This post wasn’t particularly easy to write – mostly because I have no conclusion to draw and that’s my conclusion. Cheating is as open-ended a topic as any, with so many variables yet needs none. I would like to thank all the people who let me interview them, especially for their candour when I opened up the topic with “So, do you think monogamy is a myth?”.
I would like to start this off by saying, I’m not married. I have never been married. I have no idea what it’s like to be married for 10 years with 3 kids. I don’t personally know what that does to a person, a couple, a relationship. So here’s my notes, draw your own conclusion.
Emotional vs Physical Cheating
I’ve taken Dr. Phil’s (yes, that Dr. Phil) definition of cheating: Would you do it, if the other person was in the room? Absolutely fantastic, iron-clad definition. So get out of here with your “kissing isn’t cheating”, “texting isn’t cheating”… if you’re hiding it, it means there’s something to hide.
Emotional cheating would be having a non-physical relationship with someone else – whether this comes in the form of continued sharing at the office (apparently, “office-husbands/wives” are a common thing), texting repeatedly about your lives/partners, etc…
Physical cheating would be obviously be just that – in many variations, till P meets V.
Most of the people I interviewed, male or female, would forgive physical cheating, over emotional cheating.
Unless the women I interviewed were lying to me, none of them have cheated on their husbands/partners. More than 70% of the men I interviewed have cheated, and continue to do so. Gender vs genetic bias? Are men still just cavemen hunters, looking to spread their seed and populate the world? It’s in the nature of every male animal to propagate its species, why should the quasi-evolved man differ? One of my favourite quotes from an interviewee was, “Every man just needs some strange“. Could it really be that simple? Another interviewee classified his cheating more as “assisted masturbation” – no emotions are involved and that is in respect to his wife.
Some men felt validated in their decision to cheat if their partners gained weight or became someone she wasn’t when they met and fell in love (clingy, boring, talks only about the kids). Fear not, there are some men who adamantly refuse to cheat – but there are no commonalities, although cheating tends to favour more successful men.
The Ages and Stages of Cheating
Men who entered fully committed relationships in their early 20’s and had multiple kids before they turned 30, seem to have a strong propensity to have physical flings in their 40s. It’s quite understood that between 25-30 is when everyone has their crazy sexed-up “what was I thinking” years and if this is replaced by a routine familial life, it’ll come out eventually. Wild cannot be suppressed. People who get married in their 30s seem to have a more realistic grasp on relationships and a mutual readiness for family – and to hold on to it. Whether this will result to cheating in their 50s, who knows?
There is no commonality of the people I interviewed – some have been married for 10 years, some in early relationships. “My crotch fell into someone else’s crotch” is an almost instantly forgiven transgression, and “I’m in love with someone else” is instant dismissal. There seems to be little to salvage from emotional cheating – the groin can wander, but not the heart. Every married woman with kids I interviewed would forgive a physical cheat – regardless of the initial shock and hurt. It seems to be a form of reality, that they have accepted. Perhaps the reality is just that, after 10 years of being with the same person, the trials and utilitarianism of having children – the relationship evolves from romance to functional. And it’s during those years of function, the heart is more willing to forgive.
A woman almost always knows when her man is cheating (and it’s not that we’re that smart, it’s just that most men are really bad at hiding things). It seems smart women know when to play the fool to keep the peace for the sake of their family.
My simple conclusion is that monogamy is not a myth, it does exist but it’s also a reality that it should not be expected.
Thank you once again to everyone who let me interview them – it was a good mix of successful bankers, professionals, stay at home moms, working moms, etc…