Many relationships meet a premature demise due to infidelity.
Most people will be cheated on or will cheat at some point in their lives. This is a sad reality. While men are more likely to cheat, women cheat as well. Female infidelity is becoming more and more common.
We always want to know why people cheat. Why step outside of your relationship? Why risk everything for one moment? Oh, you thought I was going to answer these questions? I wouldn’t dare attempt to account for every cheater that ever cheated. I addressed my own reasons for cheating in The Promiscuous Bisexual. I’m more curious as to why people set themselves up to cheat. Why commit to someone if you know you’re not ready to abide by the rules of that relationship? Why agree to be monogamous if you don’t believe in monogamy?
The heart break that comes along with an unfaithful partner or repeated unfaithful partners will always be incredibly tough to deal with. Being a victim of infidelity often results in tremendous trust issues.
(I’m going to use male references and pronouns throughout this piece. That does not mean that cheating isn’t common in bi- and homosexual relationships. )
I’ve been cheated on more times than I can actually bear to recall. I’ve been on the slighted side in almost all of my relationships. I didn’t blame myself for their cheating, but I blamed myself for believing in the fairy tales. As girls, we’re often taught about the knight in shining armor, the prince that will sweep you off your feet, or this idealistic male figure who you will fall in love with. Our mothers, grandmothers, and aunts often keep their stories of being cheated on, and even abused, secret until we’re adults having had experienced it for ourselves. They don’t sit us down as young girls or young ladies and teach us that some men cheat. They prepare us for breasts and periods, but they don’t prepare us for infidelity. Grandma doesn’t tell us that Grandpa had three mistresses throughout their marriage. Mommy doesn’t admit that Daddy has a side-piece, still. We eventually come to find this out the hard way. We fall pray to the smiling man, the shiny man, that man that makes us feel amazing. And when that shiny, pretty man cheats on us, we’re stuck. What happened? Why me? What did I do? What am I supposed to do? And failed relationship, after failed relationship we begin to lose hope in that ideal mate. We begin to lose hope that there will be someone out there who won’t cheat on me, because it seems everyone does it. Everyone doesn’t do it.
As a reformed cheater, I can admit that I wish that I hadn’t fallen for temptation and had been able to respect my relationship. I wanted what I wanted, but what I wanted was not to hurt my partner(s). It’s just difficult to be honest about certain things, such as admitting to wanting to sexually experience another person. Most people won’t respond to that statement positively.
Society has taught us that monogamy is the norm. We’re supposed to be monogamous; one man for one woman. Most of us follow what society deems as normal. So when I tell you I’m in an open relationship, eyebrows are going to shoot up all around cyber-space. I’ve heard it all already, so don’t feel discouraged to leave your comments and your thoughts below. Biological evidence supports the theory that long-term monogamy is difficult for humans to achieve – NOT impossible, but difficult. It takes a very strong-willed and dedicated person to remain not only socially monogamous, but sexually monogamous as well. And for those of you out there, who are long-term monogamous? I certainly tip my hat off to you.
I don’t feel any pressure to conform what society says is right for my relationship. I’m so happy and grateful to have been able to meet someone who believes what I believe and is willing to give it a try. My feelings toward social monogamy are complicated. I would like to commit my heart to one person. Sexually? I don’t understand why I must only sleep with that one person. Not abiding my sexual monogamy doesn’t mean be a slut or a STI bucket. Do NOT think that’s what I’m promoting. But we’re adults. And we’re humans. The odds are that we’re going to be sexually attracted to plenty of people in our lifetime. So why is it that terrible to want to experience them? If you’re disrespecting your partner or your relationship, why is it “wrong”?
Being in an open-relationship isn’t about having a free pass to screw whomever. It’s an agreement between you and your partner to honor your relationship, and to abide by the rules that you two set for your relationship. For us, cheating is breaking any of the rules that we have set for each other. Honesty is the number one rule. If we discuss and agree that I can have another partner, I’m not cheating. If I go behind my partner’s back and sleep with someone, now I am. I violated the honor code between us.
It’s not for everyone, just as threesomes aren’t for everyone. You two need to be clear about what is and isn’t okay. You two need to maintain an open and honest decorum with each other. You two need to be the primary focus. Your relationship needs to be intact before you even consider sleeping with someone else, or if you two agree on it, dating someone else.
I’m always amused by the reactions, and mostly by the judgments. I’m mostly amused by the judgments of people who are in unhappy relationships, and have no idea where the partner is or has been. Why are the people with the house of hay the first to blow? If you’re happy in your situation, good for you, be happy for mine. If you’re not happy in your situation work on that, and let that be the focal point of your energy. It’s amazing the things that people will say on a topic that they have know first-hand knowledge of. I’ve been told I’m crazy, I’ve been told there isn’t any way that my partner truly loves me for my partner to be okay with me sleeping with other people. Interesting how they attacked my partner for this, but not me for being okay with my partner sleeping with other people. This is a mutual decision between the two of us. I don’t think I’m loved any less because this is how we live. If anything, I feel loved more, cherished more, because my happiness matters. I’m not expected to conform to some bullshit ideal of what it means to be faithful. I’m faithful because my heart belongs to my partner. I’m faithful because I maintain my relationship and that’s my first priority. I’m faithful because I respect my partner and my relationship. But, you know, I understand that it’s difficult to accept new things. I understand it’s difficult to rewire your mind to believe something different than what you’ve been spoon-fed forever. I’ll let you guys swallow this. I won’t even talk about the time I tried to have a polyamorous relationship with my ex-girlfriend and boyfriend.
There is no book that was written centuries ago that has the rules for relationships. There is also not a book that was written centuries ago with standards for what is considered cheating. So, in my opinion, it stands to reason that following some predetermined idea of what cheating is and bringing that into your unique relationship is a bad idea to begin with.
Most people don’t sit down prior to taking that next step into being serious, to discuss what their definition of cheating is. It seems a lot of people just go by what society says. Guess what? Society isn’t in your relationship. Society also is not going to fix it when things go awry. So why depend on society to tell you how to exist within your relationship?
For some cheating is purely physical, while for others cheating can include the emotional. If you and your partner aren’t clear about what’s cheating, how will you know if you’re cheating? How will you know if you’re wrong? You won’t. You won’t know until it’s too late. Have that discussion. If you’re already together have it now.
According to David Barash, “Anthropologists report that the overwhelming majority of human societies either are polygynous or were polygynous prior to the cultural homogenization of recent decades.” So I ask you, why do you think that monogamy is the way? Why do you think the way you do about relationships? What is cheating to you?