For some years I’ve said, in public places, that if I could just spend 10 minutes with a married man who is about to cheat, I could prevent it. Now eHarmony Advice Editor Jeannie Assimos has called my bluff, and asked me exactly what I would say. The details may surprise you.
The obvious truth is that whatever I’m going to write below won’t stop all men from cheating. This is because some people (men and women) are simply psychopathic. That’s a word that gets tossed around but its strict definition is – a personality disorder characterized by a pervasive pattern of disregard for the rights of others and the rules of society. Psychopaths have a lack of empathy and remorse, and have very shallow emotions. They are generally regarded as callous, selfish, dishonest, arrogant, aggressive, impulsive, irresponsible, and hedonistic.
If you’re with a psychopath, he/she is going to have little to no regard for you. These are people who can murder someone and eat dinner next to the body. No appeal to their humanity is going to stop them from destroying you so they can have a little fun.
In our scenario, the guy in question is sitting with me having a drink and he gets a text from some sweet young thing telling him to come on over. He is married and has two small children. He’s got a pretty good job, and is a pretty good person, but after 6 years of marriage he’s a little bored at home. This woman who is waiting for him is very beautiful, and he can likely take part in this act without getting caught.
What I Would Say to Him:
1. The chances are very high that you’re going to cause tremendous misery for yourself, your wife and your children.
Every cheating man you’ve ever seen on the evening news with his life in shambles thought he wouldn’t get caught. Nobody thinks they are going to get caught, but whatever your chances of getting caught are, the risks are off the chart. You will take the people in your life that you love the most, especially the innocent children, and drag them through the worst sewer of pain available to human beings. In fact, you may well ruin your children’s ability to trust when they are adults. If you’re not a sadistic madman, the idea of hurting your family should at least get your attention.
2. If you’re like most good people, you live with a deep well of positive regard and trust from your family. Living without that is going to be very hard.
As human beings, we often take for granted things that we see as common. I don’t think about the fact that my home is heated on a cold night, because it just happens without much thought. Chances are you currently live with a deep well of trust and love from your friends and family. You come and go, more or less, as you please. You probably could call your wife and say, “After work I’m going to go to Joe’s and watch the playoff game.” Your family and friends assume the best about you. That, my friend, is a powerful life circumstance. A man who is caught cheating will take that and flush it down the toilet. The freedom you’ll have to give up to reestablish your trustworthiness is so substantial that many men just leave a relationship rather than submit to it. If you cheat, you’ll be taking one of the most valuable resources in your life and destroying it.
3. If you have a terrible sex life at home, you deserve better. Demand better.
Maybe the guy in our scenario says to me, “I hear you Grant, but my sex life with my wife is non-existent.” That’s a bad situation for a man to be in. In fact, that’s not an acceptable position to be in. We have a right to expect that our sexual relationship will continue throughout our marriage. So, go and do something about it. Tell your wife that you’re willing to do whatever is necessary to mend your sex life. Don’t be shy or ashamed to bring it up. If she refuses on unreasonable grounds, it’s time to get help. Cheating, however, is not the answer. If after counseling your wife absolutely refuses to ever have sex with you again, then it’s fair to say that you won’t be married much longer and you can have a healthy sex life with someone else.
4. If you really want a variety of sexual partners, get a divorce. Be a man and own it.
Sometimes people say, “Be a man.” What does that mean? To me it means, “Stand up, take responsibility for your decisions, and do what you have to do, fully accepting the consequences.” If you’re one of these men that cannot live without a large variety of sexual partners, then you need a divorce. You don’t need to sneak around and drag your family through a life of lies and sexual risk. Divorce is terrible and a person who gets married and then just decides, “This isn’t for me,” isn’t necessarily a great person. But if I’m ranking bad behavior, the guy who never cheats and asks for a divorce is higher up the ladder than a man who just pretends he’s a faithful person and has lots of sex outside his marriage.
5. Once you have sex with this woman, you’re giving her the power to destroy you at any minute. You’re handing the keys to your life over to another person.
The moment you participate in a secret act with this person is the moment you no longer have control over your life. Sure, if this woman is married with two kids, just like you, you may have a kind of “mutual assured destruction” situation, where you both have a lot at stake. But even then, you’ve given someone else the ability at a time of their choosing to turn your life upside down. Most people fight their entire lives to have a certain amount of control over their destiny, and for you that will be gone. She can demand things. She can blackmail you. She can and often will begin to imagine a future with you that you may know nothing about, until you’re presented with an ultimatum. I won’t even mention the word “pregnancy.”
6. You’re a good person and this is going to slowly destroy you from the inside out.
You’re not a bad person. You have a conscience, and stepping out on your marriage is going to take its toll on you. You may think it won’t. You may think you can compartmentalize it, but at the very least, your assessment of who you really are will change. You’re not the honest, committed guy everyone admires. You’re a liar and a cheater, and your self-respect will diminish in a considerable way.
7. You may think this is a one-time thing, but it will be so much easier after this.
That first time you walk through the door and sleep with her, is the hardest time. After that, you’ll remember the bliss, and the lies, and the fact that you “got away with it” and you’ll be hooked.
If after all this the guy says, “I hear you, but I really want to go and sleep with this woman,” he probably is a psychopath.
What do you think? Is there anything you would add to Grant’s anti-cheating talk?