Why does a person cheat? Be it in a long-term affair or a one night stand, why does somebody in a ‘committed’ relationship make a conscious decision to cheat on their partner ( and no, booze isn’t a reason – you’re sober enough to get it up, you’re sober enough to know you’re cheating). Maybe there isn’t an answer, because for as long as there are rules (read: marriage) they’ll be broken (read: affairs) and, to my mind, questioning why people are unfaithful is as logical as asking why somebody who is hungry wants to eat. Human instinct, craving and attraction – we are all animals are we not.
I would go as far as to say that people are not inherently programmed to be faithful for life, that’s not to say that everyone is born a ‘cheat,’ far from it, just that society today, you know -that really modern forward-thinking one, still condemns those that do. Zero sexual tolerance as it were. Cheaters the villains and the cheated the victims and everyone else totally shocked and confused in-between … Your husband cheated! On you! After all these years! That’s unbelievable!!!
Well, actually, no, not really that unbelievable – nearly a fifth of people in the UK admit to having cheated on their partner, one of the biggest online dating sites in Britain is called Illicit Encounters and according infidelityfacts.com 74% of married men in America admit they would have an affair if they knew they wouldn’t get caught.
And yet affairs are still seen as totally sinful, unnatural and unforgivable. I get that people get hurt and angry, I don’t get that people are still surprised.
My confusion around the subject is less to do with why people are unfaithful – sexual boredom, insecurity, addiction, peer pressure to name but a few, but why people don’t just stay single and for want of a better expression … fuck around to their heart’s content without hurting anyone in the process.
It has been documented recently that ‘studies show’ women are becoming as increasingly unfaithful as men. Historically men have been labelled the hunters and it has been argued that it is a man’s biological ‘right’ to sow his seed. Now that women are catching up with men what should we conclude? That sexually men and women are become more equal? That, as a consequence of women no longer being expected to stay at home and play wife-y, they are given more options of which they are taking? Or that sexually both men and women crave more freedom yet emotionally still feel compelled to obey the social rules that contradict this.
Why stay married if you want to f**k around?
The fact that infidelity within both sexes is on the up says nothing about logical natural progression or equality and more about the fact that people still feel compelled to tie themselves to marriages and relationships that clearly don’t work. Why? Because they swore to God, they don’t want to disappoint their parents or hate being on their own? There are no logical reasons to staying in a relationship you don’t have enough respect for to keep your dick in your trousers or your knickers up.
In fairness to those who cheat, maybe this rings a few bells – you were sold the dream from a depressingly young age that you should be searching for ‘the one’ and stop at nothing until you get it, your logical brain, after years of dating, dared to question the fantasy (shame on you!) yet, your Disney brain kept telling you that the golden Challis of happiness must be in a relationship, so in what you thought was love, lust, fear, or blind panic – you married. And then you started bickering and stopped having sex – and really tried to rack your brains for the Jennifer Aniston Rom-com which that happened in.
That wasn’t supposed to happen! – but now you’re married and so are your friends, you’ve got kids and a mortgage and a holiday in Malta booked next July. What’s easier – A divorce or an affair? After all, what your partner doesn’t know won’t hurt them and a blow job/sexting/a snog with a colleague isn’t really cheating is it!
And so the cycle continues.
For as long as people buy into the fairytale and expect perfection there will always be infidelity and for those who continued to be shocked by it, I ask you this – what’s more ‘unnatural’ – being sexually/emotionally attracted to more than one person throughout the duration of your entire adult life or swearing monogamy in accordance with the Disney dream? That is not to say that monogamy isn’t possible … it is and all praise to it, but just that we should stop being so surprised when our partner cheats on us after 15 years of bickering and sex twice a year. Don’t question yourself for having an affair, question yourself for staying in a relationship that clearly isn’t meeting yours (or your partners) needs.
Infidelity will decrease when we stop expecting our relationships to adhere to a one-size fits all list of criteria and falling of our chairs in shock when they don’t.
A faux-relationship maintained for the expectations of others, the fear of being alone, or the excuse of practical obstacles or an affair? Which, I wonder, is a bigger waste of time? … At least in one you’re getting laid. I’ll let you decide.