Friday, April 23, 2010

Infidelity is not a tornado

I fear this post is the unfortunate consequence of me reading one People Magazine article too many. But I am so fed up with how infidelity is referred to.

The most common declaration made after the spouse is caught is "I made a mistake". Infidelity isn't like tripping. It's extremely deliberate. It's not a result of "poor judgment" - a good example of poor judgment would be driving too fast. Being unfaithful involves a thousand small decisions: twelve subtle looks + a tentative, grazing touch + active pursuit + a rendezvous you connive to keep a secret + taking off all your clothes. If someone's penis ends up in someone's vagina it can't be talked about like you forgot to mention to your barista that you like sugar in your coffee.

Next is "I swear it didn't mean anything". Well, if it meant enough for you to put what you had at risk, that doesn't speak very highly of the value you placed on your relationship, does it?

Then there is the contrite spouse in question, red faced, wet eyed, saying "I hope my family finds it in their heart to forgive me". You didn't find it in your heart to honor your vows, so why are you putting all the weight of responsibility of what happens next in those you just hurt, who at the moment can't even see straight?

And let's not forget "I can't believe one single mistake puts our whole relationship at risk". That is a risk you take when you cheat, not a decision the spouse makes when she/he is too twisted up inside to know what the heck to do next.

I'm also so very tired of celebrities responding by "getting treatment". I respect addictions and their healing process. But I can't help but feel the person is actively relinquishing accountability. To put it in other words: if you're man enough to not be able to keep your dick in your pants, be a man and stand up for what you did. Proud of your prowess, deception proficiency and extra-marital dexterity? Then don't act like you are the perplexed, helpless victim of "a disease".

Despite what this sounds like, I want to point out how through this post I am refraining from judging the act itself. I am not saying infidelity is (or isn't) a terrible thing or that whoever commits it will inevitably arrive at a day of reckoning. What people do (or forgive) is their business.

What I'm tired of is how cheaters handle themselves after the fact, how they look upon the mess they've made as if it was a tornado (a huge, inescapable, swirling, destructive force coming out of nowhere from far, far away) that caused it.

What I'm tired of is the lack of variety, the offensive absence of creativity, the same worn out scenario playing out an infinite number of times. How sad it is to see love, that most sacred of things, reduce itself to a cliché, wasted over and over and over again.



Carol Miller said...

Infidelity, more than anything else, at least in the so-called developed world, seeems to be a consequence of vows of fidelity. At other levels of "civilization" it's considered normal. "Men are naturally polygamous," they say. "Men are flirts, men have needs." If it's the woman, it's simpler: she's a slut. Fidelity was invented as a counterbalance to rape and pillage, it kept women viginal, their inheritance intact, so they were locked up or concealed behind a veil, while men scooped up other people's women and children as booty, and created new races and cultures. Apparently, the instinct for this remains intact. Instead of the conquest of the secretary, the assistant, the student or a woman in a bar, why don't more men read more books? They might be less bored. Or maybe they want to prove the hormones are still intact. And then there's always Viagra. "Marriage is an unnatural state," they claim. Then why do they get married? If they worked as hard as they do sneaking around, perhaps their marriages might be less borning. Oh, yes, and then there's "the night with the boys". Hmmmmmm. Less boring?

Mary said...

I could not agree more. When people try to diminish infidelity into a simple thing that just happened, they forget all the numerous betrayals they engaged in while straying. They made many small decisions to risk their relationship while leading up to making the big one -- Do I have this extra drink? Do I let this woman chat me up? Do I go someplace with her to talk where it's quieter? At each juncture, there is an opportunity to stop what is clearly progressing.

Carol Miller said...

By a quirk of fate I happened to watch "Network" yesterday, with its Oscar-winning script by Paddy Chayevsky, in which he deals not only with corporate greed and TV program ratings but infidelity, as well. There's a wonderful scene with Beatriz Straight as the betrayed wife, and a powerful statement on this always-sticky subject. It's not pretty, but says what it means, and when William Holden's character's affair with Faye Dunaway ends, Ms. Straight, to my infinite satisfaction, does NOT take him back. So there!!!

eren said...

I like your blog a lot, how civilization is so permissive with men and not with women. Incredible!!! Instead of men taking their own responsabilities after the infidelity they try to blame everyone except them. A father always tells their family about the beautiful families they have until one day you find out that the father cheated on the mother, and the consequence is telling everyone how bad everyone is or was, how unhappy he was in the relation, and instead of being a family problem it is just a huge problem spread over everyone trying to justify himself about what the father did. O my!!!! Isn´t it funny!!!!
But why? well education itself no more no less. Men can do everything but women can´t.

Anonymous said...

Dushka, your post on the topic assumes that the husband is the one cheating. Did you think of making the post gender neutral? Did I miss the paragraph that said "If you decided to spread your legs for fun (or whatever the equivalent is for "keep your dick in your pants"), take responsibility"? . Needless to say, I am not endorsing infidelities, I am just pointing out that the post assumes that it’s always men who cheat.


Gabriel Sod

Anonymous said...


I am so glad you bring this up, because I thought about it all through writing this post.

I think a blog (a personal account by definition) should never be neutral. That would be equivalent to faking a distance with something I feel strongly about.

In answer to your question: yes. I did think about this making it gender neutral, and decided against it.

As always, thank you for visiting!