The shocking thing about talking to a room full of women who have been cheated on is how wonderful they all are. It doesn’t seem to matter whether they are beautiful, clever, funny, rich, successful, skinny, or innately suspicious of men, women get cheated on. They have done since the beginning of time, and they always will. It’s not just us – men get cheated on, too. That’s right, you may think men are scoundrels, but according to the experts, women are just as bad.
No matter who is doing the cheating, affairs are destructive – to relationships and to individuals. They cut through to the core of a couple, rip out their stability and leave them hollow. There’s not just the broken trust to deal with, but the insult, the hurt, the bereavement for the relationship you had (or thought you had). The shame, the resentment, the anger… the list goes on.
Some relationships shatter on impact. Others soldier on, trying to put it behind them, only to wake up one morning years down the line and realise that there is nothing left between them. Then there are those who find their way back to each other – whose affairs bring them closer together. Can this be possible? According to the experts, yes it can.
Whatever effect an affair has, there is no escaping the fact that it forces you to hold a magnifying glass up to your relationship and a mirror up to yourself and to ask some deep, meaningful questions.
Some relationship experts answered questions on cheating. Here are there responses to questions readers of their columns on several blogs asked.
Do men cheat more than women?
“It seems like men cheat on women a lot more than women cheat on men. Why is that? Why do they do it?”
Maria says, “Actually, both sexes cheat. Although men seem to cheat more, this could be just that they get caught more than women, so we hear about it more. As a relationship coach, what I’ve seen is a lot of women embracing emotional affairs because they feel lonely. Perhaps with a guy at work who you get on with, or an old friend or boyfriend who you have rekindled a friendship with on Facebook. Often, women don’t admit that it’s an emotional affair – they may not even realise themselves. But it is a form of cheating and it is just as destructive to a relationship as a s*xual affair.”
I was cheated on, now I am a cheater. Can I change?
“I found out that my fiancé was cheating on me a few months before we were due to get married. Since then, I’ve been punishing men. I think all men – apart from my father and brother – are cheaters. So when I fell in love again, I cheated on my new partner so he couldn’t do it to me first. I sabotage every relationship I get in to.”
Maria says, “You’re still dating the ghost of your past relationship. The relationship is dead and over, but the issues are still alive. Until you can forgive – and I’m not saying you should forget – it will continue to follow you. The fact that you have faith in your father and brother shows you still hold some hope for men, so this is about you learning to heal yourself to a point where you can move on. How do you heal from it? Give yourself a break. As women, we try to blame ourselves for things that hurt.”
Is it possible to recover from an affair?
“I always said that if it happened to me, I would be out the door. Then it happened to me and I stayed. I question myself why, and question whether it means I am weak. But the truth is I stay because I love him.” “I left my husband when I found out he had cheated. I still love him and he wants us to get back together, but I just can’t get past it.”
Evelyn says, “Remember that everything we go through in a relationship is an opportunity to become closer as a couple.”
Hannah says, “Healing is about breaking down the walls we have put up to protect ourselves. Can the relationship recover from that? Can you get the trust back? I think you can – and I think you can have a stronger bond. But it takes both sides to be compassionate and forgiving, and if you are able to empathise with each other during the forgiving process, you are bound to become closer as a result.”
“Also, what do you need now for yourself? What do you need to see, to do, and to feel in order to recover?”
Maria says, “Ask yourself, ‘What does our relationship need? What was the relationship like before the affair? What drove us to the affair? What is the relationship now? What does it need now?’”
Cheating ends in pain; it ends in anguish–hearts break, lives messed up, but it still happens so often. Why do you think people cheat? [AQ]