To add to the discussion about what’s great about monogamy versus some of the other systems out there, my interest was peaked when I came across this article called “Let’s Chat About Cheating.” Author Steve Penner not only references the Sex and the City movie and TV series (one of the most accurate commentaries on relationships EVER), he gives his perspective on AshleyMadison.com, a “dating” site for people who are…um, married, and interested in having an affair(s). In fact, one of their slogans is, “Life is short. Have an affair.”
(His life’ll be short all right, when his wife sees that collar…)
The aspect of this article that really made me think is Penner’s claim that most couples don’t think about what cheating is or come up with a common definition until one or the other of them cheats (and, presumably, is caught). And we’ve all read the internet stories about how emotional cheating is different from physical cheating, which is different somehow from online cheating, etc. This raises a TON of questions:
- What is cheating for you? Why is it bad?
- Are certain kinds worse than others? Is it ever forgivable within a relationship?
- Have you ever thought about constructing a definition of what constitutes cheating with your partner, or do you just assume that they know what it means?
- Have you ever found out that your partner had a different definition than you?
- If you have cheated/been cheated on, how have you taken steps to avoid this in future relationships?
Both the BF and I have done our share of cheating (and being cheated on) in the past and agree that it’s a relationship-wrecker. However, I don’t know that we’ve ever had a conversation about what cheating is exactly. I do know that I have never told a boyfriend that I cheated because it seemed irrelevant in the face of the breakup, I’ve never had “an affair,” and I haven’t cheated in over four years. Because of these factors, I have a tendency to consider my own cheating not a character flaw but rather the stupidity of youth, which I hope I’ve overcome.
I think that for me, I always cheated because I felt alienated from my significant other at the time. My pattern was that it always began as emotional cheating as a result of that alienation, which became a sort of gravity well that led to the physical cheating. However, at that point I would wake up, smell the coffee, and break up with the boyfriend at the time. Now my communication skills are developed enough (as are the BF’s) that I don’t think I’d be in that situation–and after all my experiences I think it’s easier to just break up than it is to cheat and break up.