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Cheaters Judge Other Cheaters More Harshly Than They Judge Themselves

·350 words·2 mins
Psyched for the Weekend

I’m scrolling through my Facebook feed when I see it. It’s a post from someone who’s not my friend but I have a lot of mutuals with. And because she’s set her feed on public, whenever my friends interact with something she’s written, Facebook likes to bring it to my attention.

And this time, it’s a rant about how much she hates cheaters.

“Wow,” I say. Because, frankly, in the time that I’ve known her (again, via friends), she’s cheated on every single partner she’s had. She considers herself monogamous, but it seems like she more expects it from her partners and isn’t so good at actually practicing it on her end.

It sticks out in my mind since one time when one of my friends brought her to a party at my house as their guest, she freely admitted her infidelities and added, “I mean, you’re polyamorous. So you understand.”

No, I do not understand. Having multiple romantic partners with full honesty about what you’re doing isn’t the same as stepping out behind a lover’s back. Lying about it. Covering it up.

One is about having a custom relationship agreement that everyone involved agrees to. The other is betrayal. Deception.

The last time I spoke to her, she was a fairly unrepentant cheater. (And expected me to also have the same moral code, which I didn’t.)

And yet, here she is right now, ranting online pretty heartily about cheating.

It’s scandalous on one level. But it turns out that there are an awful lot of people like this acquaintance out there.

A study on sexual hypocrisy and self-serving bias found that cheaters definitely judged other cheaters more harshly for infidelity than they did themselves. They also were more likely to place the blame for their own infidelity on either the person they cheated on or situational factors.



This post is part of an ongoing Poly Land feature called Psyched for the Weekend, in which I geek out with brief takes about some of my favorite psychological studies and concepts. For the entire series, please see this link.


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