Why Can’t My Cheater Choose?

Cheater Confusion

Cheater confusionOne subject that we tackle regularly with faithful spouses is the question of why their cheater won’t choose.

  • “Why can’t he just decide if he wants me or her, so that I can  move on?”
  • “She can’t make up her mind and keeps saying she’s confused.”
  • “He says he loves me and her and doesn’t want to make a wrong choice.”
  • “I don’t know why she doesn’t just file if she doesn’t want to be with me.”

When you’re faced with a cheater who quite clearly has a foot in both camps, it’s understandable but misguided to view this as your cheater spinning their wheels in confusion.

Why Can’t They Choose?

So why can’t your cheater choose between you and their love muffin?

If you’re imagining your cheater wringing their hands in anxiety, pacing and muttering to themselves, “Oh which ONE? Marriage or new relationship? Oh woe, oh confusion, oh my,” that probably needs a rethink. Your cheater’s apparent indecision is not fog, and it’s not necessarily evidence of complexity, confusion, or angst – it has a much simpler explanation.

Projecting your own monogamous thinking onto a cheater makes it easy to incorrectly translate the cheater’s behavior as a struggle between which one to choose, the steady spouse or the love muffin. Your monogamous-thinking is ignoring that cheaters cheat for a reason and that reason explains why the poor confused soul ‘can’t choose’: Choosing would wreck their jollies, because they don’t want either/or, they want both.

That’s Not True!

I occasionally hear, “That’s not true!” when I say this, or even, “That’s too simplistic.” Well, what’s the alternative explanation?

It’s clear that if someone wanted their spouse and only their spouse, an affair would not be in the mix. Similarly, if someone wanted to leave their marriage so that they could ethically explore new relationships, they would simply do so, in that order.

Cheaters choose to cheat because they want both the illicit excitement of their love muffin and all the comforts and benefits of their married life, and they want them concurrently. (And don’t underestimate the power and draw of the illicit. Legitimizing the affair relationship by choosing it as the primary relationship might rob the cheater of some of the excitement and sparkles that affair gives them.)

Most affairs do lead the cheater to making a choice (though the long-term secret affair does happen), but before they do they have deliberately taken advantage of both relationships, trying on the affair partner for size, measuring them against their spouse, and weighing their options.

My cheater can't choose.

Cheater-Think: control or confusion?

Let’s splash around in the stinky ooze of cheater-think for a moment. Conducting a secret affair requires manipulation, deceit, and control over the flow of information (to both the spouse and the affair partner). These are conscious activities intended to create and maintain the necessary conditions for a cheater to pursue their affair agenda. It would be misguided to see ‘not deciding’ as a confused inability to make a choice or as evidence that a cheater is so lost and unsure that they avoid making any decisions at all.

Painting your cheater as some poor, lost, confused soul might suit your own narrative, especially as it’s more comfortable to justify reconciliation if there is some excuse or mitigation for your cheater’s choices. The truth, however, is that very little happens in an affair that is not orchestrated and engineered by the cheater – their ‘inability to choose’ is no different. Not choosing is a form of deliberate management and control, not one of poor-little-confused-lost-lamb abdication.

a) Decision Management: the invisible divorce papers

So what about the cheater who says they’re done and that they will be filing for divorce, and yet are not hurrying down to the nearest family law offices? What’s going on there?

Well, let’s remember that cheaters want both until such time that it no longer serves their agenda. Because of this they want to be in control of the timeline for any decisions that may affect them, and the faithful spouse getting uppity and threatening divorce could really throw a proverbial spanner in the works. However, cheaters often have very useful intelligence about the faithful spouse’s own motivations, gathered from any scrambling, begging, promises, and sobbing – it has given the cheater a huge hint: I still want the marriage.

Having this information gives the cheater the upper hand in continuing to control the timeline. It works to their advantage if they can stall any impetus that the faithful spouse may have towards divorce – and the cheater claiming their own intent to file can be very effective. This tactic takes advantage of any reluctance to end the relationship and can temporarily engineer some extra time in which the cheater can ‘decide’. This might seem like a temporary stall for some but it can be an effective longer-term strategy to keep the faithful spouses stagnant and in place.

b) Image Management: the marital smokescreen

Facing the truth of the worst of ourselves isn’t a comfortable process for anyone, and it’s something to which cheaters are particularly averse.

Cheaters understand the hurt that they are causing – and they often rationalize that staying with their spouse is far better for the spouse than leaving them. This allows them to spin the narrative that they are being selfless, protecting the marriage and the family, and taking on the burden of unhappiness, silently and bravely, stealing just a modicum of comfort for themselves by their affair.

The truth tends to be more that they don’t want to own or be seen as the ‘bad’ person who caused such hurt, and they don’t want to suffer the detriment that divorce might bring to not just their finances, but their status, standing, and reputation with others. They feel justifiably entitled to the pursuit of their own happiness, and can become aggrieved at any censure or repercussions for that ‘legitimate’ pursuit.

c) Risk Management: it’s all about timing

There is a reason that cheaters aren’t racing to choose their affair partner when you unexpectedly uncover their affair and it’s this: They know that while the affair relationship is exciting, it isn’t robust. They have no medium or long term assurance or security about that relationship, and they are not prepared to take the risk of losing what they have without a reasonable guarantee that they will get something better.

Cheaters want to continue their affair without having to choose their spouse or their affair partner, until the time frame suits them. They are trying the affair partner on for size, enjoying the thrill, and possibly harboring notions that it will turn into something that is concrete and has longevity. But it’s all such a risk – they risk significant losses if they choose the affair partner prematurely and it all goes tits up (which it probably will). Taking their time to evaluate the potential is the cheater’s risk management strategy. Meanwhile, they continue to enjoy the advantages of their spouse and marriage.

Playing the Confusion Game

Infidelity & Affair Help: ConfusionCheaters claim their ‘confusion’ with regular monotony, drawing their right to pursue their own happiness around them like a magical Teflon cloak that will protect them from any sticky consequences or censure. It’s not confused thinking at all to want to keep all the good stuff without any of the pesky downside, in fact, it’s quite reasonable.

Unfortunately, the faithful spouse -often quite knowingly- is also playing the Cheater Confusion Game. Their role in this game is the foundation of the popular affair fog hypothesis – faithful spouses assert that it is insanity, depression, or the mythical ‘midlife crisis’ that causes the cheater to behave as they do.

It’s neither insane nor confused to pursue happiness at the expense of others, merely self-centered.

Waiting around for the cheater to choose you makes you an active and willing participant in the game. It aids and abets the cheater in continuing to have both relationships. You scrambling to keep your cheater, reforming yourself into a better you, being a model spouse, ‘fighting’ for them? It all adds up to one thing: zero cheater consequences and lots of cheater rewardMoreover, it puts you in a position that makes you receptive and vulnerable to their manipulations and agenda.

In truth, cheater ‘confusion’ isn’t very confused at all: They seek gratification without consequence or loss (nice, if you can get it eh?). Cheaters aren’t confused about why they’re choosing an affair over any other course of action. It’s not that they’re standing there, bewildered and fretting, uncertain as to which option might either explode or improve their situation: “Oh me, oh my. What shall I do? Therapy? Affair? Talk to my spouse? Divorce? Pull a Lord Lucan? Oh whatever shall I do?” No.

Faithful spouses: If you have framed your cheater’s clear and deliberate choice of BOTH as the more palatable CONFUSION, you are likely an active contestant in the Confusion Game where your continued participation implies your agreement to your cheater having both you and their affair partner. If you are comfortable with a unilaterally imposed and unilaterally applicable open marriage (because most cheaters feel entitled to their spouse’s continued fidelity, to be clear), fair enough, but for most, being used in this manner by a cheater is more than a little repulsive.

I have not encountered a single cheater who has not understood the benefits to themselves in the affair, and the potential cost to everything/everyone else. They understand that their affair could only ever make things worse and that they will not be allowed to have ‘both’. What is surprising is how many cheaters are given just that, by the faithful spouse’s willingness to play the cheater’s game.

You may also like:


  • Six Degrees of Standing in Reconciliation
  • Don't Pet the Snakes
    Don’t Pet the Snakes: Dealing With Cheaters
  • Faithful Spouse: Under Pressure
    Under Pressure After the Affair
  • Reconciling after an affair
    The Magical Reconciliation Pixie

  • Remorse Carrots & Reconciliation

  • Unmet Midlife Foo Needs

Wayfarer

“I'm not a teacher, only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead - ahead of myself as well as you.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

22 Comments:

  1. Jollies eh?

  2. where im struggling is…i didnt know about the cheating…for months…
    the cheating relationship has now stopped…that is clear to me…
    my wife, however is still expressing unsurity of whether she wants the marriage, even after months of nurturing our sex life, having regular date nights and days etc…all seems to no avail.
    So…am i wasting my time?…there is no affair now, but still no committment it would seem to the marriage.

    • Hi Rupertdk

      Often, the attendant behaviors in an affair (manipulation, deceit, gaslighting etc) can be far more damaging in the long term than any sexual activity in an affair, so what you’re feeling is entirely understandable.

      Without having much in terms of detail here, I wonder if you have been scrambling to save your marriage, and trying desperately to repair the damage? You might like to read these:
      The Power of Mayonnaise
      The Magical Reconciliation Pixie

      Often, the faithful spouse ends up doing little more than rewarding the cheater by their scrambling. The cheater isn’t challenged by any real sense of loss – of the faithful spouse, their lifestyle, their status, the ease of their life. Why choose if you don’t have to, right? If she gets the best of you as you scramble to keep her without her having to do a jot of work, that sounds like a total win for her.

      I would highly recommend that you join our discussion boards and start learning a new coping strategy that might help you clarify your situation. If she is ambivalent, stop pursuing her and trying to salve her self-inflicted wounds. If she is not committed to the marriage, believe her and act accordingly. Instead of spending your energy on her and the marriage, it might well be time to invest that in yourself instead, disengage from the drama, and find your footing again. If that then causes her to sit up and take notice, you can deal with that from a position of strength and stability.

      Having a strategy is important, and I hope you find some answers in the forum.

      Take care.

  3. Thank-you Thank-you for this article. My husband of 19 years finally admitted to me he was having an affair on Sunday (after 6 month of wondering and denial). I asked him to break it off with his OP when i found out, & predictably he said he didn’t know if he wanted to do that. He didn’t know if he wanted to be a in our marriage anymore.
    I have spent three days walking on eggshells. Crying in my room so the children won’t hear during the day and playing “happy family” in the evening when he comes home, as if he had not dropped a freakin’ ton of bricks on my head on Sunday. It has been a living hell for me these last few days because I do actually want my marriage to survive.

    This article has me shaking. It’s SO true!! I called him and told him we had to talk tonight. For better or worse, I sent him a link to the article. I want him to know the jig is up! I was doing exactly what you said the faithful spouse does, working with his confusion, being very kind to him, hoping he’ll choose me over her. No more. I read this and my blinders have lifted!! We’re talking tonight and decisions will be made.
    There may only be 1 person sleeping in my bed tonight, but this article may have saved me from a worse fate- the hellish continuation that he was clearly intending. (Oh his OP is also married, with a small child! )
    Thank-you again! Wish me luck!

    • Hi Brandy

      I am sorry that you’re in the middle of this awful mess, but I am really glad that you found the article useful.

      It’s so common for the faithful spouse’s knee jerk reaction to be one of scrambling, without taking the time to pause and try to get a handle on what they’re facing, as objectively as they can. That you have done this at such an early point in the process is really positive.

      I would highly advise you not to send him articles/books/links at this stage – it can confuse your understanding of his own thinking and intent when you most need to observe him, without interfering. You might also like to read this: The Magical Reconciliation Pixie

      I do hope that your conversation went well yesterday. If you’d like some support through this process, please do register with our forum and post your story – I hope to see you there.

      Take care.

  4. This is a great article. I just divorced my cheating husband of over 20 years. He did not calculate the consequences of his adulterous actions. Once I found out of his affair to young cop co worker , I did not get mad. Instead I got the best attorney I could find. I took him to court. I came out the winner. He lost everything. His house, his family, his money etc. he now has to pay me spousal support, bis only child hates him and lost all respect for him. What he gained was the little minion from his work. She is nothing special ,she was just available. I am now happy and at peace. I got rid of the liar, the cheater, the idiot. He never thought I would file for divorce. Anyone who thinks the grass is greener. It’s not. My ex should have never treated me as an option. I was his wife and mother of his child. He lost everything. And I gained so much. Thank you God for taking this evil man out of my life. Cheaters do not think how much pain they inflict on their children because they are selfish idiots

    • Hi Kaya

      I am happy to hear that you are happy and at peace, and made choices for yourself which brought you that. Forging ahead into a new life, not anchored in the negatives of a cheater’s choices, is truly a success and something I applaud.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment – seeing success stories like this can really help others.

      I wish you and your son the very best.

  5. What do you do if you know in your heart and soul that he is having an affair but denies it ? Nobody in his family or my family believes me and are siding with him. My mother just told me what are you going to do if he walks away. I spent four years out of the five talking to her about it and she acted like she believed me now she doesn’t. Very confused! My husband has been abusing me physically since I started accusing him. I had hernia surgery and he caused it to tear now I have to have it done over again. In the meantime he shoves divorce papers in my face. One minute he tells me to get the surgery and then the next he says I can wait until the divorce. I’m in alot of pain and not sure what to do. I am risking my life by not having it done. And if I do I’m afraid he’ll throw me out. I already had surgery on it before that I was told that my back issues caused the first one. So if and when I have surgery again will make three total. Each time you have surgery on the same spot it weakens it even more. If he goes for the divorce i won’t be able to pack or move my things. This affair has been going on for years and years. I questioned him on my suspicions but he would just Snicker and say nothing’s going on but that’s not what my gut feeling was telling me. My mother seen things that happened between them two but as far as his side of the family they didn’t see nothing. They were very sneaky and secretive. And the sick part about it all is it’s his brother’s wife. Very Very Lost and Confused!

    • Hi Kim

      There are correlations between accusations of infidelity and domestic violence – I am concerned for you.

      I suspect, though, that you are in the same position as many who suffer domestic violence by feeling trapped in the situation. It would be remiss of me if I didn’t encourage you to report this to the police, and to request the help of emergency services if this happens again. I would also encourage you to contact the domestic violence support groups in your geographic area (either local or national). Our Emergency Contacts page has numbers you might find useful. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to them – you will find support, advice, and help if you ask for it. They can also help you find and get into a local shelter should you wish to do so.

      I would also strongly recommend that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Many lawyers offer free consultations – I’d encourage you to make a discreet appointment with them (don’t use this as a threat or leverage against your husband) and meet with them to really explore your rights, entitlements, and liabilities. Please also discuss the domestic violence situation with them – a lawyer will be able to tell you what legal protections are options for you. Often, getting sound legal counsel can help allay fears about being thrown out etc. Please do see a lawyer – you might find you are in a much stronger position than you imagine.

      In your situation I don’t think there is any value in confronting him about an affair any further – it is liable to simply escalate an already difficult and dangerous situation. I think your best option is to see a lawyer and to start making arrangements for your own safety and protection; please try to get an exit strategy in place before the situation explodes uncontrollably.

      I also suggest you read this: Infidelity and Your Safety

      Even if you choose not to make a report to the police, please do make seeking legal advice your top priority.

      I wish you well.

  6. Wow, you are definitely omto somethng….I am right now the faithful spouse in the confusion game….i am doing all the things you listed….thank you for the smack in the head

    • Hi Bo

      I’m glad that you found the article helpful. You might also like to read this: The Magical Reconciliation Pixie.

      Thank you for commenting, and I wish you the best.

    • Holding it together

      I’m in the same boat! I have also doing everything that is listed. Being the innocent spouse and watching them deteriorate in the game is not fun! Especially when you aren’t realizing that it is a game. We loved them completely and truly trusted them. Still love the person we knew. One thing you have to remember is that it isn’t the person you once knew any more. Remnants of that person are in there but the man I married would have never done this. He changed and shut the door on us! When he first started to come clean, after he threw divorce in my face, cowards way out. He made it all sound like my fault. It tore me apart. However the reasons that came out of him weren’t true! I was so mad I threw the grill around the yard just to get out the anger. That did help me keep my sanity. I can’t believe it! Before we met we both had people treat us like crap. Cheating and abuse on my end. I’ve held 2-3 jobs at times trying to keep everything going while he paid child support, who takes 1/2 his check. Thought I was doing my part. Then he does this! Today on I am sucking it up and no more pity party for him. This did allow me to see how strong I am which I seemed to have forgotten somewhere along the way! U know we, us innocent ones, can hold our heads high and we will be alright. They will have to answer to the lord later and face what they have done. I also seemed to turn back towards faith to help me grasp sanity once more. 9 years of marriage

      • Hi Holding it Together

        Thank you for taking the time to comment.

        What you’re describing is horribly common, and it is helpful to others to know that there are clearly observable patterns in infidelity, cheaters, and the faithful partners. Typical patterns of behavior and response allow us to reasonably predict the apparent zigs and zags of the cheater, and from that we can help people formulate clear, practical solutions and responses, in order to protect themselves as much as possible.

        I am happy that you have found new confidence in your identity as a strong, capable, and empowered individual, distancing yourself from the reach of an abusive, unhealthy relationship. Good job!

        I wish you the very best.

  7. To be honest, my wife after 35 years had an affair. Unfortunately i think there is more cognitive thinking involved, perhaps the early stages of Alzheimer, dementia or small brain stroke. But after she confessed, I was mad, but then confused, then realized that her affair was probably brought on by the above. But I had to put boundaries and told her, fine, if you have feelings for this man, she only knew him for three weeks, give me four years, I am on SS and can’t afford alimony but when she turns 62 in four years, she could have our marriage dissolved and she is on her own. Reverse psychology..no more feelings about that person.

    • Hi Gary

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

      It’s super common for the faithful spouse to attribute their cheater’s infidelity to something other than deliberate and conscious choice, and I understand why people do so. However, if someone’s physiological state is actually causative to their infidelity, it follows that psychology (reverse or otherwise) won’t actually resolve the issue. In fact, if there is a physiological cause for someone’s infidelity (such as a progressive, neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer’s), it is reasonable to expect a continuation and even an escalation of unwanted behavior as the condition progresses.

      In my experience, the overwhelming majority of cheaters are in full possession of their cognitive faculties and have their affairs consciously and deliberately, in the full knowledge of the risks and harm that their actions bring. Unfortunately, while confronting a cheater about their infidelity and its consequences can bring an abrupt halt to an affair, simply stopping it doesn’t begin to address the cheater’s mindset, worldview, and ethical framework from which the affair arose. Until those issues are identified, tackled, and resolved, the fundamental issue doesn’t change.

      I wish you well – take care.

  8. Yep, I’m the FS playing the cheater’s game.

    I’ve been married for 15 years, have two young kids – 7 and 2. He met her 7 month ago at business school. First it was an emotional affair, now it has some physical elements (though no sex). I confronted him about it 6 weeks ago – knew something was going on for months but couldn’t get him to tell me (and I honestly didn’t think it was this). He met her, freaked out that he felt an emotional connection there, immediately started individual therapy, but further withdrew from our family until I confronted him. He only lied by omission – never lied to direct questions, as far as I can tell. And he just couldn’t stay away from her – sees her at school, during work hours, etc.

    Anyway, I’m with you on this – but have feared destroying the kid’s world, especially right before the holidays. And of course I’m the fixer – I want this to work out. But he doesn’t want to end the affair, he’s found his soulmate and someone who understands him because they have had similar tragedies in their life or something. Plus they’ve met each other in the fantasy land of business school, where the problems are just studying and going out. I know you don’t believe in the “affair fog” but it sure looked like he was at least in the infatuation fog, and still is – she’s not doing his laundry and planning dinner and kids activities and all the rest.

    My part – just to address the blame game article – I wasn’t taking care of myself and my needs enough, I was devoting myself to the kids and to supporting him and not being selfish at all. Which I think contributed to his unhappiness because I was too dependent on him to make me happy. This is what I’m working on now – being responsible for my own happiness and taking care of myself. So I can be ok with whatever the outcome is here. BUT I’m also with you – I have responsibility in terms of how our marriage was going, but NONE that he went outside the marriage to try to “meet the needs I wasn’t meeting”. When he never approached me and told me what he wanted to change in our marriage. I think neither of us realized how important some things were to each other and ourselves. Hindsight.

    So we’re both doing individual therapy and couples therapy – but with different goals going forward I’m not sure how helpful it is. With the kids, we have to have some sort of relationship – I’m not going to demonize him to the kids, they need their father, they need to know he loves them, I love them, and we need to make their world as secure as possible.

    Of course he says he still loves me and loves the kids and he’s trying to at least be a better Dad (not sure how he reconciles continuing an affair with being a better Dad). He said last night that “this is the biggest failure of his life”, meaning our marriage, and that he was sorry. But does it have to be? Can’t we both learn from this situation and move on? Seems like I’m the only one learning though…

    Ah, a long post, I know. So – thoughts and help on what I should do? I know I can’t make him want to stay – that has to come from him, and he can’t/doesn’t want to end the affair. So does that mean I should make him go? I am ok thinking about doing this until I look at our kids – the 2 year old won’t even remember what it was like to live with his Dad! – and it breaks my heart. Help! Any advice would be great.

    • Hi Diana

      I am so sorry to hear that you’re going through this.

      Infidelity tends to run to patterns (in the cheater, the affair partner, and the faithful spouse), so what you’ve described is a very familiar story. My advice would be this:
      1. Accept that it is completely possible for a cheater to see a clear division between their parenting and their affair, committing to being a better parent without recommitting to the marriage. I personally don’t see that an affair necessarily affects one’s individual ability to parent, though it may well negatively affect the family unit as a whole.
      2. Harm to kids comes in more than one form, and while I understand your desire to raise them in an intact family, I would argue that modelling the endurance of relationship dysfunction to kids has its own long-term affect and detriment. This can be an opportunity to instead model how to respond to relationship challenges and conflict with integrity, strength, and a high personal value.
      3. My main advice here is this:
      a) Discontinue couples’ therapy immediately. His infidelity is not a ‘couple’ problem – it’s his issue. Marital dissatisfaction didn’t cause his affair so marital therapy won’t resolve it.
      b) Don’t allow him to continue to choose ‘both’. If he wishes to continue his affair, that’s his call. Unless you wish to participate in a unilaterally imposed and unilaterally applicable poly relationship (where he’s the one getting his jollies elsewhere while you become a convenient service provider in his life), it’s time to remove yourself from the triangle. You (presumably) married him on the understanding that it was a conventionally monogamous relationship. He has taken that off the table, while simultaneously wanting to continue to avail himself of all the benefits of you – that’s not what you signed up for. You didn’t sign up as a side-piece, as his fuck-buddy, as his housekeeper, or his friend – you signed up as his wife in a monogamous marriage. If he rejects part of that, I would highly advise you to take the rest of it off the table.

      Stop scrambling, don’t be grateful for the crumbs he deigns to give you, and stop Standing by using your kids as your rationale. I say it’s high time that you took back your own voice in your life: if a one-sided poly relationship is not the relationship you want, stop giving it to him of your own choice and at your own expense. Now that you are aware that he is in an affair and intends to continue it, remaining in the relationship on that basis becomes a matter of your own choice. If you are unhappy with it, why are you continuing to actively choose it?

      I would highly advise you to do these two things immediately a) lawyer up and b) get STD tested. (I have never once encountered a cheater who has geographic access to their affair partner in an emotional affair where that affair has not also been a physical affair too.) In saying that, I am not urging you to file. I am urging you to:
      a) Stop providing him with the benefits of you as a wife when he has so clearly rejected you in that role.
      b) Get some good legal counsel about your risks, liabilities, rights, and entitlements.
      c) Protect your health.

      My advice is to stop trying to ‘help’ him see the light and return to the marital fold. Instead, accept that he is making a clear and rational choice to conduct himself in this way, and make a decision that you will no longer put yourself in harm’s way while he does so. It’s time to decide that you will no longer accept this mistreatment, disrespect, and use of yourself as a convenience to him. Decide that his actions have consequences – the loss of you and all your fabulousness.

      Disengage, carve out some separate living space in your home, discontinue couples’ counseling, lawyer up, and put some distance between yourself and his shenanigans – then take a breath and stop focusing on him and his life, and turn your energy to yourself and your own life. What he is doing is unacceptable, it is abusive, and it is egregious – it’s beyond time to protect yourself from that.

      If experiencing the loss of you changes his mind, that’s the start of a very difficult journey. If it doesn’t change his mind, that’s a clear indication of his value of you, your marriage, and your family, and that it’s time to act.

      I wish you the very best.

      • Thank you. This is exactly what I needed to hear. Sometimes it’s hard to see it when you’re in it – thank you for the good advice and perspective.

        Couples therapy tonight (the last?). You are totally right – I’m done trying to help him – he’s shown his true colors. I’m only focusing on me and the kids now – he will find his own way as he will. Starting with separate living space in our home, as you suggest (since I said he could stay through Christmas, and don’t feel like I can go back on MY word, much as I might like to) then on to his own space.

        I am strong and amazing. I can do this. I will show our kids how you should conduct yourself in life and hope they model themselves after me and not their dad. Wish me luck!

        • Hi Diana

          You’re very welcome, and I do wish you the very best of luck. I am also confident that you are capable of navigating this with a kick-ass new attitude. If you do want some support along the way, you could try registering with the forum here, and asking for our Refocus strategy.

          All the best. You can do this!

  9. We’ve been together for almost 4 years. Then a career opportunity came, and I grabbed it. We talked our part in this LDR before we part ways, we we’re okay with it. Or I thought we were.

    His officemate has crush on him long time ago. And knowing he was alone, lonely and vulnerable. She made her move. And she won. They started sleeping together a month after I left. Started flirting on the party thrown by their company, the influence of alcoholic drinks indeed. And one mistake, lead to another until it became their norm. Eventually they made an emotional attachment after months of sleeping and spending time together.

    Then 7 months after, I caught him having an affair with his officemate. I confronted him. He denied it at first, showed him pictures for evidence. He cried, we cried together. He said he was very sorry, he was not strong enough to resist the temptation. He answered all my questions during the confrontation. I asked him, what was his plan after what happened. He said he will try to end everything. Ofcorz, I believe him..I love him so much.

    We we okay 2 months after the confrontation. Then his mistress started sending me messages. How happier he was when they’re together, how caring he was to her, etc. It triggered the anger in me. I called him if he was still seeing her, he didnt deny it. He said he couldn’t say no, the bitch was always knocking on his door at night. Crying and blaming him for hurting her. And he couldn’t stand seeing her cry, end up comforting her and eventually leads to sleeping together.. again.

    I was heartbroken again. I was in denial, he was the best person inside and out. I couldn’t believe he was not able to fulfill his promise.. his words. He broke my trust again. I tried to understand him, tried to understand our situation. If he was weak, while I was gone. I should be the one helping him to become strong and overcome this challenge, coz that’s what partners do. For the 3rd time, I have given him another chance. I that time, with hesitation already. I couldn’t call him ‘honey’ anymore, we we’re like talking casually. Until one night, we were on Skype. He asked me if I was still happy with him. I told him, can’t he tell whether I am or not. He said he couldn’t sense any happiness in me. We started crying again. This time, talking about letting go of each other. And that night decided that we should call it off, the relationship was not healthy anymore.

    The morning after, I booked a flight to talk to him personally. He was distant, couldn’t look me in the eye. But the way he guide me while walking, I can still feel he loves me. We went home, talked and cried again. Telling things that we will miss when this thing is over. Hugged each other all night. Until the next morning, I read the text from his mistress asking if we were done already, coz she was waiting for him to come to her. I was really hurt. I though this decision was fare, I could’t believe the decision was influence by his bitch.

    I can’t let go knowing this. I love him and Im willing to kiss and forget. But since I know, we will not grow if we tolerate this. Knowing he’ll be with the wrong person. Knowing he be with someone who’s not good enough for him. I think he was being manipulated and blinded by infatuation.

    I want to accept OUR decision, mine and his real decision which is not influenced by the distractions around him.

    I dont want him to regret whatever decision he will be doing. I love him that much that I dont want him to blame himself in the future for not doing the right thing.

    Should I help him realize he was being manipulated?

    • Hi Stan

      I am sorry to hear that you’re going through this.

      Firstly, characterizing his 7 month affair as a series of mistakes that he kept repeating is misguided. A cheater makes a deliberate choice to cheat at every interaction they have with the affair partner, and with every plan, lie, and manipulation they employ to pursue and continue their affair. None of that can be reasonably called ‘a mistake’. I would suggest you read this: The Mistake Defense.

      I think you might also find this post useful: My Cheater is a Victim of Affair Brainwashing.

      The reality is that he is already making his own decisions, Stan. The difficulty here is that you don’t like the decision he has made, and you are attributing his decision to the influence of the other woman. When you ask if you ‘should help him realize he was being manipulated’, this raises a few questions:
      1. How is he being ‘manipulated’? You haven’t described manipulation, so much as influence.
      2. We are all influenced by those around us – that doesn’t mean that we are not making conscious, deliberate, and rational decisions for ourselves.
      3. I suspect you were comfortable with your own influence on him during your relationship – what makes your influence acceptable, but her influence somehow bad? (Answer: you approve of your influence over him, and disapprove of hers.)
      4. ‘Helping him realize he was being manipulated’ really means ‘try to get him to make a different decision’.

      Stan, however painful it is to accept, he IS entitled to make a decision to leave you, even if it is not a joint decision. Your approval and consent is not required – he is an adult, capable of and entitled to make his own decisions about his own life, without reference to you. His decision to exit the relationship is his own, regardless of external influences.

      You are not his parent or his teacher, Stan. It’s not your job or your place to decide what is ‘best’ for him, who is ‘good’ for him (or not), and who the ‘wrong’ (or right) person is for him. It is not your role to protect him from regret or self-blame: he is an adult, and both regret and self-blame comes with the territory of making one’s own decisions.

      I think it’s worth taking a step back and really processing what you’re saying here, because what you’re expressing is control freakery, dressed up as protective concern for him. I understand that you love him still, but in trying to decide what is ‘best’ for him, you must ask: best for whom, and by whose measures and standards? Yours? Hopefully you can see how easy it is for the faithful partner to veneer self-interest and control as concern.

      You agreed your relationship with him was no longer healthy. Accept that YOU are making a positive decision to remove yourself from a dysfunctional relationship for yourself, and move on. Moving on means that you have to let go of trying to influence and manipulate him yourself, for your own ends and benefit. It means disengaging from his life choices and no longer being invested in the outcome those choices bring to his life. Moving on means no longer trying to reach into his life to meddle, thwart, or aid – it means focusing on your own life, without reference to his.

      I hope that helps.

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