Re: How does the mind of a cheater work? H says he would “compartmentalize” his life.
My WW did this. She explained it like taking on a role in a play. She basically allowed herself to manipulate impressions of who she was, then when it was done, she put back on the suburban wife act for me.
If he's like my WW, you'll notice these role changes. They are different around their friends, your friends, work, family, (and lovers). All characters are based on a single person, but they 'enhance' certain features about themselves around others to 'fit in'. As her spouse, I could see those little changes in character she presented and would confront often. She blew it off like it's something everyone does to "build themselves up".
It's sort of a talent for manipulation of other peoples perceptions of you. Like if your parents demanded good grades and a 'good girl', she learned that if that was all she showed them, that was their impression. Yet, away from them and out with friends, she could be what she thought they liked about her 'party fun girl'. She effectively learned early how to keep all these different groups isolated from each other and not talking or sharing. So to her friends, her parents were rather controlling and would punish her (embellishing), so they kept that side of her from them. And she did the same with how her parents saw her friends by only sharing those things she knew they'd approve of. (information controlling)
And on it goes and eventually crops up in how they deal with life and various relationships as adults. They are seldom their "true selves", but more what you see is what they think you want them as; sort of a fun house mirror reflection. But as a spouse, you are closer to them than that and find 'holes' in their façade...
What amazes me... Watch as he continues to put spackle over those holes instead of revealing the true man behind that mask. It's really hard to break through it. Basically, people like that have been doing it so long that they just sort of assume if anyone really knew them, they'd be judged poorly and rejected.
One that helped me was reminding my wife of when we first started out. She didn't need to hide or try to impress me. Somewhere along the lines, she let 'being a wife & mother' and her expectations for herself and those failures, override who she thought I'd want to see. So she hid behind that mask afraid I too would see her as a bad mother and wife.