If you read my blog regularly you’ll know I toiled over my thesis on infidelity for months. It has been really interesting seeing infidelity become more mainstream as columnists begin to openly question why so many people are unfaithful.
Ashley Madison provides zero surprise. What is interesting to me was the attack on the website itself, as this kind of attack is frequently centralized around women and what women do. The targets of this attack were mostly (if not entirely) heterosexual men. Thinking about it for a while, I realized that this men-attacking-other-men was not so dissimilar to other attacks on women. When we can’t have the sex we want or we feel betrayed by someone (in this case, a company) any action we take seems excusable. Society may nod their heads and say “we’re glad they took this website down, it was a horrible piece of filth” but the attackers may say “we are glad we took this website down, thousands of men were not given the sex they were promised.” So much cause and effect when desire is not satiated.
Though my thesis focused primarily on why women are unfaithful and what that infidelity means specifically to them, I was able to learn a lot about infidelity in general through the writing process. There is not a lot about infidelity out there, and most of it is what you would expect.
- People who are unfaithful are often unhappy or do not feel they can communicate their wants or needs.
- People who are unfaithful are often trying to make some want or need met they feel they cannot meet within their relationship.
- People who are unfaithful often feel guilt or shame associated to their infidelity but their desire to feel happiness seemingly trumps those negative feelings.
I believe infidelity often happens when couples ought to have broken up, but culture or society has encouraged them in some way to stay together. Though the couple could have prevented infidelity by communicating needs, opening their relationship, or splitting up entirely, these options may have seemed impossibly far away. We are often too caught up in our own relationships to see what they, or we, truly need.
Ashley Madison provided an imaginary oasis where one could use the computer to reach out to someone on the other side. There they might hope to find peace of mind, happiness, satisfaction. A reminder that the spark in themselves was still there. Instead of resorting to this, we should be helping couples find that satisfaction within their primary relationships – or helping couples explore other styles of non-monogamous relationships that allow them to feel full and happy.
Unfortunately there’s no website called “Self Empowerment 101: Are your needs being met, and are your partners too?”