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SECRET’S CORNER – Living with a cheater

marciadottin, [email protected]

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IT HAPPENS over and over again – a man lies and cheats on his wife or girlfriend; yet she forgives him and tries to make the relationship work.Based on anecdotal evidence, this approach has worked for some couples. In other cases, however, the men return to their wayward ways after a “cooling off” period.Why men do such things is a perennial question women the world over ask. With similar frequency the question often asked of women is, why do they stand for such behaviour from their men, especially when they are aware of his infidelity?This week’s question – What advice would you give a woman who is so much in love with her man that she doesn’t care if he is cheating? – comes from a reader who knows her man is cheating but still wants him. In her text she wrote: “My man is going through a tragedy and before he turns to me for support, he went elsewhere. I found out but I still love him the same; I can’t shake those feelings. I just keep loving him more and more; he is always on my mind.”Our first thought on receiving her note was, why should she seek advice when she realises the reality of her situation?That is, the man does not want her as much as she wants him, and he demonstrates this by being intimate with someone else regardless or her feelings.Our thinking went something like this: if you recognise a man has no respect for you, your common sense, self-esteem, self-worth and value systems should click in and you would be strong enough to tell the man: “It’s me or the road.”We realise that women tolerate such behaviour for a variety of reasons – most of which are emotional rather than rational. We have therefore concluded that this appeal for advice was really a cry for help on how to continue coping with her situation.Our decision was further informed by what we hear daily almost everywhere women congregate and talk. At those times, women who acknowledge that their spouses are cheating but are content to stay in the relationship often say: “I know what I have but I don’t know what I am going to get.”No one to blameOne also hears: “I have children and I can’t let them suffer.” Or: “as long as he don’t bring home anything and give me, he could do what he likes.”For women who take this approach – similar to our reader – all we can advise is that you get what you tolerate. If you are willing to accept sharing your man and he knows it and shares himself, then you have no one to blame but yourself.However, as far as we are concerned, if you value your body and yourself as an individual, you would never accept such behaviour from any man no matter how much you love him, or how well he pleasures you. For us the issue is about self-respect – plain and simple.   The following are edited versions of comments:• “I would tell her, ‘Never love a man more than you love yourself’. A man should deserve your love. If he cheats on you, he does not deserve your love. Moreover, once a cheater, always a cheater. When you love and respect yourself, you will want to be treated right.”• “If she doesn’t care that he’s obviously cheating – even when the proof is as obvious as sunlight – then she won’t care what anyone else tells her. Seen it time and again.”• “Until she learns to love herself more and realises that she deserves better, there is very little that can be done.”• “I’d delve into her feelings of self-worth. I suspect any woman who puts up with such a man doesn’t think very highly of herself.”• “Once she accepts God’s all-encompassing love, she’ll never settle for being second class again.”• “She has serious self-esteem issues and will not see it any other way even if the advice came on a gold plate with a silver spoon. Maybe the only wake-up call for her would be HIV, AIDS or death. I know the names; I could call them to her face, but she wouldn’t care either.”• “Maybe it’s an arrangement [and] she’s not telling all – a case of your freedom for mine.”• “When one tends to forget oneself one cannot see any further than that. Love for some people is just a word and this woman has already lost herself. She needs Jesus, not the Mexican one but the Almighty God. I hope she will see the light soon. We will pray for her.”• “She has accepted that her man is a cheater; maybe she likes it that way. Only she can change; no one can do it for her. Just pray for her.”