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Do Men Regret Cheating?

The meaning of regret in rhetoric and that of its practical application by cheating men, appear to be distinct entities. The victim’s freedom is regarded as the sole conduit of forgiveness for such an act as infidelity, and hope is afforded the truly penitent man, purely on this basis.

The Meaning of Regret

To regret is to feel sorry about something, and to think about it with a sense of loss, but this word is also used as a polite expression of sorrow when making an apology or delivering a piece of bad news.

Due to the immense hurt endured, it is clear that a victim of infidelity would not appreciate merely a polite expression of any kind, but this is possibly tempered by the notion that it is possible for a man who can behave so abominably, to not only feel a sense of loss, but to acknowledge the senseless damage inflicted on his victim partner.

Is it merely getting caught that he regrets?

The brutal reality of the unfaithful man’s ruminations is given airing in the following poem by Robert Browning:

One more devils-triumph and sorrow for angels,
One wrong more to man, one more insult to God!
Never glad confident mourning again!
All’s over, then; does truth sound bitter
As one at first believes?

When a man has lost his mistress, in Browning’s view, it is clear that he experiences a sudden jolt back to reality. The reality of what he has done, and the moral judgment he imposes on himself. This self reporting of infidelity, although it may well be involuntary and due to the fact of being caught in the act, describes the inner journey of the man accepting his actions and then accepting that he was deluded into thinking his happiness lay elsewhere. He has lost his mistress, and with this reality check, his illusion vanishes.
Still, the journey has not yet arrived at regret, as up till this point, he merely longs for the bliss of his illusion, which he can have no more.

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Sincere Regret

While 80% of couples regret getting divorced after infidelity has marred their marriage , often when cheating men are confessing their misdeeds, they quite naturally, prefer to avoid details. This is a recipe for disaster, as mistrust is yet rampant in the damaged relationship and true remorse and regret, would willingly acknowledge, that from the victim’s perspective, her partner’s intentions seemed fixed on betrayal .

Authentic regret, gives the victim partner the freedom to decide and clarify her own feelings. It accepts that forgiveness is her choice to impart, and due to the profound breach of trust, it may well be withheld, at her discretion.

When men lie out of regret, it usually indicates that they are truly sorry, and is probably just after they realize that they had far too much to lose. Often it is the case that they genuinely believe it will not happen again.

One cheating male celebrity on occasion expressed ‘sincere regret for his actions’, but on another occasion in regard to the same act of infidelity, said ‘there’s no regret. You can’t regret. I mean I’ve felt regret but I’ve also refused to allow regret to sow a seed and live in me because I don’t believe it…’

His critics insist that in order to learn and move on, regret needs to be experienced.

The above clearly demonstrates some of the turmoil a man caught cheating may be suffering, and although somewhat frustrating to the onlooker, it appears to indicate that a man certainly is capable of regret after infidelity, the precise clarification of which however, may be a process completed in the fullness of time.


Macquarie Dictionary, Macquarie Library Pty Ltd, Macquarie University, Australia 2007 © 1997-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
Browning, Robert (1812-1889) British Poet The Lost Mistress, 1845
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