I registered on this site as a BS. But I have been a WS in the past, and my question is from the point of view of a wayward.
I see a lot of people say that part of the healing process is focusing on the "why's". Why did my WS cheat on me - beyond, of course, the superficial, blame-shifting answers. I want to help my WH figure out his why's, but as a former WS, I still don't get it myself.
In my situation, I was in a long-term relationship with a man who was married when we started seeing each other. He also had two children. At the start of our relationship, he made it quite clear that those things were not on the table (I.e. he wasn't getting re-married, or having any more children). I was 18 at the time and had no interest in either. Fast forward to my early 20's and I had changed my mind. Once I decided that marriage and a family were deal-breakers for me, I began to distance myself from the relationship. It took me a couple of years, but I eventually became emotionally detached - a true "I love you, but I'm not in love with you" situation. But I didn't tell him that. Eventually, I had an affair (or 3, depends on how you look at it).
Obviously, I realize now that I did the wrong thing. It would have hurt him far less for me to tell him I wanted out of the relationship than it was for him to discover my infidelity. If anybody ever asked me why I had the affair, I would tell them the story I just told. He didn't want what I wanted, I emotionally detached, I had an affair. I take full responsibility for the affair, that was my choice to make. But I don't have any other why. Is it because I never dug deep enough, never did the hard work? I was broken. I was weak. I did something terrible. I don't know what more why there could be.
What kinds of "why's" are there? What am I missing?
married 2y, together 2.5y
1 beautiful daughter, 23m
"Someday soon, I'm going to put my life together; Win or lose, I'm starting over again."
Some of it was youth. Brains don't fully develop until the mid- to late-20s. I know, I know - it sounds like an excuse. But, at 16 and 22 (when I cheated) - all I can say is that I'm just different now due to growth, maturity, development. My moral compass just naturally sharpened as I became wiser to the ways of the world, the impact of my behavior, the immense pain I could cause other people for, really, no good reason. I just became more aware and less selfish with time and a big bulk of that happened in my early 20s. I was traveling the world, getting an advanced degree, meeting friends outside my childhood circle - all normal things to do at that age - and they all really wisened me up and I broke a ton of bad habits without really meaning to.
So, one of my "whys" is just immaturity. People don't always like that answer. I know because I've shared this belief before on other threads regarding age being a mitigating factor and it isn't always well-received.
There are other whys for me, too, besides that. But I think it is a big one.
18 is really young. I presume since the guy was married with 2 kids, he was significantly older. Does your age - or his age (daddy issues?) - have anything to do with your whys?
I'm confused, though. This guy was hurt by your infidelity? But he started off with you by being unfaithful to his wife? I suppose he's allowed to feel hurt - but I wonder if that also plays into your why. Did you think it was OK to cheat on him because he was a cheater himself? If so, then dig on that a little bit.
I don't think he wasn't entitled to be hurt my infidelity. Yes, he was cheating on his wife when we got together, but quite honestly, I don't think he ever would have cheated on me. Then again, I didn't think my husband would ever cheat on me either and, well, that's what brought me to this site in the first place.
I don't think I thought it was okay to cheat because he cheated. When I was doing it that thought never crossed my mind. I was simply being selfish - we lived in a huge house in the woods that he paid for. I was going to law school, he was paying all the bills. I had a king bed and a 6-ft tub and big backyard with a deck where I could sunbathe and enjoy a drink. I refused to give that up, I was a cake-eater. I wasn't happy with him, but at the same time I was quite happy with my life. Found a new guy, kept the old life. Ending up hating the new guy and leaving the old life, and to this day I still don't know what the hell I was thinking!
My FWH's why's are/were he is selfish, he wanted to, he is a conflict avoider, and he was a weak man.
I would imagine that when you cheated, krazy, you were immature and selfish. You wanted what you wanted, the big house, the amenities and the "new guy".
OTOH, I do realize that there are people with deep issues (child abuse, sex addiction, etc.) that are the "why's" for their sexual infidelity.
"Oh, why do my actions have consequences?" ~ Homer Simpson
"She knew my one weakness: That I'm weak." ~ Homer Simpson
I feel like these are also my husband's why's. I also don't feel like knowing them helps. I'm not nearly as interested in why as I am in making sure it doesn't happen again, and knowing that he is making a conscious effort to prevent it. Does that make any sense?
Why? It's all about being selfish, self-centered, superficial, deluded, childish, cowardly (if you don't like your BS then leave), mean, angry, justified, lack of respect for anyone else. It's pure evil. It's pure lust and pure selfishness justified by blaming others for your unhappiness. Happiness doesn't come from others, it comes from within.
I'm not nearly as interested in why as I am in making sure it doesn't happen again, and knowing that he is making a conscious effort to prevent it. Does that make any sense?
A lot of members here feel that you really need to "dig deep" to find the "why's" and that they really are way more complicated than simply being "selfish" and "wanted to". I drove myself, and FWH, nuts with always wanting more of a "why" than what he came up with. I kept thinking there had to be some deep dark reason to the "why".
I decided I needed to accept that these are his "why's" and to focus on the actions that he is taking to make sure that this never happens again. I agree, knowing the "why's" didn't really help me at all. FWH's actions are helping a lot, though.
My H cheated on his ex girlfriend. He thought it was because of her, she was a hideous person after all. He thought to himself "if I just try not to do it again, then all is well".
Fast forward a decade or so later and he'd been cheating on me for over 5 years. He never figured out what the issue was within himself that allowed him to cheat on another person, so he couldn't possibly protect himself from acting out on that damage effectively.
It's like all the overweight people who go on Biggest Loser and lose 150 pounds, and then gain it all back in a few years. Why do they do this? Because they never addressed the reason they don't take care of themselves. They clearly know how to take care of themselves, they lost 150 pounds in just a few months. But it's not until they do the work on their issues that they are able to KEEP the weight off. I've seen countless interviews with former show alumni all saying the same thing.
It's the same with infidelity. You can't just stop cheating because you don't want to cheat anymore. If it's going to be effective, you need to address the real reasons why you cheated, and work on those issues. My H never knew he had such low self esteem and self worth, caused by guilt and shame from a childhood molestation of himself and at least one of his siblings until he started counseling after cheating on me. Since then, he has become an amazing person who really values himself and is taking care of himself now because he feels he deserves to be happy and healthy. He is a changed man, because he is a healed (almost) man. I wouldn't trade him today for any version on him I had before.
I was broken. I was weak. I did something terrible
In what way were you broken? What was broken? How did it become broken?
Why were you weak? In what ways are you no longer weak?
Why was doing something terrible an acceptable choice to you at the time?
Your dissatisfaction with the relationship isn't why you cheated. Healthy people who don't like their relationships leave those relationships without using a scorched earth method. Why was your choice the latter?
Do you see where I am going? There are more questions you can ask.
Your post makes sense. I like the comparison to weight loss.
On the other hand, I'm a former WS with no deep, dark "why." I feel like I can say with 100% certainty that I am not that person anymore. And even if you figure out the deep, dark why and get better, who's to say you won't find yourself in that place again someday. Like cancer, do weak, broken people just go into remission?
Did you ever go to IC to explore why you cheated? If you didn't, then you might be surprised at how little you've actually progressed. There is such a thing as a "dry drunk", there's also "dry adulterers" as well. It certainly should be explored if you haven't explored with help yet.
Honest truth? I feel like meeting my husband, getting married, and starting a family was all the therapy I needed. Sorry for the cliche, but I believe it made an honest woman out of me. I have changed a lot, grown up a lot, learned a lot about myself since I was a WS, and I really don't think I'm even remotely the same person. Life experiences drove me to be a better person. IMO, I am. But I guess I won't know for sure until I'm on my death bed looking back on these years to come....