Infidelity – what exactly is it? For the sake of this article, I’m going to operationalize this term as “any form of emotional attachment, sexual lust, tension, or desire towards a human being besides the person that you have agreed to remain committed to, and acting upon these thoughts and feelings.”
Now, these thoughts; you can’t control these thoughts. Your boyfriend or girlfriend is inevitably going to: (a) look at other people of the opposite sex (discreetly or explicitly; really up to them) and (b) have those dirty thoughts that you dread and attempt to convince yourself are nonexistent. This does not mean, however, that every person is susceptible to being a cheater.
But here we’re going to focus on the ones who unfortunately are.
Now, when people cheat, they do not say to themselves, “Oh boy, do I love this person so much. I have the best boy/girlfriend. I wanna fuck this up so badly by cheating on them.” This task was not placed on their itinerary and it damn sure was not anticipated.
The first thing people ask when they are cheated on is, “Why me?” or “How could you do this to me?” or “I thought what we had was special.” I know this takes a lot of willpower, but those who run to these phrases should consider taking the time out to understand the various underlying reasons for infidelity.
Believe it or not, there comes a huge price with cheating on the one that you love. Yeah, you got the rush and excitement. You got the chance to have that hot co-worker two cubicles down from you or that hot guy from the frat party last weekend (in any way you wanted to have them, even if it’s a kiss). But once you come down from the high, the adrenaline rush ends, and your flushed cheeks cool down from your slight sense of shame as you contemplate on what just happened, shit starts to get real.
While you’re on that train ride back home, you come back to reality and millions of thoughts start to ambush your mind. You create and recreate different possible outcomes of what lies ahead of you in your future and you’re unsure of what decisions you’re responsible for making from this point forward. It’s a bitter-bitter feeling, with a subtle hint of sweetness. You feel upset at yourself, wishing you had a time machine to undo the deed. But at the same time, you can’t help but laugh to yourself and feel delirious about what had been done. It’s basically a feeling of regret while patting yourself on the back.
Later on, you feel like absolute shit, as if you had committed a crime and had gotten away with it. You move on with your life as if nothing happened, hoping that the encounter was a one time thing. When you finally see your other half, you can barely look them in the eyes. And when you do, you feel as if you shouldn’t even have the audacity to do so; like you’ve been stripped of that privilege.
What hurts the most is that they have no idea. Oblivious expressions hurt the most to witness. Next, the painful dilemma arises: do you tell them and hurt them? Do you keep it to yourself and indirectly hurt them? You begin to question who you are, or at least who you thought you were. You second guess the level of integrity and dignity you have or lack thereof. Now, to be frank, this process can be done once by the cheater or can play out as a repeated pattern, regardless of the amount of grief and sympathy they hold for themselves, their significant other, and the situation in its entirety.
Why do they put themselves in the predicament to feel all of these negative internal feelings? For the most part, we do not know why, specifically. Aside from general excuses such as searching for traits in other people in which their partner might be lacking in, subconsciously there are many explanations for why a person might be unfaithful.
There are an array of underlying variables that are at fault for this selfish, “douchey,” inconsiderate behavior. For instance, the most obvious of all reasons: a broken heart. Of course everyone wants to act like they have moved on from that toxic ex and have been rejuvenated ever since then. But that, just alone, can provide multiple explanations pertaining to trust issues, paranoia of being cheated on in the future, and racing to cheat before the damage has even been done to them.
Another reason can be out of the fear of being loved. With self esteem being a predominantly valued characteristic in Western societies, there are those who are incompetent of thinking highly of themselves, especially if they’ve been hurt in the past. They find it rather difficult to find reasons to love themselves and in turn, are convinced that no one can ever truly love them. To avoid any disappointment, cheating serves as a tool to assist in self fulfilling prophecies.
Habitual promiscuity also plays a role in the consistency of cheating. For instance, children who have been raised without one parent might develop a predisposition to be licentious. With only three factors that had been previously mentioned, it is crucial that people understand these concepts and take the time out, not to allow cheaters to walk all over them, but to help them find the root causes for the cheating to even happen in the first place.
Some cheaters will tend to be unaware of or resistant to the hidden causes for their behavior, so it is important to approach the situation with as much empathy as possible. However, with the right amount of support and understanding, a cheater will not only be surprised but will feel grateful for such an unconventional strategy for dealing with being cheated on.
In an idealistic world, this would obviously promise more happily ever afters. Practically, people will curse you out a little bit, maybe jump the “other woman/man,” and stalk your social media profiles to see who you date next to confirm that you have not upgraded after them. Anyway, hopefully sometime in the near future, it will be more understood as to why people end up being unfaithful, and why they might do it consistently after the first time.
Not all cheaters are out to get anyone – and it is on no one’s agenda to mislead the one that they hold closest to their heart.