Everyone knows of or has been someone who’s been cheated on. It sucks. No one would ever elect to be cheated on because it leaves you feeling betrayed, sad, and with your self-worth pummeled right in its metaphorical face. You’d think that since no one wants to be cheated on that very few people would actually inflict the pains of infidelity on a partner, but it happens all the time. I wish it didn’t, and I’m sure the people who have been betrayed wish it didn’t happen either, but it does happen and is not going to stop happening and there’s nothing we can do to better the situation.
Well, actually, there is something we can do to better the situation: blame the cheater and stop shifting blame from the actual wrong-doer to a person who really shouldn’t be blamed at all. I’m not talking about the person being cheated on, but about the cheatee, of course.
Who’s the cheatee? In any cheating scenario there are at least three people: the cheater (the person who is cheating), the cheated (the person who is being betrayed by the cheater), and the cheatee (the person with whom the cheater cheats with). To put it more simply: Bill Clinton was the cheater, Hillary Clinton was the cheated, and Monica Lewinsky was the cheatee. In a lot of cheating scenarios (including the Clinton one I just referenced) blame for the cheating is not just put on the cheater: it’s also put on the cheatee. Monica obviously knew that Bill was married to Hillary and therefore when they engaged in sexual conduct she was facilitating his infidelity. Most people agree that the fact that she knew she was helping him to cheat means that she deserves a certain amount of blame…after all, the cheating wouldn’t have occurred if Monica had said, “Sorry, Bubba, but I won’t be the cheatee for you.”
But really all that attitude does is do a disservice to everyone involved, because it removes a partial amount of the blame for the situation from the cheater to the cheatee. Imagine that there is a finite amount of blame for this situation…let’s say 100% of the blame. If you say that the cheatee deserves part of the blame (let’s say 25% of it) then that leaves only 75% of the blame to be directed at the cheater. But that’s no good! That means that the cheater is getting less blame for something that is wholly their fault!
But you may not agree with that statement; you may think that both the cheater and the cheatee are at fault…hell, you might even think that in certain situations that the cheated should be held at fault! Maybe the cheated was being a royal pain in the ass and drove the cheater to cheat through being a miserable piece of shit. Then some of the blame should shift to them too, right? Maybe 10% of it…so now it’s 10% to the cheated, 25% to the cheatee, and 65% to the cheater.
This percentage analogy may be stupid but you see what point I’m trying to make: the more you say that it’s not ALL the cheater’s fault the less fully accountable the cheater is for the infidelity. And believe you me: cheating is 100% totally the cheater’s fault and the cheatee and the cheated should not be held accountable in the slightest. And I’m not saying this because I’m angry at the cheaters and want to see them scorned…I’m saying this because I want to protect the cheatees and the cheateds.
I met a girl once who was the cheatee for a guy who was in a monogamous relationship at the time they were having sex, which happened multiple times. She said that she had full knowledge of the fact that he was in a relationship at the time and even had met and hung out with his girlfriend on a few occasions. She also said that she really liked the girlfriend but, at the time, was so caught up in the sexual chemistry between herself and the man that she didn’t really care that what she was a part of would undoubtedly hurt the girlfriend.
Needless to say it didn’t end well…the girlfriend eventually found out (as is always the case) and the girl is now barred from seeing or even talking with either the boy or the girlfriend. She explained to me that this incident has left her feeling incredibly guilty, even to the point of it negatively affecting her current relationships. She referred numerous times to the cheating incident as something that was plainly her fault and something that she “did to them”. I felt bad for her not because of the incident, but because she is suffering such needless and pointless guilt over something that, by my accounts, is not even remotely her fault at all.
The cheater is the one with the responsibility not to cheat. The cheatee is simply there, a vessel unto which the cheater can do their cheating. In the situation above, the girl didn’t force the guy to cheat on his girlfriend. And who’s to say, had the girl not been around or had turned down his proposal for sex, that he wouldn’t have just shrugged and moved on to cheat with someone else? She simply went along with his infidelity and reaped the benefits of it. She wasn’t being betrayed by him and she had no responsibility to protect the girlfriend from her boyfriend’s cheating. Sure, she may have been doing herself a disservice by getting involved in something that would inevitably cause her pain and distress when the shit hit the fan and their sexual relationship was exposed, but she knew what she was doing and was fine with it. People know that drinking a lot of beer may cause them to vomit, but they like drinking beer so they accept that it may or may not end in vomit. That’s all this girl did: accept that this will be fun but may end messily…it’ll suck for the guy and his girlfriend a lot, but it will only suck a little bit for her. Why should she be made to feel bad about that?
Here’s another analogy: let’s say I lie to my boss and call out sick from work eventhough I feel fine and am actually going to an amusement park with my friends. Let’s say my boss gets word from a friend of his that they saw me at the amusement park that day and when I come to work the following morning I am fired for abusing my sick-time privileges. Whose fault is it that I got fired? It’s certainly not my boss’ fault…he’s the victim! And it’s certainly not my friends’ fault…they may have enticed me to go to the amusement park fully knowing that I would have to break the rules and falsely call out of work to go, but they didn’t force me to do so. The only person who’s at fault for me getting fired is me. It was my responsibility to go to work and I broke the rules to go do something else. I was caught, and I was fired. I should be getting 100% of the blame. I don’t think anyone would try to chastise my friends for inviting me to the amusement park that day, and I hope no one would blame my boss for having to cover for my lazy ass while I’m out having a blast riding rollercoasters, so why is it that most people would try to chastise the cheatee of a cheating situation?
Like I said at the beginning of this article: cheating sucks. It sucks for everyone. But let’s keep in mind why it sucks: it sucks because the cheater cheated. If we forget that simple fact and start saying it ALSO sucks because the cheatee didn’t put a stop to it, or participate in victim-blaming by saying that the cheated was part of the reason the cheating occurred, we are spreading out the blame for no reason and giving the cheater less of a reason to feel like a piece of shit. The blame should be laser-focused directly on the cheater’s face in an unwavering beam of solidarity…because that’s whose fucking fault it is. Blame the cheater.