With the recent Ashley Madison hacking, a lot of my feelings on this subject have resurfaced. I remember watching an interview with Noel Biderman, the self-proclaimed “King of Infidelity,” after I first heard of the website, in which Biderman defended the site for how it makes communication in a relationship more open and honest.
First off, it really puts a sour taste in my mouth that anyone would be proud of that title. Second, anyone who would try to make money from facilitating something that could be the demise of marriages and families should not be rewarded, monetarily or otherwise.This website is supported by so many people, including Biderman’s wife, it makes you wonder if anyone really respects the marriage vows. Any way you try to view this issue, however, it’s not the website that is the only problem. It’s also the people choosing to use the site.
I am a firm believer that people can change, at least I still hope for it, but cheating is different. You can date the greatest, most trustworthy person in the world, but when you find out he cheated on one of his girlfriends in the past, even just one time, it tarnishes your trust a little bit. The person can come up with the seemingly logical reasoning behind the cheating, but it still lingers in the back of your mind.
Cheating has a different definition for everyone. From the simple act of flirting to having three different girlfriends, there is a wide range of classifications that fall under cheating. If it feels wrong in your gut, go with that feeling. Don’t question it. When you first find out, it’s devastating. You’re crushed. You see stories about women who find out their husbands are cheating and go to jail for cutting their junk off and throwing it down the garbage disposal, and you actually can understand their reasoning. You have two different options. One, stay with them and try to work through it and learn to trust again. Two, leave.
If you decide to leave, you think it means you’re strong enough to move on to someone who won’t cheat. You think you’ll find better out there, and you will. You’ll enjoy being single, and sure, you may still go through a breakup, which is never easy, but you can move past it. Life moves on and so will you. And then you meet the right person, start dating, and everything is wonderful. Until you realize that’s exactly how you felt in your relationship before the cheating. You start to question everything. It’s a different guy, but it’s the same issue. It’s wrong to punish the new guy for something the old one did, but that’s what happens when you are cheated on. It stays with you, and you can never quite shake that twinge of fear or questioning. It alters your life and affects you forever.
If you decide to stay and try to ignore it, it can be great for a while. You go into this state of denial that makes you rationalize that it will never happen again and that the person was just drunk or had a temporary lapse in judgment. Sometimes it really is a one time thing. It works for a while until you realize you have been lying to yourself, and your brain catches up with your gut and you become paranoid about everything he does. Why isn’t he texting/calling me back? What is this stain on his shirt? Was he really having a guys' night or did he go somewhere else? Your mind becomes your greatest enemy. You can’t shut it off. If they do cheat again and again, then it just gets worse. Some people get stuck and can’t get out of this slump. In fact, you don’t even realize you’re in the slump until and unless you are able to get out of it. While you’re in it, though, you have to deal with the outside world.
You can’t talk to anyone about it because you’re ashamed and embarrassed by it. You think that, by saying it out loud, it will click and become a big reality you can’t face. If you do confide in certain people, you’re afraid they will lose respect for you. Maybe that they will say all the things you know are true but don’t want them to be. You can start to only trust the cheater and not your friends or family. You will start to lose relationships because you convince yourself that the cheater is everything to you. Not only do you become too scared to leave and be on your own, but also you think maybe if you work hard enough, you can change your partner. I think that’s the universal want in all of us, to be someone a person changes for. When you do finally come to terms with everything, though, leaving can seem like the end of the world. Once you leave, every relationship you’ll ever have will be different.
Cheating stays with you forever. Trusting people gets harder, and you learn new things about yourself. Sometimes you realize how strong you can be, or how weak you can be. Cheating is just something no one can get over fully. It’s the ultimate betrayal and cannot be undone. There is no easy fix when it comes to cheating. You can move on and time may heal things, but there will still be times it hurts or you’re reminded of how you felt when that trust was altered. It’s scary to come to terms with what is right for you. Some people stay with their husband or wife and they don’t ever cheat again, but many people who stay do get cheated on over and over again. There is no definitive equation to help a relationship because every relationship and every person is different. Some people may even have their own reason for staying with a cheater and can turn a blind eye to the cheating because it may be beneficial to them.There is no right way to handle the situation. It’s finding what you are comfortable with and how to learn to trust again.