‎”Cheating is promising something that is unnatural for you and then behaving naturally. It’s not cheating if you make your partner aware of it beforehand. It’s about the lie, not so much the act.” –the Self.  

The quote is actually from one of my dearest and wisest sister-friends, La Rivers. In fact, I call her my muse and she often serves as my spiritual guide. She speaks the truth and is always right about people and their motivations. Once again, I completely agree with her. I think cheating is more about dishonesty than it is about the actual act. I just don’t think many of us are ready to be completely honest in our relationships.

La and I have always said that cheating is not an absolute deal breaker for us. Yes, it’s wrong, but why is it wrong? The truth is that when you make a commitment/promise to be monogamous and then, break that promise therein lies the deceit and problem. For me (and presumably for La), I don’t think monogamy is the most natural thing and understand how hard it can be to maintain it. I know that’s controversial, but it’s what I honestly believe.

One of my other sister-friends suspects that her husband is cheating on her…again. They’ve been married for over 15 years and have three kids. Throughout their marriage, they’ve both “stepped out” at various times — some trysts were discovered and others were not. Somehow, they have always managed to get past it and save their marriage. Truly, they are both committed to their vow of, “Till death do us part!”

My sister-friend told me that she’d found a woman’s number in her husband’s pants pocket. Classic scenario. Under most circumstances, I would’ve told my sister-friend not to overreact. But, with her husband’s track record, it was probably what she thought it was. She said she was furious! I asked, “Why?” Hadn’t they been down this road all too many times before, whether it be his acts of indiscretion or hers?

Needless to say, she couldn’t believe my reaction. I knew it was time for some tough love. I was exhausted from the cycle and so I know she had to be. I’d been through each of these “revelations” over the past fifteen years and was just there for her as a friend. Now, I had to be a real friend and tell her the truth.

“I don’t see why you and [her husband] keep up this game!” I went on to explain that they were clearly living the lie of monogamy. Every time one of them would get caught, they’d have it out, make up and vow to be monogamous. Instead, I suggested that they be honest with each other and maybe try developing an understanding about extramarital activity.  

You would’ve thought I told her to sacrifice a goat. She basically cursed me out and said, “That might work for YOU, but that’s not gonna work in this house.” Well, my dear, that’s actually what’s happening in your house already. I get it, though! For many, anything beyond the traditional concept of marriage can be hard to digest.

I actually have several sister-friends who are married and have developed “understandings” with their husbands. I tell you this, in none of those relationships is cheating ever an issue. Now, they fight about money and who’s going to take the kids to school, but none of them have ever called me about their husband cheating on them.

Don’t get me wrong; this is not a PSA for so-called “open marriages.” The great majority of my sister-friends are in monogamous marriages and relationships (or at least I think they are). What I am saying is that the best relationships are built on honesty and trust. And, the core crimes in cheating are dishonesty and a break of trust. Cheating involves sneaking around, covering up, and lying; it’s a covert operation of dishonesty.

So my suggestion to my sister-friend was that she and her husband talk openly and honestly about their true feelings. For them, cheating was obviously not a deal breaker, but the endless cycle that they’d been in for years couldn’t be healthy long-term. Maybe there was some way they could be honest and still live in their marriage.

I’m not sure if my sister-friend is going to take my advice. Often times, the status quo, no matter how nonsensical, is much more comfortable than change. I am happy that our friendship survived our discussion. I took a risk, but I think I started her thinking about it differently.

I know this for sure, if he or she does get caught cheating again, she probably won’t be calling me.