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Clio
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This is a general question, not a specific situation so I was not sure whether I could submit it under the infidelity section. It is my perception that participating in cheating as a cheating partner or as the "other person" involves a choice. I can understand how one can be tempted due to life circumstances but imo there is a point at the very beginning where one can "see" where they are headed to and can in fact opt to step away from the situation. I feel that opting out of participating in cheating IS within one's control. Yet, one of my best friends says "never say never, there are situations where participating in cheating can be out of one's control, everyone has the capacity to participate in cheating". Do you think that under certain circumstances everyone of us has the capacity to get entangled in cheating either as the cheater or the "other person"? I am thinking of the average person rather than extreme cases of, lets say, abuse.

Edited by Clio
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IMO your friend is wrong. Cheating is always a choice and no!!!....the ability to cheat is not in everyone, only those who are selfish lack the basic human condition of empathy.

 

I lived in an abusive marriage with a binge drinking, serial cheater. Most weekends she would leave me to care for our children while she partied and slept around..... she had multiple one night stands and affairs. Eventually she had an exit affair and left me with our children (4 years later and she now has a reasonable relationship with them)

 

During the 25 years we were together I never once looked at another women and when she left I prided myself on the fact that I was never tempted once to betray her like she did to me.

 

If your friend is a woman and made that statement to me, I would never see her as a suitable person to for any type of relationship apart from a casual hook up.

 

It tells me like all cheaters, that she can easily excuse and rationalise that behaviour in her mind, or maybe in the past has already cheated on a partner.

 

Tell your friend that by making that comment they have the mindset of a cheater, so of course he or she will think everyone is capable of this abusive behaviour.

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Interesting thread—and one, I imagine, that will get heated quick.

 

My simple answer to your question? Yes, everyone has the capacity to end up as an active participant in infidelity. The world proves this daily, and has for millennia. All sorts of people cheat on people. People who say they will never, ever cheat...end up cheating. Lots. It is, in the grand scheme of human behavior, pretty "average." Devastating, of course, but statistically speaking pretty run of the mill—a thing that human beings do with high frequency.

 

But just to be clear: it is, of course, always a choice, though I don't think your friend was saying it's not. Maybe by a "situation out of one's control" your friend means a situation where someone becomes the "other" man or woman because they were led to believe the person was not in a relationship?

Edited by bluecastle
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Interestingly, my friend is a very empathetic and decent person. This is why I have always been intrigued by our difference of views on the subject. I would prefer if the thread does not get heated but I appreciate that this is a sore subject for anyone who has been cheated on. I actually think that most people who have adopted my friend's view on cheating are people who view themselves as capable of cheating or have indeed participated in some form of cheating in the past. As for the other side, imo, it consists of two kinds of people; people who have not been tested by circumstances but would yield under temptation and people who would indeed stand by their "no participation on cheating" policy no matter what. I have trouble accepting that "everyone" is capable because I feel that one can actually put their moral code above "letting go" at the beginning stages and nip the temptation in the bud if one is inclined to.

 

P.S. No, she did not mean entering a cheating situation without their knowledge.

Edited by Clio
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I’m very biased regarding this topic, due to my past, but you raised an interesting question.

 

I hope you don’t mind but, I cut and pasted it into a facebook infidelity support group that has over 10,000 members. Generally you get several hundred replies..... I’ll post some later.

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I don't mind. It's just that people in an infidelity support group are liable to give answers close to your opinion and mine. Nevertheless, you may get some interesting replies.

Edited by Clio
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I believe that everyone has the "capacity" to cheat IF (big if) they have the opportunity and they don't have good romantic relationship boundaries in place that inherently lead them away from, rather towards someone they find attractive and with whom they have been doing date like, bonding activities with.

 

The "capacity" to cheat is there if not physically then certainly emotionally. Sadly there are a whole lot of people who haven't established mutually agreed to romantic relationship boundaries with their partner and just fly the relationship by the seat of their pants

 

I do not agree with your friend though. Once you see things headed into emotional affair territory then its a choice to continue hanging out with that person or enforce those boundaries and step away from the slippery slope that's clearly being slipped down.

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Once you see things headed into emotional affair territory then its a choice to continue hanging out with that person or enforce those boundaries and step away from the slippery slope that's clearly being slipped down.

 

That's how I view it. Yet, it seems like plenty of people play dumb about it and/or present it as something unavoidable, hence my question. Most of us are taught from an early age that participating in cheating is "wrong". Yet, it doesn't seem to register as a boundary with cheaters and "other women/men".

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There is always a choice. To me it's all about selfishness and total lack of morals and values. It's total disregard for other people's feelings. It's total disrespect all round. It's all about "me, me, me and it makes me happy and I really don't care about the wife/husband cause right now I am having fun and excitement and it's just so cool". Yes, selfishness in the extreme (imo). Ugh.

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I believe that whilst cheating is a choice, is certainly inexcusable and someone who cheats clearly doesn't respect their partner, the motivation to cheat at times can include all shades of grey.

 

For example: One spouse has been neglecting the other for a long time, marriage counselling doesn't seem to work, the neglected party travels a lot for work and children are involved. The neglected person cheats. Or how about one party is being abused who relies financially on the abuser. The abused person cheats.

 

It's easy to say that one would never cheat in those or any circumstances. But in-midst the heat, that's when things get very real and you will be tested!

 

Whilst cheating is unacceptable, life isn't black and white.

Edited by greendots
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Life isn't black and white.

Oh, I totally agree that life isn't black and white, BUT ... it STILL comes down to choice. They can always, always choose which direction to go. I may be lonely when husband/wife is away on business trips, I may be tempted by the cool married man/woman in the office, it may bring some fun and excitement into my life etc etc ..... BUT I KNOW it's wrong and I can choose to go down that path or not. No-one holds a gun to my head and tells me yes, go ahead and cheat.

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I agree with everything being written here, and I'll happily row down all the nuanced tributaries a topic like invariably creates.

 

But I still don't agree that someone who makes a statement like your friend's is automatically to be labeled someone who is more prone to cheat than someone with a "moral code" that allows them to believe, firmly, that they would never cheat.

 

People have a tendency to talk about cheating as a sin a hair below murder—another behavior humans routinely prove themselves capable of. It's understandable. Being cheated on really hurts, it marks the "death" of most relationships, and many people who have never been cheated on live in fear of it happening to them.

 

But it is not murder, of course—far from it, not as devastating, far more common. In the murky gray area of life it is something that happens, with great frequency, in a multitude of shades, an act committed by so many varieties of human beings that, if I were an alien conducting a social experiment of humanity by observing us over a 100 year period, I'd be inclined to conclude that, yes, the "capacity" exists within the vast majority.

 

Which is why I gave the answer I gave. Like you, Clio, I have moral codes; and like you, Matt, I have been cheated on. But those codes and that pain are dust particles in the story of humanity and pretty irrelevant when it comes to making a cold assessment to the general question here.

 

Cold assessments, of course, are hard to make over heated subjects.

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That's how I view it. Yet, it seems like plenty of people play dumb about it and/or present it as something unavoidable, hence my question. Most of us are taught from an early age that participating in cheating is "wrong". Yet, it doesn't seem to register as a boundary with cheaters and "other women/men".

Everyone needs an excuse in order to live with themselves so they create reasons why they've done it that are nothing more than excuses.

 

Of course there are those that are also fundamentally incapable of monogamy but want a steady home life and a warm place to land after they've been out not being monogamous.

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bluecastle, I have trouble believing that one can gain such acceptance of cheating purely through observing the story of humanity. I believe that it takes crossing the line and having been "the other man/woman" or a cheater to gain such perspective. I don't want to go into specifics and it was indeed a grey area and an one-off thing but my friend has crossed that line once enabling someone to cheat. I believe that most people who stop viewing it as a "sin" even though they were originally taught the golden rule, have either been "the other man/woman" or a cheater or they can see themselves getting entangled in such a situation.

Edited by Clio
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“I don't mind. It's just that people in an infidelity support group are liable to give answers close to your opinion and mine. Nevertheless, you may get some interesting replies.“

 

Actually I’m surprised, there is a lot of differing opinions.

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In the beginning, infidelity almost always involves a predator and weakened victim.

The predator needs his/her victim to stay in a confused state.

 

Over compensating in the relationship achieves this goal.

This makes it very hard for the victim to see the predator as he/she is, and even harder to make the right decision.

 

The process can change a victim into a voluntary cheater, but two cheater "minds" will have trouble tolerating each other.

Edited by Lester
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It's like everything else. Drinking, smoking, doing drugs, gambling, etc. Everyone is capable of doing it. Not everyone is a helpless victim of their pants.

 

That is why characteristics like integrity, self control, self disciple, stability, etc. while boring to some, are the ones to look for. Yet how many people look for traits like "makes me laugh", likes the same things", etc.?

 

So there 2 components to this debate with your friend. Are people capable: Yes. Is it beyond anyone's control: No

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Well technically everyone is capable of anything, but that's just arguing semantics. In reality, personal values, morals, self discipline, character, beliefs, plain old willpower, etc, etc, etc guide our actions and either stop us from engaging in bad acts or allow us to proceed with them.

 

Cheaters invariably cry how it's not black and white, how you can be down and out, in a bad place in life, etc, etc, etc. Regardless, it's all just excuses for the fact that the cheater opted for the easy way out and the rest is just justification because...well....society judges cheaters harshly and they don't like that. Cheating is an active choice and starts early, long before anyone gets attached and it becomes "difficult" to part ways. What it really boils down to is that every cheater's ultimate argument is that being a decent human being is just too hard, pity me for I'm incapable. Sorry, but nobody ever said that life will be easy or that the right choice is the easy one. It's still a fundamental lack of character and complete entitlement, as in I'm entitled to make myself feel good at the expense of others mentality.

 

In short, being capable of and acting are two completely different things. So if your friend was simply debating that in theory, everyone is capable, she is correct. In practical reality though, no, that's not how people actually operate.

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In short, being capable of and acting are two completely different things. So if your friend was simply debating that in theory, everyone is capable, she is correct. In practical reality though, no, that's not how people actually operate.

 

I think this is basically what I was trying to say. And, well, now we know more: that this wasn't the semantics debate I was having, putting aside my own codes and painful experiences, but a deeply personal moment in your life, Clio, that has you unnerved.

 

Your friend cheated or enabled cheating and is now doing what many people do—rationalizing it, dimming the lights so he or she can still look in the mirror without gasping. You're unimpressed and annoyed, as you should be. You're thinking about your friend differently, questioning your friend's character, maybe even your friendship, as you don't like the position you've been put in: a sounding board onto which he or she can test out some rationalizations and have them bounce back at facts.

 

The choice to cheat—much like the choice to snoop through a phone or shoplift candy from a store—is a choice fueled by weak character. End scene. Personally—and where this can get interesting—I don't think one's "character" exists in a static state. It can be improved, it can be further degraded—depending, of course, on other choices.

 

Do you say it's okay to shoplift a Snickers bar because the Snickers Corporation is filthy rich, the store is insured, and you had no money but were really craving some sugar? That rationalizes weak character and, by extension, validates, deepens, and further expands it. More shoplifting in the future, a path to criminality.

 

Or do you admit that you were greedy, lazy, and so governed by your sweet tooth that you did something that is morally wrong and now you will rectify that, by owning what you did and never doing it again? That's strengthening weak character. No more shoplifting, a more wholesome path.

 

Cheating is so emotional, and so devastating, that we struggle to think about it—even conceptually—with much nuance. "Once a cheater, always a cheater," we say, which is basically like putting someone behind bars and throwing away the key. Which, hey, is often the wisest move, and certainly the safest.

 

But somewhere in this discussion—or perhaps somewhere in you, Clio, as you wrestle with your friend—I think there's the question of whether they key needs to be thrown away in every situation, the question of whether one's character can be improved, if someone without your "moral code" can adapt your code or if even one foray into immoral behavior is forever defining.

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Once a cheater, always a cheater isn't really a simple notion or a throw away the key simplistic judgment. It actually speaks to a deep psychological issue in humans in that once a certain line is crossed, it becomes easier for that individual to cross it again and again. Goes back to the concept that the right choices, self discipline is difficult and making the wrong choices is easier and instantly self satisfying....and ....people are lazy. If they get away with something without consequence once.....they are liable to repeat and choose the easy way out again.

 

It doesn't mean that people can't change or fix themselves, it's just that you are hoping for an extreme exception. Yes, they do exist, just don't hold your breath that you are dealing with one. Your big clue is what they say and how they act. Genuine remorse involves genuine shame and actions to fix what is messed up inside of them that they engaged in the actions that they did. No excuses or rationalizations. To heal themselves, they have to own that they were a piece of shaite without excuses AND take action to fix themselves so they don't fall into same temptation/behavior again. Much like an addict has to admit they are an addict first and foremost. Of course, admission is just the beginning.

 

Overall, engaging in a long term affair is pathological behavior. This person may seem very nice and empathetic....buuut....their actions show otherwise. I'd be more wiling to give credit to someone who had a one night stand once and then felt devastated, ashamed, etc. Long term affairs require such a level of sophisticated, deliberate, conscious, ongoing deceit....that I just can't buy any excuses. Personally, I've had some friends/acquaintances go down that path...and dropped them cold. We just do not match anymore or maybe never did. You can't choose your family, but you can choose your friends, I don't need liars and pathological people in my life. So the decision is simple.

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bluecastle, no, this is not a "deeply personal moment in my life that has me unnerved". It was more than a decade ago and I only used it as an example trying to make a point that I think that the people who are more laid back about cheating have at some point in their lives been the other man/ woman or even a cheater i.e. they have $(7ewed someone over at some point in some capacity or can see themselves doing it in the future so of course, they become more "understanding". My friend actually had these views before that one-off event and I always found her capacity to absolve certain cheating scenarios frustrating. Nor do I believe that the key needs to be thrown away in every situation. I tend to be a black and white person, while she has always been lenient to the failings of human nature. This IS a semantics debate. Over the years, I have come to understand more about the mindset of people who get entangled in such situations yet I continue to believe that there is a choice involved. e.g. to mention a somewhat less glaring scenario, I find "other men/other women" 's lack of accountability/ remorse/ solidarity annoying because I feel that they did make a choice to help $c7ew over some other human being. Imo, lack of remorse is rather unlikely to lead to change of one's moral code.

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