Is it more offensive if your SO cheats on you with someone uglier than you?

A while back, I shared a somewhat anonymized discussion that I’d had with a co-worker. She had set her sights on a married man and was denying there was anything wrong with that; she likened it to a business deal in which she was trying to win a contract away from someone else that already had it. She pointed out at the time that we do this kind of thing all the time – target a contract opportunity where we know there’s some dissatisfaction with the current contract holder and and swoop in by showing our company can do the job better.

Married man ended up leaving wife and marrying her after she got pregnant. They have a boy and girl now, a year old. And in a development that no mortal could have possibly have seen coming, he is now apparently cheating on her.

But what prompted this thread was her recitation of the story, and the particular outrage over who the floozy is who has captured her husband’s attention: the floozy apparently not nearly as attractive as the wife. She has a bad complexion and is easily thirty pounds overweight, according to the outraged wife. I asked her what that had to do with anything, and she said, in essence, it was a further insult – not just to cheat, but to cheat with someone ugly! (Or at least, with someone not as good-looking as she is, and I must admit she’s quite the hottie).

I offered the non-committal comment that cheating probably didn’t have a lot to do with attractiveness and I mentioned the famous Hugh Grant / prostitute / Elizabeth Hurley incident in support of this claim. She didn’t seem swayed.

So - not really caring about the drama my co-worker is experiencing. But curious about that one little slice of her outrage: “How dare he cheat with someone that’s not even as good-looking as I am?”

Does anyone (sane) actually think that’s an added insult?

Well, being cheated on always sucks, but being cheated on with someone who is not in any measurable way *better *than you, let alone is actually worse, is a big ol’ WTF.

Irrational I suppose, but I’m pretty sure that no feeling so common could be considered “insane”.

I suppose it could be, but I always wonder why in these situations, people are looking for more to get upset about. I mean, you’ve been cheated on, that’s bad enough, why try to make yourself feel worse about dwelling on the details?

I am rather amused at her utter nerve in thinking a cheater wouldn’t cheat on her, though. You reap what you sow, and sometimes the harvest is bitter.

Not exactly the same thing, but a girlfriend of mine cheated on me in college. We went to Indiana University, and she cheated on me with some guy that went to Purdue. Purdue! That definitely added insult to injury.

Seems to me like the worst scenario is being cheated on with somebody appreciably MORE attractive – then you feel your partner just wants better.

In this case, the woman should probably realize her husband isn’t particularly enamored with monogamy and was probably just looking for variety. Not all that uncommon.

Nah, because wanting better is understandable. You may not *like *it, but you *get *it.

Again, not claiming it’s rational, and if you spend some time pondering it, you’ll generally “get” why s/he cheated with anyone, but first reaction is almost always going to be “what does s/he have that I don’t”, and when the answer is “dandruff”, well… WTF?

I think the problem the co-worker is having with her husband cheating with someone ‘uglier’ is that making sense of the reason(s) requires greater reflection.

I presume the co-worker could wrap her head around a man ‘who simply couldn’t help himself, she was so darned attractive and pursued him’ as she’d been successful in that respect herself. Current culture has conditioned women (to the detriment of men, I think) to understand men are helpless to resist a Siren’s call.

Cheating with a less attractive woman would mean the man is unhappy on more levels and hasn’t just been tripped up against his will. Somehow the wive feels reduced to less than that of a ‘substandard’ beauty and that can affect her sense of herself pretty severely.

I would think the co-worker puts a pretty high value on her own attractiveness (as undoubtedly have others her whole life). Her cheating husband is valuing something else and it’s shocking to her.

Agree with DianaG and Heckity.

The cheatee’s initial emotional reaction is all about insult and uglier triggers a worse reaction because it’s a worse insult. Later on the cheateee *may *start thinking / feeling about competing to win the cheater back, and that’s when uglier turns to the better scenario in the eyes of the cheatee.

We’ve had threads before about somebody cheating with somebody from the opposite sex of the cheatee. e.g. Male husband with female wife has a gay affair. Also complicated.

If the cheatee is hot, like in the OP’s specific example, it gets more interesting. She’s being told explicitly:

For somebody whose self-worth attitude is mostly “I’m pretty, therefore I’m wonderful.”, this undermines that attitude at all 3 levels: looks, sex skillz, and personality.

I also agree with DianaG and Heckity.

I cheated on my first wife. It wasn’t really cheating because I had already told her that I wanted a divorce, but when she found out who I was having sex with it really bothered her. I showed her a picture of the woman and her reaction was “You’re fucking that cow?” (the woman was about 30 pounds overweight). She was insulted because the woman was fat (my ex-wife was thin) and, based on anecdotes I related, not nearly as smart as she was. It forced her to realize that I wasn’t divorcing her for superficial reasons but for some failing of hers that she could do nothing about. I think it was a lot easier for her when she thought I just wanted to bang hot chicks.

Well, just to be fair, the same principle applies to things other than looks. It’s not like most people would be insulted by someone uglier, but not by someone dumber, less successful, meaner, or what have you.

I mean, let’s assume you’re a middle class white collar college graduate, and so is your partner. Are you more insulted if s/he cheats with a lawyer, or a truck stop hash slinger?

When I was young pup of about 18, I accidentally caught my girlfriend post-cheat with her ‘other guy’ entering a local bar. I confronted her, and the ‘other guy’ ended up going out a side door and running off to avoid any sort of a scene. I later found out that the guy was married and didn’t want any word to get back to his wife, so I didn’t get to enjoy the ego boost of him being terrified of my wrath for very long.

The guy was older than me, bigger than me (I’m only about 5’8", he was easily 6’2"-or-3"), but was grubby, dirty, hairy, flabby, ugly as homemade soap and looked as dumb as a box o’ rocks. Think ‘toothless redneck bar dweller’, or ‘backwoods moonshiner’, or maybe ‘grimy scooter trash’.

“So you fucked around on me with some jerkwater shithead who looks like Bigfoot, smells like a swamp, and has never owned a goddamn toothbrush?!” I yelled.

"I just wanted somebody who wasn’t you, " she said.

Maybe he had a huge schlong? Or was secretly wealthy?

I think the argument has something to do with what the attractiveness of the third party says about the cheater’s motivation. We all know the humorous trope that some couples have a list of people it’s OK for their partner to sleep with - Jolie/Pitt/Johannson/Depp, for example - because it’s understood that these people are so far along the bell curve of desirability that one’s excitement at the opportunity to actually sleep with them would infallibly override all moral qualms.

So it’s one thing to find that your partner cheated on you with a “perfect 10”; you can rationalise that as a moment of madness, a temporary surrender to lust. But if they’re cheating on you with someone who lacks any obvious physical charms, it suggests one of two things: a) they’ve formed a genuine deep and meaningful emotional bond with that person, and the sex is just emblematic of a much deeper betrayal of your relationship or b) they have so little regard for your relationship and their commitment to you that the mere availability of a willing partner, however uncomely, is enough justification for philandery.

By way of analogy, we all despise thieves. But we can at least understand how someone would tempted to steal £100,000. By contrast, there’s something particularly despicable about seeing, for example, a colleague indulge in petty theft, because if the price of their integrity is a mere £5 it suggests that their moral sensibilities are almost completely atrophied .

She was complaining about it out loud but I bet it was also a source of comfort (‘At least I’m more attractive than her’).

In my case that would be a given, of course. :smiley:

I expect if I discovered my wife was cheating it would be some internal flaw. I am a bit cold and self-absorbed.

The guy probably found a lady that made him seem to be the center of her world. The looks were probably secondary.