When I started reading about infidelities it was mostly to help with separating my shame from guilt, regret from remorse, the monster from the man. I was seeking perspective on my feelings of pain and loss and on the pain and loss I caused others.
I was also looking for a reason to for hope. It was a fool’s errand.
One of the things it has done is open my eyes to how much we judge other human beings for being human beings. We hurt people we love. That isn’t new.
Hurting the ones we love is never the intention, but nevertheless, it is the outcome of infidelity and the firewall of lies we build.
I was reminded yesterday how other people’s motives don’t matter. The only time we care about motives is when our behaviors don’t reflect other people’s expectations. We judge the actions of others but ask to be judged for our motives.
The act of accepting the infidelity – and the reactions of the betrayed – to continue to love people as people is the ultimate act of love. It’s pretty amazing to witness…but it isn’t my experience.
From the upper echelons of the political and military elite to Angie down the block, infidelity bespeaks of narcissism, duplicity, immorality, and perfidy.
Contemporary discourse on infidelity can be summed up as follows:
- Infidelity must be a symptom of a relationship gone awry.
- If you have everything you need at home, there is should be no reason to cheat.
- Men cheat out of boredom and fear of intimacy.
- Women cheat out of loneliness and a hunger for intimacy.
- The faithful partner is the mature, committed, realistic one
- The one who strays is selfish, immature and lacks control.
- Affairs are always harmful and can never help a marriage or be accommodated.
- The only way to restore trust and intimacy is through truth-telling, repentance, and absolution.
- Divorce affords more self-respect than forgiveness.
The moralizing tone of the current conversation tends to pin the “problem” on deficient couples or individuals, sidestepping the bigger questions that the scope of the phenomenon might invite….Surely millions of renegade lovers can’t all be pathological.
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs
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