I want to talk about extending our compassion beyond ourselves and out into our relationships. It helps us, I believe, when we understand and accept what causes all our human and relationship messiness and upset in life. Especially the messiness of being a flawed human capable of cheating!
Humans are all flawed and function out of their flaws
Is it in a nutshell that we humans are all flawed and at times function out of our flaws? It's easy to say we are all flawed, but accepting that everyone is imperfect affects how we live, love, and interact with others, especially our wayward partner. Because how could someone who promised to love us and be faithful cheat on us?
"Imperfection" comes in all shapes and sizes, and we see it regularly in ourselves and others.
In a way, we start flawed. Research shows that as babies, we learned manipulation by fake crying; by two, we began lying, and at four, we were capable of "schadenfreude" or finding joy in someone else's misfortune. And our "schadenfreude" actually intensifies if we believe the person deserved it! (Schadenfreude is a German word meaning damage + joy.)
How often do we attribute karma to a circumstance or wish it on another? And does this stem from a fake belief that the world should be "just"? If someone suffers or fails, do we question whether they somehow deserve it or point out their shortcomings to explain why it happened?
I wonder if this human ability to question and even feel a form of "high" in hearing or seeing another's failure or misfortune could be our way of translating a circumstance we either can't control or can't change.
So what could be the better or more helpful response to our human failings?
I guess this could depend on our belief or understanding of how flawed humanity is. If we hold the belief that perfection can be achieved, we could risk responding to imperfection with a judgmental attitude. We may even pass condemnation when we have little or no understanding of what flaw motivated the failure.
We were designed to be in connection, and it feels horrible when judgment disconnects us from each other, especially those with whom we want to be in a close relationship.
When we, as imperfect flawed people, observe a situation and begin to make statements like "they should know better" or "I would never do something like that," we bring judgment. This judgment is fueled by a lack of understanding, showing no tolerance for how flawed or broken humans can be.
Self-care taught me to let go of judgment
When I find myself slipping into criticism, I learn to pause and give myself space before opening my mouth. Then to check-in about why I am feeling judgment. Infidelity has woken me up to the preciousness of life, like being compassionate with me first. And then bringing that compassion into my other relationships too.
We all as flawed humans have experienced the fact that "knowing better" doesn't equal "doing better".
Everyone "knows better" than to overeat ice-cream or to drive over the speed limit or to yell at the dog, but that doesn't mean that we don't sometimes make a wrong or easy decision. The truth is that when certain circumstances come up, we can all be weak and vulnerable. And sometimes, our flaws have us susceptible to significant failures too.
Not all weaknesses are the same or equal, and claiming that we would "never" do something could be naive on our part. We don't stand in the shoes of those who failed, so we can't fully comprehend their choice or the flawed thinking behind it. Failure, especially major failures like infidelity, happens gradually over time, beginning with small and often insignificant choices that lead in the wrong direction. Continued over time, any of us could easily find ourselves in a position we "never" thought ourselves capable of being in.
Instead of allowing the judgment that our partner failed us to lead our thinking, we could acknowledge that we are just as susceptible to failures in many areas of our own lives. We too are flawed humans and could also be capable of cheating.
Our level of honesty and self-compassion helps us protect ourselves from our flaws, which may help us avoid major failures.
Consequences are a natural part of failure, and they help us grow safer.
If we take the time to acknowledge that every human is flawed somehow, then we are more likely to accept their failures with compassion and grace. However, loving someone and showing compassion doesn't mean that we ignore their failure or flaws, though.
Addressing issues, setting boundaries, and determining consequences is part of being in a healthy relationship, first with ourselves and then with those, we are in a relationship with. Boundaries are an essential part of our self-care, and we must always value and protect ourselves.
Always remember that your husband didn't cheat on you because you are flawed. They cheated because they are flawed, not you. And if they blame you for their cheating, then that really shows how flawed they are. You did not make them cheat and nor did you do anything to cause them to cheat. Flawed humans cheat!
Are our flawed husbands the enemies for cheating?
Self-care supports us to take the time to understand whether a person who failed by cheating is the enemy or not. They may very well be the victim of things we don't know or haven't yet fully understood. Seeking to understand their flaws is leading with compassion. Your flawed partner may even be unaware of their flaws or frightened to death of them. Perhaps the last thing they need when their failure is exposed is to be dismissed through judgment. Maybe compassion could be more helpful for you both when it comes to healing from being cheated on.
How Can We Love Someone Who Cheated?
When I discovered that my husband was cheating, I wanted to deny that I still loved them. But the truth is that I did love them even though their actions toward me were extremely unloving. And it felt unsafe to love someone who hurt me. That is another reason why self-care helped me heal. I needed to learn to love myself, so that I could feel safe. When I felt safe, I was able to heal from being cheated on, and not take my cheating husbands flaws personally.
Loving someone means showing care for them, praying for them, and extending grace towards them while maintaining healthy boundaries. Having self-compassion helps us have compassion for others and for their flaws. Because the truth is, we will all fail somehow at some point simply because we are human, and all humans are flawed.
Please don't get me wrong, I have suffered due to human flaws, and I don't suggest we ignore them. The more I understand infidelity, the more I come to accept how "human" people are. It doesn't matter how old someone is, how aligned they might be with their higher power, or how much they should've known better – people are still human, and humans are flawed. They always have been, and they always will be. And flawed humans can and do cheat on their amazing wives.
We can't fix other flawed humans
Coming to this understanding has caused me to look at human failure with significantly less judgment and exponentially more grace and compassion for myself, for my partner, and for those who I bump into as I live my life. Because being compassionate doesn't mean it is my job to fix the flaws of others. It is always their job to heal themselves. We need to focus on healing ourselves and having good boundaries.
If you want to talk more about boundaries, your situation or using self-care to heal, please reach out. You don't have to take this journey alone. And if you want more support in understanding why your partner cheated, check out the Why Infidelity Occurred course.
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