I don’t know how many times I’ve seen teary, heartbroken women throw their hands in the air while uttering the words, “If he wasn’t happy, why didn’t he just leave?”
The question in itself contains one very flawed assumption: that he was unhappy. In particular, that he was unhappy with you.
To make matters worse, this sentence is often used as a show of support from well-meaning friends. While their intention is to imply that the cheater is a stupid moron, the words only succeed in reaffirming your warped belief that you’re somehow inadequate — you’re too flawed, stupid, or ugly to make your cheating partner happy enough to be monogamous.
What if I said that the reason your man cheated had absolutely nothing to do with you?
Nope, nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada.
I don’t care if you occasionally nagged, put on a few pounds, or didn’t sleep with him frequently enough. PUH-LEASE. A confident, intelligent man who had a problem with his relationship would deal with the issue by talking to you about it. And if he didn’t get anywhere through talking, he would leave.
But he didn’t. Why?
Because he wasn’t unhappy with you.
Sure, if he gets caught he might try and justify his behavior by reminding you of some fuck-up you made in 1992. But really, that’s just the panic setting in.
The fact is, he went to great lengths so that you wouldn’t find out he was cheating. It would have been a hundred times easier for him to just leave and live the single life.
So why do men cheat? It’s all about self-esteem and the need for external validation.
Yeah, I know… you told him a thousand times that he was awesome. You agreed with that his boss is a jerk and that he’s clearly worth a far higher salary. You’ve told him countless times how good-looking he is, how funny he is, and how great he is in all areas of manliness.
But hang on… I already told you. This isn’t about you.
Of all the people who are likely to boost his self-esteem, it ain’t gonna be you. Why? Because he thinks he’s crap and you’re with him. So how could he ever trust your judgment? He needs to be good enough that other women want him, too.
Does this make it all OK? Hell no. We’re all responsible for our behavior and we all suffer from self-esteem issues. Those of us with a scrap of intelligence and maturity work on ourselves. To constantly seek external validation without taking action is simply lazy. And who could ever find a lazy man remotely appealing?
When it comes to what you should do about it, you have two options:
1. Forgive him, let it go, and stay.
2. Decide that you’re worthy of a more mature, confident man. Decide that even if you don’t find one straightaway, it’s really no big deal to be single. It’s far better than settling for a loser.
I’d far prefer option 2, but really, it’s up to you. But when you make your decision, just be sure to remove love from the equation.
Sometimes we fall head over heels for losers. And we somehow get it in our heads that the love we feel means something. The truth is, more often than not, love makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
Cry your heart out if you need to. Stay or leave; it’s your choice. But never ask yourself that awful question: “If he wasn’t happy, why didn’t he just leave?”