And I’m here to remind you
Of the mess you left when you went away
It’s not fair to deny me
Of the cross I bear that you gave to me
You, oughta know

– Alanis Morrisette.

 Cheating

Last week I was reading a fascinating article in a popular newspaper about the sudden rise in “Infidelity blogs”…that is, married women who have blogs dedicated to stories about their extra marital affairs, or single women who happily have relationships with married men , and then write all about it. Anonymously of course.

One of the things that struck me about such blogs is that quite a few of them have  “confession” or “confessional” in the title! Noooo!

Let’s make this very clear…The Good Girl Confessional is most definitely about a single woman dating single guys behind the picket fence!

Of course it did get me thinking about why some women do choose to jump the proverbial picket fence and end up having an affair. (Yes, I know a lot of guys do it too – but I’m really thinking about the chick factor here).

In writing this blog one of the things I realised was that I’ve had to explore my own attitude towards infidelity. As I was researching and talking to people, some pretty strong feelings welled up.

What the hell is with infidelity?! I just don’t understand it.  There, I’ve said it.

If you’re reading this and you happen to be having an extra marital affair, or if you’re sleeping with an attached guy, I’m not trying to piss you off!  I hope I don’t.  I believe in people’s right to live their lives however they see fit, for sure. I just think that lines gets really blurry when there are other people involved – a partner at home, and /or kids.

Now, that’s my opinion (and thanks for understanding that I am entitled to one) but I also understand that the rise of so many blogs talking about infidelity means that a lot of women who may disagree with me! That’s okay. I have women in my life who I love and admire who have found themselves in this situation. They know my views and it’s never hindered those friendships.  I also know plenty of women who have been cheated on. I’ve seen the impact that it makes. I’ve met men who are carrying the battle scars because their partners cheated and they now fear all women are capable of it.

Everyone has an opinion on it. It’s emotive.

It’s like when I was a smoker many moons ago. I knew on all levels that the dangers of smoking were real. I knew this shit could give me cancer. I just convinced myself otherwise because I was addicted and selfish and didn’t want to give it up. I almost convinced myself that the consequences of smoking could only happen to other people, not me. Of course non-smokers always told me the facts and had strong opinions about me blowing my second-hand cancer causing smoke anywhere near them. And fair enough.

Perhaps my negative view of infidelity was formed because I’ve been on the receiving end of it and it’s absolutely crap! My childhood sweetheart, Mr. Leo (whom I haven’t talked about previously, but is actually the baby daddy of my eldest child)  was one of those  guys that seemed to struggle with the concept of ‘keeping it in his pants’. And yes, by ‘it’ I mean his penis.

We were immature kids when we met. The teenage love affair lasted from the tender age of 14 until I turned 22 (me, he was slightly older). I actually married him at 18, and had a baby at 21.  Good grief!! What were we thinking?!  If my kids even entertained the idea of marrying at that ludicrous age, I’m sure I would be completely freaking out!

Mr. Leo was a typical Aussie bloke, a tradie with an all-year-round sun tan and he loved a beer (make that several beers) and yes, he had a Ute. He had a great sense of humour and sincerely speaks like Russell Crowe (think…”babe…babe…you alright, babe?”).

He wasn’t all bad – he had an infectious grin and a big heart. In fact when my 17 years with the Taurus ended, Mr Leo (and his wife) called me to find out if I was okay. That says a lot about them. It was kind and I hadn’t spoken to them in years.

I strongly suspect Mr Leo was already seeing someone else when I  finally ended the relationship. Actually, for a long time I strongly suspected that the lion was having extra marital flings (hmm, could it have been lipstick marks around buttons on shirts that smelled of someone else’s perfume that gave it away?).  I was at home nursing a baby while he was nursing hangovers. What I realised was that having a child was a life altering and amazing experience for me and while the Leo loved the idea of it, he was just a kid himself.

Affair or not he is, 20 years on, still married to her…so my rationale is that even if he’d been having an affair with her, theirs is a marriage that has endured. They are just way better suited than he and I ever were.

Never once though did it occur to me to cheat on the Leo.

Nor the Taurus. Ever. I walked into my relationship with the Taurus strangely without trust issues. It would have been easy to have, but I trusted him. The Taurus would end up hurting me years later, sure, but certainly not by having an affair. I’ve no doubt that he was always sexually faithful to me. Which is proof that two people can be together for years and years and never jump the fence. Certainly I can say that I never had a desire to.

Yes, we’ve all been flattered by a little bit of attention from someone else. People can bat their eye lids at you, or someone may get flirty with you in the office, or compliment you. Why is it that some people can take that with a grain of salt and others take the next step, and end up having an affair?

As I’ve never had an affair, I have no first-hand experience on the subject.

It’s part of my dating criteria. You must be single – i.e. You must NOT be in a relationship, or a marriage or living with someone.  (I know, so fussy, right?).

Now, I’m not holding myself up here as some pillar of society but I’m not apologetic either for my lack of cheating experience! I have very liberal views on other things, as you have figured out by now.

Betrayal is a bitch and it can come in many forms – sexual, financial, emotional.

My personal view is that it erodes trust and does serious damage, especially if the innocent party (i.e. the partner at home) has all the faith in the world in their partner is being loyal.

According to the article I was reading, blogs like True Wife Confessions have had over 3500 women confessing to their Infidelity. That’s a whole lot of hanky panky ! So I checked it out (of course) along with other sites in the same vain…and I was a bit disturbed by some confessions. Yes, some sounded quite pleased but some were sincerely hating themselves for having the affair. Yeesh.

When I started The Good Girl Confessional, I had the initial idea creating a “confessional room” – a place where people could anonymously talk about their dating experiences, and their sexual concerns without fear of judgement or reprisal. That is still a goal for me, (if I can ever get my head around technology and stop being a technophobe),  especially after I blogged about Oral sex, and touched on S&M and had so many private messages from women who didn’t want me to publish their thoughts on the matter, but really wanted to share their experience with someone. I’m pretty honoured that they felt they could share with me.

It probably didn’t occur to me that it might end up being a full-blown confessional room full of tales of infidelity. I’m not naive.  We are all adults here and we know that affairs happen and that women are most definitely just as capable of having an affair as a man.

We’ve all seen films and read books about infidelity. Thanks to Fatal Attraction the term “bunny boiler” is in common use! It’s interesting that the woman having the affair is always portrayed as being a man eater, a femme fatale, slightly unhinged (what about the guy?!).

It’s interesting to note that when I post inspirational quotes by Jennifer Aniston on The Good Girl Confessional Facebook page, there are always lots of ‘likes’, as opposed to those I post by Angelina Jolie. Coincidence? Nah. People have an opinion about this! She may have been working her arse off for Unicef and created a beautiful multicultural family, but damn it – she stole someone’s husband! Rightly or wrongly, society often has these views.

Yet, I know a very lovely women, educated, intelligent and composed who is madly in love with a married man. She is the last person I would have assumed to be having an affair. She admits that her feelings for him went on for many years and they always shared an intense and emotional friendship (with him, but not his wife).  After many years, things became physical. While she has struggled with feelings of guilt about his wife and children, she is also more than willing to continue seeing her man once a week (often without anything physical going on). She says she loves him and is adamant that she has no desire to break up his marriage.

She’s willing to forgo the things we might seek in a relationship, like having him openly in her life, because how could they explain the nature of their union? She lives with the fact that each night he goes home and plays happy families with his wife and kids. She goes home every night alone. She lives on the high of stolen kisses, lunch dates and occasional sex.

I’m no psychologist but it seems to me that part of the lure might be that, having been hurt when her husband left her, perhaps being in love with someone who is unattainable seems like less of a risk than someone who is committed and might walk out later? Here’s the unescapable fact though. When you fall for someone, and they are committed to someone else, there’s a high probability that you will get hurt regardless.

There is a high likelihood that he’d walk away from the mistress if his feelings of guilt got the better of him, or if his wife starts to suspect something is going on. Would this man really walk away from the established marriage that is real for the risk of the fantasy, especially if it means he might lose his wife, his kids, his reputation and his money in a divorce settlement?

An affair in some ways is just that, isn’t it? A fantasy. An escape from reality.

You certainly don’t have to worry about the day-to-day realities of a relationship so of  course it seems easy and uncomplicated. It’s all about two people sharing moments, not a life. It’s all freshly powdered skin poured into lingerie and heels, I’m guessing. (Yes, I know it sounds a lot like normal dating but the difference is, dating another single person means there’s hope of a lasting relationship and no third parties are in the background that could get hurt!).

So I can imagine it is leaving the boredom of a life you didn’t imagine, or seeking comfort in the arms of another if your man isn’t attentive, or he’s abusive or he’s having an affair himself, or if you’ve just grown “out of love”, that leads people into affairs…Maybe it’s the high of hiding behind corners, or the thrill of almost getting caught? Or maybe some are a little damaged, and are drawn to those that will leave them or not commit to them? I’m sure also that some people don’t willingly set out to have an affair but find themselves in that situation? What happens when you step over that invisible line of propriety and loyalty you’ve previously had set in your mind?  Maybe there are a thousand reasons (or are they excuses?).

Or maybe it’s possible you unexpectedly fall for someone and secretly hope that his feelings for you will be stronger than those for his current partner? It happens, right? People do leave relationships for the person they are having an affair with.  Which raises more questions.

If he wasn’t faithful to his partner, why is going to be faithful to you? If things go wrong in your relationship, or get a little mundane,  is his automatic response to look elsewhere? How can you really build trust in a relationship that is founded on mistrust?

For me, questions about morality and respect come up. Respect for self and of others. I’m wondering if you have an affair, are those values constantly challenged or just put on the shelf?

Gah! So many questions!

If someone is unhappy enough that they are seeking emotional or sexual  gratification elsewhere, there are surely plenty of options, such as talking to your partner about how you’re feeling. Perhaps seeking relationship counselling or counselling for yourself, or even leaving the relationship first before you jump the fence.

If you are single but you are into married men, as some of these infidelity blogs suggest, surely there are a lot of single guys who simply don’t want to commit. Lord knows I’ve met a few! They are definitely out there.  If it’s commitment you are seeking, I’m guessing the already attached guy is clearly not that into commitment if he’s jumping the fence!

It’s not easy dating. It’s gets harder once you’re in your 40’s. People have wounds and scars. A lot of people have dealt with infidelity. The more people you meet the more obvious it is that when people feel betrayed, they carry hurt. It damages some people’s ability to trust and it really just makes things far more complicated than maybe they need to be.

Being in a relationship requires commitment from two people. There are no guarantees in life but I’m a believer that there is always hope where you find love. As a single chick (whose heart has been broken more than once), but who knows what love feels like, I will say that there is no greater feeling in the world.  It seems crazy to me then that you would risk losing someone you love by jumping in the sack for some rompy pompy with someone else?

I think the old adage that “What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive” is apt here. You can fool lots of people, but you can only fool yourself for so long. And maybe your partner will never find out (or the partner of your paramour), but you will know, right? What if they were to find out? Could your current affair survive? Could their marriage survive?

It’s unknowable until it happens, I’m guessing.

My grandmother had many pearls of wisdom, one of them being “don’t cut your neighbour’s grass.”  It’s an oldie but a goodie.  In other words, don’t jump the picket fence people (or if you have or are planning to at least be honest about the possible risks and consequences, and that there are more than two people involved, whether you like it or not!).

I’m so fascinated  to hear your tales and your opinions!

References:

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life/infidelity-blogs–the-perils-of-revealing-all-20130725-2qkr4.html

http://www.truewifeconfessions.com