Getting cheated on is a hard thing to go through. Getting cheated on when you’re a female public figure makes it twice as hard. People (myself included, I won’t lie) love putting in their two cents on what the aggrieved partner should do and how they should do it. To make matters worse, most times the other woman is thrown into the mix, which makes room for comparisons and reasons the cheater chose to step out—ultimately absolving him of taking full responsibility.
The internet is great at forging stories and peddling theories as facts, so when well-known women decide to stay with their cheating spouses, the magnifying glass on their relationship becomes even bigger. Keyboard warriors—who obviously have nothing but flawless relationship experiences—shame women for staying after infidelity, and it’s honestly so tired. A lot of judgment about how stupid and gullible they are is then added to the stress of everything else. We saw it done to Hillary Clinton back in the ’90s and it’s unfortunate that we haven’t moved past that today.
In more recent history, it happened this past week, when Da’Naia Jackson decided to make an appearance with her husband, Derrick Jaxn, as he admitted to having been unfaithful in their marriage. Jackson revealed that when she initially found out, she left her home for a time and wouldn’t return until he made the effort to change. The exit was also presumably to gather herself, say a prayer, and thoroughly think through what her next move would be. She decided to stay. Despite knowing her circumstances and what was best for her, the good folk on the internet felt her presence in the video and in the marriage meant she was complicit in her partner’s actions. Granted, Jaxn was acting like a bit of a narcissistic clown on the socials, but ultimately, she made the decision to keep her family together, and somehow that elicited unkind comments. People made fun of her appearance—which, can I just say, was so irrelevant to the matter at hand—and ridiculed her for going back to him.
Prior to that, it was Khloe Kardashian’s turn in the fire. Now, I am no Kardashian apologist. That family has been way too intentionally tone-deaf for me to ever take their side. However, I am sympathetic to Kardashian for wanting to try and make things work with Tristan Thompson (no matter how many times he’s proven he doesn’t deserve another chance). She is no saint, and we can all agree that the way she lashed out at Jordyn Woods for kissing her disloyal baby’s father was unfair. But even the coverage of the entire drama has been focused more on Kardashian’s falling out with Woods than anything else. The star aired out her heartbreak, embarrassment, and anger on Keeping Up With the Kardashians, while Woods told her side of the story on Red Table Talk. Yet, the actual cheater in the scenario never had to publicly explain himself. He had the gall to try and play it like the kiss didn’t happen initially, but when the truth came out—radio silence. What he did instead was apologize while the cameras were rolling for the E! reality TV show, so there’s that.
As an outsider in both situations, I can see clearly that both Jaxn and Thompson have deep-rooted issues when it comes to being faithful. However, whether or not the women in these situations can see that in their men is not up for us to judge them on. There is something bigger at stake here, and that’s their families. I think as people in general, we need to ease up on our holier-than-thou stances and acknowledge the fact that relationships and emotional connections are complicated. As women, we love to believe that we’re different and that even if our partners were serial cheaters in the past, they’ll change their ways for us. It’s safe to say that neither Jackson nor Kardashian fell in love knowing that these men were compulsive liars and habitual heartbreakers. No matter how many times that’s proven to be true, oftentimes, we all wait for them to show us they are the people they said they were.
Having children in the mix certainly adds weight. Who wants to split time during the week and alternate holidays when everyone can just live in one household? Besides, when you feel like you have been wronged, especially in a romantic relationship, sometimes you want to give the other party as much opportunity to make amends as you possibly can. It’s normal to stay because you want to see him put in the same amount of work to fix the connection that he did to wreck it. Above everything else, you want proof that the relationship means as much to him as it did or does to you. And if that takes two or three tries, so be it. The point is, you tried.
While celebrities can ultimately profit off of cheating scandals and the attention that comes with it, my genuine hope is that we are all a bit more graceful with each other in general, and that includes with one another in real life. There is nothing worse than going through an excruciatingly rough patch in your life and feeling as though you can’t open up to your loved ones or you can’t just live that life as you want to for fear of judgment. Whether it’s your sister, friend, or mother who decides to stay with their significant other after cheating, it’s important to remember to still create a safe space for them to come to you when they need to. You can give your opinion, but shaming someone into submission only makes them wary of confiding in you and an already tough situation for them even worse. Listen, assess, give your support — even if you think he’s going to do it again.