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The big infidelity news this week was a story about 22-year-old actress Kristen Stewart cheating on her boyfriend, Robert Pattinson, with married “Snow White and the Huntsman” director Rupert Sanders — if you even consider kissing and hugging cheating, which is all the tabloids caught them doing and all Stewart’s acknowledged. Still, it was enough to cause the 26-year-old Pattinson to declare he’s “heartbroken and humiliated” as he moved out of their L.A. home.

An interesting twist was that Stewart and Sanders apologized the day after the story broke — no denials, no lies, no spin. Stewart called the incident a “momentary indiscretion” and declared, “I love him, I love him, I’m so sorry.”

Sanders’ apology to his wife and two children was similar: “I love them with all my heart.”

So, with all this love, love, love being professed post-make out session, the question that must be asked is — can you truly love someone and still cheat on him or her?     

It appears that, yes, you can love someone and still fool around on him or her if we are to believe Stewart and Sanders.

Wait a minute. Wouldn’t the cheater know that, if discovered, his/her partner would be hurt, humiliated, angry, sad, devastated? Well, yeah, unless they had an open relationship and they were free to canoodle with whomever. And wouldn’t the cheater be aware that he/she was lying to said beloved? Of course!

But as you probably already know, that doesn’t stop people from cheating. Loving a partner isn’t enough to stop some of us from fooling around.

So what’s going on? According to my chat with Eric Anderson, an American sociologist at England’s University of Winchester and author of  The Monogamy Gap: Men, Love, and the Reality of Cheating, the college men in his study who cheated on their partners all said they loved them and didn’t want to lose them. The problem is they eventually want more — their partner’s love and sex with others:

(A)t the point men enter into relationships they, too, think they want monogamy. It’s only after being in a relationship for months or years that they badly want sex with others. But by this point, they don’t want to break up with their partners because they have long-standing love. Instead of chancing that love by asking for extradyadic sex, they cheat. If they don’t get caught (and most don’t) it’s a rational choice.

Which means you can love your partner and still want to have what he calls hot, meaningless sex with someone else. And, that’s what many people do — or, they just make out with someone they’re attracted to, a la Stewart and Sanders.

With all the neuroscience testing going on lately, we know via brain scans known as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), that we are fully capable of having many kinds of love and that we may even be able to weed out those who would cheat on us one day.

But for now, we have to make some sort of peace with the idea of love, monogamy and infidelity.

Given what Pattinson has said in the past about love, I’m somewhat surprised by his reaction to Stewart’s make-out session:

“I think it’s to be with someone and let that person be herself. Each one has to live their own lives, but with the support of the other person. And you need to be able to do what you want. This is one of the definitions of a couple in love, because love is about so many other things.”

Needing to be “able to do what you want” is a pretty broad definition of love. Stewart acted on that by kissing someone she was attracted to while still being in love with her partner of four years. I guess she was able to do what she wanted, but just not that.

Oddly, many people are upset that Stewart is getting more flak than Sanders, who is married. One columnist wants to get Stewart off the hook entirely. We don’t like it when married people cheat, but are we saying that cheating in a long-term cohabiting relationship is less important/damaging than cheating in a marriage? That may prove to be be interesting as more people view living together as an alternative to marriage. Isn’t cheating cheating, regardless of marital status?

  • Do you believe you can love someone and still cheat on him/her?
  • Do you find monogamy “hard”?
  • Does cheating in a cohabiting relationship matter less than cheating in a marriage? Why?

14 Responses to “Can you cheat on your partner and still love him?”

  1. Sonia Sullivan says:

    I agree, you can “love” someone & then cheat. Humans basically misunderstand our Reproductive process. Every time a Male or Female “feels” attracted to another, it’s Biology at work. Urging us to Reproduce. Our job is to “Recognise” the difference. Everytime we feel the “urge”, does NOT mean we should follow thru. It’s called “Exercising Self-Control”. We should try it.

  2. Jessica says:

    Yes I believe you can love someone and still cheat. To an extent. Human beings are prone to fumbling and making mistakes, even huge betrayals. If it’s a case of learning from your mistake and being truly remorseful and ready to do whatever it takes to repair the damage, I believe it’s forgivable. Especially in a long term, committed relationship. But if the infidelity is an ongoing affair or happens more than once, that’s a whole new ball game. I understand the desire for other conquests after a while, but what separates us from the animals is our ability to think and feel about others and make decisions that are not based on “primal” needs.. Wanting something is not the same as acting on it. And if you feel the overwhelming urge to do so and you do, most likely there are much larger factors than just being horny and if the relationship is to work both partners need to reevaluate everything in their lives.

    Also I’m torn on the is married cheating worse question. In this particular case I want to say yes. Kristen is hardly grown, and while that’s not an excuse on it’s own, it does make me feel that he should have been able to take control of the situation and stop anything from happening. Marriage is supposed to be sacred. On the other hand, my fiance and I have been together for 11 years, and have an 8 month old daughter and I would feel that his betrayal would be just as bad even though we aren’t married.

    • OMGchronicles
      Twitter: OMGchronicles
      says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful response, Jessica. I believe, as do you, that we can love someone and still cheat on him/her. As you say, we’re prone to fumbling (and much worse!)
      I think there’s no difference in the pain that a betrayal would cause in a long-term relationship, whether married, cohabiting or living apart but committed. It’s more than the vows; it’s the commitment.

  3. Robert Dickens says:

    The idea of ‘scientifically defined live is ridiculous. If you later be someone, you don’t want someone else, period. College students? Don’t make me laugh.

  4. Alex says:

    In my humble opinion it is perhaps a fusion of both nature and nurture. It is not an and or. Sure I think some people may be primed to have an affair from the start,

    but other with other people time wears on the relationship, all the stressors , and perhaps having someone outside of the LTR , with out the baggage the two acquired together thought out their relationship, is part of why they have an affair .
    Also there’re different types of affairs
    (sexual Rendezvous) quickly- everyone gets what the came for and goes home.
    (Emotional affair ) – the man that meets a new person and promises to leave his current baggage touting partner in time.

    Lets be mature and call it an affair not “cheating”- that sounds so immature .

    • OMGchronicles
      Twitter: OMGchronicles
      says:

      Thanks for writing Alex. I’m not sure what would make someone “primed to have an affair.” Are you saying some can’t control their biological urges?

  5. tom says:

    I don’t believe that you still love the person your with if you cheat on them. if you cheat on someone you don’t love them.That love you proclaim to have for your spouse is not love.you just love your partner for what he or she has to offer.that is comfort,a nice home or just someone who can put up with your nonsense. THE reason why you stay with that person is because you are selfish,you are steeling a chance for your spouse to find someone who indeed loves them and will do the same for them.Who will RESPECT them. people who cheat are trying to hide behind some dumb excuse.again not accepting full responsibility of their actions.we are not animals,we live in civilised society. and we can all fully control our actions. I understand that you don’t want to let go of that person because of history, you might have loved him or her very much in the past.but things change, people change. We all deserve a second chance on loving someone new,and righting a new chapter .

    • OMGchronicles
      Twitter: OMGchronicles
      says:

      Tom, thanks for commenting. Yes, we live in a civilized society — well, maybe! — but that doesn’t mean much on a personal level. I think we will need to define love, and we don’t all have the same definition. I’m not saying it’s OK; I’m just acknowledging the complications of defining “love.”

  6. Rosemary says:

    What cheating demonstrates is not necessarily a lack of love, but certainly a lack of respect. The faithful partner is relying on a commitment that the cheater feels free to ignore.

    • OMGchronicles
      Twitter: OMGchronicles
      says:

      One thing research has show, Rosemary, is that people who cheat are really good at rationalizing and justifying their actions so “free to ignore” almost becomes “deserves to ignore.” They need to do something to deal with their cognitive dissonance — I’m a good person, and good people don’t cheat.

  7. Jonathan says:

    I don’t think people are just upset because they think cheating while married is more damaging. I think it’s also a gender thing. It seems like the female who cheated on her boyfriend is getting it really bad while the married man (which is admittedly a more advanced stage of commitment) is getting very little flack.

    • OMGchronicles
      Twitter: OMGchronicles
      says:

      Well, we all seem to accept the fact that “boys will be boys” even if we’re not conscious of it. We just kind of accept that it happens. In any event, he may have gotten off easy with the flack but he lost his family anyway. I hope that’s what he really wanted …

  8. Nix says:

    Hi. Myself and my fiance have been together just over 3 years and engaged for 2 years.

    I broke up with him end of last year. I didn’t give him a chance to speak to me and didn’t want to talk about it. I left and was gone for 17 days. In those 17 days I met a guy and we slept together. At some stage i got hold of my fiances mother to ask her to get the log book for my car from him. He eventually phoned me and wanted to meet up. I accepted and we met and spoke about everything. We eventually did sleep together and i never told him about the other guy. We decided to get back together. But before we did he asked if i had been with anyone. I knew that if i told him that he wouldn’t take me back so I lied.

    We moved back in together and he kept asking if I had been with anyone I denied it. Eventually I couldn’t keep the secret anymore it was eating at me so I told him.

    He was devastated and says I cheated on him.

    I am not trying to justify what I have done but i don’t think i cheated. I know that I have hurt him and wish that I could take it all back. He is an amazing guy and has done so much for me. I want him to give me a chance to prove myself and I know that he wont trust me and I accept that.

    What do I do? We are still together but I just wish I could start over. This has ruined our relationship as it just isn’t the same after what I have done.

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