How does the mind of a cheater work? H says he would “compartmentalize” his life.
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Old 08-27-2013, 10:13 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default How does the mind of a cheater work? H says he would “compartmentalize” his life.

In my opinion, if one is truly in love with someone, they will do everything in their power not to hurt the one that they profess to love. This is why I find it very difficult to understand what my H means when he tries to explain his cheating to me.

He says that when he was cheating, it was easy for him not to get emotionally involved with the OW because he would “compartmentalize” his life. He says that this is how he was able to easily separate his relationship with me from his relationship with the OW. He kept his discussions about me with the OW to a bare minimum and of course, would never discuss OW with me! He kept those compartments completely separate from one another. For example, while involved with OW, he was able to have cybersex with her during the day, “close that compartment” altogether afterwards, pick me up from work and proceed with his life with me, as if nothing had happened.

I am having a difficult time understanding how someone can consciously organize their life into compartments like that with the sole intent of deceiving someone that they supposedly love.

I would especially love to get some insight from someone who has cheated. Is it possible for someone to deliberately cheat on their spouse and still love them at the same time? Did you also compartmentalize your life and if so, was it to make cheating easier or to make it more bearable on you?
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Old 08-27-2013, 10:31 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: How does the mind of a cheater work? H says he would “compartmentalize” his life.

For a man it does not need that much emotional involvement to have sex...women bond much more, that's it.
So yea it's possible that he loves you and that his Johnnie made a Walker into a nother womans Rosegarden.
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Old 08-27-2013, 10:49 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: How does the mind of a cheater work? H says he would “compartmentalize” his life.

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For a man it does not need that much emotional involvement to have sex...women bond much more, that's it.
So yea it's possible that he loves you and that his Johnnie made a Walker into a nother womans Rosegarden.
I don't think the gender differences are at work here. I think it is just the way that a cheater's mind works. From all that I have read on here, the WS has always been about justification. By finding a reasonable justification in their mind, they are able to create disjunctions in their mind and place each into it's own little compartment. My WW's counselor told her it is just the way that she would need to be able to deal with things and the way her mind worked to make it right and acceptable to her. Now they needed to work on why she needed to do that (even though it was the thing that was going to work best for her healing process as she could be able to deal with issues and then lock them away without them defeating other parts of her life).
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Old 08-27-2013, 10:51 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: How does the mind of a cheater work? H says he would “compartmentalize” his life.

It scares me when people can "compartmentalize" (lie) this well.

I can't even lie about small things without feeling the need to admit it.
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Old 08-27-2013, 10:56 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: How does the mind of a cheater work? H says he would “compartmentalize” his life.

I'm a former wayward husband. I try to stay off this board, unless someone specifically asks for a wayward husbands point of view.

To answer your question. It is completely possible to compartmentalize the OW. Thats what I did. I really didn't have any emotional attachment with them at all. I just enjoyed the occasional thrill. All cheaters are inherently more selfish and me centered than faithful spouses. While I was doing it in my mind if my wife never found out I wasn't hurting her. I'm not sure what happened with me, but one day something clicked and all at once it just hit me that I was a terrible person. I came clean.

With that said I do agree that all cheaters are selfish, we are not all the same in thought process. I really can't relate to people that talk about the fog and emotional attachments. I also don't understand the reasons that most cheaters give. The reasons your husband gave you are pretty consistent with my thought process when I was cheating.

In case you wanted to know my wife and I stayed together. The first year was difficult but it was ten years ago. Today I would say that we are really happy we got through it and stayed together.
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Old 08-27-2013, 11:30 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default 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.
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Old 08-27-2013, 12:25 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: How does the mind of a cheater work? H says he would “compartmentalize” his life.

Thank you for your response ReformedHubby. How you explain compartmentalizing is very similar to how my H explained it to me. It’s difficult for me to wrap my mind around this but when I remove myself from the situation, I can see that to do this was probably the only way that he felt he could have his cake and eat it too so to speak.

I wish that like you, my H had been the one to come clean to me about his cheating. If he had come clean all on his own, I feel that it would be easier for me to believe him when he says that he is truly remorseful for what he did. I sometimes wonder if the remorse and shame that he says he feels is more because he was caught??

My H has had 3 affairs over the course of our marriage. Each time, I was the one to find out and to confront him with my suspicions or evidence. The fact that I was the one to find out is probably why none were very long affairs (longest lasted 4 ½ months). 1st affair was 22 years ago, 2nd affair was 9 years ago and the last one was about 8 months ago.

It bothers me that he never brings up the topic on his own. I wish that he did every once in a while. Whenever we discuss his affairs, I am always the one to bring it up. He never volunteers any information about his affairs unless I bombard him with questions. It makes me feel like I am attacking him and I don’t like that. I understand that it is very uncomfortable for him to talk about it but in my opinion it is very important for us to discuss the matter. Over the years, we didn’t talk about his other affairs as often as we do now but his last affair wasn’t that long ago so I do feel the need to talk to him about it often right now. We are currently going to marriage counseling with the intent to stay together.

Do you ever fear that you might be tempted to cheat again? Do you have safeguards in place to make sure that you never will? My H is working on this right now. He used to call women by what I call "pet names" (girl, baby, baby girl etc.) and he has stopped doing that. About 7 months ago, we went over his facebook account together and he dropped every female from his friends' list that I did not approve of. We have agreed that for the time being at least, he will not become friends with any other woman (on facebook), unless I am okay with it. I know that these are just small things but they are huge to me. I also have all of his passwords etc. but I take that with a grain of salt because during his last affair, I know that he had created a private facebook account for just him and OW so that they could have sex chats etc. (OW is overseas so they never had physical contact).

He is also having a very hard time trying to get over the guilt that he feels for having done what he did. He never imagined that he would one day become a cheater as it is not something that he ever admired...Can you ever fully get over the guilt?

Last edited by MarieG; 08-27-2013 at 12:37 PM.
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Old 08-27-2013, 12:33 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: How does the mind of a cheater work? H says he would “compartmentalize” his life.

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Originally Posted by Racer View Post
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.
When I asked my H how he could have done what he did as this was not the man I had married, he said that with the OW, he always created a different persona and was never the real him with them.

I'm not sure how much truth there is to this though...
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Old 08-27-2013, 12:36 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: How does the mind of a cheater work? H says he would “compartmentalize” his life.

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In my opinion, if one is truly in love with someone, they will do everything in their power not to hurt the one that they profess to love.
No truer words were ever spoken. “I love you” does not equal “I will commit the single worst act of human betrayal against you”.

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This is why I find it very difficult to understand what my H means when he tries to explain his cheating to me.
No one really can. I mean, the real reasons are rarely spoken. It’s always a set of cheap excuses, reason or finger pointing. 99% of the time they do so because they want to. It’s exciting, risky…. But those are simply never spoken as it is too much honesty.

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I am having a difficult time understanding how someone can consciously organize their life into compartments like that with the sole intent of deceiving someone that they supposedly love.
HA! That’s guy talk for “I want to chase her and bed her because I found it fun.” Don’t let him kid you. He had no love for you. He wants to chase broads. You are meaningless to him except that if he is married to you it makes the chase all the more thrilling. I do hope you haven’t bought into that lie. It may be one of the oldest ones on earth.
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Old 08-27-2013, 12:44 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: How does the mind of a cheater work? H says he would “compartmentalize” his life.

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I wish that like you, my H had been the one to come clean to me about his cheating. If he had come clean all on his own, I feel that it would be easier for me to believe him when he says that he is truly remorseful for what he did. I sometimes wonder if the remorse and shame that he says he feels is more because he was caught??

It bothers me that he never brings up the topic on his own. I wish that he did every once in a while. Whenever we discuss his affairs, I am always the one to bring it up. He never volunteers any information about his affairs unless I bombard him with questions. It makes me feel like I am attacking him and I don’t like that. I understand that it is very uncomfortable for him to talk about it but in my opinion it is very important for us to discuss the matter.

These are the two things that bother me, as my WW is a compartmentalizer as well. I feel that since she is so easy to shut it off, there is no need for her to address the issues. In her mind they are dead and over with as soon as she closes the compartment.

I hate bringing up the issues as she has had time to address it and justify/ deal with it in her mind and has all the answers. I fell that I am badgering her (or she acts like it) whenever I bring it up. I need to do this to get over it and she knows this but would rather just let it slide and rug sweep it. She just can't understand how I can be the way I am and not just lock it away in it's compartment and "just get over it!"
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Old 08-27-2013, 01:14 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: How does the mind of a cheater work? H says he would “compartmentalize” his life.

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Do you ever fear that you might be tempted to cheat again? Do you have safeguards in place to make sure that you never will? My H is working on this right now. He used to call women by what I call "pet names" (girl, baby, baby girl etc.) and he has stopped doing that. About 7 months ago, we went over his facebook account together and he dropped every female from his friends' list that I did not approve of. We have agreed that for the time being at least, he will not become friends with any other woman (on facebook), unless I am okay with it. I know that these are just small things but they are huge to me. I also have all of his passwords etc. but I take that with a grain of salt because during his last affair, I know that he had created a private facebook account for just him and OW so that they could have sex chats etc. (OW is overseas so they never had physical contact).

He is also having a very hard time trying to get over the guilt that he feels for having done what he did. He never imagined that he would one day become a cheater as it is not something that he ever admired...Can you ever fully get over the guilt?
Regarding safeguards in place I have them. I don't have any social media accounts at all. I don't drink alcohol unless I am with my wife. I really don't talk to my female co workers and subordinates on a personal level, and I only speak to the wives and girlfriends of friends and neighbors if the husband is present. I feel bad that so many of them think I am a robot but I have to protect myself. I also try very hard to avoid business travel.

I do go out with friends but its usually guy stuff like a round of golf or a sports event. If I do go out to a bar with friends I end the night between 9 and 10 pm. None of this 2 and 3 AM. nonsense that I read about on so many Girl/Guys night out threads.

Am I tempted sometimes? Not anymore. Not even a little bit. Whatever it was that was in me that made me do it died on the day that I couldn't even look myself in the mirror because of what I'd become. Truth be told I was near suicidal.

Regarding the guilt I never really focused on my guilt. I was more concerned that my wife was really hurt. I did everything I could to make amends to her. Today the guilt occasionally manifests itself in paranoia. I'm secretly afraid that my wife is just waiting for the right moment to take her revenge by either cheating herself, or divorcing me and taking everything I have. But honestly its not something I obsess over.

With that said, I know you didn't ask for my opinion on your situation, but I have to tell you that it looks like your husband might be one of those cheaters that will never be able to stop. I say this because I'm pretty sure he told you he was going to stop after each incident of adultery. Whatever you decide to do. I wish you the best.
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Old 08-27-2013, 01:24 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: How does the mind of a cheater work? H says he would “compartmentalize” his life.

Reformed,

Thanks for your candidness and openness. I wish that my WW had and shared the same feelings that you are expressing her.
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Old 08-27-2013, 02:14 PM   #13 (permalink)
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With that said, I know you didn't ask for my opinion on your situation, but I have to tell you that it looks like your husband might be one of those cheaters that will never be able to stop. I say this because I'm pretty sure he told you he was going to stop after each incident of adultery. Whatever you decide to do. I wish you the best.
You’re right, after each affair, he did indeed say that it would never happen again and… here we are again!

I have asked him why I should believe him now, what is different with what he is saying this time. He says that he can “feel” that he will not do it again. I remember him saying that he could hardly bear to look at himself in the mirror during his last A. This doesn’t mean much to me as he didn’t appear to have a problem with continuing with it rather than ending it. Actually, after I confronted him about his last A and he swore to me that it was over, he remained in contact with OW for another 3 weeks before he ended it. When I asked why he had continued with it if, as he said, she didn’t mean anything to him, his response was that he wanted to be the one in control and end it when HE wanted to end it, not because he got caught.

I really wish that I didn’t love him. Then, it would be easy to walk away from him without as much as a backward glance. This man is the person that has brought me the most happiness (aside from my children) and caused me the most intense pain. It’s not easy to walk away from our marriage just like that. I have more than half of my life invested in this relationship. I think that it’s more than fear of the unknown… I can’t help but think about all the others that will be directly affected should we divorce. Also, before I decide to end this marriage, I need to know for myself that I have tried everything in my power to fix it.

Thank you for sharing… I’m sure it wasn’t easy. I do welcome your advice.

Last edited by MarieG; 08-27-2013 at 02:22 PM.
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Old 08-27-2013, 02:20 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: How does the mind of a cheater work? H says he would “compartmentalize” his life.

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Reformed,

Thanks for your candidness and openness. I wish that my WW had and shared the same feelings that you are expressing her.
I agree with you. To a certain extent, this helps me to somewhat understand how a cheater thinks if that makes sense...
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Old 08-27-2013, 02:25 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: How does the mind of a cheater work? H says he would “compartmentalize” his life.

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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...
I think that's a great analogy. When you're a teen/young adult the way you interact, talk with, behave and relate to friends, acquaintances, and members of the opposite sex can be entirely different than how you act with family, especially parents.

Which is why when certain aspects of those 2 words collide inadvertently you have family members who are shocked at what they learn in regards to a particular individual who they feel they know better than anyone else. The only difference is unlike a marital relationship in regards to cheating there usually isn't an element of a massive level of betrayal.

I think most people are capable of compartmentalization and do it at various times throughout their lives only to smaller degrees. And I also think that those who have more extensive and in-depth practice at it earlier in life find it much easier to do later in life to much larger degrees.
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