I used to be that person who judged cheaters, as I never understood how someone could step out on their partner if they truly loved him or her. That was until I got older.
Years ago, I was attracted to a colleague who just so happened to be married while I was seeing someone else. We took part in the same organization and we would often flirt with each other during certain events, particularly when alcohol was served. It all seemed innocent at first, but guilt rose within me after meeting his incredibly nice and pretty wife.
Still, there was no doubt in my mind that if we had ever been completely alone, and just slightly inebriated, it would have gone down.
Thankfully, we were never anywhere close to that scenario. Still, I have often thought that if it had made such a bad decision, would we have ever been caught? If so, what would people think of me? Would his wife stay with him and hate only me?
Although I have never cheated in any relationship, unless you count that lunch date I had with a guy while dating an ex-boyfriend, I realized that I can no longer be a judge of those who have.
I’ve had many conversations with friends about infidelity and almost always they mention their husband, boyfriend or men in general cheating at one time or another. I even have friends who truly believe that all men cheat. I don’t subscribe to such a notion and believe that both men and women are capable of cheating if the space and opportunity presents itself. What I didn’t originally believe, however, was that women are cheating more now than ever before.
Interestingly enough, plenty of women are romantically linked to someone other than their spouse. A study that followed 100 heterosexual, married and female respondents aged 35 to 45 found that 67 percent sought affairs due to a longing for more “romantic passion,” including sex. And while such information tends to surprise people, I wonder if it is the assumption that more men cheat that makes it less of a shock when a man cheats. If so, I can only imagine that this is one of the reasons that women who cheat (or are deemed “side chicks”) are vilified like a Hester Prynne character not completely forgiven by the men they’re in a relationship with.
New hit shows like Insecure and Divorce provide great examples such ridicule. In the case of Insecure, Issa Rae shows us a young woman, who in an attempt to scratch an itch and find some passion, cheats on her long-term, live-in boyfriend. Issa Rae wrote in a blog on Entertainment Weekly that a woman cheating is often seen as a huge act of betrayal and describes a time when even a film executive told her that audiences don’t like lead women characters who cheat.
“He [executive] strongly believed that women could not come back from cheating and I remember thinking how unfair that was, because I watched shows and movies where women forgive men for cheating all…the…time,” Rae wrote.
I’ve had a few friends who have cheated on their husbands or boyfriends, and in all cases, the men left and never turned back. I can’t say the same for female friends who were cheated on.
Infidelity can be detrimental to any relationship, regardless of who is doing the cheating or the reason behind it, so what’s with the double standard?