When I was a teenager I had a very warped sense of what cheating was. Cheating was always, to me, two people sleeping together in some sort of salacious scandal that would leave another woman in shambles. (Cause of course, according to what I watched on Knots Landing with my grandmother, only men cheated…right?) But with each stage of development I learned a bit more about what cheating actually is. So of course, I finally in the 9th grade found out that girls cheated too when a girl in my Biology class sent me a rather flirty letter where she detailed some very interesting things that she wanted to do with me. At first I was caught off guard because I was told that she had a boyfriend at another school. But the thought of , I don’t know him and he doesn’t go to school here, immediately crept into my mind. And at that point I participated in someone else’s cheating……
It was that very immature feeling that most kids take, that says even though you are contributing to the delinquency of someone else’s morals you are totally uninvolved and not to blame. We have this sense of carelessness when it is not directly causing us pain or discomfort. We only think of the personal gratification as we participate in the nonchalant destruction of someone elses love and emotions. But…out of site, out of mind. As long as we don’t have to deal with it we are detached. We use immature statements like What he don’t know wont hurt him, I don’t love them Hoes, or I don’t owe him nothing…his chick chose me! Adding a bit of personal style and clever banter to the foolish immaturity that we participate in. And as ridiculous as this sort of thing sounds to adults, it is child-like rationale. Very surface in its assessment. Me, Me, Me centered. But as a MAN….or a Woman……we would like to believe that adults are beyond such simple-minded assessments.
So now as an adult my understanding of what cheating is has rounded out into a more holistic view. First of all, if anyone can do it, then the same shame should be assessed to anyone involved. You can’t call a woman a Whore and a man a Pimp for both doing the same thing. (Even though both monikers are awful, we all know that the term Pimp has been way over glorified.) The criticism should be equally distributed across gender lines. Maybe it was the same shock that I encountered with the girl in my Biology class flirting with me that made me think poorly of her even though I was equally shameful in my conduct. We are taught to think that women are held to a higher standard of virtue and as a result we are more accepting of the folly of men. Thusly we have situations where we call famous athletes who sleep with married women Macs while Alicia Keys gets called a Homewrecker. Not cool….. Also, cheating does not have to be singularly defined as sex with someone else. Doing anything with another person that you would not do right in front of your significant other is cheating. It’s out of line and it is careless. Careless of how someone else feels about your flirty words, or sexy looks. Your provocative comments at work about how good your co-worker smells or your emotional conversations with an old high school boyfriend/gilfriend. It’s all cheating. Cheating the person that you are committed to out of the complete self that you are supposed to be giving them. If you consider yourself a grownup and you are still bragging about getting over on someone because you have managed to sneak around them and live a careless life of duality then you may need to re-evaluate what being a grown-up is to you.
Easy gratification is a pathway to short-term pleasure but long-term emptiness. As human beings we have a sense of right and wrong that leads us to a standard of morals. It’s the separation between us and animals in the wild. We don’t have to follow our immediate impulses without regard for how it affects people. We have the choice to do right by people. But in today’s society so many people are going after the gold instead of living by the golden rule. Couple that with the fact that people are so impacted by the “Don’t judge me” mantra of today and people who decide to put ethics aside for the sake of personal pleasure and you have a uncheck behavior that people turn a blind eye to…. Or even worse…we applaud it. We make jokes or act as if we are envious of someone else’s ability to do unsavory things. So in my book, the common complicity of the people on the sideline is just as harmful.
So for the record…………..I’m Judging You! If you are sleeping with someone else’s partner you are WRONG. If you are dismissive of your partner’s feelings as you dishonor your committment to her, you are WRONG. If you think that because you do not personally know the person whose life you are interfering in, you are WRONG. And I am WRONG. Wrong for every time I have sat by and listened to someone speak of their infidelity and not told them that I am not impressed or in support of their poor choices and behavior. We are all wrong and I am Judging! Not judging to the point of condemnation of the person but of their actions. And of their lack of respect and committment. Judging not to stand over someone to express my superiority but to maybe instill a sense of Shame in some of us. That sense of Shame that just maybe will over power the feeling of self-gratification long enough for people think about the right vs the wrong before they cheat.
We can all bounce back from bad choices….. especially when we make them as kids. But how long do we hide behind that excuse if being young and officially become adults?