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Messed Up Things You Tell Yourself To Justify Cheating On Your Partner

The problems with complete and utter denial.

By Ellen "Jelly" McRaePublished 2 years ago 5 min read

I hate that my dating resume reads "serial cheater" during certain years of my life.

But I can't change the past, as much as I would like to.

Before I dared to cheat for the first time, I was the victim of cheating. My first boyfriend took advantage of our age gap. He was older. I was young and dumb.

He knew our separate and opposing lifestyles would provide the opportunity for him to stray. And he did, more times than I will ever know about.

Part of me knows now, on reflection, that every time I cheated on someone else following this ex, I was retaliating.

I was trying to make sure no other partner could make me suffer the way he did. I was actively avoiding getting hurt by hurting other people.

It wasn't right. I've since learned a thousand times over it was the wrong approach.

Yet, way back then, in the midst of my cheating, I didn't possess such wisdom. All I had was my misguided justifications to help me reconcile what I was doing and to alleviate the immediate guilt when I strayed from my fidelity.

This is what I told myself.

Your partner deserved it

I always found it so easy to identify an occasion when one of my exes hurt me. I'm sure you could think of ten times your current partner, friend, family member, or colleague has done something to frustrate you.

As we're humans, it's very easy for these frustrations to occur. We don't always agree, and all that.

When I was cheating, when my ex insulted or hurt me, I remembered one of these moments every time I felt the temptation.

I repeated it to myself, like a mantra, almost in a way of making my ex responsible for my cheating.

My partner goaded me into this situation. They pushed me that hard, this is what they deserve.

Oh gees, that was hard to admit. Right now, I don't sound endearing. I don't blame you for wanting to hit the comment button and tell me off for being an asshole right now.

I thought I was one too.

You weren't happy

There were times when I cheated without this tremendous forethought beforehand. Often it was on those alcohol-fuelled nights when I claimed to forget I had a partner and let my wild hormones sweep me into the arms of someone else.

When I woke up in the morning, when I could sober my thoughts, I would tell myself how unhappy I must be.

Happy people, in relationships, don't cheat, I would tell myself.

After many conversations with cheaters, that isn't true. Some of the happiest people in their relationship still cheat. Unhappiness has nothing to do with it.

That is what's messed up about basing your happiness on your partner's. It doesn't stop them from testing your trust.


The immature me loved the idea of only living once. It justified everything terrible I did in my relationships.

It's such an easy cop-out.

You say to yourself; you never know when you will get this opportunity to be with this person again.

You believe there are only so many opportunities to make physical connections with people, you have to snatch them all up at once.

I call it the cheating buffet. It's like going to an all you can eat, or all you can drink, function, and loading up your plate. You eat and drink way too much, thinking it will be the last time anything this good will ever happen.

At some point, you learn buffets come and go. The opportunity to indulge lands in your lap more than you think.

You also realise that there is more to life than what's at the buffet.

This will make it easier to break up

Everyone knows how to end their relationship. One of my exes and I established very early into our relationship that cheating was the deal-breaker.

If one of us cheated, that was it.

I didn't love this rule, because it never accounted for any situational problems or the growth of our relationship. But the rules were the rules. And when I couldn't find the words to dump him, I cheated instead.

I knew if I told him, he would insist we break up. I was happy to be the bad guy in this situation too. It made it a lot easier than saying what I honestly thought.

All those feelings about how I didn't love him, how miserable I was whilst I was with him, why I felt like every day I was with him I grew more miserable.

It was the perfect cop-out.

The relationship was doomed anyway

You can't break a broken relationship. I don't know how often I would say this to myself before locking lips with someone other than my partner. But it was logic I couldn't argue with at the time.

Stupidly, there is some truth to it.

When a relationship is well and truly over, it doesn't matter what happens next. The end result is still the same. You break up.

Relationships are a little more complicated than that. It's not about the end result, whether you're together or not.

It's more about kicking someone, or kicking a situation, when they're down. You're adding fuel to the fire, making the entire situation worse and more complicated.

Anyone else in my situation would have done the same thing

Oh please, he was so hot, I would be the fool to not have hooked up with him. Anyone else in my shoes would have done the same thing.

When you're trying to justify your cheating, social norms are your best friends. It's almost like you have this invisible crowd behind you, cheering you on.

And you convince yourself that if you walked away from cheating, they would boo you. Not cheating would be the wrong thing.

It's a strange thing to say considering most honest, loyal and faithful people would say it's the opposite. In fact, I'm sure most people, in general, would say it's the opposite, to avoid looking like an asshole themselves.

But you really can convince yourself that if you took your actions to the crowd, everyone would support you.

Whatever helps you sleep at night, right? Wrong.

There are no winners when someone cheats. Of course, the person being cheated on is the victim of deception and lies. There is no debate on that one.

For the victims in this situation, I'm sorry if anyone has used any or all these justifications in your relationships.

This excuse isn't helping you understand your partner. Nor does it help fix your relationship or have any faith in humanity.

And for the cheaters, these justifications aren't helping you, either. You're lying to yourself, covering up deeper problems with throwaway excuses.

You won't mature or find true happiness living in denial. It's simply not possible.

Denial spreads. It festers and takes over other parts of your life. You find yourself applying this justification method to your work, family, your health.

Before you know it, you can justify any abhorrent behaviour with this attitude.

For the sake of everyone, don't live in denial. Ditch the justifications.


About the Creator

Ellen "Jelly" McRae

I’m here to use my wins and losses in #relationships as your cautionary tale | Writes 1LD; Cautionary tale #romance fiction |

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Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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