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.