Note - for an alternative viewpoint, see our related article here called,
Advantages of Cheating?
Is cheating on your wife or girlfriend really a worthwhile endeavor? No matter who you are - everyone eventually gets bored being with the same person after some period of time. Is the solution to that boredom finding someone hot and fresh and new … as a short-term alternative? Or should respect for your relationship outweigh your animal needs? How do environmental variables and collateral damage affect our behavior with respect to cheating? Are the answers to these questions any different for us at midlife than it was in our twenties, or early thirties? Does midlife maturity change anything?
I think the answer to the question of the acceptability of cheating really depends on who you are … on what you have personally lived through in your own past … what your moral and possibly your religious convictions are … the environment you grew up in … what you see happening with the people around you … maybe even what you watch on TV or in the movies. These are all “environmental variables” and they keenly affect what is and is not perceived as acceptable behavior by ourselves and our midlife peers. [Peer acceptability has a huge impact on our individual decisions.] “Collateral damage” is the damage done to those other than the one you are cheating on. Collateral damage might even refer to unintentional damage the cheater may have inflicted upon himself or herself.
When I was in my mid-twenties, I was married to my college sweetheart – and had never in my life cheated on a girlfriend, nor had I been cheated upon. I was no prude – before I was married, I had done my share of sleeping around. But once I was hooked up with the woman who became my wife, it never even crossed my mind to cheat. Nor did the concept of her cheating on me ever enter my mind – until she did! I will always remember the emotional pain I went through when my wife told me she had been having an affair with a guy at work … I just couldn’t fathom it. And I could not tolerate it. I knew within a matter of days that I would not be able to live with the betrayal – and since we had only been married for two years, I made a very clear decision to kick her out, and to end the marriage.
For the next five or six years (until my early thirties), I basically became the boyfriend from hell for a number of nice young women. I had trust issues – I didn’t trust any woman. I dismissed them from a relationship with me for practically any reason. I didn’t really cheat on any girlfriends – they all just had very short shelf-lives. It was like I didn’t want them to get too close – like I didn’t want to expose myself to possibly getting hurt again like I did with my ex-wife. I remember one girlfriend telling me that my ex-wife left her with a mess to clean up (me – I was the mess). The “environmental variable” that affected me was my ex-wife cheating on me. The “collateral damage” was how my ex-wife’s decision to cheat on me affected my own behavior toward other women.
Fast forward to age forty-three. I look around – and I see so many examples of what happens when people cheat on one another. Look at the ASK MIDLIFEBACHELOR section (index on page 1 of the Ask MidlifeBachelor page) write-ins from a 42-year old reader who is being cheated on by his wife of ten years. She is cheating on him, and also destroying his credit – but he hasn’t decided to do anything about it yet probably because of his born-again religion, and the associated church peer influences. [I’m guessing a little bit here.] His “environment” doesn’t permit divorce – and so he resists it … but you can tell he is so hurt over it all.
One of my friends recently split up with his wife after being married for twenty-plus years. He rampantly cheated on her for the fifteen years or so that I have known him. At any particular social event, you never knew if he was going to show up with his wife – or his current girlfriend. Now I never knew his wife very well – but she was a very smart woman (who was not bad looking either) who held a professional job with a large company. I know that she knew that my friend was cheating on her – and I had to wonder what was going through HER mind … why she allowed it to continue for so long … was it for the sake of their two children? Those kids are in their late teens now – and since she did just start divorce proceedings, maybe she did live with it all those years for the sake of the children. Continued on next page >>>