Ever notice how people generally get really opinionated where cheating is concerned, especially when it involves a relationship other than their own?
Like, people are super, super judgy about it. In the minds of these self-appointed judges, the cheater is the devil, and the cheated on (if the cheated on forgives the cheater) is insane and stupid. No in-between.
I guess the media and pop culture is part of the reason for this. We’re always being subliminally told what to think. I think that anytime we can ignore the bias is a win for free thinking. One way or another, I have my own personal take on things.
In a nutshell, you can never really know what’s best for anyone but you. You can speculate, but you can’t truly understand other people’s circumstances.
Being the cheater: I once messed around (no sex, though) on a boyfriend back in my early 20s. Yeah, I said it. Judge if you must. I was a carefree soul who knew that she had no intention of making a life commitment at 21. I was also a codependent type who had a hard time speaking her mind to a guy who was (now that I look back) repeatedly and passive-aggressively guilting me into staying in a relationship I wasn’t prepared to be in.
As soon as it happened, my instinct was that I needed to get the hell out of the relationship. I felt horrible for the betrayal, but I knew in my core that I’d feel worse if I told the boyfriend about it and inflicted the terrible pain I knew he’d feel. I genuinely cared about him, so the idea of him feeling pain due to my betrayal made me nauseous. I just had to get out. Which I finally did (albeit not quickly enough – there were a series of cringeworthy begging scenes, but I finally committed to leaving). The main thing is that I knew from the get-go that letting myself indulge in that behaviour absolutely shone a light on the fact that I wanted out of that relationship. Even without the background feelings of needing to escape, I think I’d be the same in any situation where I was the cheater (which I won’t ever be again though) – rather than inflicting heartbreak on someone I love, I’d rather just get the fuck out of the relationship. Period.
Being cheated on: The guy that cheated on me had absolutely no reason to think I would ever find out. Therefore, he had absolutely no reason to ever tell me about it.
I know what you’re thinking. You think he told me because he felt bad. Well, yeah. He felt bad for him. Not for me. It was uncomfortably obvious, from the words he chose to use, that he came clean in order to ease his own conscience, not to give me any sort of peace or relationship justice. Our subsequent discussion kept circling to how he felt and what he wanted, not about how he felt about me, not about how he was worried about how I felt. Yep. Pretty clear.
So my take on cheating:
a) if the cheater truly feels bad about cheating…and there is no way their partner could ever find out unless they tell them..the cheater should STFU and suffer their guilt on their own.
b) if someone tells you they cheated on you, check their mannerisms: did they tell you because they knew they’d eventually get caught? Or because they actually felt like you should know? And are they weirdly relieved that you know?
c) as a general rule, if someone is more focused on how coming clean affects them vs how it affects athe party who was cheated on, that person is trash.