In dealing with the life experiences of friends, lovers, ex-lovers, and my sometimes charmingly bitter self, I’ve found that nothing puts grey hairs on the head (and a grudge in the heart) quite like infidelity. Even the suspicion of infidelity can take your relationship from we-just-made-love-on-the-virgin-white-Nassau-sand to you-can-keep-your-stinking-engagement-ring.
There are a myriad of reasons why cheating happens, and it’s rarely “because I hate you so much and just want you to have a hopelessly miserable life” (unless you’re vindictively trying to get back at your ex…for cheating on you). Most of the time, the psychology behind cheating is much more complex than that. Often, the reason has little or nothing to do with the person afflicted. Yet this particular wrongdoing feels about as personal as personal gets.
So, your partner spills. He’s cheated. In a past relationship, on you, or on his wife… with you. He says he’s sorry, he wasn’t himself that night. Or week. Or year. This experience forced him to take a step back and examine what he really wants. And what he really wants is you.
Do you believe him?
Respondents to the poll on Sex, Life, & Hannah were mostly on the same page: Once a cheater, always a cheater. Perhaps because we’ve all seen the consequences of affairs come to life in one form or another; in one of our relationships, a friends’ relationship, or our parents’ relationship.
Along with this obvious reaction however, many also commented that when it came to affairs it wasn’t as easy as kneeing him in the babymakers and calling it quits. Perhaps all your job-related travel finally got to him, or those long movie production schedules where you spent half the time in bed with a taller, handsomer, younger version of your boyfriend pushed him a little too far over the edge…or perhaps you’ve even been there done that yourself. You may have always said, “If I ever find out my partner’s cheated, I’m outta there,” but you also realize that the world is not black and white, and cheating can sometimes just… happen. Some of you even seem to think it’s an entire culture these days, especially in big cities — for better or for worse.
Are you really betraying yourself for giving him another chance?
Perhaps the most diplomatic answer is: The heart knows best. There’s no one right answer when it comes to cheating, so don’t be tortured by feminist role models or girl-power chick flicks. There’s only you, and him, in the heat of that difficult passage, and your ability to forgive — or not. And if you let him stay, only to find him cheating again, don’t sweat. It’s never too late to knee him in the babymakers.