In light of recent infidelity reports I'm going to discuss cheating over the next few weeks. For many years I was under the thesis that there is no way you can love your partner and cheat on them. My thoughts were if you cared for someone why would you do anything to intentionally hurt them. I admit my mind set was either black or white with no room for grey areas. The fact is not everyone who cheats intends to do so, especially the first time. It may sound absurd but it’s true! The truth about deception is an interesting site which raised some interesting facts.
All infidelity is bad but I think I could cope better with a one night stand than a long time running affair where feelings become involved. I'd like to think that it wouldn't happen again and we could hopefully resolve what went wrong and move on. If it could only be so simple. Everyone’s got their reasons for why they’ve been unfaithful. So let’s look at how people make the decision to cheat.
The truth is that our emotions get the better of us. Whilst out brain says we're in a committed relationship our feelings say something different. Your emotions can get you into a whole heap of trouble if you’re not honest with yourself. They can influence your actions and have you walking down the wrong path. When it comes to our emotions there are three types involved with cheating-sexual desire, romantic love and attachment. In a nutshell most infidelity happens not because people plan it but because they find themselves in situations where their emotions overwhelm them. I always believed that when a person cheats they've planned it but that's rarely the case. It may be that they've fallen into one of the categories below.
Forming a really close relationship with some one other than your spouse.
Spending a lot of alone time with some one else.
Being around someone who is sexually interested.
Not feeling close to your spouse.
Situations that create the sense of opportunity - the feeling that one will not get caught (e.g., meeting someone in private, out of town trips, etc.).
Situations involving alcohol or drugs.
Some would argue it’s simple practice self restraint. Well it seems that self restraint goes out the window when placed in the above situations thanks to our emotions. Poor decisions are often made and people are left hurt. We can sometimes be naïve to what’s going around us. That person that we flirt with at work seems harmless in the office environment. However add a work party, a few drinks and who knows what might happen.
Some people are better with self control while others fool themselves into thinking they can control the situation. It’s kind of like playing with fire, keep doing it and you may get burnt. You may be able to be around someone who is sexually interested for 3 months and nothing happens. Then the next day you find yourself in each others arms. It reminds me of when you split up with an ex and you convince yourself you’d never go there again. Yet you could meet up with them after a year of not talking and all those emotions come flooding back. While it’s not the same as cheating I’m trying to illustrate that we’re not always as in control as we’d like to think.
So the best way to try and control infidelity is to avoid the situations listed above as will power does little to influence our behaviour. Some cultures don’t view will power enough of a deterrent for cheating. That controlling the situation and avoiding the above scenarios is the best way to control behaviour and I have to say I agree. If you can avoid certain environments/people/situations your less likely to cheat. In western cultures we place greater value on individual responsibility. We allow the above situations to happen but then we hold individuals accountable for their behaviour and we expect people to behave appropriately. There are going to be times when we entertain the thought of infidelity but the key is to avoid situations which bring out the worst in our behaviour.