Who’s Responsible When Cheating?

Jesse James' Alleged Mistress -- Webcam Model
Jesse James' Alleged Mistress -- Webcam Model

As a child, my parents did their best to pass down a valuable moral code: “good boys don’t steal, good boys don’t lie and good GAY boys don’t cheat. (Yeah, my mom was progressive) And their lessons taught me the value of, “Everything is earned, nothing is “owed” to you.” And along with that gem of advice–they also instilled the notion that, “We’re all responsible for our actions and blaming others for things that have gone wrong in our lives is no way to get ahead.” (I think this came from all the Novellas they watched). So with my parents advice ringing in my ears in a world filled with people who cheat, I can’t help but wonder, “Who’s Responsible When Cheating?

Should the Tiger Woods’ and Jesse James’ in the world be the only ones to blame for the cheating? It’s always been my believe that you leave married, partnered, or coupled people alone. If they’re having problems, claim to be separated, or just don’t seem happy together–that’s not your cue to “ring the alarm”. Walk away, no matter how strong the attraction-magnetic-pull is. Guess what? There are other free and available people out there who are perfectly single. When you choose to walk-in to someone’s relationship–despite of what you “think” might be going on–you’re stepping into a pool of dishonor, disrespect and it won’t be long before a large bad-karma tsunami washes you out.

Not only are you walking into a situation filled with drama, deceit and dirt, you’re making a conscious decision to disrupt another being’s life. Imagine someone just appearing at your house and shutting down your electricity, water, and gas–the basics needed to exist in your home. In essence, that’s what you’re doing when you know you’re dating someone in a relationship. You’ve taken the basic needs of that union and helped throw them out the window. It takes two to tango? Sure, but once again, I want you to focus on YOUR accountability–your role. How you have participated in this dysfunction causing pain to another person. The lying, cheating person you’re dating/seeing will have to be accountable for their own in the end–but so will you.

It’s been my experience that life is the opposite of a television set. What ever is on channel 3 (Panda’s who mate with Mice) is not related with channel 34 (How Wendy Williams puts on her Spanx). Those two channels have nothing to do with one another. But the human condition is different. What we do, how we choose to act in one area of our life is linked to our other life categories. That’s our human nature. If I’m going to lie and cheat on school’s final exam, you better believe I’m going to show signs of dishonesty in other areas–our moral fiber is linked and progressively shows up in our decision-making.

Am I taking the liability away from the cheating spouse and putting it all on the mistress–no. But I also want us to see that when we make an informed decision to go after someone who’s in a committed relationship that we’re responsible for our actions–plain and simple–and to never forget that every action comes with a reaction. Since this has been and will be the trending topic in existence, I wanted to talk to a few of the smartest dating/relationship bloggers out there and this is what they said when I asked, Who’s responsible when cheating?

date dailyRosy Saadeh from Date Daily said:

When it comes to cheating, I can’t even begin to tell you how often the partner who gets cheated on goes after the other man or woman. But why is that? Is it not the fault of the person in the relationship?

When it comes to cheating, there are plenty of heated debates taking place as you read this. I actually just had one with Nando, Jeffrey Platts, and Wink Wink Zoe on Twitter, but at the end of the day, I can only go on what I’ve witnessed in my lifetime.

There are no black and white scenarios when it comes to cheating; it seems that everyone holds a bit of the blame – even the person who gets cheated on. But from what I’ve witnessed, it’s usually the fault of the cheater and not the mistress (or mister, as the case may sometimes be) for dipping their stick in someone else’s moisture. Why should the mistress hold responsibility for the actions of a man who is in a committed relationship? He is the one who said the vows or promised a commitment, not the mistress.

But if the mistress is well aware of the cheating, is she, too, rotten for knocking another woman down and allowing herself to get seduced by the situation? I mean, sure, she gets all the good from the guy without the need to wash his dirty socks, but at the end of the day, is she also playing the rotten card by knowingly bedding a taken man? It’s difficult to say for certain, especially when the cheater keeps promising to leave their partner and make it full time.

But here’s my side of why they may all be to blame and why:

Who’s responsible for cheating?

The cheater: If you’re in a committed relationship and you stray, it’s on you to own it and face the music. No matter what else is going on, if you opt to stray, you should be outed and dumped for it. If you don’t have the balls to walk away from your relationship or admit that something’s wrong, then you don’t deserve to keep them.

Who’s responsible for cheating?

The mistress: When a mistress knows that the man she’s with is in a committed relationship, it makes her a rotten human being for knowingly entering into an affair and throwing a monkey wrench into the situation.  She doesn’t deserve to get a beat-down Jerry Springer-style on national TV, mind you, but perhaps the world ought to know that all women should keep their men closer when she comes sniffing around.

Who’s responsible for cheating?

The innocent partner: Although the innocent partner is free from responsibility to some extent, one has to own that it’s possible that said “innocent partner” left their partner open and vulnerable for the cheating to take place. Or maybe not.

jeffrey plattsJeffrey Platts from jeffreyplatts.com says:

Who’s responsible when cheating? To put it simply, if there is a shared and known commitment with your partner, and you break it, you’re responsible. If you know about that commitment and you help another person break it, you’re responsible. Of course, there is no absolute black or white and every situation is different. There’s even the question of what constitutes cheating. Sharing deep secrets via email? Girly eyes with the grungy barista? Smoochy smoochy? Raw nasty sex?

Though we both know that both men and women cheat, for the sake of simplicity, let’s use the example of a guy having an affair and cheating his girlfriend. So if we had to rank, then the guy has the “most” responsibility because he’s the one who chose to stray and deceive his girlfriend. Now, if the “other woman” knows that he is in a committed relationship and continues to have the affair, then yes, she, too, is a collaborator in the cheating. If the guy doesn’t tell his mistress that he has a girlfriend and she thinks he’s single, then that guy is a double douchebag. At the same time, I think a lot of women are too smart to not pick up on the obvious signs that a guy is married or in a relationship (e.g., never visit his place, meet at odd hours, never call him at home, he wears a ski mask when he’s out in public with you).

Now the girlfriend who is being cheated on, does she she have any responsibility? She is NOT responsible for the boyfriend’s choice to have sex with another woman. HE (and the mistress) chose that. (For the record, I don’t buy that “I had a little too much to drink” excuse. Were you strapped down and fed Guinness through a funnel? No? Then own up to to your choice and whatever happened afterwards.) But she does have responsibility in regards to the co-creation of relationship that led up to it. For better or for worse, both the boyfriend and the girlfriend co-created their communication style, their sexual habits, their level of trust, openness, honesty and emotional intimacy. But she did not “cause” him to cheat. She is not to blame. He chose his actions.

It’s natural to look for someone or something to blame. But if after the initial period of hurt, shock, and shame, we still keep ourselves in a victim and blame story, then there is no power. And the thing we need most after we’ve been deceived and cheated on is a feeling of EMPOWERMENT and being in control. That comes from taking your own sense of power and choice and responsibility as you move forward. And anger is an initial step in that process. (That’s why in Sex and The City, Samantha felt so good posting all those photos of Richard all over New York after she caught him doing nom nom nom on another woman.) And hopefully moving forward, whether continuing with the cheating partner or the next relationship, there will be a deeper, more authentic level of connection and communication that will unmask any inauthentic qualities or behaviors that could lead to one partner cheating.

I’ve been cheated on and it sucks. Bad. Real bad. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that you never, ever have control over another person. The only person you ultimately have complete responsibility over is yourself.

zoeZoe from winkwinkzoe believes:

When I answer the question “Who’s to blame for cheating?” I have no clear response, having known what it’s like to experience being the Other Woman.


It was summertime, and his girlfriend, one of my friends, was away. He was tall, dark, handsome and every 20-year-old girl’s worst nightmare: A stubborn flirt. One afternoon, in one of those poignant silences that follows a philosophical conversation about Camus and the meaning of life, he kissed me. Then we were in his room. I kept stopping, kept saying, “We shouldn’t …” but the fire was there, so I sank into the bliss, guilt and shadows.


I blamed him but I also blamed myself. Yet, I could tell you how deliciously irresistible he was, how much I wanted to forget my girl friend and let the bliss entirely surround his and my time together, but it never did. Instead, I became jaded realizing that I was capable of doing this.

What did I do? After a couple of weeks of resisting and giving in, I started to threaten him that I would tell his girlfriend everything. He was angry, and that killed the fireworks-like attraction between us. Threatened by my exposure, he backed away. Under my relentless pressure, however, he told her. They repaired their relationship but I lost a girl friend.


In summary, both he and I were to blame. You could point at his relentlessness and magnetic personality and blame him, but I also had the ability to stop what happened and didn’t. I’m not a bad person but I knew better and gave in to what was only momentary happiness, and consequently lost a friendship. I don’t believe my friend was wrong in shunning me – what I did was painful – but I do find it interesting that she forgave him and not me.

Have you even been cheated on? Have you ever been the “other person”? What do you think, “Who’s responsible when cheating?” Leave a comment.

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9 thoughts on “Who’s Responsible When Cheating?

  • March 19, 2010 at 11:43 am
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    Wow – very interesting question. Awesome points of view from all the contributors. But Nando, I feel your answer in more ways than I will go into. The person who sees a weakness in a relationship and takes advantage of it is the worst kind of snake. While there is blame to go around, there is NEVER enough focus put on the person who made the decision to go after or continue with a relationship with an attached person.

    What’s worse is the person who pretends to be your friend while sneaking around your back and taking advantage of you. Enough said, I’m about to start a rant.

    Thanks for a deeply thought out post from all of you!!

    Reply
    • October 26, 2010 at 1:45 pm
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      I agree. There SHOULD be focus on that other person. Marriage is the only contract to which contract law is NOT uniformly applied. If I had a BUSINESS partnership (instead of a marriage) in which one partner was diverting funds, time and energy to an actively participating third party, and they were caught, that third party would (and should) be rightly charged as an accessory to crime. Too bad most of our country’s few existing adultery laws are either unenforced or under attack by the gay rights lobbies – the argument is that the State has no place in the bedroom…that may be true, but it’s JUST AS TRUE that a THIRD PARTY has no place there either.

      The snake comment is RIGHT ON. Just because the cheating partner holds the lion’s share of the responsibility doesn’t absolve the affair partner. Too often she (it’s usually The Other Woman) goes and slithers under a rock waiting for her next victim. I can’t help but wonder how many other marriages are damaged by repeat offenders – there should be MORE focus on the third party’s responsibility…otherwise it is just a twisted variant of blame the victim.

      Reply
  • March 19, 2010 at 2:18 pm
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    I have to agree with Jeffrey on this! Yes, it really (really) sucks to be the one that has been cheated on. And regardless of flaws, and breakdowns and what have you. The person who broke the commitment and did the physical action of cheating is to blame. 100% to blame.

    But then again, I don’t think anyone can really judge another couples relationship. Each relationship has its own label, its own expectations and its own flow. Unless you are in that relationship you don’t really know what is going on, what is happening, and what is leading people to make and do hurtful actions.
    .-= LostPlum´s last blog ..am I ever serious… =-.

    Reply
  • March 20, 2010 at 1:11 am
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    Yeah I think cheating is a symptom of some really nasty sickness. So both are to blame (though the person who cheated is to blame a tiny bit more.)

    Reply
  • March 22, 2010 at 10:36 pm
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    No person is totally guilty or innocent, but the person who broke the promise (of fidelity or matrimony) is definitely *responsible*

    Great post!
    .-= Miss Alpha´s last blog ..Finally =-.

    Reply
  • March 23, 2010 at 11:07 am
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    Everyone is responsible.simple.

    Reply
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  • December 28, 2010 at 12:32 pm
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    Break up sucks! But when it’s broken, it’s broken. We just need to face it and move on. Don’t ever give up on yourself. It would be better. It would be ok.

    Reply

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