What to do when a cheater blames you for their bad behavior
What do your do when your partner ‘blames’ you for his or her infidelity? Coping with infidelity is difficult—but when you are blamed, this makes recovering from an affair impossible! So what should you do? Keep reading.
Surviving infidelity when you are blamed
So you caught your husband, wife, or partner in his or her deceit. For the past so many months or even years, he or she has been involved in an affair. You’ve got some details, but you can never know if this is all of it, or if there is more. Lying has been your betraying partner’s calling card.
You’re mad, you’re hurt… and you’re scared.
But the worst of it, your cheating spouse is blaming you for the infidelity!
Dealing with infidelity
Your cheating partner is giving you a long list of reasons why it was alright for him or her to cheat. And at the top of this list is something that he or she identifies that you did or did not do that led to his or her getting involved with another person outside the marriage or committed relationship.
You are vulnerable. Your partner is blaming you for his or her folly. You feel so overwhelmed and confused. You wonder, maybe he or she it is right—that you are responsible for his or her infidelity?
Your partner’s words of blame are self-serving and selfish. Either he or she is trying to get you to feel guilty so you won’t want to talk about the affair which essentially ‘shuts you up’ and makes dealing with infidelity impossible or he or she does not have the strength of character to accept responsibility so your partner, who is struggling with feelings of guilt and shame for what he or she has done, shifts the blame onto you.
Don’t accept his or her nonsense that you are to blame—this is not part of dealing with infidelity. Recovering from an affair requires truthfulness. Nobody forces somebody to befriend someone, spend time with them and have sex together.
It is true, your partner may have been unhappy in the marriage and you may have contributed to that unpleasantness, however you did not make your partner commit infidelity and become a lover to someone outside of the marriage or committed relationship. It was your cheating partner’s choice to do so.
Recovering from an affair
Now that we have this straight—that your ‘partner’s cheating’ is not your fault—what do you do when your partner selfishly blames you?
Simple: Get the truth clear in your mind. Then arm yourself with words and actions to protect yourself. These seven defensive positions are essential to surviving infidelity. Here is what to do:
In your mind:
1. Know the truth: It may be true that you have not been the perfect partner. Regardless, the fault for the affair lies squarely with your cheating partner.
No one has to be perfect in order to deserve respectful and honest treatment. When your partner committed his or her life to your life, and you committed your life to him or her, it was understood that you both would be faithful and truthful. It has not turned out that way… and the infidelity is not your fault!
2. Know that your partner knows the truth: Your partner understands that it was his or her choice to commit adultery, but does not have the moral and emotional strength to admit this. He or she also knows that blaming you is self-serving and selfish. All this ‘blame’ is just more shame that your cheating partner is adding to his or her pile of wrong doing.
3. Recovering and healing from an affair requires selflessness and truth: Unless your partner gets past his or her selfishness and takes a truthful position which requires that he or she takes full responsibility for the adultery, the two of you will never successfully reconcile. Going forward believing that the infidelity ‘was your fault,’ will be like building a house on sand. Your marriage or committed relationship will always be weak and you will feel insecure.
Know, that blaming you is another way for your partner to say, “In the future, should I repeat my infidelity, know that it is your fault.” In other words your partner is saying, “I am free to do what I want.”
You cannot live with such lies and uncertainty about the future. Such an approach will never work. You will always feel too insecure, and your partner will feel too entitled to resist his or her urges. Your partner will just blame you again should another episode of infidelity reoccur. When it is like this, coping with infidelity is impossible.
Only when your partner takes 100% responsibility for having committed adultery can there even be the hope that it will never happen again and that your surviving infidelity process will succeed.
With your words:
4. Don’t listen to blame: When your partner blames you, tell him or her you will not listen anymore to his or her lies. Announce that you have heard enough and that you do not want to waste your time listening to any more nonsense.
5. Protect yourself: Tell your partner that until he or she takes 100% responsibility for his or her behavior, there is nothing to talk about. Announce that you will not allow yourself to be further victimized by his or her selfishness and that healing is impossible without him or her taking full responsibility for his or her bad behavior.
Coping with infidelity excludes you being further victimized! Protect yourself.
With your actions:
6. Spend only healthy time together: Effectively dealing with infidelity requires that you spend quality and healthy time together. However, if the time you spend together is destructive, you are better off apart. If your partner is blaming you—at this point your relationship is still toxic and you need to remove yourself. In spite of your hope and best intentions, at this point, there can be no healing and recovering from an affair.
I know this may be very difficult because of everything you are going through. But you need to protect yourself and not put yourself in a situation where you can be further hurt. Surviving infidelity must be a healing process, not the opposite.
7. Surviving infidelity is a process: If at this time your partner is blaming you for his or her infidelity, this does not mean he or she will never come to their senses and take responsibility.
Your partner who betrayed is also struggling—coping with the infidelity —and is in crisis mode. Be kind, be patient, but don’t engage in conversations where you are blamed and don’t take additional emotional bullets—you have already spilt enough emotional blood.
Hopefully, eventually you’ll get to the point where your partner WILL take responsibility for his philandering and then you can begin surviving infidelity through reconciliation and healing.
Surviving infidelity is complex and fraught with potential mistakes. One of the biggest mistakes some infidelity victims make is to accept blame for what has happened. This is wrong and unhelpful to the surviving infidelity process.
You are not to blame: Know this in your mind, express it with your words, and live this truth with your actions. Doing so is good for you and your partner. Most often the assistance of a relationship professional who specializes in infidelity is required to help you survive infidelity. Below are sources where you can find qualified therapists.
- The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
- The Canadian Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
Get the tools you need to survive infidelity:
About the author
Abe Kass, MA, RSW, RMFT, CCHT., is a Registered Social Worker, Registered Couple and Family Therapist, Certified Hypnotherapist, and award-winning Educator. He has a busy clinical practice in Toronto, Canada and throughout the world using the phone or Zoom.
After many years of clinical practice and research, Abe concluded that practical solutions requiring a focused effort of no more than a few minutes a day for very specific relationship problems were critically needed. GoSmartLife Publishing House has been created to fill this need.