Mental Illness and Cheating

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Yesterday, I pondered the question of what is the connection between mental illness and cheating. Although these two are not often talked about in connection with each other, there are some connections between them. Let me clarify a few items before exploring this issue deeper.

1. Cheating does not cause mental illness.

2. Some mentally ill people cheat as a way of self-medicating their problems.

3. Cheating often occurs within a combination of unhealthy and dysfunctional behaviors (lying, delusions, addictive behaviors, mania, intoxication, marital dysfunction).

4. The basic dynamic of cheating (gratification of sexual desires without accountability) is an unhealthy premise for any relationship.

Now that I have these four premises out of the way let us explore this issue further. One issue that is often misunderstood is how some mentally ill people use cheating as a way of self-medicating. In these cases, the cheating is not about enjoying themselves, it is more about coping. For whatever reason, they have resorted to sexual liaisons as a way of dealing with stress and the problems in their life. When people resort to sexual acts, such as cheating as a way of coping, it is unhealthy. They are choosing a potentially life-threatening way of dealing with their stress.The exposure to communicable diseases is only the tip of the iceberg. Cheating arouses the passions of irate husbands and wives, which can lead to fatal retribution. This type of cheater does not often consider the consequences. Consider for a moment that nearly one third of the women murdered in the US are at the hands of their own spouse, with cheating being one of the reasons cited. (yes, wives kill husbands as well-consider that 41% of domestic homicides are done by wives toward their husbands).

Cheating is a potentially life threatening behavior. When people engage in cheating, even to cope with their illnesses, they are putting their life at risk. If cars were as potentially life threatening as affairs, they would likely be outlawed. Engaging repeatedly in such dangerous behavior is not healthy by any means.

More research is needed in understanding the connection of cheating and mental illness. Although the research is needed, the hedonistic elements in society are unlikely to allow such research to occur since it would put cheating in a bad light, and may encourage people to abide by a set of morals.

If you want to understand more about cheating, consider signing up for my free newsletter.

Best Regards,

Jeffrey Murrah


Nothing in this Work is intended to replace common sense, legal, medical or other professional advice. If your situation warrants it, please seek competent professional counsel.

Comments

  1. mike says

    good morning Jeff,
    first of all, thank you for our telephone conference yesterday. My spouse may be an example of cheating as a way of coping with abuse whlie she was very young. My question todya is this . . . . .I recently discovered a “poor decision” she made back in June of this year and I believe she was unfaithful again. This was a planned event, arranged days ahead of time so it was not a “spur-of-the-minute” decision – SHE HAD TIME TO CHANGE HER MIND. Do you feel I should confront her about this incident now that 4-5 months have passed?

  2. says

    Mike,

    Thanks for stopping by. When breaking the pattern of affairs, it is important for both you and the cheater to face ‘reality’. Part of facing reality is accepting the truth about what happened. It is important that they know that you are aware of the incident and that the incident is not acceptable. Once you have made them aware that you know about it, you will need to move on to the current day. Staying too long on a past incident can bog you down in the past rather than dealing with many of the important issues that need to be dealt with in the Now.

    It is also important not to ignore the incident. Some cheater interpret the non-confrontation about a past incident as condoning them. Let them know that you know about the incident, then let them know how it left you feeling. At that moment, you may need to be silent and let it sink in. After it sinks in, then you can ask them a question regarding how they thought the incident would turn out, what they thought would happen next, etc. After asking the question (s), let them sink in, then drop it.

    This will get you started. When an incident is planned, it is not a ‘poor decision’. Part of the excitement associated with an affair is the planning, secrets and sneakiness.

  3. mike says

    Thanks Dr. I just didn’t know if enough time has passed that I could feel with any degree of certainty that this was her last “affair”. Short of putting a tracking chip in her neck like our dog, I never can trust that she truely is where she SAYS she is. I’m trying to learn to trust again, but she isn’t making it easy. Things between us have just been really good the last 3-4 weeks and I don’t know if it’s because she is finally starting to see the light, or if she is getting that fix behind my back again and THAT’S what is making her happy. tough qquestions to answer, I know . . . . .so I’m still struggling for a place to start trusting.

  4. Diane says

    Jeff,
    I have followed you here and on the journey website for some time. I would like to know if you feel that the self medicating and other behaviors you describe for mental illness also apply to depression and an emotional affair (nearly two years). My husband was mildly depressed when he was contacted by a woman with whom he had a brief fling 30 years ago – during the course of his affair he became sicker and sicker and now I know that his deception and desperation got greater and greater. He is at a loss to help me understand this.

    My husband is now well and is doing pretty much everything right, but I am not. I don’t feel our counselor is well equipped to deal with this sort of betrayal.What is involved in telephone counseling and/or can you recommend someone in our area?

  5. says

    Diane,

    Using an affair to self-medicate can also apply to depression as well. In terms of whether it is a sexual or emotional affair, they still go through the emotional turmoil. It does not surprise me that he became sicker during the affair. The whole gratification without responsibility that accompanies affairs often aggravate situations and make the emotional and mental situation worse. I will send you a personal e-mail addressing the other topics you had questions about.

  6. says

    Jeff,
    I am trying to understand my reaction to a comment my boyfriend made and was wondering if you could give me insight.
    I have been seeing this man for about a year. We had been co workers/friends for about 8 yrs. During that time we both were married and the friendship was just that, friends. After his divorce, he moved back to his home town in VA. Through mutual friends he found out I was divorced and we started communicating. He would come to Texas to see me and a friendship developed into romance. 4 mon ago he moved back to Texas so we could grow our relationship.
    A week ago, he shared with me that while he was single, he was into “swinging,” while he was in VA and in Texas, prior to his move. He then was contacted by some “friends” who found out he was back in Texas, that he “played with.” He felt he should tell me so if I met any “friends,” I would not be caught off guard. He told me he has not been “swinging since he moved back to texas. When I asked him if that was a lifestyle he wanted to pursue, he would have to do it with me no longer in his life. At that point he asked me “Do I need to make a decision now?” That blew me away. Here is man whomade a major move to be with me and is now risking our relationship to have sex with other women. He later told me, he did not mean to make it sound like he was choosing swining over me and he aplolgized profusely. He states he is committed to us and he just found swinging as intriguing but would not do anything to risk our relationship. Ok here is my problem, I just can’t get past that statement. What he did in his single life is the past and not relevant to me but the statement blew me away. I do believe he has been monogomous with me but I know, now there will be a trust issue with me, for a while.
    CAn you give me insight to my reaction and why I cannot let go of this statement. I think he is sincere in his apology that he did not mean to hurt me or make me feel he thought so little of our relationship.
    I would appreciate your help.
    Thank you.

  7. Kat says

    Without any warning, my husband of 5 years left one day last month. He was admitted into a Mental Facility and diagnosed with being Bipolar, Schizophrenic and showing signs of having multi-personalities. After this all happened, I found out he was cheating. He recently met a girl off Craigslist and had been carrying on an affair at work for over a year.

    My husband was caring and charming…he did everything for the good of me and this family.

    I guess my question, Jeff, is cheating really related to mental disease and if so, is there no hope in my situation. We have been apart for several months. He seemed to adapt a new way or life i.e. a new personality. He sold our house, got rid of me and the dogs and all his things, including his car and great job!

    I have been told by many medical personal that cheating doesn’t correlate with mental illness; that he still knew right from wrong.

    If I do take him back….will the forever be a struggle and a constant problem for us to deal with?

  8. says

    Kat,

    Let me clarify a couple of things. First, cheating can occur whether or not there are mental illnesses. Second, cheating is not a mental illness. That being said, some individuals with some mental illnesses do attempt coping with their problems through such behavior as cheating. Cheating often compounds the problems bringing about conviction, conflict and guilt. Those in turn aggravate the mental and emotional situation even more. The cheating may provide temporary symptom relief, but does not fix any root problems.

    So a connection does exist between cheating and mental illness. What the nature of that correlation or relationship is and how they interact with each other is often the subject of heated debate.

    Mental illnesses are often long term issues that you and your spouse will be dealing with. Medications can help with many of the symptoms. When cheating occurs secondary to mental illness, it needs to be dealt with differently than cheating done based on moral choices.

  9. Kat says

    My boyfriend of 1 1/2 years cheated on me with a close friend of mine for 5 months. She was an alcoholic and so was he. In the past two years, he got a DUI, lost his career, his children, his license, and a place to live. When we got together I thought that he was inspired by someone to motivate him to get help. We were so happy in the beginning and I thought that he had slowed down on his drinking.

    I was attending school in another state, and he moved with me to help me out while I was in school. His drinking got worst after this because he was always home alone bored. When we would go out we would always hang out with my friend. I noticed that she would sneak him alcohol behind my back. When I confronted her about it she told me that she would not do it again.

    I started limiting my boyfriends alcohol intake and he would be in a rage. He would then leave the house and not come back for several hours. Whenever he returned he was drunker then when he left. I would find him at the corner drinking beer hiding etc. Later I found out on several occasions when I would hide his money and he could not get alcohol, he would go to her house because she always had it. When I caught him coming out of her house one night, I suspected that there was an affair going on. He finally confessed to me that he was a worst alcoholic then I could imagine and he was going to her home to get alcohol, and it eventually they started to have sex. He told me that he never loved her, never had feelings for her but in his alcoholic mind he made a mistake. He assures me that it was the drinking that allowed him to cheat that he didn’t care about anything but himself and his needs. Does alcoholism and cheating go hand in hand?

  10. says

    Those with addictive disorders are at higher risk for cheating than non-users. This population is used to giving into their impulses. When they are “under the influence”, their self control is less than its usual levels. Impulsive sexual behavior is another way some with addictive orders use to redirect their choices. The sexual behavior gives them a high as well. Some of the same parts of the brain and brain systems are ‘stimulated’ whether they are using drugs, alcohol or sex as a way to medicate their pain. Some of those struggling with addictions include sexual behaviors in their cross-addictions.

    Rather than “Does alcoholism and cheating go hand in hand?”, let me change it to “When people have self-control problems, are they at higher risk for affairs?”. The answer is “Yes”.

    In the recovery community, recovery groups often address 13th stepping, which is when people start getting into relationships and sex as a way to avoid dealing with their drinking.

    Best Regards,

    Jeffrey Murrah

  11. says

    i was wondering if u could refer me to a book on this subject. i am trying to explain to my ex about this and he dont understand. thanks

  12. says

    Jewel,

    I am not aware of one book that addresses the topic. I have developed my opinions from reading a series of books on mental illness and infidelity. Most of the books either deal with infidelity or deal with mental illness. Few deal with both issues.

  13. Joe Zazeckie says

    My wife of 25yrs left me, her 4 children and everything she has for a guy she’d known 2 months in total. She works as a flagger on a work away all week road crew. She left a month ago. Hasnt called or seen the kids. She calls me several times a week, I guess to “remain friends” but probably to seek legitamcy to what she is doing. He is serepated from his wife (I spoke with her, she left him because of the work away life and suspected he was cheating). He has no apartment (they stay with his friends), no vehicle (company truck only) and a PO Box at his fire department for mail. My wife is esentailly homeless. She has repeatedly told me she chooses him even over her children. This guy told her he was in the final stages of a divorce, his wife laughed in as there is no divorce in the works. My wife also told me last week that they had already talked of marruiage!
    She cheated on me 2 yrs ago with a 62 yr old on her road crew (she was 43) in similar fashion. I caught them via phone records from the massive nummber of daily calls she made to him (same as this time).
    My wife had her childhood stolen from her at 7 by a seriously evil family. The abuse continute at least 4 to 5 yrs.
    She married a much older man when she turned 18 (I think he was 25 ytrs older) and cheated on him a lot (yes, with me at one point too).
    I feel a lot of the abuse issues are surfacing now. she told me she loves me but is not in love with me. She said she is unhappy, but must be a great actress since no one ever saw it. She has losgt control of herself and walled herself up inside. she is now esentially homeless, has only two small suitcases with her in a c older car. Everything revolves around him.
    I dont even know if I want her back except for the kids sake (one is handicapped). Once a cheater always a cheater. But I truly feel she is depressed and mentally ill. Webs of lies and deciet, but I can see through her like celophane.
    The last time (first time that I know of) ripped my heart out and caught me completly by suprise. So, this time is so much easier to deal with. Again, except for what she is doing to the kids. it is cruel and heartless selfish behavior.
    Any input?

  14. says

    Joe,

    Having your heart ripped out repeatedly is hard to take. Repeated infidelities often leave the other spouse calloused in responding to the cheater. In a situation such as yours, it would be natural that some callousness is there. Her repeated patterns of falling for either older men or men that she is unable to have a relationship with plus her history of abuse makes it look like it is a pattern. Repeated patterns are often found in addictive behavior patterns. You may be right on suspecting depressive symptoms as well. Dealing with such behaviors is tough. You may want to have her evaluated for any sexual addictions or mental health issues by a mental health professional who is also experienced in dealing with addictive behavior patterns.

    In terms of you and the kids, making the choice to take care of yourself and the the children first is a good place to start. The children and yourself need stability. If she is not going to provide any, you will need to provide it yourself. You will also need to develop a support system, since this situation is not going away soon.

  15. Joe Zazeckie says

    Thank you for the fast reply.
    As far as having her evaluated, she is spinning out of control and not her and not going to go for help. I cannot compell her, she has to want to do it. After the first time, she did go to counseling, but after about 6 sessions came out with a big smile and said the counselor said she didnt havve to go anymore. I asked the counselor, and of course due to professional creeds she couldnt answer that but did shake her head NO.
    She still calls a lot (it has been about a month since she made her decision to leave) and says she wants to be friends. I really dont think it is possible, but I do continue to speak to her because I am the only link she has to her previous existence at this point. I do not want to be an enabler though. But I feel if I cut her off completely she may hurt herself even worse. Hard not to care after all this time.
    Being a realist, I feel there may have been other times of which I am not aware, but it doesnt really matter at this point. She has sealed this.
    I am and do intend fully to make this up to my kids, I am all they have left and i cannot allow for this cycle to repeat itself in their relationships some day.
    I do understand you advice and I know it is correct. It is not even that I miss her at this point (again, a result of time #1), I just miss having adult company and sharing some of the little things in life. she can be replaced, but trusting someone else will most likely be hard and not thier fault. As soon as I stabilize the kids I can truly move on.

  16. Bethany Mc Adams says

    I found this all really interesting.
    I am actually the perpetrator of an affair. I have been seeing a psychologist for a year and saw a psychiatrist once. He told me to take a mood stabiliser, but I refused because I know it would slow me down (I am a medical professional).
    I have been married for almost three years and cheating for almost one year. Initially, it was just kissing other men for the fun of it and the thrill. Then it became playing around. And finally, I had intercourse with someone. I have been with the same man now for three months and I think I am in love.
    I love my husband dearly, he is amazing.
    I don’t know whether I have bipolar, or some attention disorder. Or what… Looking to get more psychiatric assessment. I am also religious, know this is wrong, but have no guilt. And am continuing with my relationships simultaneously. I am also impulsive.
    How can I fix this? Can medication treat cheating? I would never do it again because I am with someone now who I love.
    Even before I was married, I have never been single for one day – I always had a ‘replacement’. I always had 2, 3, even 4 boyfriends. Not sexually. I have only slept with my husband and this new man I’ve known for 3 months. It’s not about sex. I want to be wanted. . .

  17. says

    You pose a tough and thought provoking question with “Can medication treat cheating?” If the cheating is a result of mood swings, attention related issues, or chemical imbalances, then there is a good likelihood that there are some medications that could help. I say ‘help’ since some cheaters do not want to stop what they are doing and do not consider it a problem. If you are dealing with that kind of cheating, I know of no medication that can help. When the cheating is a by-product of mood swings, attention related issues or chemical imbalances, then once the primary symptoms are under control the risk of an affair is also reduced.

    All cheating is not the same. Neither are the solutions to cheating. Cheating still remains a problem, and there are no one-size fits all answer to the issues involved. It may help to remember that cheating was likely used as a solution to a problem. Cheating may get your mind off of things, but that does not solve the problem. When cheating is a solution, and the primary trigger is mood, attention issues, or chemical imbalance, there may be an issue that you need to address FIRST, before you address the cheating.

  18. Rey says

    I have been married twice. My first marriage was violent. He threatened and tried to kill me and eventually I had to escape from mainland China with my then young child. I moved back to Canada, lived with my parents and then met my current husband and moved to his native Australia where I live now with my 2 girls age 9 and 4. This marriage was also riddled with problems. My husband lied constantly about ex partners, he often withheld sex, put me down, played manipulative mind games. I became extremely repetitive and anxious over his lies unable to concentrate or focus each day asking questions to get relief from the tension and anxiety…..only to discover he was lying still. I thought at the time he was lying about something big like being gay or going to prostitutes and so I asked questions constantly to try and figure him out. The first sign of violence between us was me getting out of the car telling him I am leaving him and him chasing after me and grabbing me and dragging me to a park so we could talk where I kept asking questions to figure him out…..he claimed he never had an orgasm before, but I knew that couldn’t be true and so I asked and asked and asked and finally he said he did have one before and I was so frustrated at having to sit in a park for more than 2 hours trying to get that truth out of him, I hit him in the nose. After that violence escalated between the both of us. He stopped lashing out so much, but I kept at it becoming consumed by the lying and lashing out from the frustration of never knowing whether he was lying or telling the truth. When I would lash out, he would take off for weeks or months….telling me I need to prove myself. He would abandon the kids as well and once when I went into hospital, he left the kids with me in there for a bout 3 days having to sleep in hospital beds beside me. I couldn’t cope. I had no idea what was wrong with me.. Why I was lashing out, why I was repetitive and consumed by the lies because the lies were about silly things in a way. I could no longer carry out my day. My husband would always tell me I need to prove myself and I asked to go to marriage counselling, but it was there that I was diagnosed with bipolar….after seeing the psychologist only twice, got second opinion and it changed to borderline diagnosis, then a schizophrenia diagnosis and then I was told my husband was mentally abusive and counselled to learn about domestic abuse. I never lashed out or hit my husband in China….so to come to Australia and to be hitting things and even breaking things was so confusing for me. I felt off my rocker. Anyway….I was diagnosed with schizophrenia while I was in Canada visiting my parents because I had sought an opinion there of what could be wrong with me….diagnosis was paranoid schizophrenia against my husband. So, when I came back to Australia, I made an appointment with a psychiatrist to receive ongoing treatment, but the night before I was due to see the psychiatrist, my husband and I got into a fight….now 3 years later and me still constantly asking questions over his lies (I know sounds ridiculous) and ex partners. I hit him….and him being a black belt in Karate would not leave the house instead he pinned me down on the bed for 5 minutes. I was screaming and crying to get off of me….I thought I was going to have a heart attack being restrained and then he kicked me out of the bedroom and locked the door and I heard him calling the police who then came and got me and they put me into a psych ward where I stayed for just over 2 weeks. I was calm and peaceful there….no rage or anger. So they released me unsure of what to tell me. The whole time I was in a psych ward, my husband left me there….he played little mind games. Only sent my girls to see me with his parents who refused to come up to the psych ward. I had to go down and visit them. When I got out of the psych ward. I told my husband I didn’t wish to get back into a living situation with him. He was always the one taking off, but this time I wanted real help. He then tells me how he wishes he could spend time with me and draws me back in and then when I finally want to work things out with him and want him to come home…..he says he cannot. Anyway, the first day out of the psych ward I realized I had lost my wallet before I went in there. My husband knew this. Without a job and living in his house (he was staying at his parents house), I called him to ask if he had some money for milk for the baby until I could find my wallet and start using credit card again to buy groceries. He refused to answer my calls. Desperate to feed the baby, I drove to his Mom and Dad’s house. I was afraid to go to the door and knock, but had no choice. My husband went into the house acting just fine….then when I went into the house he started yelling at me as to why I yelled at his Dad the day coming out of the psych ward. That was not true, but his Dad lied about it to cause a problem. My husband knew his Dad was lying, but he started escalating and yelling at me and then the Dad says: Pick-up the phone a dial the police on her….in a cold methodical voice and my husband with his eyes bugged out starts dialling. I was in such a panic cause I didn’t want to go back into the psych ward and be separated from my girls…..and yet I needed money for milk….i cried and begged for them not to call the police and finally he gives me $15 and tells me to get out. He kept saying divorce, but strange thing is he lies about it…..he actually never wants a divorce even if he takes off for 3 months and if I mention divorce he gets irate. Anyway, i went to personal counselling for 4 months. Somehow my husband and I ended up living together again. And things seemed fine….no more repetitiveness for me talking about ex partners and his lies, no more lashing out……he was nice to me and tried to do as much as he could for me, but I felt like coming out of a psych ward even though I lashed out and seemed mentally unstable, I felt I couldn’t trust my husband. I numbed myself by being on Facebook all the time and I ended up flirting with my fellow emergency service worker friend who is also a police officer. I thought it was divine intervention that he was placed in my life because now I would have an advocate if the police were ever called on me again. I told him my entire story with my husband and maybe i was trying to gain some reality on myself and whether I was mentally ill or not. Anyway, he ended up wanting to sleep with me. I kissed him and then finally I left telling him I didn’t want to sleep with him and I ended our 2 day friendship. I have very strong morals around cheating. Up until coming out of the psych ward, I never even thought about going outside my marriage. I didn’t even have male friends, period! My first husband….I never cheated on period and there was plenty of opportunity too, but I just had strong morals around cheating and quite frankly it never crossed my mind. So, this was suddenly confusing for me. I told my husband about what happened and he said as long as it didn’t happen again it was fine. He asked why I did it and I said to him I am not sure, but I felt like coming out of the psych ward I couldn’t trust him anymore….that it seemed like he didn’t care about me. Without friends or family in Australia….being in a psych ward was terrifying as I had no idea when I would be coming out. Anyway….so husband tells me if I do it again though, then he will know that this has nothing to do with the fear of me being in a psych ward and my fear of him. And, so I felt like I would never be stupid enough to do that again, but several months later on Facebook again, a famous drummer from the USA and a very christian man who counsels at church for drugs and alcohol took an interest to me on Facebook. We talked for hours and he ended up telling me he loves me and said I was a kind and wise soul. I told him my entire story and he encouraged me to leave my husband. Finally he asked me to marry him and I say yes….and feel like this is going to be a great move leaving Australia, but then I come to my sense and tell myself this is crazy and how could I move to the USA with 2 young girls and put them into a possibly another bad situation….so I stopped that relationship from forming and the man on Facebook started threatening me and telling me he is going to commit suicide. My husband found out about the affair on his own reading my FAcebook pages. I didn’t deny it. He left for one day and came back. He made me promise not to do this again. And, so I cancelled Facebook for awhile, but missed it and went back on when I felt I could handle it. I stopped spending so much time on it and for more than 1 year I thought I was fine. I decided to try and put some faith back into my husband because he had been working so hard to forgive me, to help me out….he started bonding with the girls more. He is not a very affectionate Dad or playful Dad, but he started to form a better connection with them and they were getting closer to him as well. But looking back, I wasn’t very nice to my husband, I was distant, sad all the time….unable to work or cope with daily living. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and I couldn’t store iron in my blood and I was so exhausted and tried all the time that I would fall asleep with food still in my mouth and wake up with hurting teeth. I told my husband everyday that I was depressed….he saw me cry often…..I had also been coping with medical illness I believe brought on from years of stress. I became moody and everything my husband did I was critical over. I needed the house very clean otherwise I could not relax and day after day I would just ask my husband to pick up after himself, but same cycle…it would not happen….he would dump his stuff in the exact same spot….yet he would help me clean and I feel he took on more of the home responsibilties cause I was ill and could not cope. I felt bad for him, but inside I also hated him…..I was constantly anxious with him around…….and when he was gone….I felt so much better and so I encouraged him to go out. I felt relief when he wasn’t around…and so i began hanging around a younger crowd at emergency services. My husband didn’t seem to care and I would go out with them. One day, I was invited to coffee by a police officer about 10 years older than me. I thought nothing of it as in emergency services we all hang out together. He immediately told me he was unhappy in his marriage. At the time I was thinking it was good to have someone to talk to about marriage problems. I saw this man more like a mentor and confident. He said he was fine being friends and preferred it, but I think he has his own issues and he was very psychologicaly manipulative because he would say he was just happy to friends with me and enjoyed it best when we were having coffee together, but then if I didn’t seem interested in kissing him or more, then he would pull away from me and stop talking to me…and then I would feel huge anxiety and try and make things better between us. I don’t know how I slipped into this relationship, but I do know that I also told him my story as well and he told me that he would forever be here to protect me and be my advocate if anything happened to me. I was afraid that if one I lost my mind, I would have no one to be my advocate because looking back on the years with my husband, he never tried to genuinely help me with whatever I had. He was more interested in just gaining control and leverage and he was really cruel during our times of separation….like after just having a second baby and a c-section….he pulled my immigration support and I was desperate because I received a letter stating I must leave Australia in 30 days, but with my husband refusing to give me a passport for my new baby, that meant I had to leave Australia with only 1 child. I was devastated. He finally reinstated my immigration with a letter to them telling them we reconciled and i was mentally ill. Anyway, the police officer was in my opinion very psychologically manipulative…..he claimed he loved me, yet he had a very bad temper and he was always angry at me over something….like a really nasty angry where he would just stop talking to me for days over very little. He knew I was paranoid against my husband and he played that up between us telling me I could not trust and I was paranoid. I saw his dysfunction and I saw myself in him in some ways and I finally just told myself that I need to start making better choices in my life and I have to quit telling people my life story….and especially to men. I was not looking for sex or to find a new partner. I didn’t love or like this police officer at all. I did kiss him and cross the line, but only because I felt I needed to in order to keep the relationship up. I think I was looking for someone who could protect me and even more to have an advocate in case I lost my mind because I didn’t trust my husband to be there for me and I believe maybe self medicating. My sister is an alcoholic….and there is alcoholism and anxiety disorder in my family. I think I had deep anxiety and I just could not handle the anxious feelings and repetitive thoughts and questions and so I would trade lashing out, to not talking at all, to talking to everyone who would listen to my story. I think I was also searching for someone to tell me that I was either normal or dysfunctional….to give me feedback. or whether my husband is the dysfunctional one or we both are. I left the police officer because he wanted to go to a hotel and try all sorts of kinky stuff….and I just couldn’t bring myself to do that…..I felt sick that he wanted to try things with me. I didn’t want a sex partner….just some reality around my situation and I guess I had been in the system and to many psychologists and I felt the system was useless because how can I trust a system that diagnoses me with 4 different illnesses? So, this last time of me cheating, my husband has now separated from me. For 2 months he has been in wrath and anger mode and now he wants to go to marriage counselling, but he just lost his high profile job at the bank and has to find a new one immediately before we can even think about counselling. He wants me to get a job as well, but I have not been able to take a job for years because of anxiety and I really want to to help my family out. I have a degree and my husband is a masters level education. We are both well educated, but I feel we both come from very dysfunctional backgrounds. My husband’s mother is an extreme passive aggressive….you can never ever tell who she is or what she likes and she lies non stop. she is very jealous person and uses my husband as kind of like a surrogate husband. she has never liked me….just something very wrong there. I don’t have time to explain it all here and sorry that my message may be a bit messy, but my point through my story is that I do think I have a mental illness…..I feel it is either a mood disorder like bipolar…..or it is extreme anxiety or PTSD. I feel that mental illnesses….even the neurotic ones like anxiety can really skew your reality. I believed for years it was normal to be repetitive and asking non stop questions and that I was justified to be paranoid against my husband. And, in regards to cheating….if your reality is skewed….there is a very high risk to constantly make poor decisions and choices because you are basing your decisions off of a skewed reality. In addition, I also feel that people with mental illlness might use cheating as a way of self medicating much in the same way someone might drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes. AND, my biggest complaint is that although cheating may be morally wrong….I am tired of listening to people say how the mentally ill person needs to realize and recognize their immorality and the damage they are doing to themselves and their family. This is mental illness people. The issue here is not criminal activity or a lack of morals. This is an issue of someone having a serious illness where reality and thought processes prevent the person from truly understanding what is going on. Only through therapy and possibly drug intervention will the patient learn to manage and deal with their illness and when they finally have that break in reality to recognize that all of their past reality and thoughts were so skewed….it becomes a shock to the system and huge amounts of guilt is left over to deal with oncce the mentally ill person can finally grasp what happened. We shouldn’t be placing guilt on people who are ill…..we need to focus on getting the person well because condemning someone is not the answer….and i know this because once the person is well, they will feel deep remorse for what happened and it is something they would never do when well. This is vastly different from a man who cheats who claims he did it because he had a bad childhood. Someone can have a bad childhood and not be mentally ill. Mental illness especially when we talk about schizophrenia and bipolar are illnesses where judgement and reality are so different from that of a normal person. They lack insight into what they are doing and I believe personality disorders and anxiety where paranoia is the form taken….also have a lack of insight and normal reality as well. The human mind is complex and there are many examples where even the non mentally ill can be brainwashed into having a skewed reality like in Nazi Germany where so many came to think that it was ok to persecute Jews or victims of kidnapping who end up becoming sympathetic towards their kidnapper and abuser. Or the many parents in this world who were raised with spankings and believe it is ok to spank their children and don’t even know how to effect change in their children because they were only taught one way in their childhood. They lack insight and don’t know of other options because they were not taught to them. So, I think mental illness is a serious issue and cheating should be explored more as a link to mental illness because the repercussions to the marriage, possibility of STDs and other negative repercussions like unwanted pregnancy should be an important topic to discuss. I am interested to find out about myself because I have been hit on many times by other men and never even bat an eye at them and my strong morals against cheating leaves me perplexed why at the time was I so paranoid and feeling I needed protection and now looking back on it I can see the deep dysfunction there.

  19. says

    Rey,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. You have been through some extremes. I was overwhelmed at the many trials and challenges you have been through. It is amazing that you have lived through so much. I agree, the linkage between affairs and mental illness needs greater attention. I suspect there is a link. What remains to be seen is how strong it is, how it works and the chemicals involved. My hunch is that with each affair, there are changes in the neurochemistry and brain functioning of those involved. As those changes progress, there are changes in the person’s behaviors. I am still waiting to see what researchers find. At this point, it is only my speculation.

  20. Toni says

    My partner of 4 years had a history of drug abuse when we met. He had been clean for over a year. He had a small daughter in his care 100% of the time as her mother was a drug abuser too. We had a very intensely passionate and fast relationship and I had never felt so connected to a person before. I was 27 when we met. I had a baby with him when I was 30. We had a fantastic life, I helped him fix up the issues from his past, debts, poor health etc. we only ever fought over his mothers over involvement with his daughter and her total lack of interest in our son. And we would fight occasionally over money. Out of no where when my son was around 18 months, my partner started taking drugs, at first it would be occasionally but always a “bender” when he used drugs his personality was so different. The drug abuse was always accompanied by strange sexual behavior, phoning sex lines, joining sexual matching websites without really worrying about being caught. By the third bender I believe he is suffering psychosis, I involved his parents even though we had been estranged after an argument 12 months ago because it had escalated to full drug abuse with all the crap that goes with it. He is always trying to find someone to have sex with, even when he is not high he will look me in the eyes and say I love you so much, your my whole world and I am going to get better I am going to beat this.
    When my partner was well, his loyalty was one of the things I loved about him. No one had a chance of straying him from me. I had seen them try and fail. He cherished me always.
    I guess I am wondering if the strange sexual behavior really is a part of the mental health consequence of drugs. Or am I being used as a half way house believing him like some desperate victim.?

  21. says

    Toni,

    Thank you for writing. All too often I see mental illness and cheating with each other. To really mess things up, drug abuse if often thrown in as well. In terms of whether or not a person like yourself is being played, those are not easy questions to answer. When the drugs take over, all bets are off. With mental illness they do not always have full volitional abilities, although there may be more there than assumed. The key item I would look at is whether or not they are hiding it from you. When they hide what they are doing, they are aware that what they are doing or planning is wrong. When they ask for help prior to things, that is one thing, when they want you around after they were sneaky and making a mess, chances are your getting played.

  22. Andrew says

    Dr,
    I’m very confused. I’ve been with my girlfriend for just over two years now and I’ve cheated on her three times now. The first she caught me watching porn and not only her but I as well was devastated. At the time i was doing it i didn’t feel any remorse but when she found out and confronted me all of this guilt, remorse, and depression all hit me at once. I cried harder than i ever had. We didn’t break up and she forgave me quicker than i ever hoped possible. The second time took place about six months later. I was checking my email when someone sent me a message, she started talking dirty to me it was completely impulsive i mean i was in the middle of doing something else but for some reason i talked back and it escalated turns out it was (I”m pretty confident) a computer trying to get me to join a web cam website i didn’t join but again at the time i didn’t feel to much remorse for doing what i did. A couple days later i had left my email open and she found the conversation and confronted me, I was at a lose for words and again i cried like i never had before(My brother died of cancer and I’ve cried harder and more often about me cheating on her than i did about the loss of my own brother, horrible i know) i really do love this girl and i don’t believe i could go on living my life without her she holds me together and i do the same for her I truly do love this girl I couldn’t picture myself being with anyone else ever. We’ve been working through this last “affair” and things were definitely getting better, slowly but surely. Well early today I did it again. A girl started talking to me i let my girlfriend know some girl added me started ta conversation with me she said it was alright and to continue the conversation so i did well eventually she starts flirting with me and this time instead of flirting back i told her how much i loved my girlfriend but she still kept hitting on me it wasn’t so obvious and at first i just ignored it because i wanted someone to talk to(i don’t have to many friends,, especially any to talk to about my relationship) but she persisted and sent me a private invite to a chat website. She said all she wanted to do was talk, she was hurt and she just need someone to talk to and have a “fling” with, again i resisted but she kept persisting and i caved. We made plans to meet each other in person after a while on the private chat. i got carried away my heart was pounding i was even shaking I wasn’t even certain that when i got there I’d even get out of the car but i did and i waited for little bit and sure enough there was my girlfriend waiting for me. It was her, she was the one talking to me and persisting we go chat in a private room. She caught me again and i collapsed i could barely breathe i feel so sick to my stomach she was obviously upset but she told me she still loved me and wanted things to work out between us but first i need to get help if it truly was a mental illness i have or if I’m just a fuck. I started cutting myself after the second time i was caught, i stopped but now if i can’t fix this or at least make her happy again i don’t know if i can go on living like this. My father was lying cheating scumbag who left when i was 12. I’m 19 now and I can’t help but feel like I’m turning out to be just like him and it makes me sick. I need help. I don’t want to fuck things up anymore. Please help me out Jeff. I’m falling apart.

  23. says

    Andrew,

    This woman means a lot to you. It comes through in your comment that she is VERY important to you and that it pains you when you let her down. When you say you are confused, I am unsure what that is about. Is it that you are torn between her and porn, confused as to what to do about your situation, confused about what you are feeling or confused about what to do regarding the woman in your life. There are many issues at work right now, which may be part of the confusion.

    With technology, people have access to porn with greater ease than previous generations. The availability of it means that people will need to discuss their relationship and what they are seeking when they are looking for porn. Is it a matter of seeking excitement, companionship, or something else. It could also be an escape. What the porn means is what you and your special woman need to discuss. The time to discuss it is before you go binging, not afterwards. Porn is a solution to something. You need to find out what it is a solution to and address that part of your relationship with your woman.

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