Why do we cheat? And why do happy people cheat? And when we say "infidelity," what exactly do we mean? Is it a hookup, a love story, paid sex, a chat room, a massage with a happy ending? Why do we think that men cheat out of boredom and fear of intimacy, but women cheat out of loneliness and hunger for intimacy? And is an affair always the end of a relationship. Monogamy used to be one person for life. Today, monogamy is one person at a time. We used to marry, and had sex for the first time. But now we marry, and we stop having sex with others. Maybe monogamy has nothing to do with love or maybe men relied on women's fidelity in order to know whose children these are.
Throughout history, men practically had a license to cheat with little consequence, and supported by a host of biological and evolutionary theories that justified their need to roam, so the double standard is old, really old. When it comes to sex, the pressure for men is to boast and to exaggerate, but the pressure for women is to hide, minimize and deny, which isn't surprising when you consider that there are still nine countries where women can be killed for straying. It's never been easier to cheat, and it's never been more difficult to keep a secret. When marriage was an economic enterprise, infidelity threatened our economic security. But now that marriage is a romantic arrangement, infidelity threatens our emotional security. Ironically, we used to turn to adultery -- that was the space where we sought pure love. But now that we seek love in marriage, adultery destroys it
Today, we have never been more inclined to stray, and not because we have new desires today, but because we live in an era where we feel that we are entitled to pursue our desires, because this is the culture where I deserve to be happy. And if we used to divorce because we were unhappy, today we divorce because we could be happier. And if divorce carried all the shame, today, choosing to stay when you can leave is the new shame.
The typical assumption is that if someone cheats,either there's something wrong in your relationship or wrong with you. But millions of people can't all be pathological. The logic goes like this: If you have everything you need at home, then there is no need to go looking elsewhere, assuming that there is such a thing as a perfect marriage that will inoculate us against wanderlust. But what if passion has a finite shelf life? What if there are things that even a good relationship can never provide? If even happy people cheat, what is it about?
So how do we heal from an affair? Desire runs deep. Betrayal runs deep. But it can be healed. And some affairs are death knells for relationships that were already dying on the vine. But others will jolt us into new possibilities. The fact is, the majority of couples who have experienced affairs stay together. But some of them will merely survive, and others will actually be able to turn a crisis into an opportunity.They'll be able to turn this into a generative experience. And I'm actually thinking even more so for the deceived partner, who will often say, "You think I didn't want more? But I'm not the one who did it." But now that the affair is exposed, they, too, get to claim more, and they no longer have to uphold the status quo that may not have been working for them that well, either
I look at affairs from a dual perspective: hurt and betrayal on one side, growth and self-discovery on the other -- what it did to you, and what it meant for me. Most of us are going to have two or three relationships or marriages, and some of us are going to do it with the same person.Your first marriage is over. Would you like to create a second one together
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