Monogamy is a mutual agreement between two partners. It is the basis of most healthy relationships. It ensures that you and your partner are together sexually and romantically with only one another. What happens when this agreement is broken? When another man or woman slips through the seams of your relationship and your loving bond is broken? Cheating is an act of deception and betrayal not uncommon to lovers of all ages and circumstances. So why do we cheat and what happens afterward? Why are we cheated on, or even choose to have affairs with people who are otherwise taken?
I’ve seen it from all angles. I’ve held my friends and wiped away their tears after they’re boyfriends have been unfaithful, I’ve sat across from others who had confided in me that they slipped up, and unfortunately I have even been the other woman. It seems to me that there will always be different reasons for being unfaithful but they all come from the same places. In high school, I had a friend whose boyfriend was a serial cheater. He put her through hell by constantly lying about who he was with or what he was doing. After the first initial “slip up” their trust was broken. She returned to him time and time again and instead of blaming him for cheating, she took out her aggression on the women. This is not a unique story. I have a theory about why we choose to stay with the ones who hurt us the most. When you put all the love you have into a relationship it’s hard to let it die. It’s as if these women are saying “No, this is mine, I’ve invested all my love in this person, I must protect my assets.” It’s not unlike women to try their hardest to make it work.
We often rely on our partners to build us up. We look to them for a reason to love ourselves, so when they betray us we often don’t have the strength to leave. Serial cheaters also have low self esteem. They take attention and affection from anyone who will give it regardless of being in a committed relationship. These are the kind of people who can’t let go of their partner because they need love but also can’t quit cheating because they need to be wanted. When their partner is unable to leave them, it creates a destructive co-dependent cycle.
If you’re not a serial cheater but you’ve cheated, I want you to ask yourself why. Being “really drunk” is not a reasonable excuse, alcohol only allowed you to act on things that were already inside. Were you afraid? Did you feel trapped in your relationship? Was it out of desperation? Sometimes we cheat because it’s dangerous, and walking a thin line can make us feel liberated. So, why then does being bad feel so good? We all make mistakes but the truth in the matter is that we should know why we’re making them. It can be difficult not to carry your past into your present relationship.
“I got scared, so I cheated. I felt like I couldn’t breathe with him and I just needed something different. I love him and we’ve built something really great. I don’t want to destroy the whole thing, I just needed to experience someone else in order to appreciate what I have.” If this sounds like you I would suggest either one of two things. Either you don’t think that you deserve the great relationship you have, or your relationship isn’t actually meeting your expectations. But you’re afraid to look for something else because you might never find it. Stop letting fear run your life. Become secure, honest, and open with your partner. If you can’t do this, then it’s time to reevaluate your relationship. This may be hard but take solace in the fact that being brave will spare both you and your partner from the pain of betrayal.
Being the home wrecker doesn’t come with out failure either. I was one. Yes, even as I comforted my friend telling her that her boyfriend was a dog I was sleeping with one myself. Unfortunately I thought I was in love and would’ve played any game he was willing to throw my way just for a little bit of his affection. What I was doing was wrong, I even knew that at the time. I couldn’t walk away because I didn’t know this girl, and even though he was dating her, he led me to believe that he was all mine. This man, some years later became my rapist, so he wasn’t good. However, there is a reason we include ourselves in these disgusting love triangles, isn’t there? Not from spite, or a need to destroy someone else’s relationship but because we are seeking something from this person that have promised us. I’m not saying you have to like or even respect your partner’s lover on the side. I caution you to understand the life of the other man or woman, before you lay all the blame on them. As sick to your stomach as they make you, remember first that they are not the one’s who you are in a relationship with and you don’t know what your partner is saying to them when they’re alone together.
The repercussions of cheating are palpable. When you open yourself up to love, you are opening yourself to a lasting trust. Trust, support, and love are all beautiful things and the building blocks to sturdy relationships. That loving feeling, those beautiful butterflies, the endless smiles all come with new romances. However, when you’ve experienced these feelings before but it ended in heart break, these same romantic feelings you experience with someone new might trigger those old painful memories to resurface. Betrayal cuts deep, and if not given time to heal it can scar you emotionally. Heart break can throw you into a self deprecating cycle and ruin any future relationships you may have. As someone who has been cheated on, it’s important to give yourself time to heal. You must take things slowly and build your trust with a new partner. Explain where you’ve been and what you’ve experienced to him or her and do your best not to let your fears and emotions take hold of you. To those who have helped form the love triangle, know that love should never take this God forsaken shape. No one is worth playing games for. You deserve to be the one and only. If he/she’s cheating now, they will most likely do it again. If you are a cheater, please look inside yourself in order to understand why you’re desires get the best of you so that you may spare the one’s you love.
In decades past divorce was frowned upon and our mother’s, mother’s had to live with knowing there would always be someone on the side. To this day, a lot of us aren’t surprised when a man cheats, it’s as if we half expect them to. The stereotype that men are unable to be monogamous just perpetuates this action. It’s unfair to have low expectations for men as well as expect women to simply put up with being cheated on. As a personal suggestion to women, if your partner is being unfaithful don’t make do, get out. This is 2011, stand strong and walk out the door.