Stances on infidelity are very clear, but why?
by Phoebe Kirke
You’ve definitively heard of the adage, once a cheater, always a cheater. It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t have an opinion on cheating. It’s unethical, and once infidelity finds its way into a romantic relationship, the relationship is likely to fail. Like many others, I consider cheating to be unfair. And as far as reasons for cheating are concerned, to me, it’s not a question of motive.
People cheat because they can.
To me, cheating is a way to avoid conflict and seek closeness, thrills, and excitement in somebody else’s arms. Basically, cheating is a way out, a means to get the thrill of doing something illicit or a spur of the moment thing. And when I look at various articles on the subject, I seem to be very close to the majority opinion with my views on infidelity. We try to put a face to infidelity. There are lists of character traits cheaters supposedly have. Furthermore, we know that infidelity is something many couples grapple with.
According to the Institute for Family Studies’ 2010 to 2017 General Social Survey, 20% of men and 13% of women had sex with someone other than their spouse while married. What’s most upsetting about these numbers is that those who were cheated on and discovered it most likely didn’t see it coming. So how do you recover from finding out you’ve been cheated on? Is it really all about staying together for the sake of the children, adopting a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, or going full-on polyamorous? Maybe it’s time to look at cheating differently.
What if there’s more to cheating than we’d like to think?
What if we need to rethink how we cope with adultery? And what if it’s all about understanding why we have such a strong stance and what if we’re cheated on — or, what if we were to cheat on our partner. How would this affect how we think of cheating?
Cheating needs rethinking, according to scholars.
I think it’s shocking how many people live a lie, although nobody wants to live one. For me, the reason why people cheat is a simple one. People don’t cheat because they are cheaters. They cheat because they are people. Or, as the renowned therapist and speaker Esther Perel says: “Only happy people cheat.”
She claims people tend to look for things in locations where they are easier to find than places where the truth is more likely to be discovered. So while some may stray in search of cheap thrills, others might look for something else — something missing. And maybe that’s exactly why we might need to rethink how we look at infidelity. More precisely, I think we need to get more realistic about the viability of long-term monogamy.
While the demands on our partners increase and with it, the idea of perfect fidelity is set, distractions and hazards grow. It’s never been easier to download dating apps — the access to other people looking for the same is unparalleled. In addition, there’s porn and “work spouses.” Depending on how fidelity is interpreted, the possibility of cheating becomes fairly easy. For some, watching porn is cheating. Others don’t think that watching porn has anything to do with fidelity or the state of the relationship. In the end, this shows how poorly we react to infidelity and how little we comprehend what it means for our relationships.
When we think about everything we expect from our partners and how long we live, there can be dissonance. Esther Perel acknowledges that infidelity means the end of a sinking relationship; it is an alarm call for others. For her, there are possibilities to face and work on the relationship after cheating has surfaced. According to Perel, most people in the Western world will have two or three marriages or serious partnerships throughout their life. Those brave enough to attempt can find themselves having all of them with the same individual. An affair may lead to the termination of the first marriage and the start of a new one.
It makes sense to ask yourself how a relationship should be and what it can withstand. Because we’re living longer, staying married longer, and expecting more from our spouses, there’s a rising desire for greater reality when it comes to an unshakable, lifetime commitment.
We’re unrealistic in our expectations of fidelity.
Cheating has evolved to encompass many risks that jeopardize people’s trust in their relationships. For example, emotional attraction to someone we work closely with and have a great friendship, a partner masturbating alone to the porn cache he’s saved on the internet, emails another partner occasionally sends to an ex when they’re drunk. These things can impact a relationship and cause a ripple effect in romantic relationships. Even seemingly innocuous actions might cause reactions. For example, some might feel uneasy when their partner likes pictures of an ex-partner on social media. A partner’s celebrity infatuation even puts some people in danger. Basically, people can be offended in a variety of ways.
Esther Perel’s findings have uncovered that infidelity isn’t just about sex but about something far more privately needy. It’s the notion that your partner’s desire, arousal, and attention will never depart from you. ‘It’s you and only you, darling,’ it’s that all-encompassing concept. This is why pornography causes so much discomfort for many people: the implicit contract is broken. It may appear unreasonable, but that is exactly what we anticipate. But, of course, few people really like to clarify these concepts.
I think that’s why we need to make sure we don’t have too high expectations regarding what we consider cheating. But furthermore, I’ve concluded that it takes a high degree of internal discipline not to cheat.
That said, staying faithful to me is fundamental to a monogamous relationship. The relationship doesn’t work the way it has before without staying faithful. Not because of cheating, but because of the ripple effect losing trust creates. For me, there is no room for cheating; everything else is dishonest and selfish. But unfortunately, many people choose not to have that discipline when push comes to shove.
Maybe it’s because we’re too concerned with what we want rather than what we have. Whatever the motives and reasons for cheating are, in the end, those rarely ever matter. The pain remains, and trust erodes. Always.
Without trust, no relationship.
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The writer is a Feminist, activist, sister, but above all, hurt. Writing is her path to living life to the fullest.