Cheating is a topic that keeps coming up again and again for the women who write to me.
Despite finding out that their boyfriend or husband has cheated on them, they can’t end the relationship. They still love him, and they want to know if they can get him back from the woman who stole him away.
Being cheated on is one of the most painful, humiliating, and heartrending experiences we can have in a relationship. What should we do when it happens to us?
Greg Behrendt lays down the law in his popular book, “He’s Just Not That Into You.” He tells us that a man who cheats is NOT worth your love. Or, as he puts it:
“He’s just not that into you if he’s having sex with someone else.”
Even if your cheating man says that it was an accident, or that he was drunk, or that it was your fault because you weren’t filling his needs, take it from Greg: those are excuses. Dump him and move on. You deserve better. You deserve someone who’s into you.
It’s hard to fault Greg’s logic. Among his other pearls of wisdom are:
“100% of guys polled said they have never accidentally slept with anyone.”
“If something is wrong in a relationship, here’s a bright, mature idea: talk about it. Don’t let any man blame you for their infidelity. Ever.”
Yet, for many women, Greg’s response doesn’t seem like a good enough answer.
When it comes to relationships, it is hard to see the situation in black and white. We women excel in seeing shades of gray. We are good at understanding someone else’s point of view and overlooking behaviors that should be unacceptable for the sake of love.
Because guys AREN’T always perfect. Sometimes they make stupid mistakes. If we truly love them, we should be able to forgive their transgressions.
Then there’s the other little problem of the fact that Greg’s guide is designed for people who are dating, not married. When children and assets are involved, the cheating situation becomes much more complicated.
According to many marriage counselors, most marriages can actually survive an affair and come out stronger for it. The affair can function as a wake-up call to see what was going wrong in the marriage and provide the kick-in-the-behind needed to address it.
And here’s yet another viewpoint. According to well-respected evolutionary anthropologist Helen Fisher, human beings are designed to be serially monogamous, with human “pair-bonds” lasting only four years before they naturally end.
Why just four years?
Because that’s the amount of time she thinks was necessary (back in the early days of human evolution) for a man and a woman to raise a child together to the stage where it could survive without the mother being in constant attendance.
At that point, Fisher’s theory goes, the craving for sexual variety would overcome the need to stay together, and the couple would split.
Yet ANOTHER theory states that keeping a marriage together for 10, 25, even 50 years may be a fight against nature, but that doesn’t mean that we’re biologically driven to stray. Culture, environment, and upbringing are equally powerful forces. A young person raised to value being faithful will find that he or she can easily overcome impulses to cheat because of his or her strong moral stance.
It’s no wonder, amid all the confusion, that most of us end up relying on the folk wisdom passed down from generations of women.
For example, one timeworn tactic tells us that to keep our man from straying, all we have to do is give him unlimited:
* Sex, and
Feed him, keep your sex life active and interesting, and stroke his ego with compliments, and your man will be so over the moon that he’ll never look elsewhere for companionship.
On one level, this tried-and-true folk wisdom is good – food, sex, and praise are balms for the male spirit – but on another level it feels unfair. It places the entire burden for a man’s fidelity on the shoulders of his partner. Are we as women to be responsible for keeping our men from straying? Aren’t some men more likely to stray anyway, no matter how perfect their partner?
Ultimately, you will have to make up your own mind about what cheating means to you and what you will do about it. All of us have the power to interpret infidelity in a different way. For one person, it may be a betrayal of the relationship. For another person it may be an all-too-human mistake. For another person it may be the ultimate form of rejection.
But be aware that you have a choice. What will
All the best in life and love!