Cheaters say the darndest things.
If you've ever had the misfortune of being cheated on, you've probably found yourself gobsmacked at the excuses cheaters give.
Haven't you wanted the perfect rejoinder? Wouldn't you love to know what's going on inside their noggins to make them spout such nonsense?
Well, wonder no more. Here's five stupid things cheaters say and how to respond.
I didn't intend to hurt you.
Hurting you was unintentional? Cheating is about as deliberate as a NATO airstrike. There's nothing unintentional about secret cell phones, dating profiles, diverted monies, and clandestine hook-ups. It takes a lot of planning and premeditation to cheat. What was unintentional was you finding out about it.
Cheaters prefer the passive voice language of "mistakes were made" after discovery. (No pronouns, no responsibility!) In the real world, people don't just accidently land on each other's genitals. It's not a "mistake" or something that "just happened." That sort of language distances cheaters from personal responsibility for their crappy choices.
"I didn't intend to hurt you" is gas lighting with some blame shifting thrown in for good measure. Hey, hurting you wasn't a conscious choice. If you want to interpret what I did as hurtful, well, that's on you. But it's not how I intended it. See how this trick works? The onus shifts from the cheater (who didn't intend to hurt you) to you (a person who has mistakenly taken offense where offense wasn't intended). Left out of the equation is that they did something offensive.
"I didn't intend to hurt you" is a gem of impression management. Yes, they are cheaters, but not bad people. It's not like they go around feeling like Dr. Evil, plotting your downfall. Hurting you was completely beside the point! You're a bit of collateral damage, that's all; so don't take it so hard. What's important to remember is that the cheater is still a splendid person.
The fact is they didn't care if they hurt you. Not enough. They did the risk benefit analysis and screwing around won out over your feelings every time.
"Your intentions are irrelevant. You knew full well that cheating on me would hurt me, which is why you kept it a secret. You didn't intend to hurt me? Well, you didn't intentionally try to keep me from harm either."
I love you but I'm not in love with you.
A classic. Translated it means -- "I did unloving things, but telling you 'I love you' makes me feel better about them." I love you but I'm not in love with you is simply impression management.
It has nothing to do with you. This is about maintaining the cheater's self image. And it softens the blow -- hey, you wouldn't impose consequences on someone who loves you, would you? They think they're letting you down gently.
Cheater love is a compartmentalized kind of love -- "I love you, but I put that aside while I was screwing someone else." The two things aren't at all connected. Why should "love" get in the way of a good time?
We naively assume that people who love us act like they love us. Cheaters subvert that assumption and turn it back on you. "But I'm not in love with you" is a subtle blame shift.
"I don't feel giddy and effervescent. I need sparkles. Alas, if you had only twinkled brighter, perhaps it would not have come to this." It's so disappointing the way you've let them down. What can you do to make it up to them?
"I love you, but I'm not in love with you" is your cue to perform the "pick me" dance. They may be dumping you anyway for the affair partner, but some parting ego strokes would be nice.
The subtle mindf*ck of "I love you but I'm not in love with you" is that it's not definitive. It's pure cake speak. They aren't saying, "Hey, I love someone else. It's over. I'm sorry." No, there is an opening -- they love you. Just not in that way.
It's a deliberate confusion, this whole torn between two lovers schtick. It keeps the cheater in cake and makes their desires central. The cheater can feel very noble about their love for you in the face of your inadequacies. They'd like credit for that higher sentiment -- but they're unburdened by their commitments because King's X! -- they're not in love with you.
"I'm not in love with you" is a justifiable reason to a cheater for casting about and loving someone else. So, which came first? The falling out of love, or the permission they gave themselves to cast about?
We all know grown-up love means not feeling "in love" all the livelong day. There are no butterflies when you're doing taxes, or visiting the in-laws, or cleaning up after a kid's stomach flu.
Don't try to parse with your cheater which parts of you they love or what their butterflies are saying to them today -- state what you need.
"I need to be in a relationship where I am fully loved and respected. You don't love me the way I deserve to be loved. Buh-BYE." Don't ask yourself what you did to be so unlovable. Don't dance the pick me dance. Just let them go. I'm sure their butterflies will be migrating again soon.
We could have an open marriage. Monogamy isn't natural.
It's one thing to begin with an open marriage. It's quite another to have it thrust upon you after the discovery of an affair. This "offer" is not sexual sophistication, it's an implied threat -- let me have my cake, or we're through. The cheater lays the blame with monogamy -- that impossible condition that, oh hey, we all agreed to.
The problem isn't monogamy. The problem is that the cheater unilaterally changed the terms of the marriage agreement.
You are presented with a choice now, which at least is out in the open. Agree to let your spouse have multiple partners, and you can enjoy the same, or end the relationship.
If you accept the open arrangement, you would need to negotiate the sort of terms that polyamorists set, such as, am I the primary relationship? Who is an acceptable partner? Can we ask mutual friends? How much time is spent on extracurriculars? How do we manage risk for STDs, etc.?
But the problem there is you'd be negotiating relationship terms with someone who just demonstrated to you that they couldn't be trusted. They behave unilaterally and change the terms of agreed upon arrangements (like monogamous marriage). Open relationships are based on trust too.
So what do you want? Do you want a monogamous relationship? If so, stand up for that.
"I'm not going to get sidetracked with a discussion about how natural monogamy is. You agreed to monogamy, and let me play by those rules, and changed them for yourself. That's a matter of character, not monogamy. If you don't wish to be monogamous, I appreciate your candor. I do want a monogamous relationship. We're incompatible."
If you met him/her -- you'd really them! He/she's a lot like you!
Of all the stupid things cheaters say, this is among the more patently moronic. Oh yeah, if this person wasn't screwing your spouse, you could be best friends.
Besides the obvious insult -- do you really think I have less moral sense than God gave dryer lint? -- it's propaganda to convince you that the affair partner is a really good person. Why would your cheater assert something so ridiculous? Because they're minimizing. Hey, the cheater is a good person, the affair partner is a good person. They're all just good people caught up in something larger than them both. Where is your compassion? This person is just like you. Someone you could really like if you'd get over your prejudice.
"You'd like them!" says a lot about your cheater's narcissistic worldview. You're all just interchangeable really, united in your love for the cheater. One's as good as the next, but what matters here is the centrality of the cheater. Wouldn't it be great if you were all friends together supplying the cheater kibbles? A cake fantasy come to life!
"I'm nothing like your f*ckbuddy. I don't sleep around with married people."
I need to mourn the end of the affair.
Oh hell to the no. Of all the pernicious entitlements, this one rises to the top. The argument goes that cheaters, when they end an affair (or more likely, are dumped), are in a state of withdrawal. It's a real "loss" and if you're a good spouse, you'll help them through it. Pass a hanky, be a shoulder to cry on. If you can't manage that, you churlish chump, the least you can do is understand that they're "grieving."
I'm not saying cheaters don't mourn the end of their covert hook-ups. I'm sure the loss of cake is utterly tragic. What I'm saying is why should you give a flip? You're mourning too -- your marriage as you knew it, the loss of trust, your sense of personal safety -- and the difference is this nightmare was inflicted on you. Your losses are not equivalent. What your cheater is suffering is completely self-inflicted. It's like the story of the man who kills his parents and then wants clemency from the court for being an orphan.
It is the worst kind of delusional grandiosity to expect that the person you grievously harmed be the same person to comfort you.
When I hit you in the head with that hammer, I cut my hand. Will you bring me a band-aid and kiss my boo boo?
We would think such a scenario ridiculous, and yet there are people out there who encourage chumps to accept this affair loss "grief" and be sympathetic. Why? Because they don't see affairs as decisions -- like say, hitting a person in the head with a hammer. That's so overtly unkind! Unlike screwing around and risking a person's health, which hey, is just a thing that happens with no aforethought whatsoever.
You mourn the affair partner? You mourn alone.
"Go sit shiva on your affair somewhere else. It's not my job to comfort you from the affliction of your own stupidity. I've got my own healing to do, which apparently isn't even on your radar."
For more stupid things cheaters say, and how to respond, check out Tracy Schorn's book "The Chump Lady Survival Guide to Infidelity -- How to Regain Your Sanity After You've Been Cheated On" and her blog Chump Lady.