On Cheating

Every monogamous relationship has the same golden rule: Don’t cheat. However, the majority of people have done so. 

Oh, we all run around saying how awful it is and how we’d drop the person who did it to us like a hot coal. We get on our pedestals and pontificate how it is the ultimate betrayal of trust, that anyone who cheats is a horrible person with no moral compass, blah di blah blah. But every time we have that little niggling thought at the back of our heads “well, but…”

There are all sorts of mitigating circumstances we can think up: 

  • “It’s a long distance relationship and I have gone too long without intimacy (of any kind).”
  • “They cheated first.”
  • “I think they cheated first.”
  • “They’re probably going to cheat anyway.”
  • “I don’t know which one to choose.”
  • “It was a moment of weakness.”

You can have all the excuses you want. You can justify it to yourself all you want. However:

  • It makes you feel like shit. Even if the other person doesn’t ever find out, the amount of guilt you have to deal with is horrible. You feel sick, you feel sad; there’s always that niggling “remember that time when…” that poisons a lot of your interactions with that person.
  • It’s breaking a promise. When you agree to be someone’s partner, unless you are in an open relationship, you are making a promise to be with them and them alone. This shouldn’t be a piecrust promise.
  • It’s the height of disrespect. Not only to your partner, but to you and the person you cheated with as well. 
  • You hurt your partner deeply. That hurt stays with them for a while. Cheating on them damages their self worth and self esteem, and makes it difficult for them to trust people with their hearts again. 

That said, cheaters are not inherently bad people. They’re called mistakes. People make a lot of them, in case you hadn’t noticed. Yes, your significant other has a right to be angry with you. Yes, they have the right to dump you (clarification: they can dump you whenever, this just happens to be a pretty good reason). Mistakes have consequences, that’s the way it is in the real world, However, they don’t make you a terrible person, and messing around once doesn’t make you a serial cheater. 

So yes, cheating is bad. It will most likely end whatever relationship you happen to be in. There will be trust issues and completely justified anger. But the act of doing so does not make you a schmuck. Just…don’t do it again. Learn from the mistake, accept the consequences, and move on. 

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One thought on “On Cheating

  1. I think that’s true. In my last long relationship, we both cheated, and we both had our excuses. The thing ended in misery for all concerned, but neither of us are that bad. I definitely won’t do it again.

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