Why Do People Who Cheat Always Claim “It’s Not About You”

By: Katie Lersch:  I sometimes hear from people who are being told by their spouse that they shouldn’t blame themselves for the affair.  The cheating spouse is taking full responsibility and is encouraging the faithful spouse to take none of the blame.  While this can be reassuring, it can also be confusing. Because if your spouse wants you to believe that you did nothing wrong, then it’s really hard to understand why they would then cheat on you.

Someone might ask: “I am so tired of hearing ‘it’s not about you’ when we discuss my husband’s affair.  How can it not be about me?  He cheated on ME.  He decided to sleep with someone else instead of ME.  It is ME who has to feel the pain and know the betrayal.  How does a man who claims that his wife hasn’t done anything wrong cheat?  My husband keeps saying that it’s about him and not me.  But I don’t understand how this can be so.  And honestly, my husband is not the only guy who has ever said this to me.  My college boyfriend cheated and said the exact same thing.  Why do men who cheat always say ‘it’s not about you?’  What in the world do they mean by this?  Or is it all lies?”

Not All Cheating Men Take The Blame: First of all, I have to tell you that not all men tell the faithful person that they are not to blame.  In fact, many cheating men will actually blame the woman.  They’ll tell her that she didn’t give  enough attention or that she wasn’t adventurous enough in bed.  They’ll claim that they tried to allude to unhappiness, but she refused to listen.

So, although it may seem like all cheating men tell the woman it isn’t about her, I promise that this isn’t the case.  Some men are more than happy to shift the blame to someone else.  I don’t say this because I deny that it’s frustrating to hear him speak in riddles or generalities, but it is reassuring that he is at least taking responsibility.

What He May Be Trying To Communicate To You: As far as him telling you that it isn’t about you, here is what I think men are trying to say when they make this assertion. I dialogue with some of them on my blog and it seems as if they want you to know that you’re both dealing with their own flaws and not yours.   He knows that you did nothing wrong, were a good wife, and did not give him a legitimate reason to do this.  He may also know that there is never really a legitimate excuse to cheat on someone and to break your marriage vows.

Men who tell you that it’s not about you have stumbled upon a universal truth, although some of them may not realize it.  People cheat because of flaws and lack within themselves, not within their loved ones or spouses.  They cheat because of various reasons that have everything to do with them – poor impulse control, poor judgement, low self esteem, an attempt to deal with perceived inadequacies, and the list goes on.  Notice that all of these reasons are tied into their inadequacies and not yours.

It’s easy to blame yourself and we all tend to do this. But we shouldn’t.  It’s normal to put your marriage under a microscope after your spouse has an affair and to see every place where you think you went wrong or weren’t good enough.  It’s easy to criticize your looks or your relationship skills.  But when we do that, we discount the fact that men in admirable, stable, and happy marriages cheat.  We discount the fact that men with wives who look like fashion models cheat.

And they do so because they are trying to quiet a flaw or an issue within them.  In some cases, they do not think that they deserve their wife.  They do not feel worthy.  So they are telling you the truth when they say it’s not about you.  Because they are fully aware that it is about them.  They know that they went looking for relief in the wrong place.  And they either care about you too much or they have a bit too much integrity to allow you to take the blame for something that they did and that was all their fault.

So that is it what they mean when they say that it isn’t about you. They know that it’s about them.  They aren’t telling you that it’s not your problem (and they know that you will BOTH have to deal with it.)  But they don’t want for you to blame yourself.

Wives often tell me that they know that this should make them feel better, but it doesn’t. There is nothing easy about recovery from an affair, no matter who was at fault.  It can be a very difficult process.  But at least don’t make it more difficult by blaming yourself.  Take him at his word and accept that you are not at fault. You can read more about my own recovery at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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