How to Be a Cheater: Why I Said I Never Would & Why I Did. ~ Lindsay Timmington


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I cheated on my husband.

This happened even though in my family, we were raised to believe in commitment. Particularly when it came to marriage. Barring the three deal-breaking A’s—abuse, adultery & addiction—you stuck it out, no matter what. And until recently I reasoned away the infidelity: we were separated. He’d been cheating on me for our entire three years of marriage. I was mad. I was hurt. I was drunk. I wanted to see if he was capable of feeling the type of pain he’d forced me to live in for so long. As a yoga practitioner and certified yoga instructor I believe in the yamas—a series of guidelines for ethical living. I believe I’m a good person, kind and loving, generous and loyal. But by sleeping with another man while married I broke all of these rules. I cheated.

Our marriage was only three months old when I found out about my husband’s affair. When I saw his email account left open on our computer and a bunch of emails from my best friend in his inbox, I couldn’t help it, I clicked one open. A picture popped up. It was her, facing a bathroom mirror, lifting up her shirt to expose a tan, flat belly, holding a sign that said, “I miss you.” In that split second, my life bottomed out. The only thing I knew, the only thing that mattered, the only thing I wanted anymore was to make things right with him. Two things usually happen upon a revelation of infidelity in a relationship. Either the cheater begs forgiveness or leaves. Neither of those things happened. He didn’t want to stay and he didn’t want to go. So I begged him to work things out with me and he tried, a little. It’s difficult to balance a wife and a girlfriend, I imagine. But for an entire year he continued to date her while married to me. I quickly found out that infidelity can make you crazy. Extreme bouts of paranoia, insecurity, rage, grief, pain and loneliness pressed down on me until I could no longer walk through my day as a normal person. But beneath all that my guttural instinct still screamed, “You love him! You can’t leave!” Now, what I didn’t hear that voice say, in much quieter tones was, “You’ll never find anyone else. Who else would want you?”

Had I heard that voice, had I really listened, I may have seen that I was so intent on loving him through the cheating that I was cheating on myself.

It wasn’t until he did it again that the facts started to chip away at my resolve to fix my marriage. This time he was cheating on me with a young woman we’d both befriended, taken in as our little sister and welcomed into our broken family. She acted as my support system throughout the first indiscretion and I leaned heavily on her, pouring out every thought and feeling into her open hands as I worked through my grief. I believed if I could trust anyone, it was her. Yet once again, this nagging feeling in my gut that I’d become accustomed to ignoring kept piping up, “Be careful!  Watch out!” I turned my back, unwilling to believe that anyone could witness the pain of a friend and voluntarily hurt them. Unable to believe that my husband could ever betray me again, after witnessing me collapsed on the bathroom floor, arms wrapped around the toilet, throwing up in the wake of the first betrayal. But he did. Only this time after I found out, he meekly fought for me. Lifted an arm in a half-hearted gesture to stop me from walking out the door, and that was all I needed. I folded myself into him and let his lip service, his apologies born from being exposed, drown out my voice from within that was now screaming, “You stupid fool! When will you learn? Leave him!”

We disintegrated in baby steps.

I moved away, but we stayed married. Some time apart would do us good, we both said. And I was faithful, stood by him through continued lies and broken promises, until my pain was so omnipresent, my rage so terrifying that I wanted to scratch my way out of my skin. Somehow I had to feel okay again. So I cheated—with an old boyfriend. He was someone who’d always loved me, exalted me, made me feel beautiful and smart and funny and talented and all the things I’d stopped believing about myself. I grabbed for him and held on. I cheated. I couldn’t hide it. Couldn’t lie. When my husband and I saw each other again, I cried and confessed. With a little smirk on his face he said, “I knew it.” I knew it too. I knew it was over. He’d make a mistake in cheating on me instead of leaving. I’d made a mistake in cheating on him instead of leaving. I surprised myself by filing for divorce. He surprised me by begging to begin again. The hardest thing I’ve ever done was turn my back on the man I fought for and loved fiercely for many years. I knew though, that every moment we stayed together we whittled away our ability to love. We both cheated out of fear—fear of being alone, of losing the love we knew was there, of making a huge mistake and fear of leaving the comfort and routine we had as a couple. Mostly though, we cheated because we were terrified of loving. For him the fear was in loving someone as much as he loved himself. For me, it was in loving myself as much as I loved him. But for both of us, it was all about fear. For six years we walked the tightrope of love and fear and never found our balance. We fell. And only when we picked ourselves up and walked away—each in our separate directions—did we truly start down the path toward love. (This is the first in a seven day, seven-part elephant love and relationships series with content partner The Good Men Project  on the theme question, Why Do Good People Cheat?)

Relephant read:

4 Stages of Cheating & When It’s Warranted.

Bonus: Maybe Tinder’s not so bad, afterall.


A recent graduate of the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a Masters degree in acting, Lindsay Timmington is also a writer, director and yoga teacher.  Lindsay believes in the transformative power of truth and strives to tell her own whenever she can. She writes at


~ Ed: Lori Lothian

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39 Responses to “How to Be a Cheater: Why I Said I Never Would & Why I Did. ~ Lindsay Timmington”

  1. Tara says:

    Great article, Lindsay ~ I feel I could write volumes on this topic, as well…

  2. Helen says:

    Beautifully written and poignant. <3

  3. Sheena says:

    Wow. Your openness gave me chills. Thank you for sharing. Very well written. Penetrating and beautiful.

  4. cissy says:

    Honest writing and insightful. Thank you for writing your story.

  5. Daisy says:

    Really beautiful piece, Lindsay. Especially powerful for me: "For him the fear was in loving someone as much as he loved himself. For me, it was in loving myself as much as I loved him. But for both of us, it was all about fear." What a destructive combo, huh? I've been in a similar situation, but haven't before had these words to describe it. Thank you.

  6. Ann says:

    Amazing. I loved reading this article. Please continue to write, I would love to read more from you!

  7. […] day out of the year doesn’t amount to much. How does he treat you the rest of the year? Is he a cheating douche bag who’s just trying to buy himself immunity for the other 364 days? I’d rather have a man […]

  8. Faith quotes says:

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  10. These facts are amazing. I was searching for at least 5 weak and I didn’t get the perfect answer. But after all I found from your site. Thanks for posting such an interesting topic.

  11. Lexi says:

    what a beautiful and honest sharing of emotion. thank you.

  12. lisa says:

    I loved reading this article. I am in a similar situation and have been searching for something, someone to put words to what I’ve been feeling. Thank you, you’ve helped me more than u could know

  13. colleen says:

    I usually don't start a sentence with "Wow"….but….
    What an honest and thought provoking read/ I understand, especially the silent voice that hides under the loud voice. When we really listen to that voice–we become alive.
    Thank you for writing. I look forward to reading more….

  14. vernon says:

    Been there recently too, had a year plus of lies and deception, what i realized is it does bring up your own toxicity so i focused on getting rid of that instead of the fact she was cheating. I remained physically loyal out of duty to self and not compromising the ideal of monogamy. Self discipline does a body good. I stopped entertaining other women over the web i think there were only 2. being a person that likes to be sane and stable regardless of anything i used it like a broom on the floor of my lifes basement. these things I did arent the normal faire for humans but I dont need a ton of other women in my life and too many energy avenues to lose energy i need for college and dealing with lifes stress. basically i used it to turn a justifiable frown upside down and decrease my lifes negativity by being ok no matter what. Its far better to be ok no matter what in these things than to seek an affair, because its strengthens you and makes you more of a person capable of being the person you desire to be. for me thats monogamous and loyal.

  15. ashleegreen says:

    very beautiful and relevant piece. wanted to let you know that the link is broken to your blog! thank you for sharing your story.

  16. Sofia says:

    I can't imagine how difficult this process must have been for you, nevertheless, the discovery that fear is sometimes the prime motivator which keeps us in a relationship is huge! I know people who are unfaithful are usually seen as flawed in some way, but I believe that infidelity is a symptom of a greater struggle within, that we are not willing to face. Sometimes as humans we need to follow our darkness to find the light , and break free of the lies we tell ourselves about who we are and what we want in this life. As you very eloquently stated, "He was afraid of loving someone as much as he loved himself, you were afraid of loving yourself as much as you loved him" beautifully stated.

  17. izs says:

    The first thing that came out to my mind is that you are beautiful! Hopefully ull meet your true love one day 🙂

  18. Kellie says:

    This was truly great. I loved the last bit. It really rang true for me as I went through a very similar marriage. Fear is a cruel thing. I vowed to never be in a fearful relationship again. It is extremely difficult to live a life like that. But we move on and will find something true and meaningful-as I have now.

  19. Lucy says:

    This is incredibly powerful, raw and honest piece of writing. Thank you!!

  20. Deb says:

    You hit the nail on the head. " For him the fear was in loving someone as much as he loved himself. For me, it was in loving myself as much as I loved him. But for both of us, it was all about fear." I felt everything you described in the four years of his cheating. We are no longer together and I am still struggling to love (myself) again.

  21. Ericka says:

    I'm going thru this with my soon to be ex husband now. Although I truthfully feel and havw studied scripture as well that strengthens my belief when the other person commits adultery that has ultimately ended the marriage and is even noticed that way in a court of law. So I do not feel any intimacy on the other parties part after that is cheating.

  22. lisa says:

    Why do we love so deep that we cant say goodbye? Is it fear? Are you sure I love this man so much but he has cheated and I dont want him to go????

  23. Forum says:

    Hi….Ur words are reflections of my life. Each emotions reveals what I have gone throughave and the ending is almost same. But the thing to add is-will never be able to live and love and enjoy that trust in relationship again.

  24. Nora Johnson says:

    Hey there,

    You’ve written a very honest, heartfelt piece and I can identify with a lot of it. I’m sorry you had to go through the that. However, I think us women over analyze men’s motivations. Men don’t do that, they don’t overthink it. They really are a lot simpler than we realize. Basically cheaters will get away with as much as they can, and the more you let them get away with it, the less they respect you….because you’re not respecting yourself. The fact that you went back to him after he cheated, with no consequences for him, told him he had nothing to lose, he certainly didn’t lose you! So why change?

    You cheated on him and of course he wanted you back, all of a sudden you weren’t a doormat! That made him realize you had other choices and he wasn’t the only game in town (regardless of how you felt about it). I don’t mean to diss you, it’s awful to be cheated on and whatever helps you move on and be happy is fine with me. BUT….keep your dignity!! Don’t accommodate a cheater!!

    Much luv xoxo

  25. Erin says:

    Thank you so much for writing this honest, emotional piece! Whenever cheating is talked about, everyone blindly says the same thing, "Leave!". They never stop to look at the individual situation, the why's… there is never just one, fixed response to a human dilemma!!

  26. Yours Truly says:

    Wow, but not in a good way. He cheated, you cheated, the end. You weren't strong enough to leave and you weren't capable of making it work. This is NOT beautiful. Grow up, work on your integrity and character and then try again.

  27. Mari Rose says:

    My thoughts reading this article were similar. At first I thought, good for the author for owning her experience, I wonder what she learned? And then I read and thought, well, she looks pretty good in the end. Oh, she did it because he did it first. He was a serial cheating douche-bag and so that gave her the right to have one tiny, payback, fu too temper tantrum affair. Oh, and also she was drunk. So…yeah. Ok then.

    Everybody has their reasons for everything, and I am certainly not undermining the author's pain or experience or her personal learning and revelation from the experience. From my own experience, I believe the value of fully facing an affair from both ends is inexplicable in its insights. However, I loved the honesty of Cheryl Strayed in Wild (the book not the movie, read the book!)-how she just said yeah, I did it. Maybe I wanted to f**k every one of those guys, or to that effect.

    Let's just own our own shit, people. I cheated. It wasn't because of him. It was because of me. I was a CPOS, as Dan Savage would say. And now, I hope that I'm wiser. I am committed to being wiser, and because I know, and have drowned in the horrible ugly festering stinkhole of my own infidelity, I can appreciate and honor the true, non-ecclesiastical sacrament of fidelity. I want it, from myself. I expect it, from myself. I won't settle for anything less. From myself.

    "We disintigrated in baby steps", however, is brillant. Touche. And noted. Thank you.

  28. Bryon Winn says:

    After lessons learned and accepting what it has become and going separate ways, is it still possible to end up together??

  29. Mari Rose says:

    Bryon Winn- Sure, of course it is possible. My Uncle was a serial adulterer. He and my aunt divorced, and then twenty years later, they got back together. He stayed by her side until she ceded the battle to breast cancer. We all do it our own way, and the truth is no one else can say we should or shouldn't. Something to consider, though. Until you (whoever) figures out what they've been chasing with the adultery, sorry really isn't good enough. I guess it depends how what lessons you both learn, and your reasons for wanting to reconcile. Can you see the blessing in the separation? Can you see the blessings beyond it, either way?

  30. Drew says:

    So what you had but didn't realise it was an open marriage, not quite consensual non-monogamy which you should have talked out with your husband because there are other options than monogamy. There are some good resources like http://www.morethantwo.Com that can help you learn about polyamory overcoming jealousy, building trust and how other people run an unconventional relationship.

  31. Jamie says:

    Something I learned recently that I never quite comprehended before is that rationalizing is the exact reason most people are able to cause the harm they cause. From our own POV, any thing we do can look OK.

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