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Cheating in the future

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Darkness Falls posted 9/26/2019 17:28 PM

I agree with numb&dumb but I also agree with godheals in that for some people, the temptation is not always there. I actually know of many such people, my H being one of them, who can find others attractive on a brief superficial level but never, not once, be tempted to act on it. In fact, in my ďcircle,Ē Iím pretty much the outlier in many ways. I am surrounded by people much better than I.

gmc94 posted 9/26/2019 18:00 PM

Here's the thing about temptation (or having an A for that matter): it's not there until it is.

We can take HO's smoking as an example. She quit a long time ago. And I suspect that once she got through the 1st year or so of withdrawals, she rarely (or never) was tempted to have another cigarette. Until the day she was. Until the day she did.

HO has made some internal changes since then. She can (again) say that she will never again smoke (something she may have even told her kids, long before she had an A). But one day something may happen that triggers that urge, that desire, that temptation. It can come out of nowhere. Unexpected. And the next thing she knows she MIGHT choose to go to 7-11, and then she MIGHT choose to buy a pack of Marlboros. And she MIGHT rationalize those choices the same way she did on dday. And she MIGHT not.

I suspect most WS don't ever want to have another A..... but we KNOW that there is a decent % that DO.

To me, saying "I don't ever want to do/go through that again" is very different than saying "I will never do that again".

I (and most BSs) also said I'd "never" even consider staying with an adulterer... yet I have been absolutely willing to consider R from the get go (unfortunately, there's not been much to consider in my sitch - but we are quickly approaching 2 years and I still haven't filed for D).

There's a reason my Grandma told me to "never say never" .

Zugzwang posted 9/26/2019 18:11 PM

Never. It isn't because I know what it could do. It is because I don't have the same need or reasons like I did before to make me want to cheat. I am not that selfish, entitled person anymore. I am not afraid of being vulnerable and transparent. I fill my own bucket up in a healthy way. Yep. Never. Oh, and I know how to communicate like an adult instead of shutting down like a child. My self worth isn't tied to anyone else. Including my wife and family. It is tied to knowing I am someone better without faking it.

sassylee posted 9/26/2019 18:30 PM

If I can add my perspective into this conversation as a BS with a reformed WS:

Some time into our first year of reconciliation, my H took my hands during a productive and healing conversation about the affair. He looked into my eyes and said, ďI will never do this to you again. I know I would never, ever cheat on you again.Ē My stomach turned and my body went cold. I said ďNo! Donít say that! No! I need you to say ĎI am very capable of having an affair - because Iíve already done it once. I have it within me to do it.í This way, you acknowledge your vulnerabilities and you will consciously protect us. Since you know you are capable - youíll do more to implement and respect boundaries that will prevent another affair.Ē

Iím paraphrasing obviously, since it was at least 6 years ago - but i remember it well. Every spouse takes vows at the beginning of a marriage. And in front of an official and sometimes hundreds of important family members and lifelong friends, we vow to never cheat...and then we find ourselves here on SI however many years later. You see, my husband already declared he would never cheat on me 17 years earlier and look where it got me.

These kinds of ďneverĒ statements are passive. But by acknowledging cheating is possible, one must actively work to prevent it. If one knows they will never cheat - then why not be chums with opposite sex coworkers? If you know youíll never cheat again, then whatís the harm in texting with a female friend you met playing tennis? Itís okay because you know youíll never cheat again...and then you find yourself in the exact same situation you were in before when you knew youíd already promised youíd be faithful but ďcouldnít help itĒ because feelings got in the way and body parts got tingly.

I suppose the best thing my husband could have said was ďI will consistently and consciously maintain my boundaries so that Iím never in a position to develop feelings, or get drunk on ego kibbles. I will consistently and consciously work on my sense of self so that Iím capable of internal validation and remain in control my thoughts and feelings.Ē

But then again - who actually says that?.

[This message edited by SI Staff at 6:32 PM, September 26th (Thursday)]

godheals posted 9/26/2019 18:40 PM

ďI fill my own bucket up in a healthy wayĒ

Zug, I was also thinking about this for myself.

I thought it was my job to make my H happy and it was his job to make me happy. I had to learn how to fill my own bucket in my life.

Also why do some compare cheating to smoking or being an alcoholic? Smoking/an alcoholic is an addiction or maybe a disease. But not ever cheater is addicted to cheating. I believe some are addicted to it. Itís the excitement, the high, the newness that they love about it. They becoming addicted to it. I certainly didnít do it to get a high from it. Sometimes I think comparing cheating to an actually addicted is not a fair comparison. Like I said not all cheaters are addicted to cheating.

Rideitout posted 9/26/2019 18:46 PM

These kinds of ďneverĒ statements are passive. But by acknowledging cheating is possible, one must actively work to prevent it. If one knows they will never cheat - then why not be chums with opposite sex coworkers? If you know youíll never cheat again, then whatís the harm in texting with a female friend you met playing tennis? Itís okay because you know youíll never cheat again...and then you find yourself in the exact same situation you were in before when you knew youíd already promised youíd be faithful but ďcouldnít help itĒ because feelings got in the way and body parts got tingly.

Wow Sassy, did you hit that one right on the head. I often see BS's saying some version of that, and, often, I leave it alone. Maybe they are right. But I'll tell you, a whole lot of now cheaters said the exact same thing to themselves for a very long time before they were wrong.

My internal dialogue is entirely different. I know I could cheat. I also know I'd enjoy it greatly if it was anything like my W's A. So I actively work to avoid it, which, for me (personal boundaries) means keeping women, especially attractive women, at arm's length. That's just my personal boundary. I won't go out to eat 1-1 with women at work, I won't get a "nightcap" with women after work, I won't workout with women in the gym. Nope, none of them. I know myself, and I know, without question, I'm capable of it. Add in my W's A, and frankly, now, I'm even more careful, because now I do feel like many other MH's, "I deserve it" and "Serves her right".

My plan could fail. A woman could walk right up to me and proposition me out of the blue. But it's worked so far, and I think it'll continue working. But the moment I tell myself "I'm above this" or "I'm a better person" it's just a matter of time until I'm spending way more time on the wayward side. I admire people who "know they won't cheat" and are right. But a WHOLE lot of people are wrong about the steadfast insistence that they won't cheat, including, of course, my WW.

Iamtrash posted 9/26/2019 19:27 PM

I might be too new to this to answer, but I will try anyway.

I never realized the extent to which this would hurt my BH. Sure, an affair would hurt. Itís betrayal of the worst sort. I just never considered how much that entailed. First and foremost, I wasnít thinking about his needs and feelings, so I certainly wasnít considering what heíd think and feel about me cheating. Second, I never thought of cheating as abuse. After seeing what it has done to him, I am absolutely in agreement that itís abuse.

We have survived the loss of a child. We have survived an autism diagnosis. We have survived viscous fights over the years. We were never a dream couple. We have been nasty to one another. I am certain I have done more than my fair share of being a terrible wife, even before all of this. None of these instance even came close to seeing his face as he realized this was his new reality. Out of respect for his dignity, I will not talk about the specific physical, mental, and emotional turmoils he has faced. All I will say is that no tragedy we have ever faced even comes close to what I have done to him.

Now that I see the pain and damage I have caused, I could never bring myself to do this again. Yes, I did it once. I was so ignorant. I had no clue how much this would destroy him. Now that Iíve seen it for the abuse it is, I couldnít ever bring myself to repeat this behavior. There is nothing he did or didnít do to deserve my choices and shitty behavior. Watching him suffer, seeing his pain, hearing his emotions throughout all this was life changing. I see myself in a whole new way, and frankly, I donít like what I see. I could never live with myself if I ever hurt him like this again. Knowing the reality of the abuse has altered my thinking process completely.

Darkness Falls posted 9/26/2019 19:29 PM

See, I *donít* see the harm in being casually friendly with opposite-sex coworkers. Itís not hard to not be inappropriate. Iíve personally never come close to cheating with a random person or casual friend/acquaintance/random coworker. Itís not hard for ME to keep things on the up-and-up.

Exes were, and potentially could be, my kryptonite. They are the ones I have to have much stronger boundaries with.

sassylee posted 9/26/2019 19:59 PM

Iím like you RIO in this way. Not that I think Iím particularly vulnerable or think Iíd enjoy it - but I donít ever want to find myself in the position of having to make a choice - I donít want to have to say NO to something I may want - so I avoid ever wanting it. I donít want the temptation. Why play with fire? Iíve been in situations at work where a good looking male coworker says something and I feel flattered - and I may begin to feel fluttery? You know - they say something that is like praise and you may blush? When I feel that - I shut it down fast internally with self talk. I give myself shit. ďDonít be a fool. He said your point was insightful. Lots of people make insightful comments - doesnít make yours any more special than anyone else. And so someone noticed. What are you lacking today that you react to a man telling you something you should already know yourself.Ē Then I will avoid that coworker until my mind gets right.

It doesnít happen often but I self check all the time. When I was younger and less informed about how slippery the slope can get - I might have turned it into a mental tale - ďI wonder what it would be like...Ē I absolutely donít do that anymore. If I expect it from my RWH - I should be able to do it myself.

sassylee posted 9/26/2019 20:09 PM

DarknessFalls - Iím friendly. I work in a large school and Iím part of many working teams as the music teacher. I hope my coworkers would consider me a friendly coworker. But weíre not friends - the men I mean. I help them out with work related tasks but I donít know anything about their private lives. I donít know their hobbies or even their music preferences. I donít know how many children they have or even if theyíre married. What I know is work related. I donít have conversations that would include that kind of information.

hikingout posted 9/26/2019 20:56 PM

GMC- I feel I want to clarify my story about the smoking.

What I was saying is I never got the urge to smoke the second time. I willfully decided to go and do it, with all the information in hand. There was no compulsion towards it. I could have easily avoided it. But I didnít, I think that is what relapsing and having an affair would be like for most non-SA people. Itís not an old addiction calling to you. Itís a willful act that you know what is going to happen. You start step one and you already know what step two looks like. The first time I smoked I didnít know how hard it was to quit or how easily I would become addicted. The second time I could not claim innocence of that knowledge. I knew by about two packs in I would be hooked. I do think it was easy for me to quit the second time because I had already been doing self work that didnít make that look attractive as a coping mechanism.

I said that in the context of saying I think an SA is different. I think that they have a compulsion and for many they are whiteknuckling it until they act out again. But I will say again I donít know if that is true because I have very little first hand knowledge other than what I read.

I am not sure who we see here in terms of relapses- but most of the time I think itís the first type. They willfully make that decision with all the information in hand. I canít imagine that person ever did the real work the first time or at least the right kind of work. Or as zug said they wouldnít have that void.

I can appreciate the perspectives of everyone who has commented. And, while I do not believe I am a person who is capable of willfully making that decision again, I do not intend to believe that I will always be as healthy as I am now without the villigence that I intend to keep over that. But I do believe I am a safe bet based on the person I have become and am still becoming. I donít know how a ws can move forward without that mentality - anything else is wishy washy or shades of grey. Being wishy washy is what got me here in the first place.

LongSigh posted 9/27/2019 01:17 AM

Nothing could scare me quite as much as hearing my WH say that. It means heís letting his guard down, growing overconfident his track record of weakness and corruptibility.

Plus, that statement screams ego.

hikingout posted 9/27/2019 07:47 AM

Thatís an interesting take - being in the ego. (I can understand the first part as that has been hashed out a lot in the post)

I donít feel I was in the ego the other day when I said it - it was a statement made in passing without grandstanding or ďlook at meĒ or with some intention of making myself feel better or seem better. It simply is the way I feel. I think sometimes a situation can change your outlook and who you are forever. That's what it feels like for me. Regardless of outcomes or who I am with- my relationship with myself will be the most important. Being vigilant over my own mental health and happiness has to include adherence to my moral compass. I want to live a life I am proud of. I donít want darkness and secrets. I can appreciate if people read this as grandstanding or ego, but for me it just is and it feels authentic to me.

Zugzwang posted 9/27/2019 08:25 AM

If one knows they will never cheat - then why not be chums with opposite sex coworkers? If you know youíll never cheat again, then whatís the harm in texting with a female friend you met playing tennis? Itís okay because you know youíll never cheat again...and then you find yourself in the exact same situation you were in before when you knew youíd already promised youíd be faithful but ďcouldnít help itĒ because feelings got in the way and body parts got tingly.

Easy, and doesn't prove a thing for those that change and know their reasons. I made friends for attention and validation. I always knew that. I always wanted that. I craved what I didn't fill for myself or have when I was immature and younger. I don't want that or crave it. I don't make female friends any longer. I validate myself. I think it is interesting that there are BS that state they would never cheat and it is acceptable. I certainly believe them because they don't have the reason to and they are healthy. Yet, a WS can't ever become healthy? It is unfathomable that a WS can't become healthy enough to never want to do that again? Then what the Hell are you guys here for? To just avoid hurting your BS and white knuckling it your entire lives? Sounds like a death sentence for any BS and marriage if you truly don't believe a person can change and become like BS and other people out there that would never cheat. As for those that cheat again. Well, I guess they never changed.

Also why do some compare cheating to smoking or being an alcoholic?
I believe every cheater had addictive personalities in some amount. Especially to attention. I think if they do some introspection they would find some other thing they were addicted to. When SWATS wife was here she swore up and down how this wasn't her character. blah blah blah. Then she came to admit she always had to be the center of attention. She strived to get it in various ways. Doing things to get the thanks, flirting to be the center of the room, arguing to get her way all the time, throwing pity parties to win arguments. When she posted that it made me really self reflect about who I was and how cheating wasn't out of character. I believe many cheaters have the same and most likely it was overlooked or accepted flaws by their BS because until they cheated it never really hurt them that much and that is what a spouse does..love them despite their flaws.

You don't have to be vigilant if you are indifferent. I am a different man. In the past I was open to it. Now, I walk away. If it continues as one coworker tried, I simply said you are invading my personal space it is inappropriate and unprofessional stop. In the past, I would have said nothing but secretly enjoyed it if a co-worker stood too close or laid a hand on my arm.

Never isn't passive, if you have changed. It becomes no different than any other choices in life where you never would do something. If anything giving into the possability sounds like trying and not doing to me. Do it or do not. There is no try.

hikingout posted 9/27/2019 08:43 AM

Well stated, zug.

I do think the same exact things other than I do feel I will be vigilant. Not because I fear I will cheat, or act without integrity. I donít have that as a fear at all. Moreso because I know I found myself in this space of ďsleepwalkingĒ and not being in control of or responsible to my happiness and needs. This led to a lack of understanding what they were and led me down a full path of problems that the affair was only part of. So I will be vigilant over being responsible for myself. But I am also years behind you and still doing work so thatís probably a difference in that perspective.

I love that you quoted yoda. That is what my husband is saying to me in many ways. And I truly think he says that as my friend and not from his bs perspective.

Rideitout posted 9/27/2019 09:00 AM

I donít feel I was in the ego the other day when I said it - it was a statement made in passing without grandstanding or ďlook at meĒ or with some intention of making myself feel better or seem better. It simply is the way I feel.

HO, not picking on you personally, but I did want to make a point based on what you said.

Simply put, feelings change. They aren't a reliable guide to anything (other than "I'm hungry" and would like something to eat). Whenever I hear people making a decision based on "feelings", it's almost always a decision that's not in their best interest. As some of you might have surmised, I work in sales. About 20% of my education in sales is "what does the product do" and "how does the product compare to other offerings". The other 80% is "feelings". How to elicit a feeling in the customer, get them to believe this will solve their problem, build a scarcity mentality, negotiate a deal based on personal friendship.. Lots and lots of training in how to get people to make, in at least some cases, an irrational decision based on their feelings. Do you need what I sell? Well, in a lot of cases, no, you don't. So I need to make you feel like you do, and, at least in my industry, there are a million options that all do basically the same thing, some of them at a lower cost. So I need to make you feel like we're the best partner; a mix of soft skills and some technical expertise, but mostly "sales side" stuff. Incentives, partner levels, meetings with the CEO, etc, etc.

Now, if I was free to say what I really thought, a lot of my customers would be better with other solutions. Often times, I come in and the customer has already identified the best solution (not me) and I have to make them "feel" something to get them to go my way. Sometimes I'm able to do that, sometimes their technical guy won't leave the room and I can't get past him to deliver the "feels" pitch. :)

You know what I want? I want to do "rational selling". I want to have the best product and basically show up and have you want to buy it. I hate emotional selling, hate it with a passion, because it's simply a manipulation of the other person to get an expected outcome. Sound familiar? Yes, in my eyes, it's near identical to the process whereby an AP is groomed. And, I'm sure it also explains why my co-workers spend so much time in the arms of other women; they are all good at selling a "fantasy", which, of course, as you and others have pointed out, is part/parcel to many in an affair.

I don't want to operate on "feels". I want to operate on principals that guide who I am/want to be as a person. Feelings are a terrible guide for me, they got me in all kinds of trouble as a young man, hurt a lot of people in the wake of the things I did. All because I "felt like it" and, following my feelings well.. Felt good. As I'm sure following my feelings into the arms of another woman would feel good too.

To your specific point, I don't "feel like" I'd cheat either. I know I could. I know I'd enjoy what your typical affair involves. But I don't feel the desire to do it, don't feel all that attracted to the women in my circle, and don't feel like I could do that to my wife. But I don't KNOW it, I just feel it. What I know, if I reduce my exposure (by limiting my time with attractive women, not flirting, not going to dinners with female co-workers, not going to bar after work, etc), I greatly reduce the chances that my feelings with betray me. Not reduced to 0, there's always the boyhood fantasy that a beautiful woman walks up to me and offers up sex. It could happen, but it's unlikely. So by avoiding situations where I'm asking myself "How do I feel about this person" it short-circuits, for me anyway, the possibility of getting into an A with that person. Also, kind of unfair, but I just don't have that much "avoiding" to do. I work in a company that's almost all men, travel with almost all men, sell to almost all men, and can avoid most co-ed activities without my wife present without much/any difficulty. Others don't have that luxury, a woman working in my company cannot isolate from the men like I can from the women, for example. So I realize I'm a bit of corner case, but, I think that the principals can apply to everyone. Do you really need to go to a bar with your opposite sex coworkers? Probably not. Do you really need to workout with an opposite sex personal trainer? Probably not. There are lots and lots of ways that we can all build up our "affair armor" but there are 2 paths for that. One is making the armor thicker, which is what a lot of people seem to grab onto. More awareness of what inappropriate looks like, better boundaries, etc. The other way to have better "affair armor" is to stop getting shelled/shot at! No, the armor isn't thicker, but it can last a lot longer and protect the people inside much better if we don't park our tank in the middle of the battlefield and say "bring it on, my armor is impenetrable!!". My W, of course, was that "tank". She thought herself entirely invulnerable to any level of shelling. She was wrong, as are a whole bunch of other waywards here.

hikingout posted 9/27/2019 09:11 AM

I donít disagree. Feelings are not to be trusted.

I have always had good boundaries with men. I donít spend time with them, didnít before my affair. I donít go out to bars with friends.

When I look back on the affair I think I used to think it was a slippery slope. But in further introspection I donít think thatís the case. I willfully had an affair. Spending time with the AP alone was tremendously out of character so there is no other explanation that makes sense. . I agree with sassy (and you) in that you donít put yourself in situations that you may want more from. And I have lived that way my entire married life. Thatís why I know I willfully did what I did - not only did I spend time alone with him I already knew what he was. The denial on that was deep but to say I didnít know it was coming was a lie I was telling myself.

I held onto the denial of that for a long time. But thatís another reason I see an affair as a willful act. I will be vigilant not to create an environment emotionally that I will want to act out in that way again. But boundaries with men? No problem. I have no interest in breaking promises I have made to myself by then turning around and knowingly putting myself in that position again.

So I donít disagree with you. And I donít disagree with the others either. But I do feel I know I wonít do it again and for all the reasons already stated.

godheals posted 9/27/2019 09:58 AM

It almost seems like a WS is not capable of cheating again. Maybe saying that statement is kind of a slap in the face for some BS because they never thought they would in the first place. I am very much aware of who I am and no longer feel the need to get my validation from the opposite sex. I could give two shit now if a guy flirts with me or pays attentions to me. I didnít need a guy to make me feel good about myself. I am not looking for someone to make feel wanted or loved. I know now I need to learn that I am the one who needs to make me feel I am good enough for myself. I also know itís not my Hís job to make me feel happy. Spouse are not always going to fulfill each otherís needs at every given moment. I have learn that the hard way. When I feel like I am not getting what I need from my H I have learn to talk to him about that. Sometimes he receives well and other times he donít. But I am not going to weight myself worth on what a guy thinks about me or how much he pays attention to me.

For some WS once you know your are broken and fix your shit you know the right tools to keep yourself from feeling broken again. You learn better coping skills and boundaries. You no long seek whatís missing inside of you because you learn how to deal with that on your own. I was so codependent on my H before my A that I could not even watch a movie without him. If he told me he will watch one with me but never showed up to watch it with me I didnít watch the movie. I was never able to do things without him Now I am more then capable of doing things without him. It feels good not wanting to reply on someone to fulfill you.

No I donít want to put my H through that kind of pain and hurt again. But I also know I donít NEED that for myself anymore.

sassylee posted 9/27/2019 10:01 AM

Zug - Iím a BS who wouldnít say Iíd never cheat. I say ďwith my current mindset and mental health - I wouldnít cheat.Ē I havenít experienced anything yet that would lead me to make that unhealthy choice. I work to keep it that way.

hikingout posted 9/27/2019 10:51 AM


I can truly appreciate the humility in your statement. It shows how deeply you have worked to understand the nature of infidelity and to the degree in which you are healed.

But I am going to challenge it for a second - just playing devils advocate not because I am really doubting how you think or feel.

I can not imagine under what edge case scenario that you would actually cheat. You know how deeply it hurt you, you understand trauma, you have volunteered for years on a site that explores infidelity. You know the nature of affairs and their falseness.

Also as explored on another recent post, I donít think you trip up and suddenly become unhealthy. But like zug has stated itís likely years of patterns of unhealthy behaviors that have come to a head in some ways. I feel my affair was born of a culmination of a long period of inauthenticity followed by a crisis. So I can understand you might have a crisis in your future (though I truly hope not) but escaping into that fantasy world would be so much harder with all the things that are now part of you.

Infidelity has shaped who you are today, I think I would be more inclined to believe you would drink or shoot heroine in your arm before you would go down that path.

No one has a crystal ball. I believe there are some bs on this board who will cheat sometime in their future- statistically itís just probable. But there are a set of you that I do not believe would be capable of it when push comes to shove and you are one of those people. If it happens let me know because I will know Armageddon is near I hope you know this is said with great respect.

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