Man attempts to justify cheating on girlfriend because of her “body count”


**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a close friend, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.

One of the advantages of having male friends is getting a peek inside the psyche of how men think about relationships.

I recently asked one of my guy friends what the most absurd excuse he’s used to justify cheating on a romantic partner was, and he didn’t disappoint. He told me that he once cheated on a girlfriend because she had a higher “body count” than he did.

In other words, she had slept with more people than he had (before they got together), so in his mind, he was justified to even the playing field by sleeping with other women.

“At the time, I didn’t see it as cheating,” he rationalized. “Of course, now that I’m older and wiser, I can see the err in my ways.”

This was one of the most outlandish excuses for infidelity that I’d ever heard, but it gave me insight into how people can rationalize their bad behavior.

When his girlfriend found out he had been “getting around,” she was understandably hurt and angry. The relationship came to a screeching halt shortly after that.

“Why did her body count matter so much to you?” I asked out of genuine curiosity.

“I don’t know,” he shrugged. “I guess on some level, I felt inadequate. Like I wasn’t good enough for her.”

It’s a sad story, but it’s not as uncommon as it may seem.

Letting sleeping dogs lie.

Everyone has a past; some are more colorful than others. But when it comes to romantic relationships, what happens in the present matters most of all. Though for more people, that’s easier said than done.

For some people, thinking about their partner’s past can create irreparable fissures in the relationship. If you can’t get past your partner’s history, then it leaves little room to move forward.

To put it plainly: if you’re still hung up on your partner’s past, then you’re not really in a relationship with that person; you’re in a relationship with the ghosts of their former lovers.

“I know it sounds childish,” my friend said, “but I thought it was a legitimate excuse at the time.”

He went on to say, “knowing her history made me see her in a different light. I couldn’t help but compare myself to all the other people she had been with.”

It’s a vicious cycle: the more he thought about her past, the more his respect for her diminished. The more his respect for her diminished, the more he thought about her past.

“And that’s why I stepped out,” he said. “I was trying to make myself feel better.”

Of course, cheating is never justified, but there is something to be said about the idea that women who sleep around are considered low value.

The low-value double standard.

My friend is not alone in judging a woman by her past experiences. A 2016 study by the Journal of Sex Research found that “people want a mate, with a bit of a past, but not too much.

We have been socially conditioned to believe that women with a colorful past are perceived as low-value. This is especially true when it comes to a woman’s relational history.

A man can sleep with as many women as he wants and be considered a “player.” But a woman who does the same is regarded as a “damaged goods.” It’s an unfair double standard, but it’s a reality that we have to face.

“…the way we feel about a given person’s sexual history is complex and depends not only on our gender, but also our personality and relationship goals.” — Kinsey Institute

So, what can you do if you find yourself in a relationship with someone who has a history that you can’t get past?

The first step is to have a conversation with your partner about it. If they’re willing to talk openly and honestly about their past, that’s a good sign. If they’re not, you need to consider their right to privacy.

Everyone has a right to their history, and if your partner isn’t comfortable sharing that with you, you should respect that.

The second step is to try and see your partner for who they are in the present. Every living person has a past, including you. The key is to focus on who your partner is in the here and now.

If you can do that, you’re well on your way to a healthy and happy relationship.

Do you think cheating is ever justified? Have you ever been in a relationship where you couldn’t get past your partner’s history? Let us know in the comments!

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Intimacy & Relationship coach, writer, and creator of The Sensuality Project. I specialize in Relationship-ing (it's a verb).

Los Angeles County, CA

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