I talk to a lot of people about their relationships. Many of them blissfully sailing through, others just letting each day dictate how they feel about their partners and some are about as healthy as the Ebola virus: cold, distant, loveless and flesh-eating.
I listen to the stories about heartbreak and loneliness, the lying and cheating and the pain. Always the pain.
Inevitably, these conversations always somehow lead to discussions about infidelity. Now more than ever, infidelity has been normalised. Different individuals and couples have different definitions for it, what I may consider cheating might not be considered the same by someone my age in another relationship.
I am in no way qualified to police it, judge it or the individuals that commit the actions they do. It is very personal and extremely subjective. So I will instead try to dissect the topic and possibly shed some light on why people cheat and how we can avoid it if we feel it is too big a blow to bear.
Let me start by demystifying two very dangerous theories, the society we live in is entrenched in toxic masculinity and wants us to believe that because men have high levels of testosterone and it is in their genetic make up to not be faithful to their partners.
That they will always cheat whenever the opportunity presents itself and that it is their rite of passage. And shockingly, some educated individuals under 50 believe this.
The second is that women are solely emotional cheaters and that once they have been unfaithful, the marriage/relationship is as good as done and they do not love their significant others.
I hope by reading those two statements they look and sound as stupid to you as they do to me. No basis; just nonsense.
Let us think about cheating logically, I am of the view that cheating in a committed relationship is where one’s need for self-gratification outweighs their need for intimacy.
That in my opinion is the main driving force of infidelity. As humans, we all have a natural desire for good food, good sex, little work and lots of sleep.
On the flip side, we also have the natural desire for intimacy to feel loved by someone, to feel as though we are sharing our lives with somebody.
When the former trumps the latter, then initial opportunity to be unfaithful occurs. Unfortunately for us, the two needs are often contradictory. To achieve love and intimacy you have to sacrifice your self-gratification and vice versa.
In my view (and you may not share this sentiment), maturity is the ability to defer self-gratification for more long-term goals. That being as it may, not everyone has the capability to do this.
So, how about instead of leading yourself into questions about why did he/she do this to me? Why does he/she not care anymore? Instead, sit and identify what infidelity is to you as individuals. Infidelity is not uncommon in both genders.
There are individual reasons, relationship reasons, situational reasons as to why someone cheated none of which will matter after the fact if you did not establish your partners honest views of infidelity at the start of your relationship.
A consensus needs to be developed as to what constitutes as infidelity to the both of you. If you conclude that one of you values self-gratification over intimacy, do not date that person. Do not convince yourself that you will somehow be the wave that changes who they are and what they prefer.
Establish whether emotional conversations with other people, private lunch/dinner dates with other individuals besides yourselves constitutes as cheating. Make sure you are on the same page about the subject so that you do not feel like you are in a relationship with someone you do not know when infidelity eventually occurs.
Cheating feels like such a destruction of trust, emotional pain that can sometimes almost feel physical. Would it not suit you better if you had honest conversations with your partners and made decisions based on your knowledge of each other’s views towards infidelity?
Cheating. Cheating and affairs are more common among the rich and less common in conservative cultures. Estimates today find married men cheating at rates between 25 per cent and 72 percent.