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why do cheating partners/spouses get upset when you break up with them?

(26 Posts)
cheeseaddict420 Wed 20-May-20 15:28:00

Hi All - super long term lurker who began posting recently. This forum really helped me see my relationship for what it was, even though it still took me forever to leave. Long story short I was in a very long relationship from when I was in my early 20s, broke up with him nearly 4 years ago now, am mid 30s. The relationship started well, but became increasingly difficult - ultimately we didnt want the same things (eventually I wanted to go on holidays, buy a house, have a family - he wanted to read conspiracy theories and smoke weed - don't get me wrong, I like a little weed too, but only from time to time), and he loved the attention of other women. He did had a lot of female friends, which I was fine with, a lot of my close friends were male. But it was actually what I would term an emotional affair with a colleague that pushed me to do things I never thought I would do, like look through his phone. From that I could see that he was the more interested party, but being the idiot that I was, I did the pick me dance and she moved back to her country, so no more cosy work chats for them and that was that.

I should have obviously ended things there as the trust was gone, but the relationship lumbered on and eventually I found out he was cheating on me physically (not with emotional affair person, someone else), and the messages I found made me believe that he had been having one night stand (or several night stand) affairs with people throughout our relationship. He of course would not admit this, and would only ever admit to the bare minimum of what I found. Again, we lumbered on, probably because we were totally co-dependent and I had lost my sense of self worth entirely and would go from begging him to tell me why, crying, him stonewalling, etc - it was horrible and toxic. I would try to discuss breaking up and he would say 'you are just blowing this out of proportion and you just want an excuse to break up' (like wtf was wrong with me)

After a year of this (I know, I know), I finally left. After trying to turn it around on me (see above) and me saying 'yes, I want to break up, blame me all you want, tell everyone I'm crazy, do what you want, but I cannot do this anymore, I am wasting my life' - he started crying and begging me to stay. I left anyway, and they crying and begging continued until he finally moved away with work - nearly a year later.

While me and my lovely therapist are working out my feelings around self worth, depression - all the stuff that got me into that relationship and the reasons I stayed - there is one thing I wonder about that I don't bring up with her, because I want to spend all my (expensive) time in therapy talking about me haha - is why cheating partners get upset when you leave?

My ex was so so upset, I just don't understand at all. I even said to him - 'honestly what is the problem? we've been unhappy for a long time! And you clearly have people you can call if you need company. You are free! And so am I!' and he was just so upset! Every time before he had goaded me and played the 'you don't really love me' card and I stayed. He told me I was miserable and the relationship was hard. Then so upset and full of begging when I finally left?? someone please enlighten me. It confuses me to this day, and no me and my ex dont' talk anymore so I can't ask him grin

OP’s posts: |
SunbathingDragon Wed 20-May-20 15:29:22

His ego has taken a dent, that’s all. He wants you to want him, even if he doesn’t reciprocate.

Well done for finishing things and enjoy your future without him.

Bluebird3456 Wed 20-May-20 15:39:44

Because he wants to have his cake and eat it. He wants to play at being in a relationship and get all the security/benefits that brings, while also getting sex on tap from others and still being the ladies man he fancied himself as when he was younger. When he's told that's not happening he genuinely believes this is wholly unfair. Because he's crazy. flowers

Holothane Wed 20-May-20 15:39:50

He’s lot lost his cook housekeeper you’ve lost a waster.

GilbertMarkham Wed 20-May-20 15:42:25

Because he wants to have his cake and eat it. He wants to play at being in a relationship and get all the security/benefits that brings, while also getting sex on tap from others and still being the ladies man he fancied himself as when he was younger.

Yup

Whatsnewpussyhat Wed 20-May-20 15:46:20

Because they no longer have any control over you

GilbertMarkham Wed 20-May-20 15:46:41

They are upset because they want all the advantages of monogamy, with all the advantages of polygyny (on the sly).

When you split , they lost all those advantages (including emotional 'security') until they find their next victim ahem partner.

Also because you did the ending/leaving not them .. noone liked to not be in control.

And because ending relationships hurt - even if you are actually the one who acted badly/wrongly and that why it ended. You're still "losing" someone you were (and at that point still are) close to, have loads of history with, who's a fixture in your life. That's hurtful and scary, even in the circumstances.

GilbertMarkham Wed 20-May-20 15:47:25

(and sad).

GilbertMarkham Wed 20-May-20 15:48:42

I know I've cried ending relationships with both people I've with treated badly and who've treated me badly.

Menora Wed 20-May-20 15:49:46

I was seeing a guy whose wife had left him. He seemed to have struggled with why she did. He said he was really happy. Clearly she wasn’t happy, and I could see why within about 8 weeks of knowing him. One thing he said was that he didn’t want to start again

My theory is that for some people, they are quite sure it’s less hard work to stick with the person you are with and argue with them, than it is to break up and start again. If you break up, you have to tell people, split assets, be on your own etc. Going and actually making a new relationship from being single takes a lot of effort - so for people like these guys, it’s so much easier to stay in something that is familiar and just carry on doing whatever you like anyway. Also the concept that another woman probably would not put up with what the last one did...

It’s all about having easy options IMO

Dery Wed 20-May-20 16:12:47

Actually, on a work training session (probably about communication - really can't remember how it came up; I'm a lawyer...) we were told that, typically, in a heterosexual relationship which is deteriorating, it is the woman who is unhappier as the relationship is going wrong and the man who is unhappier after it has ended.

The explanation for this was supplied by a male colleague who commented that this was probably because the man hadn't noticed that the relationship was going under.

No doubt there are plenty of exceptions to this but it struck a chord for me and seems to tally with some of the posts I read on MN.

Nikhedonia Wed 20-May-20 16:13:58

* My theory is that for some people, they are quite sure it’s less hard work to stick with the person you are with and argue with them, than it is to break up and start again. If you break up, you have to tell people, split assets, be on your own etc. Going and actually making a new relationship from being single takes a lot of effort - so for people like these guys, it’s so much easier to stay in something that is familiar and just carry on doing whatever you like anyway. Also the concept that another woman probably would not put up with what the last one did...*

Totally agree with this.

It also means that they can't convince women that they are cheating because they are miserable at home/treated badly/whatever excuse they use. And may have to admit that they are single because their partner left them due to their cheating (although it's unlikely they would admit it).

They have to open themselves up to potentially being hurt, they've lost their 'comfort blanket'.

Davespecifico Wed 20-May-20 16:15:34

Selfish. Cake eat it.
Didn’t realise it would bite them on the bum.

TorkTorkBam Wed 20-May-20 16:15:37

You need Chumplady. They are disappointed they don't get to "maintain cake"

www.chumplady.com/2012/04/the-unified-theory-of-cake/

VeganVeal Wed 20-May-20 16:44:37

cake and eat it

cheeseaddict420 Wed 20-May-20 17:00:03

Thanks for the responses everyone! the cake-eating certainly rings true - missing his housekeeper/cook not so much because we didn't have kids and tbh he was very equal around the house in terms of cooking and cleaning (one of his only good qualities). The knock to the ego is a new way of looking at @SunbathingDragon , and the same to everyone mentioning the 'emotional comfort blanket' - he did have a very messed up family life and I was quite a stabilizing force (till he messed that all up) so I think he wanted to keep going for that as well.

And yes agree @menora with with regards to it just being easier to not break up and just keep going! A couple of my friends have ended relationships in the past few years (maybe we all got to 30 and thought - fuck this) and what has always struck me is how the men they've broken up with want to keep these crappy, unfulfilling relationships going - I always thought they must have very low expectations of life and what a relationship can be

OP’s posts: |
cheeseaddict420 Wed 20-May-20 17:04:10

Also @Menora - was the guy you were dating German grin a close friend of mine dated a guy whose wife had left him and he was very confused - saying it had come out of nowhere! I tried to warn my friend that this guy was at the very least - incredibly un-self aware. Needless to say he mucked her about and she ditched him after about a year

OP’s posts: |
TorkTorkBam Wed 20-May-20 17:06:00

To a first approximation judging by my social circle.

Husbands only instigate a break up to move in with the OW, no matter how awful the wife (even drug addiction) or the marriage.

Wives instigate a break up to be rid of the selfish thundercunt. She swears off men for good (but then meets someone excellent two years later).

Eugenieonegin Wed 20-May-20 17:12:51

Your question is pretty much answered by all the PP I just wanted to say well done. Good luck with your therapy, investing in your future may seem expensive, but compared to what? Years of unhappiness and unhealthy relationships?
Onwards to your brighter years.

BurtonHouse Wed 20-May-20 18:56:16

I left exh after he hit me when I exposed his persistent cheating.
He pursued me relentlessly for months and eventually I caved and went back (only for a couple of months). I firmly believe he pulled me back just to prove to himself that he could. Ego pure and simple.

Gutterton Wed 20-May-20 19:06:45

That’s an awful lot of shit you tolerated OP, time and time and time again. Delighted to hear that you have moved on and are seeing clearly - however I am wondering if there is still a bit of you that “is still in the game”?

Ask yourself why YOU got involved, why YOU stayed time after time, after time, after time. Why YOU are even remotely interested in his motivations and emotional fall-out then and a year after?

I am being deliberately provocative as I can see you have done tremendous work to get where you are and I am pushing you to look at your wonderful self, achievements and future - and not fill your precious and finite headspace with thoughts of this loser.

The answer to your original Q - is “Why am
I asking? Don’t know. Don’t care. Don’t give a flying fuck. Now back to my fabulous self - what fun thing have I got planned for this precious day in this glorious new life?”

MargeSimpsonswig Wed 20-May-20 19:24:55

This video explains it better than I ever could https://youtu.be/_kOr_gZZgjQ

Maybe explore narcissistic abuse, CPTSD, codependency, reactional abuse etc with your therapist. I have found YouTube videos on the subject really helpful too.

Well done for escaping what was clearly a very toxic relationship and investing in yourself.

ChristmasFluff Wed 20-May-20 21:32:18

OP, imagine you had a TV - you'd had it for ages, worked really well. Then you see a new, more modern TV. Maybe not even better than the one you have, but NEW! In the end, you decide not to buy it. Or you can't afford it.

Then one day, your old reliable TV up and walks out! WTF!! WHAAAAAT! It's YOURS!!

We are only objects and tools to people like this. That is why he's upset. You are not a person with your own thoughts, feelings and desires. You only exist in his mind as property.

It doesn't mean he loves you. It means he sees you as his to control

UncertainWoman Wed 20-May-20 22:29:31

A long time ago I used to date a man who worked in antiques. He lovebombed me to hell and being young and naive, I was swept up in it all. Moved in with him and set up house. But being in antiques he liked to collect things, people too. For him it was a carefully curated selection of girls on Instagram that he would cultivate flirtatious friendships, once he'd gotten nudes out of them and achieved whatever buzz he was looking for, he was on to the next. The guy could be talking to around ten different girls in a day. I stumbled across his horrible little dropbox of nudes and dumped his arse.

The tears, oh the tears. He wanted to buy me a ring, he was going to spend every penny he owned on it. He wanted to buy me a dog. That band I really like, oh he just happened to have two tickets for it. It took him two years to get over being dumped by me. Two years of answered messages for him to finally go away.

TinyGirl1 Thu 21-May-20 00:15:20

he did have a very messed up family life

Plus he smokes too much weed, is this to escape his emotions/demons in his head?

He hankers after women, is this to fill some hole from his childhood?
Another reason these cheaters with traumatic childhoods can't let you go because they have serious abandonment issues.

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