Why Would A Man Say That He Can’t Remember If He Cheated?

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives or girlfriends who are dealing with a very frustrating situation. In their hearts, they feel that there is a good chance that the man they love has cheated on them. But rather than admitting to it and beginning the process of moving on, the man will insist that he “doesn’t remember” if any actual cheating took place. This can leave the wife or girlfriend wondering if he’s lying, trying to avoid owning up to his actions, or if there is a slight chance that he might be telling the truth. (And even if he is telling the truth, then what does that even mean for the relationship?)

An example of a comment that you might hear in this situation is something like: “my husband went on an overnight fishing trip with a group of coworkers and friends. I was uptight about this trip from the beginning because I know some of these men to be irresponsible partiers who allow for things to get out of hand. I tried to bring my concerns up to my husband but he pretty much downplayed my worries and said that it would look weird at work if he didn’t go. He felt that becoming close with some of his coworkers was important for his career advancement. So, against my better judgment, I let him go. Well, as soon as they returned, my husband was acting weird. And then a couple of days after that one of my girlfriends called me and told me that I needed to look on one of the guys’ facebook pages right away. So I did. One of the coworkers who had gone on the trip had posted a photo of my husband kissing another woman and all but fondling her in the photo. There was almost an implied intimacy between them in the way that he was kissing her without reservation. I confronted my husband as soon as he got home. At first, he said that he didn’t even really know the woman and that she kissed him out of the blue as a joke. Well, then I started checking out several of the guys’ facebook photos and there were photos of the woman and my husband together wearing different clothing. Once I confronted him with this, my husband admitted that he did pal around with the other woman during the trip but that all of them spent the entire time drunk so he has no idea if he slept with her or not because his memory just isn’t there because of the intoxication. Why would a man claim that he doesn’t remember cheating? Is there any chance that he is telling me the truth?”

The Possibilities: Well, there are a couple of possibilities here. Keep in mind that I don’t know the people in question. I have no way of knowing about this husband’s character and if this behavior was typical or atypical in him. It’s not completely uncommon for a man to get into a risky situation that he doesn’t face every day – a bachelor party, a solo vacation, spring break, a far away business trip, or other situations that present the man with an opportunity to somehow become drunk, compromised, or vulnerable in some way and then to cheat.  Afterward, he may try to mitigate it by telling you that, for whatever reason, he wasn’t himself. In fact, he might take this a step further and tell you that he doesn’t remember exactly what happened so he can’t confirm or deny the cheating.

Deciding Where To Go From Here: This leaves you with in the difficult position of trying to decide how to proceed. Most men would love it if you would choose to assume that, since he can’t remember it, you will just pretend that there was no cheating. And, I suppose there is a chance that you might be right about that. But in this situation, there was physical evidence of, at the very least, incredibly inappropriate behavior on multiple occasions over multiple days. Even if you are not willing to take the jump that infidelity happened, something very wrong and damaging happened. And even worse, people who you know are now free to look at evidence of your husband’s bad judgement and betrayal.

I know that some may disagree with me, but my stance on this has always been that regardless of whether he can “remember” the cheating or not, it’s best to act “as if.” What I mean by that is that it is to your advantage to act as if the cheating has happened, at least in terms of your recovery. Because let’s me honest. As much as you would love pretend that he absolutely did not cheat and that you never saw those photos, is that really realistic? Will you ever be able to get that image of him kissing and all but fondling her out of your head (and looking like he is having a wonderful time doing it?)

I doubt it. And frankly, even if on a technicality it turns out that he didn’t cheat, working on your marriage and trying to heal isn’t going to hurt your marriage in any way. In fact, it will likely help it. And the reason for this is that part of recovery is your husband learning not to put himself in this type of risky situation. This is vital. Repeat cheating often happens when the man is put in that same situation. The same stimulus happens and he responds in the same way that he did before – which is to cheat. Of course you want to avoid this. Which is why, regardless of what actually happened, you’re going to want to look at why he acted the way he did and then make sure that he learns how to put safeguards in place so that he doesn’t repeat the behavior.

Recovery from infidelity isn’t always fun.  But it can actually strengthen your marriage if it is done correctly.  And even better, it usually really helps with the constant worry that he will cheat again. If it helps, you can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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