The lion vs. the lamb

Much like my psycho ex-girlfriend, a married man will often describe his wife in unflattering terms.  He’ll tell you that she doesn’t understand him, they’ve grown apart, she nags him constantly, etc., etc., etc.  Now I won’t say that his wife is perfect because I don’t know her (and neither do you!), but he saw enough in her at some point to commit to spending the rest of his life with her.

At the same time, he’ll be telling you everything you want to hear.  You’re so sweet, uncomplicated, you “get him“.  Please remember that he’s saying anything that he has to in order to get into your panties.  He has nothing to lose at this point – even if you turn him down, he’s still going home to his wife!  This power play also occurs when you argue with your married lover, again, he has nothing to lose.

Do not allow a man to put you into competition with his wife (or with any other woman for that matter).  The moment he tries to set up that dynamic, refuse to accept it.  Human interactions are far more complex than the oversimplification that he’s trying to hand you.  You are neither the lion nor the lamb…..but neither is she.

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I’m going to leave her just as soon as…

File this under “lies married men tell.”  I can hear you gnashing your teeth as I type!  One of the biggest is that he’s going to leave his wife once x, y, or z occurs.  It’s usually anything from his ship coming in to the kids leaving the nest.  The simple fact of the matter is, if he was going to leave her he would have already.

Why say it?  Because if he were to tell you that he’s perfectly satisfied in his situation as it stands and what he’s interested in is sex on the side, you’d run a mile.  “But there are girls out there who will give them sex,” I can hear you say.  Yes but most men like a bit of a challenge, and a woman who believes they’re in a relationship is less likely to out him to his wife.

So why does it work?  Hope.  You want to believe him.  You want to believe that you’re not the other woman.  You want to believe that there is some unseen force that prevents him from divorcing his wife and being with you.  Unfortunately, you’re lying to yourself as much as he’s lying to you.

Tell him to get his proverbial sh*t together, leave his wife, and then come see if you’re still interested.  If he never comes back, the only thing you’ve lost is a guy who will lie to you and who will eventually cheat on you in much the same way.

Direct from my desk – week 41

So what if you’re the one who cheats?

First and foremost, own what you did.  Even if you decide not to fess up to your partner (more on that in a minute), you certainly shouldn’t live in a state of denial.  You were in a relationship and no matter how bad or good it was, you weren’t faithful to your commitment.  It doesn’t make you a horrible person, it just means that your actions don’t always live up to your expectations.

Analyze why you did it.  Was it unhappiness?  boredom?  fear?  Put some time into figuring out why you did it and how you can fix it.  Cheating is rarely about your partner so you’ll need to find what it is about you that needs to be improved upon.

If you decide to tell your partner, pick your moment carefully.  Be calm.  Answer their questions.  Do not give details.  Understand their anger.  Suggest a way to get the relationship back on track but don’t expect that it will be accepted.  Realize that they will need to be healed from this experience and that it won’t be easy or pleasant.

If you decide not to tell your partner, consider why you’re in the relationship.  If you’re thinking that it was a one-time-thing, then make sure that it was.  If you prefer not to burden them with your mistake then you need to make sure that they’re never going to find out.  Think long and hard about it before you take this course of action; honesty is long regarded as an essential component of any successful relationship.

Lastly, forgive yourself.  Neither you nor your relationship can move forward if you’re clinging to that past.

My mailbox is open:  girldontbestupid@gmail.com

Your man wasn’t stolen, your self-worth was

When you’ve been cheated on, it’s easy to think that your man was stolen.  The truth is, a man cannot be stolen – he’s an adult capable of making his own decisions.  What was stolen was your self-worth and it was collateral damage.

How can you rebound from this?

  1. Step back from the situation and look at it critically.
  2. Acknowledge and own your part in what happened.
  3. Talk things over with a counselor or trusted, non-judgmental friend.
  4. Keep a journal.
  5. Work out your anger at the gym.
  6. Present yourself well (dress, hair, make-up, etc.).
  7. Focus on your strengths.
  8. Set goals with the specific intent of giving yourself successes to build on.
  9. Expect set-backs and develop a Plan B to handle them.
  10. Life is not a dress-rehearsal, make sure you’re truly living.

Whatever you do, do not do this!

There is a temptation, when you’ve been cheated on, to get even.  In this circumstance, any attempt to even the score is a fallacy.  It won’t matter if you sleep with one guy, twelve guys, a girl, a mule, or his best friend – you will never be bathing in the afterglow and think, “wow, I feel so much better now.”  To be completely frank, no man has a magic wand and it won’t take away the sting of betrayal.

What it will do is remind you of why you’re doing it.  It will also painstakingly eat away at your self-respect.  Sleeping around is a potent cocktail of power and powerlessness.  You may feel good…momentarily.  Slowly, deliberately, the feeling of dominance will fade leaving you with a vacuum.  It’s like trying to fill up the Grand Canyon through a straw.

You will never regain your self-worth by laying down.  Rather, build yourself up by moving forward and being productive.

But I was so into you a moment ago

After cheating rocks your relationship, it’s perfectly normal to feel the desire to seduce your partner back into the relationship.  You may feel the need to assert your dominance and re-conquer lost territory.  You’re so caught up in your desire to win him back or win against the other woman that you may fail to step back and look at what you’re winning.

Then, one day, after the storm has passed and he’s safely back in your bed, you find yourself wondering what the heck you’re doing in this relationship.

It’s time to leave but how does one leave a relationship after all has been”forgiven”?  Acknowledge that you want out of the relationship and the reasons for wanting out.  Make sure that this is absolutely the decision you want to make.  Prepare what you’re going to say but don’t be too inflexible (the about-to-be-dumped rarely go along with the script you’ve prepared for them).  Expect anger, after all, they think everything is fine.  Do not crumble – keep your resolve or you’ll be having this talk again in a few weeks.  Be as generous as you can possibly be during the break-up.  You may really love that microwave but honestly, you can get another one.  Last but certainly not least, be discrete with the details of the break-up.  Yes, he may have been a jerk but you want to move on, not stay stuck in a he-said, she-said with your ex.

Sandcastles

Attempting to rebuild after cheating rocks a relationship can feel like building a sandcastle, one wrong move and the whole thing comes crashing down around you.  However, there are some things that you can do to increase your chances of success.

  1. Make sure both of you are on the same page in terms of rebuilding your relationship.  Both of you must be committed to making it work.
  2. Counseling.  A skilled counselor will bring the issues to the surface and assist in resolving them.
  3. Open communication is a must.  Both partners must feel that they can express what they’re feeling in a safe environment.
  4. Forgiveness of all issues surrounding the cheating.  You don’t have to forget but without forgiveness there is no moving forward.
  5. A fresh start because a partner who is constantly reminded of what they did wrong will soon grow to resent you.
  6. A support system that actually supports your relationship.  If someone is not supportive of rebuilding the relationship, do not confide in them.

Putting your relationship back together is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do.  You will have to make it through the difficult times to get back to an even keel.  It may always be there in the back of your head.  Your day-to-day reality may change.  You may decide to change the rules of your relationship.  Surround yourself with a supportive environment and do your homework.

Cheating, not just for income taxes anymore

Unfortunately, a person isn’t always forthright about their cheating.  This then requires that the person be confronted (or not).  If you choose to confront, do so in a controlled manner.  If you choose not to confront be aware that your options are limited to leaving or living with it.

Remember, men never like to be the “bad guy” so don’t expect that it will be an easy conversation.  Even when asked a direct question, he may be evasive or even lie because you “didn’t ask the right question.”  So take a few moments ahead of time to do your homework.

You know your partner better than most people.  Determine your approach by considering his possible reactions.  Are your suspicions justified?  What tone would best elicit the truth?  What questions would get him to open up?  What words would upset him and cause him to clam up?  I realize that it may seem a bit counter-intuitive to think about how he may react when you’re the one who with the suspicions but if you want to get him to admit the truth, perceptive questions will work better than loud accusations.

When you’re ready for the confrontation, make your preparations carefully.  Choose a calm time, preferably after you’ve had something to eat (low blood sugar will not help matters), and ask your partner for a few minutes.  Keep your voice calm and as unemotional as you can.  Ask your questions and listen to the responses.  Trust your gut instinct and watch his body language.  Is he being evasive? Be gentle with your prodding, the ultimate goal is getting an answer to your questions, not to get your pound of flesh.

Do not ask for details, just get to the truth.  You can not progress in the relationship if you’re both living under a cloud of suspicion.  The bigger question is what will you do now that you have your answer?

It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission

Being cheated on is similar to living through an earthquake – the one thing you thought was solid turned out to be shaky ground.  Cheating encompasses so much more than just the physical act of sex.  It’s a devastating cocktail of lying, humiliation, and righteous anger.  Unfortunately, it’s also not that uncommon.

As the old adage goes, it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.  Wouldn’t you rather they ask permission?  Then at least you have the option of giving permission or leaving the relationship.  You might suggest this to your partner but don’t expect them to stop in the moment and ring your cellphone to ask if it’s okay.

How should you react when your partner confesses to cheating?  You have every right to be angry and you shouldn’t deny yourself that.  There will be a split-second where you will need to decide if you want to save the relationship or be rid of him – that moment will dictate your near-term and long-term future.  Either way:

  1. Do not ask for details.  They will only haunt you and drive you insane.
  2. Ask where his relationship with the other person stands at the moment.
  3. Ask what resolution they would like to see occur.
  4. Despite the rollercoaster that you’re on, maintain your calm and do not make any rash decisions.
  5. Talk to a trusted friend or counselor to help you gain perspective on the situation.

Once a cheater, always a cheater

A man doesn’t just trip and fall onto a naked woman.  Cheating is a very specific character flaw – it may be an addiction to something “dangerous”, the need to prove their attractiveness, or a way to soothe their inner child that obviously didn’t get hugged enough as a child.  Cheating could also be their way to get out of the relationship without having an awkward conversation.  The point is, cheating doesn’t resolve itself.

Please note, cheating is not an open relationship.  Cheating is also not watching porn and masturbating in the bathroom.  Cheating is getting sexually involved with a person outside the knowledge of your primary partner.

If you are involved with a person who cheats on  you, you have to ask yourself why you allow yourself to be talked back into the relationship.  What is going on within you that tells you it’s okay for someone to cheat on  you.  Obviously there is a need in the other person that you can not fill nor should you live feeling that you’re somehow “lesser” because you can’t.  You do not want someone who is going to cheat on you.  You deserve better.