Stream of Thought on Infidelity

I go through phases of interest on my blog. Lately I’ve been really hung up on the idea of infidelity. This one seems to come in waves. I wrote a pretty big post about infidelity in 2012 and as of now, its still my highest rated post.

I have been trying to figure out what exactly interests me so much about infidelity. I’ve realized that one key point is that we silence those who cheat. As a student of Psychology, it is the silenced voices that interest me the most. Why don’t we want to hear what these people have to say? Why aren’t we listening to them? How might listening to them give us valuable information about why and how infidelity happens?

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I spend some time on reddit and I am usually the only voice (quickly down-voted) asking what happened for the infidelity to occur.

I suggest that it is likely one of three things:

a) The unfaithful partner wasn’t fully satisfied in the relationship (emotionally or physically) and found a way to be satisfied outside of the relationship. It is possible that they want out of the relationship, it is also possible that they simply didn’t know how to be satisfied in the relationship and faltered in their monogamy.

b) The unfaithful partner was no longer interested in being in the relationship and didn’t know how to verbalize this because the relationship itself was okay. Instead (as recently broken down by Dan Savage) they hurt the relationship and used that crack they created to leave.

or, fan favorite,

c) They’re just a horrible asshole fuck them you can’t rationalize anything ever they’re just a bad person they should burn in hell.

There are other reasons people cheat, of course. But as I’ve talked over and over again to people who have experienced both sides of infidelity, these reasons repeat themselves again and again.

There is regret because they are unhappy, but they want to stay, because they’re just not sure they can leave. They want to be in love, they are in love, they think they’re in love. Can you be in love and cheat? Can you heal a relationship after you’ve broken it in this way? I think the answer to both questions is yes. As noted in my previous post (linked at the top) most people who cheat end up seeming to regret their actions. I would also expect that most people who cheat also begin said relationships by reaffirming that they would never be unfaithful.

What happens between point and point b?

Those are the stories that I find most interesting, and most useful, in preventing infidelity from happening. Given how prevalent infidelity is (I am expecting that most people reading this are in some way familiar) its something that is not given much attention. I am also interested in how infidelity varies given cultural context (see France, more about that in this book.)

To have this conversation with anyone/everyone, someone much more deeply invested than I would have to somehow balance the real legitimacy of both wanting to and not wanting to validate the emotions coming from both sides. How is this done, and how is it done correctly?

6 thoughts on “Stream of Thought on Infidelity”

  1. Hey Lorelei,

    I’m someone that has recently gone through a breakup with a girl I loved very much because of my infidelity. I’d been meaning to get advice from you but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

    If you (or anyone else!) is interested at all in my story, I’d love to have that dialogue with you. My email is johnhongclarinet@yahoo.com

    >

    1. Thanks John, I almost included a little bit asking for stories! So thanks for your comment. I will get in touch with you.

  2. What I’ve found interesting is that I always thought cheating came from a kind of one-thing-led-to-another relationship that bloomed with a friend or co-worker or something. I’m able to much better put my head around that than what I know of a few male friends who actually go out with the intention of finding someone to carry on an affair with. They tend to have been involved with multiple women before getting a girlfriend, continued to be involved with multiple women once with a girlfriend, and now wife.

  3. I look forward to your guest post coming about infidelity. I try to listen to reasons why people cheat. When I was on a website in search of casual sex, it seemed like 90% of the guys I talked to were with someone. I wasn’t interested in being with someone secretly so I always said I wasn’t interested. I guess for me I have yet to hear a reason for the infidelity where I think “Aha, that makes total sense. I completely understand why you did that.” Or even just a reason to help me sympathize with why it happened. Most of what I hear is “we don’t have sex anymore but we have kids, so we’re staying together for them” or “she’s just not as sexual as I am but she’s an awesome person, I don’t want to leave.” I understand it’s a hard conversation to have, but I personally would rather be hurt by learning he’s not satisfied and I can’t fix it rather than finding out infidelity has happened and now trust is broken. I will continue to keep an open mind and hope someday I can understand why.

    1. To answer your last question, I imagine the problem is that most people don’t realize they aren’t satisfied until they find satisfaction elsewhere and see what being satisfied is really like. I believe this is reflected in the post I’ll be sharing.

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