Comforting Words: 07/2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why Do People Cheat?

“Betrayal can only happen if you love.” -- John Le Carre

Much of my spare time is spent on Facebook – yes, I admit, I am a Facebook addict.

The social network offers me lots of free entertainment including clean non-sexual games such as my favourite “Yoville.”

Through Facebook I have reconnected with high schoolmates, friends who live in many places across the world from Jamaica to Australia.

Some time ago I shared the story of how a woman in Australia found me on Facebook and she turned out to be a cousin. Then she reconnected me with my late father’s family in the United States. Now, I chat or message fairly regularly with a young second cousin who serves in the US Navy and is currently based in the Middle East.

Another aspect to Facebook that I truly appreciate is the opportunity for dialogue on various topics – some serious and others not so serious. Take for example the running commentary we had today about Beyonce’s agile waistline and her bare-chested back-up dancers in a music video posted by one of my former high school mates in London, England.

Then there was the heart-to-heart another friend and I had about the challenges we both face with fibroids and making the decision whether to have hysterectomies. My own surgery was postponed almost two years now as I was (and still) not mentally nor emotionally prepared to be without such an important part of my anatomy. We laughed – virtually – about the ‘getting pregnant’ option but my friend in the United States could not see herself having a child at this stage of the game and I could not see Robert agreeing to putting up what would be his first child put up for adoption! So Girlfriend and I messaged back and forth about the various options to surgery now available and promised to let each other know how we decide to proceed.

No surprise then that recently another friend posted a question about infidelity that prompted several and varied responses from the online network to which I belong. This Jamaican woman who resides in the United States asked, “Why do people cheat?”

This is an age old question – but a recurring one that is clearly yet to be answered in such a manner that stems the occurrence of cheating. Preachers have spent many Sundays quoting copiously from the Bible and anything else they can get their hands on to remind congregants the perils of adultery and infidelity. Psychologists have made millions writing books and seeing clients who suffer in the aftermath of affairs. Medical professionals have stitched wounds and pumped stomachs of people who thought they could not go on after the love of their lives said it was over.

“Why do people cheat?”

My Facebook friend would later thank all of us who sent our two cents worth in response to her question, yet it was clear that she was not buying wholesale any of the explanations. And I do not blame her. There is no simple answer.

Looking back on my own journey, I have done my fair share of cheating in relationships and have been cheated on many times. Yet, called to answer her question as to why this happens I could only draw for some philosophical reasoning that hardly portrayed the devastation my behaviour and that of others wrecked on the lives of those who wanted and deserved something more.

I combed through various articles, books and web sites to see if I could come up with a better and a concise understanding of this human flaw – yes I do believe it is a flaw. One thing I am clear about is that it is a serious flaw in character when honesty fails a person to the extent that they become a weakling to the excitement of sex - because it is all about sex in the first instance. Been there, done that.

One resourceful and free web site that I came across that might provide some help to those grappling with this issue – either suspecting their partner of cheating or are in the throes of an affair and hopefully would like to confess – is Truth About Deception.

Another thing that I learned in my brief search for resources on this topic was that there are some interesting quotes on cheating and infidelity. I also learned that Oscar Wilde did not seem too big on this love business! One of his more meaningful quotes that I could at least relate to on the topic is:

“Those who are faithful know only the trivial side of love; it is the faithless who know love’s tragedies.”

My high school mates and I who did English Literature with either Ms Morrison or Ms Dorman (at the greatest girls’ school in Jamaica – go St. Hugh’s!) will discuss this in our next meeting on Yoville!

A smile came to my face when I read the following quote as it reminded me so much of being unceremoniously dumped after confirming the affair and my ex saying “you want too much of me in the vision that you see and I am not that big a person!”

Helen Rowland said:

Every man wants a woman to appeal to his better side, his nobler instincts and his higher nature -- and another woman to help him forget them.”

Hopefully you read that quote and interchanged man and woman to fit your context – heterosexual or same-sex relationship – as women do cheat and so too those in same-gendered relationships!

After my own act of cowardice and then digging up the courage to confess what had happened, I promised myself never to bring myself to that level again. That was almost ten years ago and to this day I have never looked at anyone but my love partner in that moment (two to be exact since that time – my ex and now Robert). Scott Alexander explains it best:

“All good is hard. All evil is easy. Dying, losing, cheating, and mediocrity [are] easy. Stay away from easy.”

The quote that I found most perplexing, interesting and that will stay with me for a long time is this one from the Sikh’s Holy Scripture – the Sri Guru Granth Sahib:

“Cheating is eating a rotting carcass.”

How often have people said to their lovers “I would die before I cheat on you,” and go ahead and have a hot and torrid affair? Well is that not what this passage could be referring to? One dies to their true decency and integrity rather than be honest and enters into an affair with a kindred dead soul!

Think about it and share your thoughts with me. You can find me on Facebook or Twitter!

Until then…stay away from rotten meat!



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