Cheating 101

Illustration by Ed Appleby
Illustration by Ed Appleby

Dealing with infidelity

By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor

Dealing with infidelity can be extremely difficult, especially because it’s very personal and you can’t always discuss it with those closest to you and expect to receive an unbiased answer.

Going to your friends or family for advice can be problematic, mostly because they think the best of you and in their opinion anyone who cheats on you isn’t worthy of your attention. Though this may be true in a lot of cases, I think dealing with infidelity is something that a couple can’t generalize, mostly because such complicated emotions are involved.

Most often infidelity isn’t the full issue unto itself, it’s a symptom of other issues. For me, I’ve been cheated on three times in my illustrious and limited dating career. The worst of them was because when it came down to it, my boyfriend at the time just didn’t respect me as an individual. He expected me to be like all the girlfriends he had had before, and constantly compared me to them. In the end it wasn’t the cheating that broke us up, but his nagging and constant criticism. Another time, my boyfriend cheated because he said he didn’t feel emotionally fulfilled within our relationship. His saying so made me realize I wasn’t either, and I came to the conclusion that we both needed very different things from our partners.

The reason I’m saying all this isn’t to bond over cheating men, but to point out that different scenarios are the result of different issues.

To prevent any issue of infidelity from forming I believe it’s important to establish boundaries very early in the relationship. I’m not an extremely jealous person, but I expect my significant other to follow the same rules they have set down for me. Previously I have been in open relationships, where we were free to see or hook up with other people, and that worked for us for the most part, because we had set the boundary that we were together, and that no longterm relationship would form out of these other flings. Currently I’m in a monogamous relationship, and that works also because I know that I can trust him just as much as he trusts me. Setting ground rules over what constitutes as cheating will prevent confusion later on. I mean, what if you consider a kiss to be unfaithful, while your partner does not?

For couples dealing with multiple sexualities, further ground rules need to be established. If you have a bisexual or pansexual/omnisexual partner, do you consider them forming sexual relationships with the same gender as a breach of your relationship, or are you okay with that as long as it’s not a romantic relationship?

Discussing these things beforehand will keep your partner informed as to what you expect of them. But of course, these discussions don’t always happen, so what do you do in the wake of the deed?

I think as an individual you need to determine fault. Never blame the person outside of your relationship, no matter how tempting that might be. It’s always easier to blame the outside party because you have no real emotional attachment to them, but they’re not the one who made the commitment to you. Though I’ve never been the “other woman,” I have friends who have been. It’s not their fault your partner cheated, just like it’s not their fault if you continue to let your significant other be unfaithful to you without repercussions.

You also need to establish whether or not you can move on from this. I have forgiven people for cheating on me and moved on with the relationship without much issue. Our eventual breakups were the result of other matters. But there is one case where the cheating occurred with my best friend at the time, and though I tried to move on from that I just couldn’t because it was such a large breach of trust. You need to determine for yourself how forgiving you will be, if forgiveness is possible at all. But don’t just be a doormat either. If the infidelity is recurring you might want to think about how much your lover respects you if they continue to disregard your feelings or commitment to each other.