If you ask me, and I know you didn’t, here is what I think is at the core of cheaters and cheating: a completely fucked-up misunderstanding on the difference between ego and self-esteem. Building ego is validating oneself through the eyes of others. This is an exceptionally stupid, volatile and noxious way to feel good about yourself causing one to need a constant supply of “kibbles” in order to maintain a false sense of feeling good. Self-esteem is validating yourself from within and does not seek or need others to stroke your. . .whatever. . .to feel good about yourself.
I wrote that a while ago, on another blog, before we created our own. That thought has evolved with time. It evolved to include that it does not just apply to the unfaithful spouse, but can apply to all of us. Though the unfaithful clearly, for reasons they must identify, took that to levels that the betrayed did not.
So, let’s put this into more neutral terms, though admittedly, the original is far more catchy.
We both now understand that ego compares itself to others. Self-esteem compares itself to itself. This is true for both of us. I now understand that my “need to be needed” was also ego-based, dependent upon external sources for validation.
One seeks to build their ego through external sources of validation. If external sources are the majority of sources, then you are setting yourself up for an unending desperate search just to sustain your ego. Dependency on external sources of validation is exceptionally volatile. It is like a bottomless pit. It is constantly searching for and needing more sources of validation just to sustain itself.
One seeks to build self-esteem through internal sources of validation. It is solely and wholly dependent upon internal sources. Self-esteem asks, “Am I improving from where I was before? Am I contributing to the world around me, not to get something in return, but simply to leave the world a bit better than I found it? Am I maintaining and/or improving my health?” Whether it is a “need to be needed” or a “need to be stroked,” both are forms of external validation that never end well.