Why Shaming a Cheating Man Doesn’t Work

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Girl meets boy. They fall in love. Fast forward 2–5 years later when boy cheats on girl. Girl decides to publicly shame boy for his lying, cheating ways. Perhaps most memorable is Angela Bassett setting her husband’s car ablaze, his designer suits tucked in the backseat before marching off triumphantly in Waiting to Exhale. I loved that moment. Wait, let me clarify, I loved that moment on screen in a movie; I didn’t say anything about wanting to recreate it in real life. Yet today alone I have seen two stories about women publicly shaming their men for infidelity.

The first is the fiancee of NFL player, Vernon Davis. She decided to air out her family’s dirty laundry in a mature way, Instagram. Her post included side-by-side photos of a smiling Davis and beside it, a smiling picture of his alleged boo thang. She then captioned her post by citing her sacrifices throughout their 15 year relationship and 3 kids. Ouch. The second story appears to have occurred between a non-famous couple and became known when a picture began circulating on, you guessed it, Instagram. In the photo a once shiny white SUV is now defaced with red spray paint and a pointed message reading,

“Cheater. It’s over. Hope she was worth it.”

Yikes. Both these stories got me thinking about 2015’s infamous tale which lit up the social media world, when the fiancee of New York Giants WR, Victor Cruz, sent a group text to his many “partners” introducing them to each other. How congenial of her.

Let me be clear, I know what it’s like to have a man cheat. It has happened to me in spectacular, heart breaking fashion. I come from a place of empathy. Betrayal from someone you love is gut-wrenching. We can all agree on that point. Where we are no longer in parallel is in wanting to display my pain by publicly shaming the person who did it. What’s the point? I ask this with equal parts seriousness and curiosity. If a man cared about your devotion, love or sacrifice, would he have cheated on you in the first place? Speaking from experience, it doesn’t seem like they are thinking about us at all when they decide to lay with another woman or in some instances, (I’m looking at you, Mr. Cruz) several women. Also, citing your children and family in your captions or posts is irrelevant. He didn’t cheat on his kids. He cheated on YOU. Again, the expectation that having children would somehow make you immune to a man stepping out is at best, naive and at worst, a ploy. What is gained by putting your partner on blast? I am sure there is a diminutive form of satisfaction in outing his trifling ways to the world, but how long could that feeling possibly last before you are hit with the realization that everyone now knows your man is a dog. Do you feel better to have everyone know he cheated? If so, why? In the case of athletes, do you think anyone at all is shocked to learn that an athlete cheated on his girlfriend/fiancee/wife? We would be more shocked if he didn’t cheat. Now there is a post I want to read.

Here’s another question, do we have any proof that social media confessions actually embarrass these men? Are they sitting in a dark bar somewhere licking their wounds and wringing their hands on how to make it right? I’m not so sure. Most curious are the women who take to their keyboards and phones furiously typing out each word before smacking their thumb on that send button faster than a sprinter crosses the finish line only to take them back. Say what? You told your mama, his mama, the church group, and the family of your kids’ classmates that he was sleeping with everyone but you and you’re still together? I don’t compute.

Vengeance has never done it for me and perhaps that’s why the idea of exacting revenge on someone never felt satistying. When the likes and comments fade as people turn to the next story, the truth remains. The person you love has hurt you. No amount of high fives, double taps or likes will reverse your pain. In the end, you will have to move through it and heal your heart.