When I decided to open the David Petraeus can of worms to break down the motives for why Petraeus may have cheated on his wife, I got more than my fair share of push back. Though I hate to divide attitudes along gender lines, the response to my last post was easily divided between men who mostly agreed with what I wrote and women pointing out all sorts of perceived flaws in my logic.
As I continue to tell people, I don’t need to be married like Petraeus was to understand why he cheated on his wife. I just need to have cheated once or twice in my life like he did, and for better or worse, I have, so everything I wrote in my post was informed by those experiences. But there are some things we all do that are accepted as somewhat universal truths. Not all men cheat, but all men who cheat probably do so for one of the reasons I listed in the previous post.
Read: A Cheater On The Ugly Truths of the David Petraeus Affair
When a man breaks down his reasons for cheating on a woman, listen. Don’t push back, don’t say his reasons or motives were wrong. Even he knows that. The reasons aren’t excuses they’re, well, reasons. And instead of being the first to throw a flag against them for what they did, maybe women should be actually listening.
Because let me tell you what I would do if a woman told me why she cheated on her husband or the man she loved:
Study the notes.
Commit them to memory.
Do the exact opposite of everything the man she cheated on did.
I agree a man is going to do what he wants, but it’s a fairly self-defeatist atitude to have in a relationship, no? Certainly I know a woman has the same freedom I do (double standards aside) and if she chooses to step out on me, I am partly responsible for that. So what can I do to make it that much harder for her to exercise her freedom as an adult? Break it down for me, ladies.
I usually hate writing about relationship stories making national headlines, but I can’t resist writing about this whole General David Petraeus scandal. Once again, we have a very human story that most people will be talking about in very inumane ways. Commentators will throw out numbers while offering up science and analytical thought about male infidelity, patriarchal societies, etc; relationship psychologists will chip in with studies done about men in power, etc.
I will end up screaming at televisions and think pieces because no one, absolutely no one, will get down to the nitty gritty, bare-boned facts about why such a thing happened.
Anyone who is honest will tell you people cheat everyday. The only reason it’s a big deal is because one of the main characters involved is a high-ranking official in the public eye. What people don’t want to say, because they want to sound smart about this sort of thing, is the truths behind this scandal are not that deep. But they are ugly and difficult to express without sounding like a complete jerk.
So allow me to be the jerk.
I am going to try to talk about this thing from the vantage point of a person who has cheated. To be clear, I don’t stick out my chest with pride when I say I’ve cheated, but I must say it so people reading this can understand I’m not talking about something I know nothing about. True, I’ve never been married, but I have been in a committed relationship and slept with another woman while in that relationship. Married or not, that’s wrong, I know that for a fact.
But here is the ugly truth about why things like this happen. It is not to justify or excuse anything, it’s just my attempt to break this thing down in a very basic, human, way.
You think being unfaithful can only happen when you either sleep with someone else or you develop feelings for someone else.
There’s all sorts of ways you’re unfaithful and you don’t even know it, so allow me to break it down for you.
You went to our favorite restaurant without me to order that soup we both love and you didn’t even tell me.
I was out of town and you watched our favorite show by yourself, then you proceeded to tweet about it in real time knowing good and well I stalk your Twitter.
I sent you a link to a funny post and you told me you received the same link from someone else earlier that day.
I found another toy, one you never told me about.
You watch adult films on the Internet and none of those people look like me.
The other day, I heard a story about a woman who cheated on her boyfriend. It was so sad, the story, not because of her act of infidelity. I know all too well women are just as capable of being unfaithful as men are, so anytime I hear about a woman stepping out on her boyfriend or husband or fiancé, I don’t really flinch.
What makes me wince, and what made this story so particularly disturbing was the act itself was something she would have never done with her boyfriend.
The easy answer to the question I pose in the title of today’s post is we just break up with that person. Right? Why waste our time and energy being devoted to someone we don’t love?
But I think if it was an easy question to answer, I wouldn’t be asking. Also, I only ask because I have answer of my own to the question, and I want to write it out here to bounce it off my readers. But first, an explanation as to why I believe the obvious answer isn’t necessarily the easiest one.
Today’s post is for a close friend of mine, a girl who is like a sister to me. We don’t keep in touch as often as we should, which is probably why when she reached out to me about some drama going on in her life and asked me if I could weigh in on it on this blog, I didn’t hesitate to say yes.
Of course, people who have read my blog know I never really take requests. I’m also pretty sure anything I write on this blog could have been kept between herself and I via email.
But she’s going through some trust issues, all of which stem from her boyfriend cheating and lying. Details do not need to be divulged for people to understand what she’s going through. If you’ve been cheated on or if you’ve ever admitted to cheating, you know what this is, and you know it’s not easy.
When she explained her situation to me, she laid out everything as though I was her boyfriend. Ironically, even before she went into specifics, I knew what her boyfriend was going through, because I too, have cheated, I too have lied, and I too know what it’s like to stay with a woman once those two things have been revealed.
We’re talking about cheating, aren’t we? We’re talking about being with someone we shouldn’t be with because we’re already with someone else. We agree this is wrong, that if we were to partake in something on the side, trust is gone, and so is the relationship.
It’s a guilty indulgence, a selfish act. Cheating, whether it’s emotional or physical is wrong on any level.
But have we ever thought that maybe, possibly, this person we began seeing while we were seeing someone else was the person with whom we were actually in love? And if that is the case, have we done something wrong if we eventually make the decision to break off things with the one we’re with to be with the one we want?
EDITOR’S NOTE: Disqus Comments system seems to be going through some technical difficulties right now. We are in the midst of working on it. Hang tight and thanks for reading!
I’m different than most guys.
I have this whole blog where I confess to a lot of my mistakes I made in the past. As a matter of fact, I think I write more about how bad of a boyfriend I was more than I write about how good of a boyfriend I was, even though all of my exes would probably say I’m not as bad as I make myself out to be. Call it accountability, call it humility, or call it something else, but I’m more than aware of the fact that the reason my blog stands out is because not too many men are going to say they have done things I have done.
The reason why? Some men would much rather learn the lessons of their past ways on their own than deal with a woman in the present who discredits him for what he did to someone else. We made a mistake and the last thing we want a woman to tell us is if we made it once, we’re bound to make it again.
What should he do with a past unfamiliar? Maybe let it go; let it be forgotten. Don’t go searching for it. But sometimes, he can’t help but wonder if it’s ever happened to him and if it has, who did it.
How naive would he be to believe no woman has ever cheated on him? He has not seen any evidence to the contrary, he knows of no time when it actually happened, save for that one night he wrote about a while back. But still, that was a flirtation with the idea at best, not the actual act. So it still has yet to hit him, the discovery of a physical act having taken place, but then again, maybe he should have been looking for another type of cheating.
People always ask me why I haven’t been in a relationship, and I say, “Because I have yet to meet a girl I wouldn’t cheat on.”
I say it as a joke, sort of. The truth is, I know when it comes to cheating, it’s a personal choice. No one ever put a gun to my head and told me to cheat anytime I did in the past. But I also think it’s my choice to find a woman who makes it the easiest choice in the world not to cheat.