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Old 04-25-2011, 12:01 PM
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Default 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.
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Old 04-25-2011, 02:24 PM
GroundedSpirit GroundedSpirit is offline
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Originally Posted by BlackUnicorn View Post
...................
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
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Old 04-25-2011, 06:24 PM
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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.
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Old 04-25-2011, 07:37 PM
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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 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 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.
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Old 04-25-2011, 07:58 PM
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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:
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Originally Posted by MonoVCPHG View Post
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.
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Old 04-25-2011, 11:33 PM
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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.
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Last edited by MindfulAgony; 04-25-2011 at 11:40 PM.
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Old 04-25-2011, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by GroundedSpirit View Post
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.
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Old 05-29-2011, 08:05 AM
Canopus Canopus is offline
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Originally Posted by BlackUnicorn View Post
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'?

The question; Can these people benefit from polyamory or some other form of consensual non-monogamy? Can cheaters change?
Yes, I have some experience with trying to change a cheater to embrace polyamory. To no avail.

I do not see much of a chance to change a person who sees nothing morally wrong with fulfilling his/hers egoistical needs with the expense of others. It is so deeply ingrained to their personality. You either choose to stay with them cheating or let them go. With choosing to stay with the cheater you also choose to live in a lie. Maybe a strong person can take the pressure and help the cheater to change?

This is not to say that every person who has ever cheated will always cheat. If the person who has cheated shows emotional pain over their choice to cheat, there is a chance I believe. I must believe, because while trying to embrace polyamory I ended up cheating too.

Reading sinew's and other's stories only reinforces my view. There are the ones who end up cheating due to circumstances, and who really do regret and feel bad about it, and then there are the ones who pathologically cheat and see no problem in their actions.

So I suggest you stay away from true cheaters, the people who do whatever they please and who see no point in being open and truthful. They are easy to spot and avoid if you keep your eyes open and mind clear of clutter. Trust me, it is not fun to confront the spouse who has been cheated on. You will only get hurt.
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Old 06-29-2013, 02:00 AM
JaneQSmythe JaneQSmythe is offline
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I know this is an old thread but I followed a link here from someone who found it useful and thought I would add my "two cents" - just to add to the collection of experiences for any future readers.

Although I have always identified as poly the "rules" (boundaries/agreements/whatever) of my relationship with my husband precluded sexual relationships with other men...but the line of what constituted a "sexual relationship" had flexed and stretched over the years (decades) and never been seriously strained...until Dude (MrS's new best friend) entered the picture.

For three months I was, essentially, a "cheater" for the first time in my life. Although we did not have sex "technically" - boundaries were certainly crossed that required some serious self-delusion to justify - I was so good at this that I managed to convince Dude, as well, that my self-delusions were true - although he always had his doubts. (You can read the whole sordid tale in my "Journey" blog on this site.) I can't even fall back on some "emotions got the better of me" argument - for me, it was all about the physical (on my part, at that time).

When MrS found out my deception ... the shit did hit the fan. I had ALREADY decided that I needed to cut it out with Dude and come clean with my husband. I was deciding how to do this when it came out anyway (due to my utter inability to ACTUALLY deceive someone I care about when asked a direct question.).

After the dust had settled...both boys forgave me for my temporary insanity and things have been ... well, actually pretty awesome since then. (Forgiving myself, on the other hand, is a much longer endeavor.)

I like to think that a one-time period of bad judgement doesn't define me as a person - but learning that I had the CAPACITY to behave in such a way was certainly an eye-opening experience. I like to think that I have learned from this experience and would NEVER behave in such a way again...but now I am leery of such absolutes. (For others, as well as myself.)

We are human. We make mistakes. We, hopefully, learn from them. People can change (for better or for worse). Change can be triggered by events but, ultimately, it is an internal process.

JaneQ
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Old 07-02-2013, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by JaneQSmythe View Post
I know this is an old thread but I followed a link here from someone who found it useful and thought I would add my "two cents" - just to add to the collection of experiences for any future readers.

Although I have always identified as poly the "rules" (boundaries/agreements/whatever) of my relationship with my husband precluded sexual relationships with other men...but the line of what constituted a "sexual relationship" had flexed and stretched over the years (decades) and never been seriously strained...until Dude (MrS's new best friend) entered the picture.

For three months I was, essentially, a "cheater" for the first time in my life. Although we did not have sex "technically" - boundaries were certainly crossed that required some serious self-delusion to justify - I was so good at this that I managed to convince Dude, as well, that my self-delusions were true - although he always had his doubts. (You can read the whole sordid tale in my "Journey" blog on this site.) I can't even fall back on some "emotions got the better of me" argument - for me, it was all about the physical (on my part, at that time).

When MrS found out my deception ... the shit did hit the fan. I had ALREADY decided that I needed to cut it out with Dude and come clean with my husband. I was deciding how to do this when it came out anyway (due to my utter inability to ACTUALLY deceive someone I care about when asked a direct question.).

After the dust had settled...both boys forgave me for my temporary insanity and things have been ... well, actually pretty awesome since then. (Forgiving myself, on the other hand, is a much longer endeavor.)

I like to think that a one-time period of bad judgement doesn't define me as a person - but learning that I had the CAPACITY to behave in such a way was certainly an eye-opening experience. I like to think that I have learned from this experience and would NEVER behave in such a way again...but now I am leery of such absolutes. (For others, as well as myself.)

We are human. We make mistakes. We, hopefully, learn from them. People can change (for better or for worse). Change can be triggered by events but, ultimately, it is an internal process.

JaneQ
I clicked over and read your entire journey blog (you are adorable and your blog is fascinating, btw)
I am unclear how your behavior was cheating. I'd maybe call it a boundaries limit violation? I guess it's just semantics but to me cheating is a set of choices and deceptions made deliberately or subconsciusly in order to break a known rule. I'm just curious.

I especially liked the description of the relationship between your grandparents. so cute!!
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