What is Cheating exactly?
My dear critique partner and author in her own right, Viviane Brentanos, posed the question recently in her blog. Perhaps the complicity of the subject resonates with you, as it did me.
“Ok – someone sleeps with someone else. By today’s moral criteria, that is considered betrayal but what about mind cheating? Hands up out there who have ever cheated on their partner mentally? Is harboring lustful designs on someone other than your spouse/partner just as wrong as going through with the physical act?
Why is the emphasis always on sex? A simple kiss, a hug, a stroking of the hand, anything vaguely intimate – is that not cheating? Sharing a clandestine glass of wine – is that not betrayal? Do we convince ourselves because full consummation does not take place we are not hurting anyone? What constitutes a relationship? I do find it rather ironic that in modern day thinking, you are not in a relationship unless you are sleeping together. So even if you spent time together, laugh, kiss, hug, joke, generally enjoy the company of someone, you do not have a ‘real’ relationship because you are not doing the deed.
What precludes loving more than one man (or woman) not only in a lifetime, but concurrently? What indeed? Who decided the rules? Dare I suggest man-made religion? We often hear…he /she is the love of my life…my soulmate. Granted, we may believe this at the time. We see our present partner through those too-oft deceptive rose-coloured specs but how can we be sure? It’s a vast world out there, filled with, perhaps, a barrel full of potential soul mates. I believe the problem we face is– no two people view this matter in the same light and I think it all comes back to the green-eyed monster, jealousy. No one wants to share a loved-one, no matter how much the “errant” partner will tell you it can be done. Which brings us back to physical v emotional infidelity. Will we ever figure out this game of love?”
I hope we never figure it out because it is as personal as the individual. Some of us require absolute attention from our beloved. Others find separate holidays and weeks apart the glue of relational longevity. Some define monogamy in purely physical terms and are not bothered by their partner spending time with members of the opposite sex. Others are more jealous by the shared laughs and smiles than walking in on a tumble in the sheets.
In general our society traditionally defines infidelity by the sex act, but why should society have a say in our individual hearts and minds? If nothing else good comes from our over exposure to the exponentially growing amount of information produced by mankind, perhaps the fact that we all have our own individual needs and feeling should be central. Freedom should no longer be limited to democratic politics or choice of job, place of residence and religion. Freedom, should be choice of the way we live in our relationships as well. Societal boundaries are being pushed and challenged daily as we grow into the future.
Change is always messy, so to, meaningful relationships. It is through the give and take of relationship that each of us must decide with what we are comfortable. Whether it is open marriage or traditional coupling where no appreciable contact is desirable with members of the opposite sex that are not the spouse–it should be the sum of the hearts and minds of the individuals involved. Messy? Sure. But anything worth negotiating is.
Now all we have to do is be ever vigilant to protect each person’s right to make those choices and get our corporate noses out of other people’s decisions.
Love is good. Love is never wasted. It should always be respected in any healthy form.
What, as romance readers, do you think? The boundaries are being pushed in the world of fiction, perhaps even faster than societally. But hasn’t literature always served the function to make us question ourselves?
Christine London lives and works in Los Angeles writing spicy suspenseful tales that include British characters and/or settings. Her next release, Shadows Steal the Light is coming Feb 2011. More about her at www.christinelondon.com. You can reach her on Facebook, My Space and Twitter…oh and on the L.A. beaches, or walking the streets of London. J