My Spouse Says He Cheated Because He Didn’t Feel Good About Himself. Is This Believable?

By: Katie Lersch:  Faithful spouses can hear many excuses meant to justify the cheating.  Sometimes, the excuse will try to shift the blame elsewhere. For example, a cheating husband will accuse his wife of being inattentive and cold.  Or a cheating wife will say her husband never appreciated her.  Sometimes though, the cheating spouse is willing to take all of the blame.  But the reason that he gives makes the faithful spouse question his sincerity.  Because his excuse is that he felt badly about himself.

In this scenario, a common comment would be: “for weeks, I have tried to get my husband to be honest with me about why he cheated on me with one of his coworkers.  He wouldn’t really say anything about it.  Until I got really angry and forceful with him.  And then he blurted out that he thought he cheated because he felt bad about himself at this point in his life.  I told him that this was crazy talk because my husband is one of the most confident people that I know.  He is very successful and he is very well liked, so it is hard for me to buy this.  He said that he really feels his age and he feels that people only like him because of his success. He says that deep down, he feels like a fraud. He felt that the other woman saw the real him and liked him anyway.  I suppose I should appreciate his attempt at honestly, but I just do not buy it.  Is this a common excuse?”

It is not an uncommon excuse, but it is MUCH less common than the cheating spouse trying to blame the other spouse or to make lame excuses that point the finger at anywhere but himself.  It is much more common for a cheating husband to try to tell his wife that she was too demanding or not there for him than for him to own up to his own shortcomings. So, as far as excuses go, I honestly prefer this one to some others because at least he is taking responsibility.

And frankly, I often write about my theory that an affair often happens after a personal crisis or a time of self doubt.  I just see this over and over again.  So yes, I do buy this line of thinking very much.  I understand that the husband appeared to radiate confidence but quite honestly sometimes the people who seem the most confident can be the most insecure.  They can feel that they need to live up to some expectation or they can feel like at any time, people cane find out that they aren’t as great as they would appear at first glance.  They often feel as if they have to be careful not to let anyone see their “true self.”

Also, people who were full of confidence in their youth can start to question if they are still worthy or if they still have all of their attributes as they age.  And, if your husband felt that he was slipping a little at work or if for some reason business had changed, this would be yet another challenge to his self esteem.

I can’t possibly know if all of things were true in this particular situation.  But I can tell you that I do sometimes hear from men who have had affairs who have recounted the exact same thing – that the affair was a pitiful attempt to feel better about himself at a time when he felt very vulnerable.

Honestly, it’s my opinion that the affair is often an attempted escape from these feelings of inadequacy – even when the person cheating can’t see this clearly.  And the great irony of all of this is that once the affair is found out, not only are these vulnerabilities exposed and must be dealt with, but now everything is compounded because he has an angry wife and a marriage whose future is uncertain. And this makes him feel doubly bad about himself.

Let me be clear though.  Feeling bad about yourself isn’t an excuse to cheat.  It can be a contributing factor and ut’s a common reason to cheat, but there is never an excuse that makes it OK.  So while I think that your husband could be telling his absolute truth, that doesn’t mean that he gets to side step the damage that he has done.  That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have to work long and hard to make this right again, while also addressing those vulnerabilities that lead up to this in the first place.

In short, he’s got a lot of work to do and a lot of his plate at a time when he is already struggling.  And it’s entirely up to you if you want to give him a chance to address things or try to save your marriage.  But as far as whether people cheat because they feel badly or insecure about themselves, yes, I buy it.  In fact, I believe that it is one of the most common reasons for cheating.

I can look back now and see where my husband was struggling, although I didn’t buy it at the time.  Still, his struggles (which weren’t his fault) didn’t negate the damage that the affair did to us.  And the responsibility for fixing that lied with him.  You can read more on my blog at

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