To expound on the whole ‘if cheaters tried to use their excuses in other parts of life’ dialogue, let’s focus our discussion today on bodily urges.
The human body comes with all manner of intense compulsions, deliriously driving us to make choices to satisfy them. While animals have little choice but to act upon their impulses, humans are separate and distinct from animals. We have cognitive reasoning. Self-control. Morality. Souls. We are expected to curb our yearnings in virtually every area of life, facing significant personal and legal consequences should we fail to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves. Recognize.
We all mess up from time to time and allow our baser compulsions to win out. People with character recognize it, learn from it, and if they or others suffered a negative consequence from it, avoid doing it again in the future at all costs. Yet, cheaters proclaim that their self-control was co-opted by something bigger than them when they cheated, that it was something they can’t be expected to control. Some ethereal morality pause button gets pushed and, magic! Not their fault.
What further confuses their shattered spouses is that the behavior gets thrown under the altruistic banner of ‘love’. Not only are we told that the modern wisdom is to accept that ‘love’ was the cause and therefore the cheating couldn’t be helped, we are often handed the additional injustice of being told we need to accept ‘our fair share of the blame’ when our marriages implode after infidelity.
Why can some of us control ourselves (or repent and learn not to continue mistakes that cause harm), while others feel perfectly justified to give in to their compulsions and never acknowledge or act repentant about the harm they’ve caused? The answer is because they wanted to. It’s not about love, it’s about a character deficit. Their pleasure is king. Sorry you didn’t get the memo. Sucks to be you.
Allow me to demonstrate how cheater-style justifications work with another driving urge: hunger. And, let’s identify the most commonly used cheater justifications as we go. It’s like a super crappy read-along for despondent grown-ups!
Cheater’s Playbook: Deflection and Other Tactics (Chapter 4, Page 12)…
Gaslighting. (denying someone’s reality until they question their own sanity)
It’s not what I did, it’s how you found out about it. (method of discovery is considered morally equivalent to cheating)
It’s not my fault, it’s just biology. (biology supersedes morality or reason)
It’s not my fault, because you caused it. (adultery is justified by listing un-offending spouse’s perceived shortcomings)
It’s not what I did, it’s how you reacted to it. (strong reaction to betrayal is equivalent to cheating)
It’s not my fault, because LOVE. (Love is a get out of jail free card)
Narcissism. (I am superior, special, and entitled to act however I please)
It’s not my fault, monogamy is flawed institution. (agreeing to the terms of monogamy by marrying then later attacking its constraints)
Rage, Charm, Self Pity. (Chump Lady’s three channels of mind-effery)
DARVO – (Devalue, Attack, Reverse-Victim-Order, a common cheater deflection tactic)
False equivalencies. (a logical fallacy where a person claims two arguments are morally equivalent when they are not)
Moral disengagement. (cheaters separate moral reactions from adultery while disabling self-condemnation)
Hutchins: Ah! What a pretty day for a walk in the park. The sun is so bright, the air is so fresh! And…what…what is that intoxicating smell? Is that…carne asada? Mmmmmmm. (spots man in the park eating something large and rolled in foil, walks over and takes it directly out of his hand)
Man in Park: Uh…hey man, that’s my burrito.
Hutchins: What burrito? I didn’t take your burrito, Bro. Are you feeling ok? Do you need to see a doctor? (1. Gaslighting)
Man in Park: Um, I can see it right there in your hand.
Hutchins: Ok, so I took it. But if you hadn’t been all up in my business watching my every move, this would have been much easier on everyone. Why are you making a federal case out of this, Boss? What’s the matter with you? (2. It’s not what I did, it’s how you found out about it)
Man in Park: Am I on Punk’d? Where’s the camera? Did Julio put you up to this?
Hutchins: Look, Champ. I WANT it. I have to have it. I’m starving! (3. It’s not my fault, it’s just biology)
Man in Park: Hey man, I don’t know if you know this or not, but calling another man you don’t know ‘Bro, Boss, Champ’…it’s disrespectful. So now you’ve taken my food and you’re being condescending. I’m warning you now, this isn’t going to end well for you.
Hutchins: Well, you knew that smell would travel through the park and that this could happen. You shouldn’t have been holding it out in the breeze like that. You brought this on yourself, Pal. (4. It’s not my fault, because you caused it)
Man in Park: This isn’t my fault, you lunatic! What is the matter with you? Did you forget your medication today or something?
Hutchins: Well it’s evident by your violent and unprovoked outburst that you’re not someone with who can be reasonable. I’ll be on my way, Bud. With my burrito, of course. (5. It’s not what I did, it’s how you reacted to it.)
Man in Park: Violent? I didn’t even touch you. And that is NOT YOURS, so give it back. You can’t just walk around doing whatever you want, there are rules in life!
Hutchins: You’re so archaic. Don’t you know the heart wants what the heart wants? I mean…the steak! The cilantro! Oh, and that pico with the crunchy little onions? It’s not like we planned this, Kid. We just…belong together. (6. It’s not my fault, because LOVE)
Man in Park: You need help, man. Like, professional help. I don’t really care about your…feelings…for the burrito. Or anything else for that matter.
Hutchins: You’re irrelevant in this. It has nothing to even do with you, this is about me and the warm tortilla. Bow out gracefully before you make even more of a scene. The burrito is with me, Big Guy. (7. Narcissism)
Man in Park: Big Guy?! You’re in perilous territory now, man.
Hutchins: Well, what was I supposed to do, Friend? I’m a man, I have needs! I can’t just be expected to eat a turkey sandwich every day for the rest of my life, it’s just not realistic. I need variety! (8. It’s not my fault, monogamy is flawed institution.)
Man in Park: Your lunch menu is not my problem, man. I’m giving you 5 seconds to hand it over or I’m calling the police.
Hutchins: Don’t you think we could just talk this over like men? You seem like a reasonable guy. Listen, can I buy you an ice cream for your trouble, Partner? No? Well how about a kick in the teeth instead?! Why is this happening to me? I can’t seem to ever get a break. (9. Charm, Rage, Self Pity)
Man in Park: Ok, this is just getting weird. I just want my burrito back. Now.
Hutchins: Me me me, my my my. You’re so…selfish. You’re ridiculous. You’re lucky that’s all I’m taking! I could END you, Sport! If it were up to, you’d have me starve. I just wanted lunch, why are you doing this to me?! (10. DARVO)
Man in Park: I’m sorry, but what in the hell are you even talking about? YOU came up to ME, took my lunch, and –
Hutchins: (interrupting) Ok, look. I will agree to my part of the blame here if you accept that there were mistakes made on both sides, okay? I took your burrito, you behaved in a violent and unstable manner and raised your voice at me. Let’s just call this a draw, Tiger. (11. False equivalency)
Man in Park: Aaaaaaand we’re done here. I’m getting a cop.
Hutchins: You and your histrionics! You’re being ridiculous. Am I supposed to feel like I’ve committed some criminal offense here, Boss? Love is not a crime you know. (12. moral disengagement)
Man in Park: Last I checked, stealing IS a crime. But you know what? Never mind. I’m not gonna waste my time calling the police on you. I’m just gonna let Brutus deal with you.
Hutchins: Oh and who’s that, huh? One of your thug friends? Well I’ll have you know that I am trained in 3 kinds of Brazilian Jiu-Jit –
Man in Park: (interrupting, whistling loudly) Yo, Brutus! Dinner time, buddy. Come and get it!
Hutchins: Oh yah? Let your friend try and take this burrito from me. He’ll have to pry it out of my cold, dead – (is suddenly tackled by a large rottweiler, begins screaming like a little girl)
Man in Park: (smiling) Bon appetit…Chief.
Thanks for being a part of my weird inner monologue, Dear Readers! See you next week as Hutchins attempts his delightful antics on a boss in the workplace. Have a good week…Champ.