Take Responsibility: It's Not Because He Cheats, It's Because You Stay

Take Responsibility: It's Not Because He Cheats, It's Because You Stay

Dear Gorgeous:

I have been with my boyfriend/fiancé/children's father for eight years. We met when I was sixteen and he's six years older than I am. We have two beautiful children together and he's a great provider and everything but over the years, he would not quit with the cheating! He's even cheated throughout both of my pregnancies.

I've had no one to talk to or show me what a proper relationship is supposed to be, except him. So naturally, I thought that it was okay to do everything and anything to try and keep him happy and to make him stop cheating. I've even done threesomes and now, even though he's proposed to me (again), he says that, though he's changed, he would like to have another threesome occasionally.

I'm not into females and it really made me uncomfortable to, not only know that my man has cheated on me constantly, but to see him have sex with other women in my face is beyond heart breaking. I don't know what to do. But if he's brought the possibility of marriage up again, should I believe that he's changed?

-Misled and Hurting Heart

Dear Misled and Hurting Heart,

Okay. I'm going to give this to you like a big sister should. I will not pull punches or sugarcoat my advice to you. It may hurt but I can guarantee you it will hurt less than your relationship does right now. So, here goes.

What's in a Name?

Firstly, you have not been misled. Your man is telling you exactly who he is and you are choosing not to believe him. He is actually, being very honest with you and telling you, to your face, what he wants. You made the decision to go along with it, even though what he wants is not what you want. So, how can you be mad at him for wanting it again?

Aren't you the one misleading him?

Also, he's not cheating on you because you know about it. Maybe at first it was a shock but after that, you were just too complacent to do anything. You didn't respect yourself enough to leave. The concept of cheating is simple: the person who cheats you out of knowing the truth is naturally a cheater. This person takes away your ability to make an informed decision about the relationship by withholding pertinent information, leaving you in the dark, thinking everything is okay. This is not what's happening in your relationship. 

Your man isn't cheating you, you're cheating you!

Therefore, he is not hurting you––you are hurting yourself! Everything you are feeling right now is because of you. So, the name 'Misled and Hurting' may be justified, but let's be clear about who's doing the misleading and the hurting!

About You:

Once you found out who he is, you stayed. You stayed and you had children with him and now you want to marry him because you don't think you deserve better. We accept the love we think we deserve. So, you see, the problem here isn't him––it's you! He doesn't need to change––you do!

Each of us is the common denominator in all our relationships and their subsequent issues. Nothing that happens in our lives is beyond our involvement. Whether it's the energy we give off, the things we say, or what we do, everything about us explains everything around us.

You are creating this hell for yourself and looking for him to change it. But how can he? He's the only one in this relationship who is being true to themselves. You're the liar! You're the one lying to yourself and to him about what you want and what you can stand because, even though your mouth might say you can't take it anymore, your actions say something completely opposite. And even though your mouth says you don't want to have threesomes, your actions say differently.

So, why would he have to change when he's being exactly who he is? You're the one who needs to change because you're the one living a lie.

About Him:

There is nothing wrong with a man or a woman wanting to be with multiple partners. The want or the need to not be monogamous is not the definition of a cheater. The fact of the matter is that not everyone has traditional or puritanical values, needs, or expectations.  You are a person who craves traditionalism, while he does not. You cannot have a traditional relationship with someone who is not traditional. There is nothing wrong with what he wants and there is nothing wrong with what you want. The both of you just want different things and this does not a marriage make.

If he had a woman who was interested in an open relationship, he would be a lot happier than he is with you. If you had a man who was more interested in a traditional relationship, you would be happier than you are with this guy. If you love him, allow him to be happy and be okay with the fact that the happiness he seeks cannot come from you. A man can do whatever he wants but this does not mean a man can do whatever he wants to you. 

About the Children:

I am concerned about your kids. Naturally, whatever adults do when the kids aren't around is their business and you may think what is happening between you and your man isn't affecting your children, but it is. You are an unfulfilled woman who is unhappy in her relationship; your children can feel that and will become that. Happy children are raised by happy mothers and if for no other reason, for them you must get happy. For them, you must become fulfilled. Think about what you are teaching them about life and love and the lack thereof. Think about what they see and hear. Every time you let out a deep, worrisome sigh, those children worry for you. You are not doing them any favors by staying in a relationship that has made you this unhappy for so long, with a man who is putting your health and your life in danger every time he has sex with yet another woman. Even if you find no value in your life right now, look at your children and find value in theirs. Many times, when we have lost our way, it is our children who guide us home.

Give Him What He Wants:

I am a strong believer of giving people what they want and wrote about this concept in The Vixen Manual, in a chapter entitled, 'Give Him What He Wants 'Til He Don't Want it No More.' Double negatives intended, I think it is important to allow people to be who they are and not try to change them. I think it is equally and even more so important to remain true to ourselves, at the same time. If a man wants something, he should go out and get it. But if what he wants is not what you want, then he must have it without you.

You see, my love, this is where you are tripping up. You want him to have what he desires because you love him. This is natural and good. But you're making the mistake of believing that just because you love him, everything he wants has to be everything you want. So, you comply and at the end of your unwilling submission, you are broken and defeated inside. Now, you are even easier to manipulate and the cycle goes on and on. Love him enough to allow him the space to have what he wants, but love yourself more than him, at all times.

Give Yourself What You Need:

I don't believe in working things out. I no longer believe in staying. Once the trust in a relationship has been broken, it can never be repaired. Your heart will always remember where it has been torn. You can never be with this man. You will never be happy with him because you will always remember the way you feel right now. You will always remember the things that have been said and done and they will always hurt. The grievances in your relationship are not small; they are soul crushing. You are crushed and there is nothing left here for you. It's time for you to be okay with that.

Just because you have been with a person, doesn't mean you're supposed to be with that person. Some people are just conduits. Some people are brought into your life for a particular set of purposes and once those purposes have been fulfilled, it's time for them to go. Sometimes, we force people into our lives and, even though God has allowed us to see signs that prove this person isn't for us, we ignore Him and force what we want. Sometimes, God will throw his hands up and let you have it, knowing there is a blessing in the pain that's ahead, knowing it will all bring you back to Him. 

Here's Your Homework:

I would love to tell you to just pack up and leave or to just throw the bum out and move on, but I know life doesn't usually work that way. I don't have all the information about the living arrangements, if you're working, or if you can afford to support yourself and your two children without his complete assistance. There is a lot here I don't know. But what I do know for sure is that it's time for you to move on. Knowing and accepting this is the first and most important part of what needs to happen next so, that's your homework.

  • Make a list of all the things you have allowed him to say and do to you, the things that have hurt and crushed your spirit. Start from the beginning and leave out nothing. Write it by hand, not on a computer. Feel every word as you scribble it down and feel your wrist and fingers get tired as the list becomes longer and longer. Write complete sentences, for example, I felt defeated when he... or, I was devastated when I found out he... or I disrespected myself when I allowed him to...
  • When you have completed your list, take it to the closet mirror and read what you have written, aloud. Read it, then look at yourself, then repeat what you have read while looking yourself in the eyes. Tell yourself what you have done and what you have allowed yourself to be done to you. Look at yourself as you are describing how sad or angry you have become. Take ownership of what has happened and tell yourself this, "I have done this to myself and only I have the power to change my life." Repeat this list as long as it takes for you to accept the difficult facts of your life and relationship and the responsibility you have in the perpetuation of your discontent.
  • Then, when you are sick and tired of yourself, when you are disgusted by the way you have allowed yourself to be treated, make another list. This list will be a list of things you deserve. I deserve to be happy. I deserve to be respected. I deserve to be with a man who wants what I want out of life. I deserve to be with myself for a while. I deserve to be a happy, fulfilled woman and mother. Write a nice, long list of all your desires, then read them to yourself in front of that same mirror. In fact, stick it on the mirror or the refrigerator and recite from it every single day until you feel charged by your desires. If you need to keep it somewhere private, keep it tucked in the visor of your car or in your purse and read from it every time you get in the car or leave the house.
  • If you have a very close friend of family member in whom you can confide, these exercises become even more powerful when you can share them with another and allow that person to hold you accountable. If you have someone you can trust with your life, read your lists to them and ask them to help you stay on track as you find your ownership and then, your power.

Here's What Will Happen:

Your biggest issue isn't your man's behavior, but your acceptance of your man's behavior. So, the person who needs to change here is you, not him. He is being honest about himself and you're so busy trying to hold on to someone who God has not made for you, that you have been living a lie. Now, that lie is eating you alive. When you begin to face these facts, when you stop making this about him and make it about you, you will begin to feel empowered. At first, you might feel angry or stupid but the admission that you have allowed something gives you the power to know you can disallow it! Once you are empowered, you can begin to make permanent changes. Trying to make changes before believing  in your power to change things, would be futile.

In Conclusion:

Life is all about perception. Most people see things all wrong and then wonder why things around them are all wrong! The way you have been looking at your situation is what is keeping you in the situation. Your man is everyone's man and he has already let you know that. He is not lying to you and, at this point, he is not cheating. He has told you what he wants, you know what he is doing, and you're the one who refuses to walk away from something that makes you unhappy! Change your mind and you will change your life! No one can do anything to you that you have not allowed. You are not a victim, here. You are an enabler and perpetrator. It's time for you to be okay with that and it's time for you to claim your power. As stated in The Vixen Manual, nothing moves without power and nothing changes without movement.

Community Questions:

Have you been looking at the concept of cheating all wrong? Are you still blaming someone for something you have already learned about them? Are you still trying to change your partner or hoping your partner will change instead of changing yourself? Have you been through something similar to what 'Misled and Hurting Heart' is going through? Did you find this advice helpful? Pleas leave your comments below!

New York Times best selling author, keynote speaker and workshop leader, founder of The Gorgeous Girl's Guide, Steffans Publishing Enterprises, and Karrine & Co.