There was a book on my console table—the place where I keep all of the dating/relationship books that come in the mail, seeking a review— that said the answer was “yes”. The title was “Good Men Do Cheat”, a fact, not an opinion and not up for debate. I’d been avoiding giving the book a cursory browse because I anticipated my reaction would be scathing.
But there it sat, drawing my attention to it every time I entered or exited the house and inspiring me to think about it’s bold and confusing declaration. On day five of the NYC subway train by my house not running (thanks, Sandy) I gave in and picked it up.
Like I said, I was expecting not to like it. My definition of a “good man” is one who demonstrates respect, honesty, trustworthiness, some get-go and fidelity. I make allowances in perspective to acknowledge that good people occasionally do bad things. Martin Luther King, Jr. (and a long, long list of others) got Black folk out of Jim Crow, but it’s also alleged that he cheated on his wife rampantly. Good leader? Sure. Good man? Perhaps. Good partner? Jury’s out. Good people make mistakes. Of course they do. Forgetting to pick up your significant other’s dry cleaning is a mistake. Having sex with another person—and the series of bad decisions that lead up to it— isn’t “oops!” It’s willful, intentional. Bad.
See a “good man” to me is one who doesn’t cheat. And by cheat, I mean all that comes with having sex and/or establishing a deep emotional connection with someone who isn’t your partner. I’m talking about the dishonesty of lying, the deception of sneaking time with another person, the betrayal of a bond, the willingness to recklessly expose his body to potential disease— because it’s not like people get tested, then cheat, or that condoms, if even used, never break or you can’t catch herpes even with protection– and then exposes his partner as well.
Good is the guy who discusses whatever conflict is going on his head, and tries to work out the issues with partner. If they get some resolution, he respects her enough to leave the relationship. The cheater is what I would call a very bad man at worst, and partner, at best. Maybe he can be better, do good (like a superhero) for someone else. But for you, he’s probably a wrap.
Perhaps the funny thing is despite his book’s declaration “Good Men Do Cheat”, author Carl A. Roberts seems to hold a similar skepticism about good men and cheating. Oh, he says plenty of times in his pages some variation of: “Good men do cheat— it’s not a question, it’s a fact”. But it seems more like a catchy slogan or a great marketing title to him. Perhaps it’s a nuanced capture from the perspective of the cheating men Roberts spoke to, all of which – fascinatingly—described themselves as “good”. Or better, a pat way of making amends with the guys who have accused Roberts of breaking man code by giving women insider tips on cheating men. Roberts dedicates a chapter. “A Message to Men” defending himself against that accusation.
Maybe it’s all of the above.
Most of the book is a recount of what cheating men told Roberts about why and how they cheat in tens or hundreds of interviews. It’s quite interesting and also nauseating in its misogyny. (Still, I recommend a read, so women know what they’re up against with some men.) What I did appreciate about Robert’s perspective – and totally didn’t expect to find— is that despite the title, he didn’t try to sell women on the idea that they should take the blame for a cheating man, put up with one, or contort their minds into thinking being cheated on was all good.
After laying out all the “types” of cheating men and how to catch one, Roberts seems fed up enough with cheating mankind to give it to women straight. He bluntly lays it out, “the more you allow [a man] to cheat then allow him to come back, the less attractive you become… you become a victim to your own lack of self-love.” It’s totally true, but I rarely expect men to give the advice they give to their daughters and female relatives to women-at-large.
I owe Carl an apology. I know not to judge a book by its cover, I should know too, not to judge one by its title. “Good Men Do Cheat” is a candid peak inside the sometimes messy male mind and comes with actual advice that doesn’t pretend womankind is mindless.
Demetria L. Lucas the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. ABIB is available to download and now in paperback. Follow her on Twitter at @abelleinbk