Last week I had the rare privilege of anchoring on of my favourite shows on Rhodes Music Radio (RMR), The Ultimate Indulgence. The show is about love, romance, relationships and all the complexities surrounding them. Last week one of the topics we discussed was infedelity and the main question posed was: “Should infidelity be the end of a promising relationship?”
The answer should be very simple. But unfortunately in the world we live in nothing is ever simple.
Women tend to be me more forgiving of infidelity while men will not even consider saving a relationship where their significant others have cheated. I do not know what the reasoning behind this is, but I will try and express what I have observed in my short life.
More men get caught for cheating than women. I am careful to say “get caught” because I am under no illusion that women don’t cheat. Women cheat and in fact, they tend to be better at it than men. But that’s a topic for another day. Anyway because of how it is more common for men to cheat, women have become almost immune to cheating. We almost always expect it to happen because either we have watched it happen around us or experienced it in all of our previous relationships. Phrases like “Papa was a rolling stone” have resulted in us accepting that men will cheat and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. Either we come to terms with it or we accept that we will end up alone. This is sad and you may be shaking your head while you read this but you also know that it is what we have come to accept as our harsh reality.
Personally I refuse to believe that all men cheat and do not have it in them to be faithful. Call me idealistic but I honestly believe that I do not have to accept a man and his cheating ways just because I believe that the next man will do the exact same thing. Perhaps that will happen, but just like the princess had to kiss frogs before she found her prince I may have to deal with the riffraff before I find that person who will commit to me and only me.
We often seem to look for loopholes in the definition of what infidelity is. Some people speak of cheating in the physical sense i.e. sex (in all its forms) or kissing someone else. Others regard intimate/emotional conversations or attachments as a form of infidelity. For some people even being flirtatious with someone other than your partner can be viewed as cheating. I just think if you cannot disclose it to your partner or do it in front of your partner highly likely event is that it is cheating because you know that it will affect the trust your partner has in you. In looking for loopholes we basically try to see how much we can get away with before what we do is regarded as “wrong”.
I do not for one minute believe that all people cheat because it is an innate part of who they are. People make mistakes. We behave out of character sometimes and inadvertently hurt ourselves and those we love. I understand someone who makes a mistake once and perhaps a second time but once it becomes a habit that you constantly need to deal with perhaps it’s time to jump ship.
Infidelity results in broken trust and what we all usually identify immediately is the trust that will be broken from the side of the partner who is the “victim”.
Have you ever thought about the internal conflict faced by the person who did the cheating? As I said above, people make mistakes and sometimes we fail ourselves by doing things we never ever thought we were capable of. A person who hates cheating and then ends up being the person who does exactly that, will inevitably have internal conflict that will affect the relationship. Once you cannot trust yourself to be who you have always claimed to be, you too need to seek restoration and time to learn to trust yourself again.
A person who has been cheated on therefore needs to deal with that in addition to dealing with restoring the trust between them and their partner. The process that follows dealing with infidelity is not easy and it demands a lot from each partner.
Some of the factors you may need to consider before you decide to stay in a relationship where infidelity has taken place are:
– Time. Time where you will be required to invest yourself fully all over again and where your patience will indeed be tested.
– Love. Love that requires you to be merciful and to show grace, something that doesn’t come easily to us as human beings.
– Selflessness. A time where even though you are dealing with your own disappointment you need to consider the other person’s disappointment as well.
– Understanding. Trying to understand what went wrong in the relationship and in each individual. Trying to understand that every problem usually has a source and you will have to locate that source and attempt to fix it.
– Endurance. Both of you will need to endure the emotional baggage that will surface because of the infidelity. The person who cheated has to deal with their partners anger, disappointment, frustration an pain. The person who was cheated on needs to endure their partners possible self pity, disappointment and pain. And of course,
– Forgiveness. You need to forgive your partner in order to work through the issue and your partner needs to forgive him/herself too.
If you cannot do all of the above and plenty more,you need to walk away. I believe that how you deal with infidelity is a personal choice and choosing to stay in a relationship with someone who has cheated on you needs to be based on the right reasons. Simply giving in because you do not believe you will find someone else is just not good enough.
You cannot accept infidelity as a norm and as a part of life because once you do that, you close the door to seeking a healthy monogamous relationship between equally committed people.
What is perceived as The Norm need not be The Standard.