Hurt People Hurt People: Infidelity and Self-Deception

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About Rod Arters

Rod currently resides in Columbia, SC with his three children (14b, 12g and 7b).

He has been published in both local and national publications and is currently working on a few book ideas. New to the blogging community, Rod’s blog has already been read in over 150 countries. As a result, he now considers himself to be an international blogger.

You can follow him on Facebook at “Rod Arters, Writer” or on Twitter at: @rodarters.

He also enjoys writing about himself in the third person as it makes him seem more important.


  1. Most of what you’ve described are examples of poor judgement, denial, and maybe even in some cases, delusional thinking -but they are for the most part not “lies”. In your #9, you even come right out and say that “it may be true, but…” Your analysis is shallow, one-sided, rhetorically inaccurate, and therefore, misleading. I can say with the assurance of personal experience; infidelity is much more primal, nuanced and complicated than the simplistic picture you’ve sketched here.

  2. wellokaythen says:

    The author and I probably disagree a lot in matters of theology and philosophy, so it probably won’t be productive for me to respond to the article that way. I’ll try to stick to a pragmatic, practical approach. And, I can speak pretty authoritatively only about my own experience as someone who, unfortunately, has cheated.

    First, what I agree with, or the wisdom I get from the article: During extramarital affairs, cheaters often lie to themselves or rationalize their behavior with really warped arguments. They tend to have a very imbalanced view of their needs compared to their partners’ feelings. People who surround themselves with lies are very likely to lie to themselves. (All true in my case.) Show some empathy for cheaters, because they are not lower life forms, and don’t act high and mighty because you have not cheated (yet).

    Where I disagree is with the explanation, the conclusion, and what I sense is the tone of the language. The article seems to boil adultery down to lies, pride, and sin. (The “sin” part, especially the sinful desires part, gets into that whole theological territory which tends to be a dead-end when two people don’t believe in the same things.) I’m not convinced that any affair can be fully explained that way. Simply trying hard to be a more moral person, being more honest with yourself about your lying, sinful ways, pray harder, read the Bible, listen to what Jesus says, has failed to stop many men for a few thousand years now. There seems to be more to adultery than that.

    The “my needs are not getting met” is not by itself a lie. The lie is that “my needs trump all other considerations” or that “because I feel like I need it, therefore I deserve it.” But, the reality is that a man who has an affair does so because he feels something is missing in his life. Saying that does not take any responsibility away from him, though some men might try to use it that way. Avoiding a moralistic approach doesn’t take away the cheater’s culpability. Explanation is not justification. It is still HIS responsibility to deal with that issue in an appropriate way, and an affair is the wrong way, and the worst way, to deal with that unmet thing, whatever it is. But, there is something he strongly wants that he is not getting. An affair can be a terrible, immoral, unethical method for trying to get something that may actually be worthwhile.

    Not every affair is strictly the product of arrogance, just thinking I’m king of the world and I can do anything I want. If a cheating man really truly thought that way, he would never feel the need to rationalize it to himself over and over in so many ways. Cheaters lie to themselves so often because they don’t fully believe their own lies.

    The tone seems a little ironic or even contradictory. The message sounded like this to me: Love the sinner, hate the sin. Don’t be judgmental about the sinner, just show the sinner how and why he was sinful and explain that God hates such things, but without being judgmental. Don’t lie to yourself by saying God is on your side, except when God really is on your side.

    I know if I had read this article in the middle of my affair it would have backfired. In my own life, I tend to associate my conservative Christian upbringing with doing everything I was supposed to do even if I didn’t believe in it. My religious experience encouraged me to tell people what I thought they wanted to hear so I wouldn’t get in trouble, maintain the illusion no matter what. Fake it till you make it, I had always heard, but I got sick of that life of lying, and my totally stupid, destructive way of acting out was to have an affair. So, this article would have reminded me of self-repression, which I hated, and off to the other woman I would have gone.

    Finally, I have to part ways with many Christians (and many feminists, for that matter) on the idea of “sinful thoughts.” I don’t think thoughts can be put into “good” and “evil” categories, and I don’t associate sexual thoughts with lust and therefore with evil. If the way to stop adultery is to rid the mind of lust towards any woman other than your wife, then that sounds like a fool’s errand. At least, I have yet to hear a good, practical strategy for doing so, even if I were convinced to start policing my thoughts. Just stop thinking those sinful thoughts?

    (And, my memory of that passage was that the desire to possess ANY woman was sinful. There was no exception for lusting after your wife, so even lusting after her could be sinful as well.)

  3. Hmm. Many (I’m guessing) have read. And so few (clearly) are willing to comment.

    There are fundamental belief systems at work here, I realize, that I do not participate in. It is also my experience that many of the points made (above) are not true in the lives of many men and women I know.

    But we don’t like to admit as much aloud, as though the result would be (more?) sexual anarchy and (more?) destruction of the family unit.

    I believe in fidelity. I believe in trust. I have also witnessed marriages that are broken by betrayals that have nothing to do with sexuality, and are no less a breech in the most precious of core values.

    I agree that “hurt” people are more likely to cause hurt; but there are worse hurts than an extramarital slip.

  4. James Stanuszek says:

    I have become the cheatee and the devastation is immense… to know now what I didn’t know before has the effect of walking on wet sand and trying not to let my feet sink… Each fact discovered makes the said ever more wet…. I have relied on friends and family to help get me unstuck as I wade through the emotions that plague me…

    The guidelines punctuated in this article are clear indications that at some point. The cheater becomes blind, deaf and dumb to all that makes a person, good and whole and to that basis which is necessary to maintaining any type of long term relationship.

    I have a long road ahead and pity her for revelations that undoubtedly befall her as she races towards the house of cards built upon her foundation of lies….


  1. [...] 'Hurt people hurt people' explains, but does not pardon, the damage done by those who cheat on their partners.  [...]

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