Monday, February 22, 2010

Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater?

Friday, I was chatting with a friend on Facebook about Tiger Woods. That morning he had his first press conference responding to the news that he was having multiple affairs, and we had tuned in. I was only half-listening - I feel like that is between him, his wife, and God, but I know our society makes it everyone's business. It did, however, get me to thinking about things.

My friend has had the misfortune to be on the receiving end of a wife who cheated repeatedly which resulted in their divorce. I cannot imagine. But I am surprised that almost everyone I know has had some experience with unfaithfulness. My friend actually cheated on a girlfriend once when he was young. I never cheated on my significant others, but I was the "other woman" twice. Never with married men, but still, certainly not something I'm proud of. Having a small bit of experience with it, I do see how a crazy drunken fling can happen, or someone can be in a relationship and discover that their true love is another. Especially before marriage. While I don't condone those actions, I can understand them.

But after marriage? I believe, once you make those vows, they are forever. For better or for worse, for drunk times and for sober, for meeting new people and the grass being greener on the other side. Regardless of what comes into your life, you chose that person and they chose you, and you can't just change your mind because circumstances change. Disloyalty while single is decidedly sinful, but it becomes an even greater transgression after marriage.

Considering the number of friends I have who have cheated, been cheated on, or have been the third person, I have heard lots of possibilities for the one-time indiscretion. Usually, I could see how they could rationalize their choices. But what is the motivation behind a repeat offender? Are they bored? Does the fear of getting caught excite them? Is monogamy just not their thing? Are they searching for an outlet for fetishes they're afraid to ask their partners about? Do they feel neglected by their mate? Is, as Tiger claims, sex addiction a real thing, or just a scapegoat for his wrongdoings? I knew a girl who had a long-distance relationship with a guy, and it was just easier to stay his girlfriend, than break up with him. And I think she thought once they were in the same town again, it wouldn't be an issue, they would just be together. But I struggle with the concept of someone like Tiger and my friend's wife - people who choose to get married, the ultimate symbol of fidelity - and then have affairs. If you know you aren't the monogamous type, why put yourself (and your loved one) through that? Why not choose to stay single? Or at the very least, end things after the first transgression?

Another friend suggested that it's because cheaters are selfish and don't care about the other person's feelings as much as they do about their own. To give them a little more credit, maybe they think if they've found the right person they can stay settled down. I guess it comes down to the age old question, once a cheater, always a cheater? What do you think?

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