If there’s one thing that we’ve seen time and time again, especially in the world of politics, cheaters are rarely left by their spouses. As we’ve seen with Huma Abedin in the past few weeks, although, at least to the best of our knowledge Anthony Weiner hasn’t cheated physically, despite the humiliation that his behavior as brought upon she and their family, she has stayed at his side. She has, as they say, been grinning and bearing it and, I might add, like a champ.
We’ve seen it all before: the cheating partner makes a public plea for forgiveness, condemns his behavior, perhaps even states that it’s out of character, swears to never do so again, all while their partner stands there, sometimes holding their hand, completely showing their support. Then, this is where the public comes in, as we roll our eyes, aren’t even remotely surprised and judge the forgiving partner for being an idiot, a coward, a negative role model, and a whole other long list of judgments. It’s the victim that seems to be the one to blame in these scenarios; it’s easy when we don’t know all the facts.
I like to believe in these situations that, behind closed doors, the betrayed party is hurling china plates at their cheating spouse and denying him or her sex for all eternity. Sure, they’ll have their back for the sake of the career that’s hanging in the balance, but that’s where the story ends; separate beds from here on out. Hell, let’s make it separate bedrooms while we’re at it.
But whether we’re in a relationship that’s wrapped in the “grin and bear it” world of politics, or not, cheating should not be tolerated. Ever.
About a year ago I wrote about my own struggles with infidelity. I was candid when I revealed that I had yet not to cheat, but my “cheating,” (a kiss here or there), isn’t exactly the same as carrying on an affair, and doing so at the stake of my career, family and the person I love. Not to make excuses for my behavior in my 20’s, but my actions were a far cry from what you’d find in me these days. In other words, the likelihood of me ever cheating again is slim to none. It’s not so much that I “know better,” but rather, I understand better.
Cheating, in my humble opinion, is the worst thing you can do. It’s a betrayal for which there are no words. For many who are being cheated on, the realization comes out of left field and you’re stuck standing there wondering what you did, how did you make this happen, and why is this happening to something that seemed so right. While cheaters will give a multitude of reasons for cheating, it’s different for each case, and sadly, sometimes it’s just because they could.
It’s hard to get a straight answer when it comes to exactly how many partners cheat. It’s also equally hard to get an answer as to how many are repeat offenders.
Just as the figures about people who cheat vary among studies, so do stats on repeat cheating. One reference suggests that only about 22% of those who cheat do so again, while another finds that 55% repeat. According to an online survey of nearly 21,000 men and women who claimed to have had affairs, 60% of the men and half of the women were unfaithful more than once. Yet among the full group, only 38% of men and 50% of women said that they considered leaving their spouses, even though they felt that problems in the relationship (56% men, 65% women) or boredom with their sex life (44% men, 30% women) led to their infidelity.
“Only 38% of men and 50% of women said that they considered leaving their spouses…” Why is this?
The problem with staying in a relationship where one partner has cheated is that the trust that’s been broken is never repaired. It’s damaged for good no matter what you or your partner may try to tell yourself. A late night at “work” can no longer be free of assumptions, and the occasional wrong number leads to speculation. The relationship, although perhaps temporarily held together with some cheap dollar store tape, is a façade. To keep moving forward in a relationship where that trust has been shattered, is to feed the lie. Who has the energy to feed the lie forever? How terribly exhausting!
Maybe I’m a fool to think that it’s as black and white as it seems in my head. Perhaps, my lack of experience when it comes to cheating allows me to live in a world where if it were to happen to me, I’ve convinced myself I’d break-up with my partner immediately. Maybe I can’t fathom the complications of it all, especially if children are involved, but what I do know is that we deserve commitment and trust in our relationships if that’s for what we signed up.
I realize that we’re human, and humans make mistakes. There are many mistakes I’d forgive, but the one that will never get a simple slap on the wrist and “It’s OK, sweetie, I forgive you,” from me is infidelity. If I wanted something else, I’d be in an open relationship, but at the moment, that’s definitely not my jam.
If I can control myself even in moments of temptation, I don’t think it’s too much to ask of my partner to do the same.
Photo: The New Bedford Standard-Times/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library