Is Infidelity The Last Straw?

This is a reply to a BlogHer article by Liz Rizzo, entitled “My Evolving Thoughts on Infidelity and Forgiveness”

Interesting piece, Liz.

There are lots of situations, such as the one you describe here where people begin to believe one thing, like when they’re small children, and then they never let it go. They believe “There’s someone for everybody” or that they’re going to get married, or that when they DO get married, it’s going to last until they die.

Other concepts, like Santa Claus & The Easter Bunny eventually dissipate. It’s like people agree that at some point, you stop believing in certain fantasies because they were only told to you as a child for a reason, such as to make you “act good” so that Santa will bring you toys.

One major difference between the sets is tests. Eventually, you are TESTED as far as whether Santa brought the toys or your parents did. Your parents win and Santa loses and becomes a non-issue… a fairy tale. People are rarely tested on issues such as fidelity/infidelity, because there’s no market for it… there’s no benefit to anyone.

If you attempt to trace backwards to where you developed the belief that:

Liz: “Infidelity was unforgivable. The only appropriate reaction to infidelity, under absolutely any circumstances, was to walk away from the relationship. Clearly.”

you won’t be able to find it. It’s a given. It’s as ingrained as how you breathe, walk or stand up straight. Just as sure as you believe that it’s eventually going to be nighttime and then it’s going to be daytime again, you believe(d) in the concept of fidelity in relationships.

In fact, it’s just not a given… The evidence being the cheating and divorce rates being consistently reported between 40% and 60%. Basically, HALF of the people that SAY they’re going to be faithful don’t live up to that promise.

From the extremely little that I know about Catholicism (which also comes from movies, haha), they’re not hip to divorce. Therefore, it makes sense NOT to pass someone who can’t say that they MIGHT forgive their SO for cheating on them. If they can’t forgive them, they’ll probably get a divorce. No good. No pass.

As far as your friend, I find it interesting that you felt you had to forgive them for their infidelity to someone else, when it’s apparently none of your business at all. It makes sense, though, since you were so anti-cheating from such an early age. I guess the concept is “I would never do it, so I would never hang out with people that do it”? The fact of the matter is that people cheat all the time. That’s not going to jive with your personal world-view of “Cheating is wrong” or “Cheating should never happen” or “This is DEFINITELY what I would do if someone I knew cheated on me or on ANYONE!”.

My personal life experience touts FREE WILL above all else. People are going to do whatever they want to do whenever they want to do it. Period. So, while I might be interested in stories that cheaters have to tell about their exploits, I wouldn’t low-grade them for doing what they wanted to do with their own lives, and I certainly wouldn’t feel like I had to forgive them for doing something to someone I don’t even know. This is only because I know so many people in so many relationships that I already tested my beliefs on fidelity and came to grips with what I think/feel about it.

IMO.. It comes down to trust, as you mentioned. There are a lot of people that throw away perfectly good relationships to people who are trustworthy on every level other than sexually. Some people see infidelity as something they can’t get past, and that’s fine.. so long as they’re making that decision as a rational adult and not leaning on ideology they were taught as a small child and never tested when they became old enough to think for themselves and make up their own minds about how life works FOR THEM.

~Bill

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15 Comments

  1. The original post spoke of infidelity as if it was this stand alone act with no root cause. Granted it was primarily about her perceptions and shifting ability to forgive…

    My understanding, please correct me if I’m wrong, is that infidelity (in the absence of sex addiction and things of that nature) is a symptom of a person’s needs (emotional, physical or both) not being met in their primary relationship. So they form another one to fill the gap. In another way, you could argue that a betrayal of trust has already occurred prior to this event. I trust you to meet my needs/expectations and that ain’t happenin’. I’m not saying that 100% compliance is a realistic goal but there is definitely a threshold beyond which the relationship is officially busted when needs aren’t being met. The threshold depends on the participant. The ability to be consciously aware, identify and discuss the problem depends on the participant. Why is it you moved to looking at other people? Why is it you moved from looking to doing? What brought you there?

    Shrug. I would think it would be easier to catch your self the second time around versus if you’d never done it before.

    1. haha Nah, not off-topic at all. πŸ™‚

      I agree that infidelity is a symptom of something missing. It might not be missing from the relationship itself, though. Some people just ARE. NOT. MONOGAMOUS. AT. ALL. and never will be.

      These people still want to have long-term relationships, so they go along to get along and then when they get caught “cheating”, the relationship’s over or it isn’t.

      There are lots of women that are doing 100% the right thing in bed, cooking all the best food for their man, washing his car AND mowing the lawn and as “taken care of” as that guy is, he checks out some ass at da club and it’s on & poppin! πŸ˜€

      Having said that, you also bring up the excellent point that if a chick isn’t hannlin’ her bidnezz with her man, she needs to not be surprised and STFU when it turns out he has a female intern under his desk with a cigar. πŸ˜€

  2. I think of reputation as a sort of credit score that correlates with a person’s perceived experience and trustability within a potential future relationship. Infidelity that is believed or caught is like the default of a debt to a creditor.

    I have friends with a variety of different credit scores and don’t think it’s the last straw. I do think it matters, though.

    1. Agreed on the ‘credit score’ tip.

      To me, infidelity isn’t an issue at all.. It’s actually lack of trust. The larger issue to infidelity is the fact that that person swore up and down to you on a stack of bibles that they wouldn’t do *something* and then they turned around and did that thing.

      So.. It doesn’t matter to me whether they swore that they wouldn’t give it up to someone else or they swore they wouldn’t wash the colored clothes with the whites. Erosion of Trust is Erosion of Trust and that’s that.

      Of course, it’s easier for guys to date gals they don’t trust than vice versa, because we’re still compelled to tap that as long as she still looks hawt. πŸ˜€

  3. hmmm, lets see! I can answer this out both sides of my mouth! I have actually stopped seeing 2 girls because of the simple fact that I did not trust them. 1 I met while she had a man and the second just was giving my a bad vibe! I have no built in options that would allow me to say, ok but it better be the last time! as far as im concerned I could never be with someone who I couldnt trust… BUT all that comes from a man who has never been caught! In my younger days { πŸ™‚ } I would waste no time living by that old adage that boys will be boys! So my personal answer is I dont know if infedility is the last straw. Could it be that i never met someone who would make me say, I love her enough to look the other way? I dont think so but I also dont know. And what if i had been caught? Would i have tried harder to regain that persons trust and pretend to make it work? I say pretend because I have never seen anyone completly walk away from that crime of mistrust. Again I dont know, I might have just said oh well, Im sorry I got caught! Peace, see ya when I see ya! So having wasted all this typing and not having had said anything…

    How i lead my life is my business and no one elses. I do believe the ends of the friendship would be in sight if someone felt the need to “forgive” me for something that someone else was the recipient of. How can you forgive a friend for cheating on some one else?? Can I see the members only card that would even allow such a thought to manifest.

    I have a friend who may or may not be a cheater. I love his wife. Unwritten rule, dont ever put me in a position to look her in the eyes and say “no” or “i dont think so”. Not because I look down on him but because both their friendships are very important to me.

    Its like religion, i dont believe and i wont ask you to feel the same BUT dont make an issue of trying to make your point everytime it comes up. I dont believe Mind yours! and dont ever insinuate that I am forgiven.

    1. Yeah.. I agree *ENTIRELY* that forgiving someone for something they didn’t do TO YOU or TO ANYONE YOU KNOW is ridiculous. It’s none of your business, so stay out of it and don’t act like you’re some pious person that hasn’t ever done ANYTHING that that other person might eject YOU for.

      I also hear you on the “friends with both parties in a relationship” tip. In that case, I default to neutral… Except, unlike you, I’d lie for either side. πŸ˜€

      As long as I have a relatively equal relationship to both people, I’m staying out of it. If one of them is “my boy” or “my girl”, then they’re going to get the information they need to stay happy and healthy.

      I told my ex when our relationship was almost over that she could do anything she wanted to do with dudes, so long as a) I didn’t catch anything and b) I didn’t hear any BULLSHIT from some dude in the street that I was with *HIS* girl. Those are my sticking points. If EITHER side is putting the other side at a health risk or starting potential static with their shenanigans, I’mma let the other person know they need to stop messing with them quick fast in a hurry, flavor’s vision ain’t blurry.

      As far as stopping seeing chicks because I don’t trust them.. I never trust them ANYWAY, so that’s never an issue for me. I trust chicks to do WHAT they want to do, WHEN they want to do it and that’s all there is to it. I’m either messing with them or I’m not.. We’re either having a good time or we’re not.. And it really never gets deeper than that.

  4. uhm, how can i get my pretty face up in the mix?? Steve cant be the only one flossin’ on here! πŸ™‚

    1. lol, Represent Yourself, Playboy!!! πŸ˜€

      Go to gravatar.com and link your email address to your picture, then, when you post, use your email address as identification and it will show you in the squIZare! πŸ˜€

  5. Trust forms the basis of “ALL” relationships. Even if a child feels betrayed by his parents, next time he will try not be believe them. If you do something that might be tagged under infidelity, stand to admit and face the consequences.

    1. Hey “Healthy”. Thanks for the comment. πŸ™‚

      Trust most certainly does NOT form the basis of all relationships.

      BELIEF is the basis of all relationships.

      You BELIEVE you can TRUST the person, but you don’t know for sure. Trust is something that’s built over time between people, however people assign “Trust” to a person they’re dating just because that person claims they’re going to be exclusive with them. This is why so many people get upset when they get cheated on. Being ripped from the “reality” of their BELIEF into ACTUAL REALITY is normally emotionally painful. On top of that, since people like to believe that they’re special, they think that the person they’re dating thinks they’re special as well, and that’s not always the case.

      Even if it IS the case, lots of people can can think someone’s special and still go have sex with other people all day every day.

      Having said that, you’re right that if people are willing to pay attention to examples, they eventually learn not to believe in the other person in the relationship. If that happens, all bets are off. That’s part of the whole thing about relationships.. They’re a mental state that you put YOURSELF into and you can take yourself OUT OF at any moment. Poof!

      As far as admitting infidelity, you know that’s a rarity. Just ask that politician that just got busted hanging out with his girlfriend in another country after lying to his staff where he was going. Nobody’s admitting ANYTHING until they get caught, and even if they DO, they might STILL not admit anything.

  6. In my opinion, infidelity is not just a lack of trust but also a sign that there is a lack of love in the relationship. If your b/f is aware that you will not stand for infidelity in your relationship, and he chooses to do it anyways,then he is putting your relationship on the line. A guy/girl who is willing to lose you no matter how slim the chances are of being caught,is not someone that you should trust or continue to be involved with in the future.

    1. Hey Mychele. Thanks for the comment. πŸ™‚

      I agree with what you’re saying, but not the actual word you used. People don’t understand what love actually is, so they attempt to link it to sex, because that’s what they were taught when they were little girls and boys and weren’t able to make up their own minds. It’s very easy to love someone and NEVER have sex with them and have sex with someone and NEVER love them. Anyway…

      You’re right that there are several things potentially lacking in these situations. There’s lack of consideration for the other person’s feelings. Lack of adhering to your word, thus your word becomes meaningless. Lack of caring whether your relationship ends. Potentially lack of looking out for the other person’s health. Lack of thinking the other person’s smart enough to catch you….

      I also agree with your assessment. To me, the worst part of it is saying one thing and doing something else, which erodes trust. It’s no big deal that someone’s feeling attracted to someone else right now. It’s no big deal that they follow their physical desires. It *IS* a big deal if they have to sneak behind your back to do it.

      Unfortunately, the game isn’t based on truth and reality.. It’s based on getting what you want. People are rarely dating the 100% real person that they were told that they’re with. This is why women freak out when they find their husbands’ erotica magazines stacked up in the attic. This is why men freak out when they find out that all of their wives’ current male friends screwed her back in the day, after she had told him she was practically a virgin when they met and she hasn’t seen her ex-boyfriends in years.

      The goal, I think, is to get to know your SO as deeply as possible so you can assess for yourself whether they have your best interests at heart and whether you should continue in a relationship with them.

  7. Hiya Bill,

    Just discovering your work and enjoying your perspective on things. Will probably be leaving more comments in the future.

    For me infidelity is a serious issue from a health standpoint. If we (SO, boyfriend/girlfriend, fiancΓ©, husband/wife) decide to be monogamous, our physical relationship will most likely be without condoms from that point on.

    So, if said person decides to cheat, they are exposing themselves to potential diseases which they are then bringing home to me.

    Now granted there are other fallouts from finding out your partner is cheating, however none will follow you quite the same as that unwanted std.

    1. Hey Summer. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the comment.

      I agree with you *ENTIRELY* about that.

      What’s worse is that some people aren’t only responsible for themselves, meaning that it’s possible that they a) have kids, and b) are the sole breadwinner for their family.

      It’s entirely unconscionable to cause someone else hardship and potentially take their entire family down.

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