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-   -   Helping a cheater change - an exercise in futility? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=9172)

BlackUnicorn 04-25-2011 12:01 PM

Helping a cheater change - an exercise in futility?
 
Yet again, I am unsure whether this is the place to post this or if this would be more at home at the Fireplace. I am specifically interested in people's experiences of transitioning from cheating to poly/some other form of consensual non-monogamy.

So, have any of you tried to get a cheater to embrace polyamory? Is there such a thing as the 'cheater mindset' - someone who is addicted to the thrill of the forbidden but whose flame quickly dies out when the relationship is out in the open and 'allowed'?

One subset of cheaters I have encountered is the 'NRE/sex addict'. They might accept polyamory as a theoretical principle and admire it as such, but their emotional existence is just incompatible with polyamory as most polyfolks understand it. That is, they constantly desire new sexual partners - they actually seem to delight in the impossibility of things ending well. These people seem to set themselves up for failure over and over again. It is almost as if they WANT to get caught, and need to live more and more on the edge of being discovered the get the same 'kicks' as they used to, ending up having sex with somebody else in the same apartment or room where their partners are sleeping in.

Then another subset, closely related to the former, is the 'You can't tie me down' -bunch, who use cheating to assert that their partners have no control over them. They often go an a cheating binge just prior and after making public commitments, such as moving in together, getting engaged/married, having a child together etc.

And a third mindset I have encountered IRL is the 'No one's good enough for me'. They seek out relationships but make it sound like they are practically forced to commit to their partners. They constantly complain how things are 'good, but they could be better', maintain active profiles on dating sites and flirt on the sly with other people who most often don't know they are 'taken'. It is almost as if the search for the 'One' is never over for them.

The question; Can these people benefit from polyamory or some other form of consensual non-monogamy? Can cheaters change? I wonder especially because most cheaters I know are super-jealous people.

DISCLAIMER: Although I use the word 'cheater', I in no way mean to imply that there is a subset of people who will always cheat and are 'beyond hope'. Cheating is something people do, not who they are.

GroundedSpirit 04-25-2011 02:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BlackUnicorn (Post 78291)
...................
The question; Can these people benefit from polyamory or some other form of consensual non-monogamy? Can cheaters change? I wonder especially because most cheaters I know are super-jealous people.

DISCLAIMER: Although I use the word 'cheater', I in no way mean to imply that there is a subset of people who will always cheat and are 'beyond hope'. Cheating is something people do, not who they are.

Good post and question BU.

I'm not as afraid of hanging a label as you when you dance around what I think is truth by carefully avoiding labeling. (something someone does vs what they 'are') I believe that what we do IS what we are !

And I think many of the types (examples) you list under the banner of 'cheaters' are valid and the term 'cheater' is misleading. Maybe an adjective such as 'cheating' (bastard, loser, scumbag etc) is more accurate ? We'll leave it to our resident English majors to pick this apart.

Because I think (my interpretation) the REAL question you are asking is.....

"Can people change their attitude and lifestyle/personality to become more honest, trustworthy,reliable etc. Can they evolve to a level of having more personal integrity ?

And in my experience only, my answer to that would be "seldom" and only after the shock of something extremely dramatic causes them to evaluate some deep seated parts of themself and the consequences that come with this.

I have never personally seen someone be "coached" into living a life of more integrity until THEY realized it was crucial to their survival.

But that is only my experience....................

GS

LovingRadiance 04-25-2011 06:24 PM

You can't change anyone but yourself.

As someone who cheated and then moved to polyamory-yes it can be done. However, it requires that the cheater wants to change enough that they are willing to do the hardcore, deep emotional work that is required.

It certainly CAN be done (changing) but it's not easy to look at yourself and find all the shitty parts that need improved on. That's what ya gotta do to change any negative aspect of yourself. And, if it doesn't come from within YOUR OWN DESIRE-you'll end up failing most of the time-because you won't have the fortitude to carry on.

MonoVCPHG 04-25-2011 07:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GroundedSpirit (Post 78308)
and only after the shock of something extremely dramatic causes them to evaluate some deep seated parts of themself and the consequences that come with this.



GS

This is how it happened for me. I wasn't always a cheater in my marriage but once you do down that path "and get away with it" it's easy to re-offend. In my case I became more and more self destructive, took irrational paths and finally had the world crash around my feet. ROCK BOTTOM!

I went to counselling FOR MYSELF and figured many things out. I'm a much better person despite my inability to let go of the things I have done in the past...but those things are reminders of consequences and of a time where I was not self aware or healthy.

redpepper 04-25-2011 07:37 PM

I think cheating can be addictive if the person has got away with it over and over again. It becomes a way of being, a track in the mind that is not easily changed. If a cheater wants to change, it still is difficult because of the old self talk that says that they have to lie to get what they need. Getting over the lying is the most difficult I think... it can be really hard to discover that a partner wants radical honesty.

I think some people who cheat find it easier. It's all about them and their needs. Once the person they are cheating with decides that they are attached, then they are let go. There would be no need to be ceremonial about it, because no one knows. The person would be shit out of luck in terms of being consoled and treated with any kind of consideration.

I have known some guys I have met when I was dating thought poly or open relationships were laughable. I don't know what that was about, but it was almost as if they thought I was naive about it and that it was impossible to create harmony between fuck partners. Almost as if cheating is so common that why bother trying to create something that is more ethical. Cheating is part of being married kind of thing.

I noticed that some cheaters have a certain out look on life and were of a certain mind set that was selfish,self centered; there seems to be a certain inability to empathize or consider anyone else but themselves. I found that I had nothing in common at all... my life is so geared around being empathetic that I just found anyone who cheats to be so far from that that I had no respect and couldn't be bothered with giving them the time of day. Once empathy is discovered I don't think there is any choice but to be compelled to make a change... be single or work on not cheating maybe?

I would purposely stay on dating sites to give men shit when they wrote that they were cheating... it got tiring :o now I am more patient because I have seen people come around and make huge efforts to change their brains pattern. I do believe that cheaters can change.

Ya, I think that its really up to the person if they get tired of the drama and want to live more ethically... as if poly is not full of drama ;):D or they are so new to cheating that it hasn't set in that they can be deceptive for a long period of time and not get caught.

LovingRadiance 04-25-2011 07:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GroundedSpirit (Post 78308)
And in my experience only, my answer to that would be "seldom" and only after the shock of something extremely dramatic causes them to evaluate some deep seated parts of themself and the consequences that come with this.

This.
and This:
Quote:

Originally Posted by MonoVCPHG (Post 78416)
This is how it happened for me. I wasn't always a cheater in my marriage but once you do down that path "and get away with it" it's easy to re-offend. In my case I became more and more self destructive, took irrational paths and finally had the world crash around my feet. ROCK BOTTOM!

I went to counselling FOR MYSELF and figured many things out. I'm a much better person despite my inability to let go of the things I have done in the past...but those things are reminders of consequences and of a time where I was not self aware or healthy.

It really does take a personal motivation. The "slap down" may come from something outside of yourself, but if you lack the self-motivation-wasted effort for someone to try to "help" you.

MindfulAgony 04-25-2011 11:33 PM

I am a cheater. I have given up my cheating ways. But, I have given up so much more in the process. Let me 'xplain...

Prior to being married, I had never sexually cheated on a relationship. I was, however, a rampant, unabashed emotional cheater. I seemed to always be cultivating a near-sexual, highly charged, romantic other relationship outside of my current relationship partner. The lack of sexual attention in my marriage led me to expand my cheating ways to the sexual realm. I'm a lousy lier, however. So, I was easily caught. The emotional entanglements were put up with, the sexual one's were not. Lots of turmoil...

It took awhile, lots of therapy, and deep reflection for me to realize the things that were driving my behavior. Including, not insignificantly, the stress of trying to maintain some semblance of perfection in my life - the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect family... It was killing me. Cheating was a way out, I assumed just temporary escape, but came to realize that it was full on intentional sabotoge of a lifestyle that I couldn't lead.

But, the cheating also became self-reinforcing. Whenever we use something as a poor salve to a significant injury (emotional or physical) we can over rely, become addicted, or otherwise misuse/abuse it. Being a cheating bastard was not only a source of shame but also a source of comfort. I "knew who I was" when I was cheating; I felt lost when I was leading this falsely-perfect life.

To get on the other side of that, I not only had to choose to change and lead a more ethical life, I also had to choose to lead a more authentic one as well. So, I had to give up notions and ideals about what I SHOULD be doing with my life and with whom. And figure out exactly what I wanted to do with it (at this moment). I changed just about everything at that point except my job - although I radically changed my approach to work - and my eye glasses :-) Religion, relationships, friends, attitude toward family, how I approach strangers, what I do outside of work... all got edited or edited out.

Oh, and football, I still love football!

Much better now. Still a work in progress.

Ariakas 04-27-2011 04:56 PM

Depends on the cheater. Did the cheater cheat because of an addiction to the act of being a cheater.

Or did the person just want the freedom to bang/love other people.

Person one, no... I don't think so, I think that person would benefit from being monogamous, with a dadt policy and label themselves a cheating fetishist. Thats the reality of what they want. If it was going to be remotely ethical.

The second person, sure. We see it happen here. I think there can be an allowance for confusion if someone is non-monogamist but brought up in monogamy. However... I would hazard a guess that most cheaters end up not being able to stay with the person they initially cheated with. That is a serious mind fuck and an emotional kick int he ass. Any spouse that can heal and put up with that is truly a strong individual... So while the "cheat" may be the gateway, I am not sure that the cheatee would end up being a good metamour :)

Rarechild 04-27-2011 05:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ariakas (Post 78806)
Person one, no... I don't think so, I think that person would benefit from being monogamous, with a dadt policy and label themselves a cheating fetishist. Thats the reality of what they want. If it was going to be remotely ethical.

Good one. A thinking question. :)
-R

MonoVCPHG 04-27-2011 06:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ariakas (Post 78806)
Depends on the cheater. Did the cheater cheat because of an addiction to the act of being a cheater.

Or did the person just want the freedom to bang/love other people.

)

You missed the cheater that has lost intimate connection with thier current partner and is in the relationship because of external factors....future planning, house, finances, good life team, etc, etc. That''s the type I was. I wasn't looking for any freedom and certainly wasn't addicted to cheating. I lacked something and wound up finding it somewhere else.

If I had of worked on maintaining that connection then I doubt I ever would have strayed.

I don't cheat any more. I've learned enough to let go honestly if I was to loose connection.


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