cheating is the responsibility of the cheater

I was poking around in the blogs over at the Good Men Project when I found an article entitled "My Father Made Me Want to Cheat on My Husband". I read it, curious how her father's behaviour affected her relationship with her husband... and was kind of confused at the result.

It seems like the anonymous author felt that because her father cheated on her mother, this indicated some potentially biological imperative that "made" her fall in love with someone outside of her relationship. She felt that somehow she had morphed into her father's "other woman" and that's why she suddenly felt a tug outside her relationship.

Honestly, that sounds like bullshit.

Monogamy is hard. Relationships in general are hard, and often somewhat boring. People often want to stray outside of their couple, often not because there's something wrong with the person they're with, but because there's something right about their new interest. I don't think I believe in a "cheating gene" like the author mentions in her piece- I think there's a modeling or lack of modeling of various negotiation, communication and relationship skills, but ultimately, as an adult it's your responsibility to develop healthy habits of your own.

When my partner cheated on me, at first he said it was because we had been fighting and I had been yelling at him so he felt terrible about himself. He said he did it for his ego, to feel better. I didn't really write about it in my blog, because I felt so numb about it. It was bad that he acted out in that way. And it was bad that he lied to me. But what was really awful was that he blamed me, he said that I *made* him do it. Because then I second guessed myself, I wondered if we could survive a relationship in which, when he felt bad, cheating on me was a better option than talking to me. It still worries me somewhat.

We've talked about it a lot and I feel better, that he has an understanding of what that would mean and why that's not ok, but it surprised me that I asked myself if I had forced him somehow into someone else's bed. And that's particularly unfair. I'm still nervous that if I say something he doesn't want to hear he might decide to feel better by sleeping with someone. It'll take a while to break down those defenses. His responsibility was in his actions- my responsibility now is to let go of my fears and let him show me he can be trusted again.

Sorry, anonymous, but to me it sounds like your husband respects you a great deal, and you didn't know how to tell him when you developed feelings for someone else... so you kept it quiet, and let it develop until it was too much to share without potentially wrecking your relationship. How'd that work out for you?

Self awareness is all very well and good, but... it's not your dad's fault. It's not really a fault thing at all. It's a learning experience, but it can only be that if you take responsibility for walking your own path.

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