One thing that baffles me about cheating is that people think it is “complicated.” There’s even a relationship designation for that on online dating sites — you aren’t married or single, no, you’re in a state of “it’s complicated.” Apparently, infidelity is so full of nuance and subtlety that only enlightened sophisticates can understand it. If you judge cheating as wrong, you’re just not looking at it correctly. It’s like one of those optical puzzles. You may just see gray dots and squiggles signifying nothing. But no! Look harder! If you squint long enough, it reads — “I’m not a bad person.” Can’t you see that?!
You don’t see that? Well, clearly you lack the intelligence and open-mindedness necessary to reconcile deceit with good character. Maybe you lack compassion for the “broken” people who cheat. Clearly you failed to consider all the extenuating circumstances that led to having an affair. The blame for this can be shared. But you don’t see that with your one-size fits all approach to cheaters. Everyone’s a baddie!
Chump Lady is simple minded. If you are married, don’t fuck people you aren’t married to. If you’re single, don’t fuck married people.
(Okay, if you’re technically married, but you filed DIVORCE papers, this doesn’t apply to you.)
My cheating ex always used to like to say ” The truth is somewhere in between.” A pretty good motto for a serial cheater. To him, truth was situational. Fluid. It really depended how you looked at it. “Did I mean it when I said I loved you? Well… yes, in that moment I meant it.” And then 20 minutes later, when he was waddling off to his next dalliance, he did not mean it. The truth was somewhere in between. How convenient.
“It’s all very complicated” is a convenient ruse for crappy behavior. If there were actual ambiguity, cheaters wouldn’t need to hide what they were doing. There would be no need for secrets, and hidden cell phones, and clandestine dating profiles if this were kosher or open for debate. The fact that it is wrong, (or perceived as wrong by us dim-witted moralists), means that they hide it.
It’s only after a cheater is busted that they want to spin the situation as “complicated.” So long as you’re in the dark, there is no reason to discuss it. But once it is exposed, it’s in a cheater’s best interest to muddy those waters.
Moral murk… the cheater’s friend.
This column ran previously. Feel free to comment!