Cheating & Trust


I recently received an email from a friend of mine, asking,

“Can you ever go back after he has cheated on you?”

My heart sank as I read it. This girl & her boyfriend are about the cutest couple I’ve ever met — totally in love & totally in sync. It just goes to show that life is really good at throwing you the odd curve ball.

The sad fact is that love & passion have expiration dates, & after a while, the raging excitement you once felt for your partner will wear off. Reality sets in & you realise that your lover, no matter how marvellous, is just a person, like everyone else. This is the time where you need to start working at your relationship, or it can really start to go sour. Cheating is easy, but keeping a relationship above water is not. Some people like a challenge, & some buckle under the pressure.

Regardless of whether monogamy is human nature or not, cheating on someone is still an extremely rotten thing to do. You betray their trust, break their heart & screw with their mind — something you should never purposefully do to someone who has given you their heart.

The consequences?

Here are some typical reasons that people cheat:
They don’t find their partner attractive or sexy any more
Their partner is unavailable a lot of the time, or just unwilling
It’s easier to get sex somewhere else
They don’t feel sexy or desired
There’s no challenge/boredom
They’re feeling alone or unloved
No intellectual connection or stimulation
Fear of getting older
Fear of spending the rest of their life with one person
Festering resentment (feeling unappreciated, anger at past actions, etc.)
Constant “grass is always greener” syndrome
Self-destructive urges (e.g. some people believe that real love is “too good to be true”, & they don’t feel that they deserve to be loved — so they go out of their way to destroy it)

I don’t believe in coincidence — I think everything happens to us for a reason. Please note that this does not necessarily mean that our partner cheated on us because we are bad/wrong/at fault in some way, but sometimes I think life is just trying to urge us in one direction or the other, or to teach us something. Regardless, we can choose to pay attention to what the universe is trying to tell us, fix our problems & move on, or we can deny it vehemently, & continue stumbling blindly through life, repeating the same old mistakes.

As an extreme example — are you (or do you know) someone who is cheated on by every partner they have? If you think about it — the only constant is you. To me, it seems ignorant to continually blame this on your partners. After all — you choose who you date, you know what you’re getting into, & if they always end because your partner is unfaithful to you, then you need to look closely at what’s actually going on.

I don’t believe love is so simple that if someone cheats on you, you should dump them straight away & erase any trace of them from your mind. I also don’t believe there is such a thing as a good “excuse” for being unfaithful — we are always responsible for our actions, no matter how drunk or angry or lonely we are, & communicating your needs to your partner should always be your first priority.

In a relationship, communication is the most important thing. Of course, you can claim that if your boyfriend paid more attention to you, you wouldn’t have had to seek out that dashing poet who wrote stories about you — but you need to take responsibility for your relationship. Did you tell him that he wasn’t paying you enough attention? If you’re angry at your lover or want to “get them back” for some perceived injustice, think before you act. Will cheating really solve the problem, or will it just serve to continue an ugly cycle?

A successful, monogamous relationship relies on trust, openness, communication & intimacy. This cannot be avoided. Trust is huge. Even if you haven’t cheated on your partner but they believe you have, the relationship is as good as over. You will never entirely win it back, no matter how hard you try.

What I do know is that once your trust has been betrayed, it will sit in the back of your mind forever. Regardless of how they reassure you or promise it will never happen again, you have no reason to believe them. Your heart & mind will try to defend you by being constantly suspicious — which takes an enormous toll on any relationship. It’s said that jealousy, suspicion & lack of trust are the major relationship killers. It is exhausting to always feel like you have to keep your eye on what they’re doing; just as exhausting as it is to always feel you have to prove your monogamy.

I was once in what I thought was a monogamous relationship. It was early days, & as it turns out, the boy I thought I was in it with, thought differently. He slept with someone else & I was devastated. He apologised, blah blah blah, & we ended up together for several years. I am pretty sure that these days, if that same thing happened, I would have walked away. Instead, I spent years in a relationship where I felt like a fool; a glutton for punishment; the underdog. I felt like I had let him get away with murder, which was terrible for my self-esteem. We never talked about it, because I was scared to bring it up & thinking about it made me feel sick to my stomach. & so it continued, until I met someone else. So you can see how these things go.

People make mistakes, & that’s okay. But the real danger is in how those mistakes are interpreted, & the repercussions of those actions.

If someone cheats on you — well, it’s your life. You can live it however you want to. You can patch the relationship up, though you need to be aware that it will be a lot of work, & probably never go back to how it was before. Unfortunately, my money says that you will feel better about yourself if you walk away.

Good luck, kitten.

Extra For Experts:
The Myths Of Monogamy
Emotional affairs
Dear Peggy
Beyond Affairs
Peter Fox gives infidelity advice