“Honey, I made a bad mistake, I’m so sorry.”
How many times has a cheater uttered these words accompanied by a flood of tears?
9 reasons why cheating is a choice, not a mistake
Cheating is a choice.
No matter how horny somebody gets, how drunk they are or how bad their relationship is, the decision to sleep with somebody else is still a decision.
It’s generally a very bad decision, but it’s not an error like stubbing your toe on a door or burning breakfast.
Here’s why this distinction matters so much.
1) Cheating is selfish and cruel
There are hundreds of reasons to cheat all the way from an unhappy relationship to just being bored.
But cheating is always selfish and cruel.
When a relationship is no longer livable, it’s time to end it no matter how hard that is.
Cheating is a way to dodge the pain of a breakup while still enjoying the pleasure and connection of a new partner.
It’s wanting to have your cake and eat it, too.
Mainly, it’s just cruel and selfish, and it’s a bad choice to make.
Tara Brown pulls no punches when she writes that:
“Cheating is not something you do by accident because you can’t control yourself.
“Every action you make is approved by your brain which means YOU made a decision to make another human being feel miserable by enjoying your moment of happiness.”
Brutal, but true.
Here’s the thing: there may be many reasons why someone cheats and many biochemical and psychological factors that go into it.
But it’s still a decision, just like stealing is a decision or shouting at someone is a decision.
2) Cheating is cowardly
At heart, cheating is cowardly.
One of the top reasons why cheating is a choice, not a mistake is that it’s often done instead of breaking up.
A partner who wants to end the relationship decides to cheat instead. They figure they can just delay the eventual breakup, or maybe their loved one will get the message and break up with them first.
It’s a cowardly move, because it avoids confrontation and goes behind your partner’s back instead.
Not only is it dishonest, it’s just weak.
Choosing to cheat is choosing to avoid conflict – at least for the time being – but the price is always a huge loss of self-respect.
If you want to break up with someone, as hard as it is you eventually need to go for it.
Trying to worm out of that by cheating or distracting yourself with other adventures and partners won’t make the pain go away and it will only make the eventual disappointment and conflict even worse.
3) Cheaters assume they can be forgiven
Another one of the reasons cheating is a choice, not a mistake is that it’s based on a specific calculation.
No matter how sloppy the cheating situation was or how spur of the moment, it almost always has a specific assumption underneath it.
The assumption is that the cheating will be forgiven.
The cheater believes he or she more or less has a get out of jail free card and can afford getting busted once or twice.
This kind of arrogance is just totally revolting, and you don’t have to buy into it.
They try hard not to get caught, of course, but saying it’s a mistake is a way to try to beg forgiveness.
As genuine as it may be, claiming to have made a mistake and not a choice is an arrogant way of demanding forgiveness.
4) Cheaters know what they’re doing
There are common reasons that cheaters give for why they cheated and it wasn’t their fault or a choice.
The most popular are:
- I was very drunk and didn’t know what I was doing
- I got seduced by the other person and wasn’t prepared for the sudden rush of attraction
- I tried to drown problems I was having in the arms of a stranger
- I’ve been under huge stress and it just sort of happened!
- I thought we were just friends, but it turns out he / she had romantic or sexual feelings for me! I really never expected it.
Let’s give cheaters some basic respect here:
Cheaters know what they’re doing.
And in the case of extreme intoxication making them forget what they did, it still brings up the question of why they made the choice to drink so heavily and let themselves go.
How many times has a cheater been an innocent victim of seduction who was strongly resisting? Perhaps sometimes, but there’s a word for forcing someone to have sex: it’s called rape.
So unless the cheater was raped, they had some part in this interaction and made a choice to allow it to happen in some way.
I’m not saying there are never shades of gray, but they’re usually not as flattering to the cheater as he or she would like to believe.
5) Cheating usually happens in stages, not all at once
The truth about cheating is that it usually happens in stages.
And the first stage is becoming open to the idea, thinking about the idea and then thinking about the ways in which you can do it and get away with it.
Once the actual flirting, kissing and sex takes place, it’s usually the final piece of the puzzle, not the initial cause.
That’s part of why cheating is almost always a choice.
It’s not just something that folks stumble into like they walked into a trapdoor and fell down.
It’s more like a trail they choose to go down one day with warning signs all along the path which they choose to ignore.
Then they follow that path to the end, get caught and want to tell you it was a bad mistake?
There were a lot of choices and ignoring the warning signs that led to that “mistake,” that’s for sure…
6) Cheating isn’t just about sex
Another one of the reasons why cheating is a choice, not a mistake is that it’s about far more than sex.
Even cheating that’s just two people knocking boots involves a conscious betrayal.
On the flip side, there are cases of two people who cheat emotionally even if they never have intercourse.
Think of it this way:
If someone is interacting with another person in a way they wouldn’t want their partner to know about then how is it not cheating?
There is plenty of room for close friendships outside of relationships and marriage, but there’s no real excuse for keeping it secret.
Cheating isn’t just about sex, it’s about emotional betrayal, too.
And it’s a damaging decision to make.
7) Cheaters often cheat again
Cheaters tend to cheat again, which is part of what makes the “mistake” justification so hard to believe.
If it’s such a random and awful mistake, why do they keep making it?
The truth is that as genuine a person as a cheater may be in other circumstances, the excuses they’re making to cheat are usually just that…
Whether they swear up and down that they’ll never make the same mistake or claim that the cheating meant nothing, they have a nasty habit of doing it again, and of falling for those they cheat with.
Be aware, because a cheater is often a repeat offender.
“The cheaters as I’d like to call them, decide to make an excuse and call it a mistake.
“Either they say, ‘I’ll never do it again,’ or ‘it was a mistake you’re the only girl/boy I love,’ but deep inside they know it’s a lie.
“It is not a mistake, it’s a choice.”
8) Cheaters thrive on gaslighting and dodging blame
The thing about cheaters is that they make a choice and then try to walk it back or make excuses when they get caught.
In rare cases, the cheater will admit what happened of his or her own accord, but for the most part it’s a matter of getting caught.
Cheaters thrive on blaming you for what they did or dodging culpability by saying it was a one-time mistake or a symptom of broader problems in your relationship.
Always remember that it’s a choice, not just a mistake.
But also keep in mind that you don’t have to necessarily give up on your relationship because of cheating.
If you feel there’s still hope (and love) there, you can choose to give it another go.
9) Cheaters get turned on by knowing it’s wrong
Another one of the common issues about cheating is that the fact that it’s wrong is actually one of the reasons is turns some people on so much.
Like anything that’s taboo, the shame and secretiveness of cheating is often the reason it turns people on so much.
Knowing you could get caught and really shouldn’t be doing what you are can be a thrill to those who have lost their moral compass or are unable to control their darker impulses.
A cheater who gives in to the desire to do something wrong for thrills makes a choice, not a mistake.
They let that whispering voice that tells them it would be so naughty and hot to sleep with their coworker or friend take over from the voice that reminds them they would be betraying their partner by doing so.
They make a choice, and they don’t have a right to expect to dodge any consequences.
Cheating is 100% a choice
Cheating is 100% a choice.
The reason that matters is because it allows you to see through the lies and tactics cheaters use.
If you’re dealing with cheating, I feel for you.
And I hope that you can find the right solution to what is happening.
Can a relationship coach help you too?
If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.
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