Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cheating In Your 20s

Fidelity is always murky in the 20-something dating scene.

When you’re not quite sure if you’re together and even less certain that he’s the one, it’s tempting to see what else is out there.

But there’s a fine line between keeping an eye out and cheating—you don’t even necessarily have to kiss someone to betray your partner. We’re not going to spell it out, because sometimes you can have drunken makeouts that do less damage than a heart-to-heart.

The problem with cheating is not less that it hurts your partner, and more that it’s bad for you.

The difference between a cheater and someone who’s just found someone else, especially at our age, is that the cheater often still cares about the boyfriend she dicks over. If she were really just bored and ready to move on, she’d break things off, but she doesn’t, because she’s not.

This creates a situation where the cheater is consistently lying to one of the people in her life that she cares about the most. And this is going to fuck with you more in the long run.

When your closest relationships are mired by lies and deception, they start to be less fulfilling for you. You hate yourself for what you’re doing, the other person has no idea, and it just spirals downwards.

But cheating is often so easy to justify. You blame it on the other person’s busy work schedule, his snoring, whatever. It’s never about you.

But if you stop to think about it, you’re probably cheating to fill a void you feel your relationship. Maybe you feel like he’s not paying attention to you. Or you’re worried he won’t stick around and you feel like you’re hedging your bets.

It’s important to evaluate these concerns. Is he really neglecting you to the point that you always feel shitty? Or are your expectations unrealistic in light of a 60-hour workweek? Do you two seem to be drifting apart? Is the relationship salvageable?

Once you’ve figured it out, it’s time to take action. We’re not saying you should tell him, or even sit down and have a heart-to-heart. But you probably should either break up or stop cheating.

So many people think things will be different when they “find the one” or settle down. But if you only know how to be unfaithful in a relationship, how is the mere presence of one person going to undo a lifetime’s worth of bad habits?

To be clear: cheating is not a moral failure on your part. And though the guilt that comes with it often attaches itself to the person you’ve betrayed, the one who’s hurt most is the cheater.

Monogamous relationships are practice for when you do want to settle down. Even if you think you never will, at the very least, they encourage healthy, mutually beneficial interpersonal relationships.