Flip Mode: Advantages of Being Cheated On

Being cheated on is not a winning game. It means you’ve been intentionally misled, deceived, or otherwise tricked so that somebody else could take advantage of a situation involving you. Politicians cheat each other and their constituents as part of their jobs; most of us cheat on the way to work in traffic or in a wily business call aimed to benefit shareholders. It’s downright unfair, and so is the world at large. But sometimes a blunt shove in a new direction is what we need to get some peace of mind. Without asserting that being cheated on feels great, this article aims to demonstrate that there are advantages to having been cheated on–namely, enlightened perspectives, a stronger sense of yourself, and a transformed understanding of relationship fundamentals.

The first requirement for pulling yourself out from under the wrong side of the affair is to get your self-worth, dignity, and pride back, because each gets rightly shot down upon realization of a lover’s illicit affair. (This step also applies to getting over a hefty parking ticket, but you’ve got to start somewhere.) And before going too far down the rabbit hole of haughtiness, consider this: it’s easier to overcome being cheated if you take yourself out of the equation. This act is not only rejuvenating and liberating, but also a great step toward compassion and empathy. Recently, readers commented on Mark Oppenheimer’s “Infidelitorial” in the NY Times, offering fresh takes on marriage and infidelity. Richard, from Weston, CT, believes that the reason people split after an affair “is rooted more in the bruised ego of the spouse who is uninvolved than any focus on the value of the relationship,” and that infidelity is symptomatic of a deeper problem in the relationship than the root of all evil. Johnny, a 29-year-old New Yorker, points out that plenty of socialites boast their successes to eager ingénues thusly: “Years back the book ‘Open Marriage‘ came out telling us to share our spouse with others for a better marriage. Ten years later the same husband and wife authors espoused ‘The New Fidelity’ of staying true to one’s spouse.” The driving point is that the further inside our psyches we step, the less we can properly advance based on someone else’s experiences or suggestions.

Stephanie Coontz also contributes to the Times–her book, “Marriage, a History (From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage)” spins a lengthy yarn around the history of marriage’s ring finger. From blindly arranged marriages to the contemporary Super Spouse–epitomized as the Sun and all the stars in the Heavens–perspective plays a dominating role in the interplay of relationships. The more one plunges into the annals of the institution, the easier it becomes to see that “when we rely on our partners for everything, any hint of betrayal is terrifying,” and Coontz thinks this is our national problem: we accord too much sanctity and authority to the monogamous relationship. Under such dogmatic circumstances, it’s borderline heretical to condone a partner’s engagement with the occasional floozie, let alone extensive affairs.

Back to what counts: our relationship with the one we’re with, and not the one they might have on the side. Oppenheimer himself reminds his readers that “our actions mark us as a compassionate people, that in truth we are always ready to forgive an adulterer, except the one we are married to.” Chicagoan Lowell D. Thompson delves deeper: “the real issue is not monogamy vs. polygamy, it’s integrity vs. hypocrisy…any time we make promises we don’t keep and then expect others to keep theirs there’s trouble ahead.” We’ve been cheated out of navigating ourselves through an inconceivably confusing world in lieu of superficially pleasant interactions and empty assurances. Being cheated on is a massive kick in the pants, but humans are masters at recovery. “The cultural expectation, Coontz reminds us, “should be if there’s infidelity, the marriage is more important than fidelity,” because when acceptance outgrows cynicism and egotism, society blossoms with integrity and foresight.

Lauren Allende is a Los Angeles based blogger/journalist, writing for Gleeden about all things relationships. Please contact Lauren at [email protected] for coverage of topics relating to extramarital dating online

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