Jesse James (and Sandra Bullock) attend the 2010 SAG Awards.

“There’s a right way and a wrong way to be a piece of shit.” Jesse James (and Sandra Bullock) attend the 2010 SAG Awards.

Yes, sure, there’s an exception to every rule but, for the most part (and we’re pretty comfortable making this generalization) cheating on your significant other makes you an asshole.

Why?, those among you who cheat may be wondering.

For one, lying to your partner is always a shitty thing to do–to say nothing of the danger you put them in each time you have sex with another person. Let’s leave it at that.

Of course, few should be surprised that liars have a knack for lying to themselves, which brings us to this: New York Magazine’s The Cut ran an unfiltered exegesis yesterday called Confessions of a Serial Cheater, in which an about-to-be-married philanderer explains how he tries not to be an asshole while being a huge asshole.

First things first, we don’t know much about our serial cheater, other than that he’s engaged and wants to start a family. We also know he doesn’t remember the first time he cheated on someone–though he does remember the first time he cheated on his fiancé: “How many people have I cheated on her with since?” he wonders, “More than ten, fifteen, maybe twenty.” Nice!

So, while we don’t know his age, economic status or background, we do know that this guy is The Worst. For example:

There is such a thing as respectful infidelity. That’s one of the things that I always think about. As much as I’ve been unfaithful at times, I’ve tried, as respectfully as I could, to do it without hurting anyone’s feelings and getting caught. You keep your phone history clear or blacklist numbers from being able to call you or text you. Also, don’t shit where you eat. Sure, it’s much easier to go and have sex with your secretary than it is to leave town and go somewhere and meet someone randomly, but New York City’s big enough where you can meet someone who you will never see again. Anybody from work, those people have to be off-limits. And I’ve never been with a married woman.

But perhaps the most delusional aspect of this guy’s beliefs about himself? To cheat respectfully, he suggests, is to always go home afterwards:

There are things you reserve for the person you love, like spending the night in that person’s arms. I’m not going to be unpassionate with someone I’m cheating with, but I won’t spend the night. Everybody draws the line somewhere, and that’s where I draw mine.

We usually find printed cheater confessions (or prostitute-filled bachelor party exposés) to be a little too fear-mongering, but what’s fascinating–and deeply unsettling–about The Cut’s piece is not that some people are perfectly content with cheating on and lying to a person they plan to marry… but that some of them have even convinced themselves there’s a “right” way to do so. Just to clarify, that it not a thing that exists.

Of course, he does deal with guilt:

I do deal with guilt. The guilt is always looming. One of the biggest problems with being a cheater is that there’s some level of intimacy that I can’t have with my fiancée. If I get a call from her and she’s crying, my heart will stop because the first thing I’ll think is that she’s found out about what I’ve been doing. I initially have this selfish reaction, which is horrible. But then she’ll say, “Oh my God, I failed this exam,” and I’ll breathe a sigh of relief before saying, “That really sucks.”

So at least he has a soul, right?

Go read the rest over at The Cut.

(Photo via Getty)