In the vast sea of information available to those of us on the wrong end of infidelity, the overwhelming majority of literature leans towards finding a way to work things out after you’ve been betrayed. A noble idea I suppose but at what cost? I don’t necessarily subscribe to the cliche, “Once a cheater always a cheater” but I do think that cheating permanently alters your relationship, and not in a good way.
When I found out my ex had an affair, my first instinct was to file for divorce but my I’d already invested 25 years in the marriage. That is a lot of time invested and a huge loss via divorce! Shortly after that realization, my thoughts slowly woke to the reality that I would be single again in my mid-forties. I was utterly petrified and out of pure, unadulterated fear I told my gut to simmer down and began to research how I could salvage my marriage after infidelity.
I put my best foot forward; discussed it with my ex and we agreed to stay together. If only I’d read the following nine reasons that being alone is better, maybe I would’ve saved myself some time and heartache:
Why Staying With a Cheater Is Worse Than Being Alone:
1. It was their choice to cheat:
No matter how you slice it, cheating is not a mistake and please don’t ever let anyone tell you that it is, especially a cheater. It is a choice; a series of very deliberate choices actually, that lead a cheater to sleep with someone who is not their spouse. This is done with no regard for the faithful spouse. It’s hard to continue living with someone when you finally get that they purposefully chose to hurt you.
2. They put your health in jeopardy:
There is no sugar coating the reality that unprotected sex with someone else while the cheater is still having sex with you, puts your life in jeopardy. Sexually transmitted diseases are no joke. Feel like a friendly game of Russian Roulette? No, you say? The difference between the latter and the former? Not much except I asked if you wanted to play. Most faithful spouses are not given that choice by the cheater and if they will make that choice once, they may very well, make it again.
3. They don’t respect you:
Let’s face it, intimate betrayal is the most egregious act you can make against marriage vows. Cheaters disrespect the cheated-on in about the worst way possible when it comes to marriage. Staying with them after the fact will not likely earn you more respect from them. As an added bonus they are more likely to repeat the behavior because they got away with it the first time.
4. You won’t respect yourself:
While we’re on the topic of respect; you can flush self-respect and self-esteem right down the ole porcelain facilities after the discovery of an affair. It takes a very long time and a lot of work for a faithful spouse to finally come to the realization that their spouse’s affair says everything about the cheater’s character and nothing about them. In the mean time they wonder incessantly what that ‘other person’ has that they don’t.
5. You can’t win this game:
Staying with a cheating spouse automatically enrolls you in a game that you can never win because the outcome is rigged. You feel like you’re in constant competition with this other person but you never really know what you need to do to win the game. You’re best to follow the advice of the computer in the movie War Games: “The only winning move is not to play.”
6. Goodbye trust:
You will never trust him/her the same way. Some people will tell you that “blind trust” isn’t good anyway so you’re just better off without it. I don’t know what blind trust is, but I’m here to tell you that is not what I had with my ex. If I did, I never would have suspected him of cheating in the first place! I trusted him like most spouses trust their husbands or wives.
Unfortunately I never fully grasped just how important that trust is until I didn’t have it anymore. At all! Rebuilding that trust to the same place it was before the affair is just not possible; unless you can get your hands on one of those mind eraser pens from Men In Black.
7. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior:
It’s just a plain, fun fact. And yes, I do understand the proclivity to “Dance with the devil you know.” Let’s just remember what that devil already did. This philosophy often goes hand in hand with the fallacy that “everybody cheats” and the ludicrous statement “there are no guarantees that you won’t end up with another cheater.” The former is a fear tactic because everyone does not cheat! The latter is a ludicrous fear tactic because I don’t have any guarantees of anything, including my next breath. Quite frankly, I’d rather take my chances with someone who has a clear slate thank you very much!
OMG do those little buggers suck! Every year around the anniversary that a faithful spouse discovers they are living with Mr./Mrs. Cheater McCheaterson, their mind brings back every single memory as though it just happened. During that initial year post discovery, those triggers play on a psychotic loop that could be likened to the movie Ground Hog day. Of course, your version doesn’t star Andie Macdowell to make it endearing. Affair triggers literally disappear when you divorce. While you may get other triggers to take their place, it’s nothing like affair triggers.
9. You deserve better!!:
It is by far the best reason I favor being alone over staying with a cheater. If you take nothing else from this article, please take that!