Cheating in Love: Right or Wrong?

When I was younger, I believed that cheating was wrong. As the tense of the verbs in the previous sentence suggest, I no longer believe in that. Before I delve deeper into the topic, let me clarify on what I mean by cheating? In this article’s context, I am referring to the act of being sexually unfaithful. Here are a couple of examples of the word’s usage from Oxford Dictionary:

1.     ‘He decided to speed up the breakup by cheating on me.’

2.    ‘Well, I found out his girlfriend's e-mail address, and under a false name I told her that her boyfriend had been cheating on her with me and a bunch of other girls.’

3.    ‘I asked her if she was seeing someone else, and she denied it at first, but finally admitted to cheating on me.’

4.    ‘Last year I discovered that my wife of more than a dozen years had been cheating on me with two different men: one for more than five years, the other for a little over a year.’

5.    ‘The bottom line is that on some level, I feel like I'm cheating on my husband, but obviously, there's nothing sexual between my friend and me.’

6.    ‘He keeps cheating on her and she knows it, but she never leaves him.’

I don’t know about you, but these examples were each cringeworthy and painful for me to read. It is sad. When we truly love someone, we bare our soul to them. We let them in on our deepest insecurities and our weaknesses. Nevertheless, we expect them to still love us the same. Hence, it is depressing when the person whom we never expected to hurt us, cheats on us. Agony, fury and perplexity all at once. The violation of trust. The promise of happily ever after crushed into pieces. The uncomfortable wave of change that life’s throwing at us.
 


When we do find out about our partner’s cheating, we are sent into a spree of questioning our self-worth and performing meaningless comparisons with that person they cheated us on. Where did I go wrong? Was I not good-looking enough? Was my love not sufficient? What could I have done differently? The chain of 'what-if's stab further into that already-deep wound. Were there any early indicators? Why was I so stupid that I did not see it coming all along? 

Ultimately, all these questions and thoughts drown in alcohol. Because real men don’t cry right? Oh the hypermasculinity! Sing a soup song. Scold her all you want. Throw in some vulgarities. If you’re extremely angry, kill her. Isn’t that what the movies have taught us? I might seem like I am exaggerating. But if you actually take a look at the number of cases in Singapore where a man kills his girlfriend or wife because she was cheating on him or because he had suspicion that she was cheating on her, you would know that these do happen. 
 


If you’re a woman, you don’t have a wide range of soup songs to choose from. Furthermore, movies have taught women that they can only kill them with kindness and not with knives. And so, leaving him and successfully leading your life alone is the way to go. Make them regret cheating on you. To be cheated on is something terrible and I wish no one would have to go through that. The reality is far from that. According to a survey of divorcees, about 25% of the divorces were owing to adultery. We don’t have statistics for break-ups but I have a feeling that promiscuity would also be one of the leading factors. 

Then why do I feel that cheating isn’t wrong? This thought stemmed from a basic premise that if falling in love is possible then falling out of love is also possible. When that happens, you could let your partner know, leave them and then find a new love or you could change the sequence of the events and cheat them. But why don’t most people go in the former path? Why do they choose to find a new love and then subsequently, leave them? Is it because they love them too much to not want to hurt them by telling that they’re falling out of love? Do I make sense? Maybe they know that if they did follow that route, they might end up visiting marriage counsellors to fix things instead of ending the relationships. Most people would rather buy a new phone than fix their existing one. Are we viewing our relationships more like the tangible everyday things that we own? 
 


But just like how death teaches us so much about life, cheating teaches us so much about relationships and marriages. Do we still view marriages as a lifelong contract? An alternative question is if it’s healthy to view it as such. Is it possible to be hired in a job forever? If yes, what happens when you’re not performing up to expectations? Perhaps, we’re seeing our partner as a fluid job position that can be filled up by various people as compared to that one true soulmate concept that we previously used to have. You’re not irreplaceable. Perhaps, with social media, it has become easier to quickly find a replacement. A lot of perhaps and if’s.

Maybe all that I am saying is that cheating does not mean that one person is good, and another is bad. What if it’s not about immorality? I am not asking for cheating to be normalised. Perhaps we need to approach marriages in a different way. Because it’s not as if people in good marriages do not cheat. When your partner cheats, that can be the end of your marriage. But as Esther Perel suggests in her article, you can forgive each other and start anew. Get married again. To that same person?
 

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