No matter how much are hook-ups in trend, there's a vow in marriages all around the world - of being physically and emotionally monogamous with one another. For many, that's the very basis of a relationship, even for the unmarried ones. Cheating and infidelity can never fall into the definition of a healthy relationship for a majority and an extramarital friendship crossing the line over to infidelity is a fear for couples all over.
Yet, data suggests infidelity is pretty common. It feels like it's everywhere, but experts have a hard time pinpointing exactly how many people cheat, because (duh) nobody wants to be honest and own up to the fact that they do it.
"The general belief is that if a person is lying to their partner, why wouldn't they also lie to a researcher?" says Anita Chlipala, a dating and relationships expert.
However, when a Quora user recently asked about what people went through after cheating on their partner, the response was overwhelming. Let's take a look at some of them.
"When I was doing it? Great.
After? Not so much... In the moment, I gave in to selfishness and disregarded my commitment to my partner completely. I knew what I was doing, and I knew it was wrong, and I just didn't give a damn... It was one of the stupidest things I have ever done, and I really hurt my partner. It happened years ago, and I'm no longer with the guy, but I still feel so guilty about it sometimes... I always mentally slap myself when I think about what I did."
"I don't want to write a book but just like everyone else here, cheating is the thrill of secrecy. Initially you' re doing it to fortify a selfish need that may have resulted in an altercation/ disagreement over something that you have felt or that you wanted to feel good about but your spouse may have denied that act, service, or feeling to you."
He continues, "Nothing feels better than to have another person of the opposite sex, especially if they are attractive, acknowledge what they love about you. Granted you would wish that your spouse would say these things but after a while in a marriage, you become complacent and you take each other for granted. Cheating becomes that new high until reality sets in and you have to look at fixing what is broken in your relationship or maybe taking a chance at starting over in your life with someone else while leaving the hurt of the old life behind."
Responding to a thread on Quora about infidelity, she wrote how she cheated her partner over a dozen time but couldn't help.
"In high school and college, I cheated about a half-dozen times total.
During the cheating, it felt decadent. I knew it was unethical. I knew it had the potential to hurt someone I cared about. I knew it had the potential to screw up a relationship I valued. But I wanted it so bad. It was selfish, and that's why it felt good. It's thrilling to give in and take something you've been denying yourself. But after the cheating, I always felt gutted by guilt, and terrified of the consequences of my actions. I wondered what the hell was wrong with me. I felt doomed to keep repeating this cycle.
Ever been on a diet, and then snuck a piece of cheesecake? It's like that. Times 100. The desire, the self-denial, the built-up longing, the inevitable explosion, the indulgence, the shame, the self-recrimination."
Writing anonymously, she said, "It feels insane, bizarre, like you wandered into a surrealist painting."
"When he kissed me for the first time, so unexpectedly, it felt like my shocked mind was short-circuiting. The best and biggest drug rush one could feel, physically and mentally. That tipping point was like a series of roller coaster carts being ratcheted up the first and biggest hill. I suppose of course, that there may have been a dramatic rescue, the passengers climbing down a long ladder to the safety of solid ground, but how often does that happen? No, the breathtaking swoop down hill is practically inevitable; terrifying and incredible at once.
Cheating brings everything into strong focus; your own selfishness, your pure happiness with the new turn of events, all the cracks and flaws and dulled luster of your marriage. It feels insane, bizarre, like you wandered into a surrealist painting. It keeps you up those first nights, staring at the ceiling as you lay next to your slumbering spouse, thoughts a million miles away. It gives you a nervous/excited jolt when you think about it, like a new high-school relationship but with heaps of (tantalizing) wrongness, taboo. It makes you feel sick, stomach twisting in knots as you go about the routine of vacuuming, serving your husband his dinner with a smile and a peck on the forehead. You wake up aroused, with your jaw aching from grinding your teeth."
"Quickly, the cheating begins to normalize. It feels like it should be happening; like it's perfectly right. Like all the strong judgement thrown at cheaters can't apply to you, because being with your lover feels so good, how can it possibly be wrong? How can nature be pushing your body and mind in a direction that is so terrible? You realize society's view on monogamy is unrealistic. You fit into the snug of his shoulder. He puts your hands on your face when you kiss and he kisses you like he means it, mouths searching hungrily, and oh, you haven't felt that in your marriage in years and you want to (and sometimes do) weep with the beauty of it.
You think deeply about your marriage, how you got to this point. You realize you hadn't really thought too hard about getting married. You were just in a canoe that eventually and calmly drifted down Relationship River and under Matrimony Bridge. The year before the wedding, your thoughts were consumed with booking a venue, picking your dress, your bridesmaids, your colors, menu, invitations, etc. Did you actually think about being a wife? You had no reason to ever end the relationship with your then boyfriend. No reason to turn down his perfectly-planned proposal and break his heart. How could you possibly have done that? He is kind, honest, motivated, smart, and handsome. He has never called you a bitch, never yelled at you, never infused ugly drama into the relationship. Sure, the sex wasn't great, but you learned from a six-year-long past relationship that great sex was the often the result of high drama, and high drama left you shaking on the ground after your old boyfriend shoved you out of a slow-moving car, his unfounded drunken shouts of "slut!" ringing in your ears. So when you finally extracted yourself from that nightmare and realized you needed a nice guy, one came along and the years flipped by, a ring appeared on your finger, a wedding took place, a home was made... and then what you suspected, but weren't quite sure you were missing, came along and kissed you in the dark. Kissed you for an hour outside on a New England December night, not feeling any cold at all, stars winking approval at you from a clear black sky."
"Cheating is like being in high school, with the husband playing the role of Dad. You hide things, you contrive of what lies to tell before you get home (I went to Ruby Tuesdays with friends and I had the burger with no cheese and sweet potato fries for dinner. Rachel told us about the new cat she rescued. His name is Tabby.) The sneaking around seems mainly harmless; after all, you're not directly hurting anyone. This is about you and your lover, it has nothing to do with your husband. Despite your best intentions, you develop feelings for him. It feels weird and mildly uncomfortable when the time for obligatory marital sex rolls around. When your husband kisses you, it feels like nothing. All your sparks are with your lover. This reality makes you take a breath before you tell your husband "I love you" after the lube-aided sex, to make sure your voice won't audibly shake. You cry very carefully and silently into your pillowcase in the dark, your fists clutching sheets, as his satisfied breathing turns regular with sleep.
You try harder to be a dutiful wife. You cook your husband dinner and do his laundry, carefully tucking his socks together so he always grabs a matched pair. You ask about his day, you bring him water and aspirin when his head hurts. You pick up an almond snickers bar in the checkout line of the grocery store because he loves them. You take care of the bills, the little cogs of running the household, planning everything so his life feels easy and stress-free. He feels a rift anyway, and remarks upon it. You shrug, tears making your eyes shine like stars. That conversation recedes into the background and you carry on."
"Your lover opens his apartment door and sees you're upset. His eyebrows wrinkle with concern and he kisses the sadness out of you. The sex is amazing, like tasting chocolate again after years of dieting, only so much better. You ask your lover what two words he would use to describe his life right now, only because you want to answer the question yourself: "Awful and awesome." you whisper into his chest.
There are some moments you are so caught up in it, you don't even care if your husband would magically warp into the room. You look at your lover's clock glowing in the darkness and will its changing numbers to slow down. You leap on every opportunity to see him, eagerly but worried to appear too clingy. You play songs that have significance regarding him with regularity, sometimes crying, always wanting. You read online posts about cheating, wince when you see the blanket-statement harsh judgements: Bad Person, Liar, No Morals, Unforgivable. This makes you feel more like a flawed failure than you already do, because you do strive to be a good person. You have admirable goals, you sometimes volunteer at the local soup kitchen, you take it straight to the heart when you inadvertently hurt someone; it tears you up inside. And yes, you realize what you're doing has the strong potential to be incredibly hurtful to someone you love, to the best friend that you entered into a legal contract with, to the person whose financial, social, and personal life is so entwined with yours, it's difficult to fathom how it could ever be distangled (who would keep the living room table if we split?, you think, insanely)."
"You know your husband had a difficult life; you wanted to save him, to be for him that shining, perfect person you knew he deserved, to lift him up above those pitfalls. You realize now that you're just another horrible tiger-trap for him, covered with leaves, hoping he won't stumble in. You feel preemptive dismay at this. You can't tell yourself now that sex isn't so important, because having felt it again, it's like the moon pulling the tide out from the beach; you realize you need it, my god, you really do, before you're wrinkled and old and at life's end. Cheating is sad and beautiful, distressing and wonderful, the biggest dichotomy you've ever felt. It cuts into the vision of your future with a looming question mark, brands you forever with that big scarlet A, makes you question everything."
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