Honesty and Infidelity

in Cheating

One of the first things that might be important is to define infidelity. Once I heard it defined as having coffee with a woman without the other party's knowledge (in other words hiding it). Although this point has some validity, for this article we will consider infidelity as any sexual act with someone other than one's partner. Sexual is defined as any act of kissing, coddling, sexual touching, or anything involving genitalia. (Come on, if your still looking for a way to say it wasn't cheating at this point, you're kidding yourself).

There is no way one can be unfaithful, keep it a secret, and not be behaving dishonestly. Although some do not define omission as lying, for the purpose of this article omission will constitute lying when it comes to sexual acts (defined above) when in a committed relationship. (Committed does not mean marriage, it means there is an understanding of monogamy). You might notice at this point there is a great deal of defining of terms. The reasoning is that many people debate whether something was cheating or not. One male client reported that their receiving oral copulation from someone other than their wife wasn't cheating!

So, with everything defined, let's return to the discussion. It is estimated that between 44 and 75% of men cheat on their wives, and that 17 to 25% of wives cheat on their husbands. More faith should be given to the higher numbers, as infidelity often goes unreported, and in these times the numbers appear to be going up. Women are quickly catching up to men in many of the negative behaviors men are notorious for. What's more, these statistics do not include those that are not married, but are in otherwise committed relationships.

With so many people being unfaithful, why do we cling to the cultural standards we have? When a person has cheated, and is honest about that to a new partner, insecurity, suspicion, and other relational difficulties often result. This is not to say that this is unwarranted. With honesty there are consequences. This is largely why so many lie to begin with. The point is that the honesty about infidelity contributes to these feelings of insecurity, when in reality the individual is only reporting what is generally true for many others anyhow, but goes unspoken.

Women often say they want honesty from a man. Many people find honesty refreshing. But then individuals are punished for it. My argument here is that people really do not want honesty. They want to be sold an illusion of the possibility of "Happily Ever After." Understand me correctly: I am not saying they want to hear it will last forever, but they do not want the illusion of that possibility crushed. So instead of enjoying whatever they might have in an honest relationship, they would rather find someone who does not destroy the illusion.

Many wonder why so many people lie until the evidence is clear and there is no escape. Of course the reasoning is that it is better to play the odds. But doesn't society (read you and all others) play a part in creating this epidemic of dishonesty? If as a society we continue to try to maintain an illusion of fairy tales but act in direct contradiction to it (by cheating and lying and believing the fault for our fairy tale going wrong lies in the doing of someone else) we will continue to promote a society where dishonesty is the better bet, and where everyone continues to pretend everything is okay with them, all the while hoping something better is just around the corner.

A colleague of mine wrote in an internet blog "Of course, it is not you. You are probably reading this and nodding your head in agreement with me. You are probably thinking 'Yeah man! It's sick!'" He went on to say "And really, what's even worse, you might genuinely believe that you are a good person but you are just too blind to notice otherwise." Now this friend has a way of embracing controversy. To soften this a bit, it can be purported that often the dishonesty people engage in is done automatically, with the defense mechanisms of that make negative behavior more palatable for them. In other words, many are victims of their own thinking. But this can be overcome.

Think of this for a moment: how many of you have begun on the slippery slope of cheating? The slippery slope is when you are attracted to someone, and you start to flirt. Then you are finding excuses to talk to this individual. Maybe you are spending time with them after work just "chatting." The attraction grows. Now a decision has to be made: do I cheat? (By some people's standards you already have, calling this an emotional affair). Or do you pull in your behavior, and remain faithful? A great majority frequently choose the latter, at least the first few times. Some will fall to this temptation later. But some who do not cut off the exchange use the defense mechanisms rationalizing and minimizing to justify their behavior. "Everyone does it." "My partner is probably cheating on me." "He (or she) has been neglecting me." Or perhaps the worst defense of all, "I think this new person is my soul mate, this was destined to be."

It is my contention that one of the greatest contributors to pathology in individual's psyche is the belief we have to rise up to an unattainable standard because we believe those around us are. And all the while, it is a great charade. We are all just drinking the Koolaid, believing in something that doesn't exist, and ostracizing those that attempt to live more in line with what reality seems to be saying.

In looking at this it may sound bitter. In some rare cases, a couple does live happily ever after. The goal is not to crush everyone's belief in the possibility. But people could look more rationally at the world around them, and at their own behavior. It seems a large percentage of people cheat. This is not positive. Some may read this article and think I am pro infidelity. I am not. But living a genuine life, and being true to yourself is an important goal for those that want to self-actualize. If someone was contemplating cheating they should consider the impact. It will make being genuine and honest difficult for the rest of your life. Not only will your partner not trust you, but future partners likely will not as well.

Marriage may be becoming an outdated concept for many. Most Americans engage in serial monogamy (if they are monogamous at all). Right now my mind screams out to our culture a line from Jack Nicholson in "A Few Good Men": "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!" Or can you? Can you see the world the way it truly is, and not judge it negatively from atop the façade of an ivory tower?

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William Berry has 1 articles online

William Berry MS., CAP.
Program Director
Addiction Education Consultants
954 306-0722

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Honesty and Infidelity

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This article was published on 2010/03/29
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