Cheating is normal - get over it

Another day, another ‘Be suspicious of your man’ piece - why can’t we chill out about cheating? Daisy Buchanan asks

By Jess Edwards 20/09/2012 12:24

Cheating is normal - get over it

What do I have in common with Kristen Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor, Meg Ryan and Kelly Brook, other than an unnatural interest in our own hair care regime? We’re all cheaters. We have, at one time or another, cheated on our husbands or boyfriends.


Which is weird, because cheating is supposed to be a man’s activity. Charlie Sheen, John Mayer, Tiger Woods, Ashton Kutcher, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Clinton, Jude Law, JFK - if I had the time and inclination, I could rewrite Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start The Fire, replacing the list of international incidents with a litany of high profile, cheating men. But I’m not going to, because I’m not bothered.


YouTube superstar Emily Hartridge has just gone viral with her latest dating post, “10 Reasons Why Men Cheat”. It’s not surprising that it’s blowing up the internet - people are obsessed with identifying, catching and shaming cheaters. You can buy books to “stop your man from cheating”. There’s a whole TV show about it. But people have been cheating on their partners for as long as people have been kissing each other. Wouldn’t we be happier if we accepted that sometimes it’s inevitable?


"It's rare that you cheat on purpose, to hurt your partner"


Kristen Stewart is the most high profile recent example. Media analysts have suggested that she might have ruined her career, fans don’t understand how she could have cheated on Robert Pattinson, but more often than not, cheating is about being caught up in an intensely passionate moment - and the force of your feelings blocks out reason. It’s rare that you cheat on purpose, to hurt your partner.


And sometimes, infidelity can make people ask important questions about their relationship. If you suspect your partner is about to cheat, you could track their movements, get suspicious whenever they’re not with you, call their friends to check their alibis and make a bad situation terrible. Or you could give them the time they need to work through it, and come out stronger at the other end. If a partnership breaks down when someone is unfaithful, it probably wasn’t built to withstand any major damage.


"if you try to trap your partner and stop them cheating, they're more likely to run away"


The hardest thing about a relationship is to reconcile the need for love, which flourishes when you’re together, with the need for desire, which requires some distance. Cheating is usually borne out of desire, not love. The funny thing is that once you know your partner is desired by a stranger, they can seem much more desirable to you, even though the love part might be shaken. In order to have a healthier, less dysfunctional attitude to sex and desire, we need to stop talking about cheaters as if they’re criminals. If you give them space to breathe and express their desires, you can strengthen your partnership. But if you try to trap your partner and stop them cheating, they’re more likely to run away.


Have you ever cheated? Answer our poll and tell us why

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