In the past few months I have learned that many of my students think that infidelity is an inevitable outcome in a relationship, much to my dismay. (Sure, we have a cultural problem with personal accountability and a 24/7 news media that portrays celebs hopping in and out of bed with one another with barely any negative outcomes, but I'll save that for another day.)
Yes, the belief that infidelity is inevitable is distressing, but the main reason my students offer for why people cheat is that "they're bored." Yes, out of boredom. And sure, that's what they believe, but is boredom being used as a somewhat more palatable excuse for something else? Because I have to say, it strikes me that people typically don't cheat because they're "bored," but because their partners aren't meeting their needs. And in the case of teenagers, is "not meeting my needs" synonymous with "he/she is not going as far as I would like?" Do teens cheat because their partners aren't doing everything they'd like sexually? Or because they think it is easier to cheat than to actually have an honest conversation about needs, desires, feelings and potential problems in their current relationship? (Thank you, text messaging, for hindering our ability to speak face to face.)
So let me just put it out there: I don't think that cheating is ever acceptable. If you're a stand-up guy or girl, you deal with your relationship issues before you betray someone's trust, body, sexual health, feelings and so on.
But there's a difference between cheating because you're bored and cheating because you are emotionally drawn to someone else. All are bad, don't get me wrong. But from a emotional pain perspective, the latter (to me) is far more painful.
I recently had the chance to see a screening of "Last Night," a film that's being released by Tribeca Films on May 6. In it, Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington play a married couple who, on one particular night, are faced with temptation -- of two different varieties (and in the forms of Eva Mendes and the surprisingly delicious Guillaume Canet). Sure, in the end, the temptation is sex, but one is about lust and the other comes from love. (And no, it doesn't end as you might think.)
In fact, I wanted it to play out differently for someone. And I feel guilty about it because it goes against everything I believe in. (But no worries, I won't give away the story. No spoilers here.) But that's why movies are an escape. They allow us to be and do things that we wouldn't even consider in our real lives.
But it does leave me with three questions that I shall pose to all of you: Is the fantasy better than the reality? Is it possible to be in love with two people at the same time? Is emotional infidelity worse than physical infidelity? I have my opinions. What are yours?
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