...ok, allow me to rephrase: I have been thinking a lot about why people cheat and what is considered cheating (not actually committing the ACT of cheating).
I watched a show last night where someone cheated on their gf a few months before, then tried (in vain) to make her take them back. I watched another show where two characters were in an "open relationship" and therefore (basically) cheated on each other on a regular basis. I also watched the first part of The Kennedy's miniseries, and one scene really stuck with me, where Joe Kennedy (John F and Bobby's father) is kissing his former mistress before she leaves his home for the night (after working there all day on John F's campaign) and the camera cuts to his wife watching the whole thing. His wife (Rose) then tells the girl it's probably chilly and asks if she needs to borrow a coat, not even acknowledging what she just witnessed.
Seeing these various displays of cheating and its aftermath is what originally got my mind rolling, but of course I think it's safe to say it's a universal issue that affects pretty much everyone at one time or another (and it's, therefore, probably something we all ponder at one time or another).
Now, I (thankfully) have never been cheated on (as far as I know), nor have I ever cheated on a partner so I can't really speak from experience on this one. But what I do know is that I would NEVER cheat on someone. EVER. And I really don't understand why someone would do it to another person.
To me, cheating is the ultimate betrayal and hurtful act in a relationship. And cheating is not only a betrayal - it involves lying and sneaking around behind your partner's back in some way - but it is also a way of saying (without actually using the words), any one or more of the following: You are not enough for me. You don't give me what I need. I am not satisfied being with you. I don't have any respect for you or your feelings. I am self-absorbed.
This may sound harsh, but I just don't understand how you could cheat on someone if you really care about them. If you really care about someone, you care about their happiness and their feelings. I don't see how you could betray someone whose happiness and feelings mean that much to you, so if you cheat on someone it must mean that their happiness and feelings really don't mean as much to you as you (or they) think.
I realize that not all situation are as black and white as that - sometimes you and your partner have problems. Sometimes the person being cheated ON does not treat you the way you should be treated. Sometimes people come into your life or situations happen to you that sweep you off your feet, compromise your judgment, and persuade you to make a bad decision.
However, I firmly believe that this is still not an excuse for cheating. If you are having problems in your relationship, the solution is to sit down with your partner and discuss them like adults. Chances are, if one or both of you are feeling that your needs are not met, talking this out, putting it out in the open can help solve these issues. If your partner is not willing to listen to you, change or discuss anything then that is the time to make your exit (and I mean completely out of the relationship, not to the bed of some other guy/girl).
And, if a situation presents itself to you that encourages you to cheat, it doesn't mean that you have to. We are all capable of self-control and we all (generally) know in our guts when we should not go through with something (when it's wrong), so if you give in to the "temptation" than the only person you have to blame is yourself. There are many people (myself included) who are tempted at one time or another, but have had the sense (and respect for myself and my partner) not to act on it.
Cheating does not make problems disappear or shrink, it only adds more problems that didn't need to be there in the first place. It complicates. Have enough respect for your partner to be honest with them and give them the benefit of the doubt, and have enough respect for yourself to not run to someone else's arms to make yourself feel better or to get "revenge".
In terms of how I would react if cheated on, I can see why some people take cheaters back, but I think I would have a lot of trouble doing this. I have trust issues with men anyway (not going there right now), so if someone cheated on me I think that would kill the little bit of trust I've managed to build into myself. And even if I could take that person back, the act would always be there - like the white elephant in the room, it would be hanging over your relationship like a fog. Forgiving is fairly easy to accomplish, but forgetting? Not so much...
It's a tough situation though, and I acknowledge how complicated most situations are that involve cheating. I suppose there are people out there who would not feel as betrayed and hurt as I would. I'm sure there are people out there who don't see cheating as such a bad thing, and that it depends on the circumstances. And that's fine - to each his own! However, I think it's important that both partners are on the same page - if one partner has an open view on cheating and does not believe in defining it so strictly, then they had better make sure their partner feels the same way. It is not fair for someone who is open about cheating to date someone who is not, just as it is not fair for someone who is NOT open about cheating to expect a partner who IS to stay faithful (don't hold your breath for that to happen).
Anyway, when it comes right down to it, I personally feel that cheating is never justified and I vow to never do it to someone nor date someone who has a history of doing this or an open opinion about it in general. Because, in the end, you're not just cheating on them - you're also cheating yourself, and that's just not 'me'.
Thoughts? What is your stance on cheating? Have you ever been cheated on/cheated on someone? How did it make you feel? Did you stay with that person? What do you consider "cheating"? Discuss!