for cheating.

Hedgehead Mon 31-Mar-14 03:30:29

I agree with some of what you're saying.

I had a friend who was so squashed by her partner. She tried to talk to him about it but he shut her down. She had a bad relationship with her parents, so felt insecure about leaving him as he was all she had - but he was an abuser. In the end, the only thing which made her leave was a "self-sabotaging" affair.

After the affair when they broke up, he became the "injured" party, of course, to anyone looking from the outside, in. But I know and she knows that she suffered injuries too, in the rest of their relationship, but was not strong enough to end it in a normal way and was too scared of how he would react.

Obviously not all affairs are like this but it can often be a dynamic between two people and then a weakness in character on the part of the person who had the affair.

EdithWeston Mon 31-Mar-14 06:00:54

I think there is a basic difficulty in discussing affairs because (unlike most other behavioural issues) there seems to be a reluctance to separate conduct from personality. If discussing a child's unacceptable behaviour (say taking friend's sweets, despite having chosen own sweets and having them in their pocket) there would be no difficulty whatsoever in saying the stealing child was wrong, but refraining from saying they were inherently and permanently evil.

I do not like the post which opens the thread. It is far too dogmatic, and very simplistic. "The script" exists because it rings true; the same tired old excuses are used again and again, to third parties and to the betrayers themselves. It is not OK to cheat. The mechanism whereby you choose to give yourself permission the cheat is pervasive to your thinking, and the urge to justfy it can persist long after th affair.

I agree however, it's not "a mistake" - it is hundreds of deliberate choices, all of which are deliberately kept secret from the primary partner, and the purpose of which is to deceive. Nothing whatsoever like one property sale.

struggling100 Mon 31-Mar-14 09:26:12

I dunno, I think with everyday life you can separate conduct and personality - but I think there are some actions that are so bad that you can't just wipe them out or say sorry to make up for them, but instead have to live with permanent remorse and an awareness that you 'are' that person who could do that. I think infidelity for me falls into that bracket. I know that other people will disagree. I should emphasize that I am very far from perfect myself, though I have never cheated!

Logg1e Mon 31-Mar-14 09:40:21

I noticed much of what the OP said on MN, but I found it so refreshing. It made so much sense to acknowledge that the cheated-on partner is not to blame, for example.

And I too used to roll my eyes at the standard advice claiming that every cheating partner followed the same script, but then you realise that it's true and so, heartbreakingly, predictable.

Logg1e Mon 31-Mar-14 09:42:49

Is this going to be one of those "light the blue touch paper" threads?

badbaldingballerina123 Mon 31-Mar-14 10:22:09

I hate these sort of threads where people become self appointed affair experts. Most of what you say is bollocks Op. Of course there's a script . Your living proof of it and your still speaking it.

Affairs with colleagues will be obvious. How do you know what is , and isn't obvious to others ? Are you a mind reader ? Seedy affairs at work are of no interest to your colleagues. Although I'm aware that sneaking around and dodging getting caught is part of the thrill.

Affairs always come out , not true. Again how do you know this? The best you can say is that possibly your own affair hasn't come out yet. It doesn't mean it won't. I personally know of several affairs that came out at a later date , one came out more than twenty years later.

You've been reading threads that support your actions , identifying with the unfaithful , and objecting to the idea that your affair was scripted and original. If you read further and perhaps look at more professional material , you will see that in fact it was so typical it's embarrassing.

The only part of your post I agree with is that affairs happen for a reason. Those reasons are all in the cheater. It didn't happen because your neglected or you were miserable , it happened because you've poor coping strategies , because your selfish and a whole host of other reasons.

It's all so very sad and typical.

Person with no boundrys and low self esteem meets other person with no boundrys and low self esteem. Together they trade off monkey treats ie ego boosts ,while both blaming their horrible spouses. Frankly it's disgusting. I also think the last bit of your post indicates that there were reasons you had an affair , in other words your marriage was the reason , and that on some level you blame your spouse. That's very very sad and a very warped view.

And before anyone starts bleating it's not that black and white , it really is. I say this as someone who has once also had an affair.

JaceyBee Mon 31-Mar-14 10:39:36

I agree with most of what you're saying OP and I also find it frustrating that people who cheat are treated with the same contempt usually reserved for violent criminals or similar. Yes it may be a shitty and cowardly way to behave. But are all these unfaithful men/women really evil people? Really?

Infidelity is not a crime. There are far, far worse things humans do to each other. I have a wealth of experience with it, both professionally and personally.

I have been the cheated on wife. I have also been the OW which I am quite open about on here, largely because I am not ashamed of it. I'm actually on the brink of ending my 2 year relationship with MM which is obviously incredibly painful.

And yes, of course the cliches are often true. 'I love you but I'm not in love with you' - it may sound like a bullshit excuse but it's often an appropriate way to describe how you feel about someone. And cheating doesn't have to = traumatised dcs. Like I said, my exh cheated and I have a very amicable relationship with him and OW (now his DP). My dcs like her and are very settled and happy, which was the priority for all of us. One size does not fit all here.

worsestershiresauce Mon 31-Mar-14 13:37:19

Actually if you read all the threads regarding affairs you will find a very diverse range of experiences, and attitudes. Your post has nothing that hasn't been said before. Like someone said above, one size does not fit all.

If you had an affair at all though do need to examine your morals. Everyone who has one has an excuse. Some feel guilt, others feel justified. All however have one thing in common. Loose pants wink

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