A Chronic Cheater

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About Billy Johnson II

Billy Johnson II is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and the writer of a weekly column, "Dr. Bill," on The Good Life. He has previously published on racism, and reconciling masculinity. "Dr. Bill" is dedicated to becoming a more compassionate, loving, and forgiving human being. In his spare time he is working on his dance moves! You can follow him on Twitter.


  1. Joanna Schroeder says:

    Billy, wow. Thank you SO much for this honesty. I cannot imagine how much courage it took to write this and I admire you so much for that. Being brutally honest with ourselves seems like the only real way to change.

    What do you think of the idea that cheating – the affirmation of it, the excitement of having to hide things and wondering what’s going to happen next – is like an anti-depressant (albeit a shortsighted, doomed one)? Like staving off feelings of depression by never having a quiet moment where you’re really, truly honest?

    • Joanna, I really appreciate your validation of my article. The truth is I have been struggling with the idea of articulating my experience for quite some time and only recently summoned the strength to put it into words. Of course before I could write about my past behavior I had to be willing to understand myself better and ultimately dedicate myself to making the necessary changes.

      Seeing my behavior in print has itself been highly confronting, and the responses have ranged from shock, anger, resentment and disappointment to empathy and appreciation.

      In terms of your specific question about the short term payoff from cheating: I think it’s fair to say that such behavior is similar to an anti-depressant, or a distraction, or avoidance, or other types of coping skills we use to tackle deeper issues. In the case of cheating I firmly believe that it amounts to a refusal to confront deeper issues.

      I also agree that, like any drug, the “high” will soon wear off leaving the user to make a choice between permanent withdrawal, which may mean owning up to one’s behavior and confronting the deeper psychological issues within, or “another dose of cheating” which of course will perpetuate the cycle. In this sense cheating becomes an addiction, distressful yet irresistible to the user and horribly painful to the addicts loved ones. In this sense the payoff aggressively deteriorates with time and usage, leaving elements of the vicious cycle intact while subsequently destroying relationships. Sadly, I am all too familiar with this dynamic.

      What are your thoughts?

  2. You Are Forgiven. I have forgiven you.
    Reading the first few paras of this article, I started getting pissed off because it sounds like you’re just making excuses for yourself and your (past) behaviour. But then I got to the ‘I’m Sorry’ list and my heart just broke. Now I understand that it must be hard for you too. Having been cheated on and lied to by a husband who I would die for, I do have lots of hurt and bitterness. Now I’m trying to understand that maybe it is hard on him too.
    So do I forgive him as well? Yes, I do, and I promise to never hold his transgressions against him Only if he makes an effort, like you, to change. You are already a better man, Billy, God bless your beautiful heart…:)

    • Hi Joy,

      Thank you so much for responding to my article. As I shared with an earlier commenter it was perhaps the most difficult reflection I have ever divulged. There remain moments when I feel exposed due to my willingness to disclose painful events from my past all caused by my selfish behavior and my refusal to confront inner demons which also led to hurting those who cared the most about me.

      I am truly sorry to hear that you have been the recipient of cheating behavior by someone you cared for so dearly. I recognize that no amount of pain I endured as the perpetrator of this behavior is similar to the torment you and others have experienced as the victim. The fact that you are willing to forgive your husband is amazing and a credit to your courage.

      I don’t know your husband; therefore I cannot make comments about his level of contrition or the pain he has experienced as a result of his cheating behavior. I will say that if his experience is anywhere near the same as mine then my guess is that he has some issues to confront and must challenge himself everyday to be open and honest with his feelings, and treat you with the necessary love and respect which he would like to receive.

      Also Joy, I cannot thank you enough for your words of empathy for my experience. Your words of forgiveness were especially moving. As I already mentioned my article has been met by both friends and family with disdain for the most part. Therefore I am indebted to you for your willingness to convey understanding and compassion.

  3. Christina Cooksey says:

    I know how much courage and strength it must have taken to write this. It is wonderful to read, from a man’s perspective why he would do something. I have been cheated on, and I know, for myself at least it was very touching to see a man admit that the underlying reasons why he cheated were his own perceived inadequacies, so many men blame the women they cheat on, and that is just wrong. I believe you are a better person for having written this, and on your way to so me real healing.

  4. Melodie Ross Jackson says:

    You have to be very brave to admit what you did in this article, I think you are not a bad person for cheating because you are admiting you did it because you were afraid of being alone but sadly I believe most of men cheat just because they don’t care about the feelings of other persons.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I read the cheating bit and I will admit I am total shock. It would have been nice to have received a letter from you about this considering how much we went through

  6. It would have been nice to receive this letter from you

    Or an explanation at least

  7. As someone that has experienced a relationship with you being such a closed book it is nice to see that you are realizing the error of your ways. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. I should have read those signals when we were together but sadly I ignored them. Now I can say that I am a much stronger person. Coping with my life without you was one of the hardest things I have ever done but I did it and now I can say I have a much better relationship for it now. Though I would have like some sort of explannation or letter from you

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