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Infidelity: A Social Taboo of the 21st Century

Starting off this topic with some statistics on divorce rates across Europe and U.S, we surprisingly discover that the 21st century faces the highest numbers of divorces:

Belgium: 70%

Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, Hungary and the Czech Republic: 60%

U.S.A: 53% 

If we think of the causes that lead a couple to divorce, we could say that there are numerous such as different personalities, arguments over parenting styles or financial situations and of course, infidelity. However, the most common cause of divorce is the latest.

Do Men Cheat More Than Women?

Cheating is undoubtedly an action that, believe it or not, affects both partners. Infidelity has been superficially discussed and condemned throughout all the past centuries without truly understanding what makes individuals have extramarital affairs. It is indeed true that however, we look at this subject, cheating is inexcusable and whatever the reason behind it, one of the partners has been taken for granted, hurt and abandoned. Usually, the “victims” in such scenario are women since men and considered to be more prone to infidelity.  That could be a result of the differential illustration of women’s and men’s behaviours and weaknesses since over 80% of public opinions attribute infidelity to men. It is certainly a wrong perception as recent studies suggest that women and men cheat at the same rate. Whether we talk about emotional, sexual, passive or active infidelity, both genders are likely to cheat on their partners.

But…..

Are we genetically programmed to be unfaithful? No.

Are we taught to be monogamous? No

Is it our choice to cheat? Yes.

Contrary to the social belief that we are born to have more than one relationship or that religions and institutions taught the humankind to create marriage, faithfulness towards one partner is a choice.

Who is To Blame? Both Partners!

When infidelity is discovered, all the blame falls on the shoulders of the cheater. In the end s/he consciously accepted to begin two relationships and may as well be profoundly aware of the consequences. However, the journey to infidelity starts silently, yet loud enough to make both partners aware of the signals:

  1. Routine-this may be the primary signal that indicates some weak points of the relationship. After few years of relationship/marriage, couples begin to put less effort in attracting each other. The days begin and end the same, the conversations are more or less about the same subjects on a regular basis. Random discussions, trips, gifts, romantic dinners are no longer part of the courtship. The routine does not only settle at this level, but also in the physical appearances and….bed sheets!
  2. Selfishness-in a relationship/marriage, one of the partners has a tendency of being more malleable, while the other may be more dominant. While a combination of different personality traits will spice up the relationship, it can also tear it apart. Selfish partners who demand or expect the other half to regularly fulfill their desires, often value the benefits of the relationship more than the person by their side. When a partner feels ignored or that their wishes or personal plans come second best are more likely to find approval and appreciation elsewhere.
  3. Lack of communication-in the hectic modern world we live in today, we are more preoccupied with building a career or chase our goals than with our personal life. It is absolutely fine to be determined in pursuing your wishes, but it is not alright to forget about each other. A relationship does not solely survive on the statement “…until death do us part“. Couples often forget that they never know each other enough, no matter how many years they have been together. Spending quality time together talking, debating and sharing opinions is what reduces the barriers and builds trust.
  4. Incompatibility-most of the times, the person who has been cheated on tends to say that they “have given all they had” to keep the relationship/marriage alive. Undeniably, when we dearly love, we commit and invest in the union with the purpose of making it solid. But is “everything we have” equal to “everything our partner wants”? Your goals, approaches or methods in dealing with life, hobbies etc., may not be the same as hers/his. And these aspects are discovered in time. A relationship begins based on attraction and is build on discovery. No matter how much you wish s/he could be the one and only, do not be temped to overlook the differences between you two. If they are workable, it is great, but if you feel that there is a constant disconnection between you two, do not lie to yourself thinking that “you are fine”. If you sense the disconnection, the chances are that s/he feels it too and ideally would be to discuss it rather than hiding it under the rug.

So What? Should We Accept Infidelity?

No, but it is important to know that infidelity can be avoided if both partners are open about their feelings long before the space between them appears. Infidelity occurs when a void space has been allowed to develop. No matter how much people say “I did not see this coming”, they actually deny the fact that the relationship has been on the rocks for a while. One side has completely ignored the flame turning off while the other one allowed emotions of frustration or unhappiness to build up for too long without discussing them with their partner.

Commitment is not only made of loyalty, but also awareness and involvement in each other’s life.

Rather than playing the blame game, couples should learn to communicate more and deal with their difference long before they decide whether they are better off with somebody else or not.

Image: Huffington Post

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