This article, by Donna Andersen, was originally published on YourTango.com.
Your partner is a heartless, unrepentant cheater. Here’s why it could be good for you.
My ex-husband cheated as a way of life.
He carried on affairs with at least six women (that I know of) during our relationship—which was amazing, considering we were only together for two and a half years.
He had a child with one of those women. And then, 10 days after I left him—not after we divorced, after I left him—he married the mother of the child. It was the second time he committed bigamy.
Sorting through the file boxes full of papers he left behind—the guy was a packrat—I discovered evidence that during the seven or so years before I met him, he’d been involved with 25 or 30 women. He was married almost the entire time.
Estimates of the percentage of married men who cheat on their wives range from 25 percent to 75 percent, according to the Washington Post. Marriage Counselor M. Gary Neuman says 48 percent of men cheat because they are emotionally dissatisfied, and 66 percent of men feel guilty about it, according to WebMD.com.
My ex-husband wasn’t one of those men who felt guilty about looking outside of his marriage for love. No, my ex-husband was a manipulator and an exploiter—in other words, a sociopath.
Because of my experience, I founded Lovefraud.com, to teach people how to recognize and recover from sociopaths. After collecting more than 5,000 cases, conducting three Internet surveys and writing three books, I can tell you this—often, buried in these relationships from hell, there’s an extraordinary gift.
Here are seven reasons why you can actually benefit from loving a sociopathic cheater:
1. Take off your rose-colored glasses—there really are bad people in the world.
All our lives, we hear cultural messages that “we’re all created equal” and “everybody has good inside.” This is true for most people, but not all. Millions of sociopaths live among us, and they pursue romantic relationships not for love, but for exploitation.
2. Why did you fall for him? Take stock of your own vulnerabilities.
Sociopaths hook you by targeting your vulnerabilities. If you’re human, you have vulnerabilities. This doesn’t mean you’re weak—anything you desire, such as love or a family, can make you vulnerable. You need to know what your buttons are, so you can recognize if someone is pushing them.
3. The pain of sociopathic betrayal is so intense that you must cry.
You, like many people, may have dealt with heartache by picking yourself up and moving on. You locked your heartache away in an internal closet—where it festered. But when you’ve been involved with a sociopath, you are so hurt, and they are so cold-hearted, that you cannot hold back the tears—and this is the first step towards healing.
4. You have an opportunity to process the pain of previous betrayals.
Perhaps a prior husband or boyfriend also cheated on you. Perhaps you were abused as a child—and you never dealt with the trauma. You may discover that this new betrayal feels exactly like what you endured before. Let the tears flow for all the pain—and you’ll be well on your way to recovery.
5. You become less judgmental of others.
If you were involved with a sociopathic cheater, you were deceived and manipulated. But still, you fell for it. In the past, you may have wondered how people got themselves into such insane situations. Now you know that it can happen to anyone.
6. You learn to listen to your intuition.
Most people betrayed by a sociopathic cheater have a gut feeling or intuition, early on, that there is something wrong with the person or the relationship. Most people ignore it. Your intuition will almost always warn you when someone is dangerous. After this painful experience, commit to listening to your instincts.
7. Real healing will lead to a real relationship, with someone who truly loves you.
It will take time to recover from profound betrayal. But if you give yourself permission to heal, and commit yourself to doing the internal work required, you can come out of this experience healthier than ever, and ready for a truly rewarding relationship.
I can tell you from personal experience, a relationship with a sociopathic cheater is devastating. But I had two choices—fall completely apart, or work to recover.
I chose recovery, and it was worth it. I am now happily married to a wonderful man, and my relationship is everything I ever wanted.