It all sounds too familiar for anyone who has been in a relationship and had the dreaded “C” word make an appearance. For those of you who don’t know what it’s like, try to picture the love of your life serving you a slice of sh*t covered cake and making you eat it in front of your family and friends.
Over the past few years I have taken particular interest in the opinions of the men and women within my friendship circle when it comes to cheating; including the reasoning behind it and whether or not it changed them as a person. In this article, we will explore the culture of cheating and the thought process behind it as well as generational differences and potential influencers in the 21st century that may be causing a spike.
Does Gender Play A Role?
Scientifically speaking, men and women are wired completely differently. Men are wired to reproduce and spread as much of their seed as possible, intelligence isn’t generally a deal breaker, but having physically appealing skin, hair and eyes is. On the other hand, women are programmed to have a set criteria of what type of man they allow to be the father of their children and ultimately their partner. Height, weight and physical features are important, as is the overall intelligence and ability of the partner to protect them and their offspring. In summary, women don’t just have sex with anyone, whereas men do. Men also tend to “need” sex more often than women due to biological reproductive factors, which is a likely explanation for a rise in office-place romances and divorce.
The Thought Process Behind It
After speaking about this topic with a range of friends and acquaintances, I was quite intrigued with some of the reasons behind why they chose to cheat (if they had done it before) and what their views on cheating were if they had not cheated. I managed to round up the most common responses from an age group ranging between their mid-20s or 35–45s below:
“we fight all the time”
“We’ve been broken for a long time”
“I feel constantly suffocated”
“It’s just sex for me”
“He did it to me first”
“I didn’t feel loved anymore”
Everyone fights and sex isn’t for everyone. Yet we hear these complaints from men and women more than ever, it seems. Is it because we have genuinely become more vanilla or have these escapades always been happening behind closed doors? I decided to explore these two groups and find out more about the reasoning behind making these choices.
The mid-20s Group
The general consensus I got from this group was that they either wanted to enjoy their freedom before settling down or chose to sleep with another person as an act of revenge. It was the women who leaned towards revenge or trying to make their love interest jealous. More times than not it was done because they had their heart broken by someone they loved and were trying to move on. The males, on the other hand, had more of a “enjoy life while I’m young” perspective on the matter, with most of them explaining it was about having fun, self discovery and enjoying life to the fullest. There was one man who explained that it was too hard for him to “break her heart” [his girlfriends] but they fought so much that it pushed him to find someone else he had a connection with. Both men and women from this group were mostly against cheating, however they were very accustomed to it, having either being cheated on or having a close friend or family member who had been through it.
The 35–40s Group
This group was primarily male and the most common response was along the lines of “It’s part of life” — In a sense they were right, rooting is a part of life, behind someone’s back? Not so much. The men in this age group had a common reason for doing the deed and it was almost always because they wanted more meaning in their life, to relive their youth or seek a forbidden thrill. Starting a side romance with a younger woman who could bring more energy and fun to the table that their current partner could not “was enticing to say the least” said one of the men. It was quite obvious, very quickly, that these romances did not last long, with the “other woman” pulling back most of the time or the man being caught and cutting all ties. In saying that, there were, again, only a few people in this group who had gone through with cheating on their spouse. The general sense was that when you’re with someone as long as these people had been, there’s no point in throwing it all away.
The females in this age group were sparse, however, there was one woman in particular who told me it was “only about the sex” for her and that she loved her husband and wished to remain with him, but wanted a bit of fun on the side. When I asked about whether her first time was hard she said it was “but now it’s easy, it’s just sex for me and I still love my husband, he just can’t give me what I need in the bedroom”. An interesting perspective, considering women are more emotionally involved with their partners, however, in this instance, the woman was able to detach from it.
It seems that there was one common denominator with both of these groups and that was those who chose to cheat were experiencing their youth again and the thrill of doing something forbidden. It made me wonder, if the dullness of day to day life pushes people toward sex with another person? Or perhaps it is just the pure thrill of breaking the rules and being bad.
The Social Bit
Catching someone in the act is extremely easy these days with the amount of digital footprint we leave behind, almost anything can be traced including receipts, bank accounts, social media conversations and who you follow on social platforms.
In my personal opinion, social media has made cheating easier than ever. These days it’s as simple as finding someone’s Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram account and hitting “follow”. Birthdays, hobbies, friends and family all become instantly accessible in the blink of an eye. Long gone are the days you had to work for it. Within a few months it’s easy enough to assume you know a lot about a person’s life by simply opening an app.
I can’t help but compare social media to a sperm bank. I mean, with a sperm bank you can literally choose the type of baby you want within a few minutes of scanning through a donor catalogue. Having the option to choose things such as hair, height, eye colour, race and even athletic ability, it’s closely comparable to hitting an Instagram search bar, except with social media you have millions of options instead of a couple hundred. The world we live in today has become superficial and full of self obsession. Hundreds of thousands of people openly give access to every part of their lives on social media daily and with this many options, it’s hard to think social media couldn’t assist in making cheating easier.
Set The Standard
It doesn’t matter if you’ve only been dating casually or are in a full time relationship, it is completely inappropriate to communicate in a flirtatious manner or organise to catch up with a person you have a romantic interest in. Finding out that your spouse is interested in someone else is a heartbreaking in itself, however, finding out that they have physically gone out of their way to talk to, catch up and even go all the way with another person is traumatic and has been seen to cause PTSD in several cases. It’s time to set the standard.
Things don’t always end up the way you pictured. Work changes, people relocate and lovers grow apart. But this is no excuse for going behind the back of someone that loves you to fill a void in your life. No one will ever be your perfect match, humans are flawed, but that’s what makes us human. Having the conversation about breaking up is never easy, especially with someone you once cared for, but it gives that person the closure they need to accept that things are over before you bring someone else onto the scene. It’s time we start bringing respect to our relationships and acknowledging the damage that lies and betrayal does.
Cheating doesn’t have to be normal. Lift your standards.