7 Things Cheaters Say When They've Been Caught, According To An Expert
Cheating is extremely complicated. Not everyone cheats on their partner for the same reason and sometimes there really is seemingly no reason involved at all — it's just simply an opportunity and someone goes for it.
A 2017 survey of infidelity by Trustify found that 22 percent of men and 14 percent of women have cheated, although keep in mind that some people won't admit to infidelity so the number could be even higher. But if you look even further, other experts and studies put those percentages at 20 to 60 percent of couples cheating at least once in their lifetime. But then you have to decide what counts as cheating and what doesn't. Is an emotional affair, with zero physical contact, enough to break a relationship?
As someone who was cheated on, I know all too well the pain, humiliation, and, at least in my case, the feelings of worthlessness that came with it. At first, when I caught him, he dismissed the woman, who was 28 years younger than him, as a friend. Next, I got the "you're out of your mind" label, followed by, "well, maybe you're cheating on me."
But while "excuses" for cheating run the gamut there are seven in particular things that experts say cheaters tend to turn to when they're caught.
1"I Didn't Do It. It Wasn't Me."
The easiest excuse? Denying it. "Most cheaters immediately deny wrong doing," New York–based relationship and etiquette expert of Relationship Advice Forum, April Masini, tells Bustle. "It’s the easiest excuse to get out of their mouths, quickly. And for victims who are not ready for the truth, that denial may give them relief, at least temporarily. And, if it does bring them relief, they’ll back off, making the denial a great tool for cheaters who don’t want conflict."
2"You're Out Of Your Mind!"
When my husband accused me of being out of my mind for thinking he was cheating, I lost it. Not just because I knew I wasn't, but I'm so tired of men gaslighting women. Gaslighting isn't just messed up, but a form of abuse, and when someone calls your mental stability into question that's exactly what they're doing.
As Masini says, "Cheaters who try to make accusers think they’re [out of their mind]… will not only deny any wrong doing, but they’ll try to spin the truth to make it seem like the accuser is out of his or her mind and is really losing it." Basically, gaslighting is designed to make you think your instincts are out of whack, Masini says.
3"We're Just Good Friends."
When I was cheated on, this was another "reason" my husband gave for why he was spending time with this 20-year-old while I was out of town: "We're just good friends." But, if I, who was 13 years younger than my husband sometimes struggled to relate, how could he possibly be relating to her, someone 28 years younger than him, and only two years older than his daughter? At least this is what I asked myself, or rather screamed into the void — as I did a lot those few months back in 2015. They weren't just friends.
"Cheaters who have long relationships with their betraying partners, because those partners are work colleagues, spouses of friends or neighbors, for instance, may try to slough off the cheating as a 'just friends' situation," says Masini. "They may try to get you to believe that late-night phone calls were innocent, and that receipts from dinners or hotels were simply platonic situations that the accuser is misinterpreting."
4"It Just Happened Once."
Although love and sex can exist without the other, does it "just being sex" and "just happening once" make it OK? It depends on your relationship, tolerance, and ability to forgive.
"Cheaters who are caught red-handed and can’t use the denial, gaslighting, or downplaying a relationship to just good friends, may admit to indiscretion, but lie about the frequency and timeline of the illicit relationship," says Masini. "This is a very common excuse used by cheaters who have no choice but to admit the indiscretion — but don’t want to admit to all they’ve done wrong."
"Cheaters who are chronic cheaters may actually end the cheating, or else just tell their partners that they’re ending the cheating… but they don’t," says Masini. "They may intentionally lie about ending the affair, or they may intend to end it, but succumb to desire instead. Either way, the excuse, 'It’s over,' doesn’t stick. When victims have heard this excuse more than once, it becomes harder to accept."
Those words "chronic cheaters" may be definitely be a red flag. According to a 2017 study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, those who cheat once are far more likely to cheat again. The study found that people who cheated in their first relationship were three times more likely to cheat again in future relationships. If you hear "it's over" and don't believe your partner but want to save the relationship, it may be time to go to therapy.
6"It Didn't Mean Anything."
Again, we have an example of sex being just that: sex. But while that may be true, from a physical aspect, it doesn't erase the fact that deception and betrayal are part of the equation.
"Cheaters who subscribe to the 'don’t ask, don’t tell' mentality, resort to this excuse, 'It didn’t mean anything,' more often than other cheaters," says Masini. "They feel that sex is less important than commitment, and therefore having sex outside a relationship, isn’t that big a deal."
7"I Need Help!"
Last, but certainly not least, is the cheater playing the victim to gain sympathy, while promising to sign up for sex addiction therapy, as we've seen so many times with celebrity couples where one partner has cheated. But just because someone cheats, it doesn't necessarily make them sex addict. If anything, claiming such an addiction because one lacks self-control is severely insulting to those who actually struggle with sex addiction.
"Cheaters who, when caught, say, 'I need help!' try to turn the empathy onto themselves, so that they don’t have to take responsibility for their behavior," says Masini. "They sometimes ask for sex addiction rehab and try to see themselves as people who cheat because they have no choice. They often liken their cheating to smokers who can’t stop using cigarettes or alcoholics who can’t stop drinking."
But while these are the most common things cheaters say when they're caught cheating, it's important to take into account the fact that, "cheating is fluid," according to Masini. "Some people think that a partner cheats because they’re playing the field, within the first six or even 12 months of dating — and that person who is considered to be cheating, just hasn’t really felt a commitment so they’re seeing what else is out there. One person may consider that cheating. The other may be dating practically. Same goes for long-distance relationships that are long-term — and especially those without a formal commitment." That's why it's important to establish boundaries and communicate with your partner.
A partner cheating on you is definitely not your fault and while there's no surefire way to prevent something as complicated as infidelity — since it happens for so many different reasons — the best thing you can do is talk to your partner about your relationship status, your expectations, and what you consider cheating.