Is cheating normal in relationships? Do some situations warrant or even necessitate cheating? Is fidelity an outdated social constriction that no longer applies? I’ve wondered where the rest of the world stood on these questions with various degrees of interest throughout my life. People around me have shown and expressed their feelings on the topic, movies and tv shows give mixed answers (depending on the protagonist’s stake in the matter), and I have my own ideas from my experience and upbringing. They don’t all add up.
Though its name may suggest otherwise, this blog has never outright tackled the topic of cheating. For a long time, for whatever reason, I didn’t think of writing about it. When I did, it felt a little too close to home to report on objectively. Somewhere along that journey, I became very curious about one aspect of cheating: its normalcy. Dating in Los Angeles is enough to twist any person’s concept of relationship norms, but what really did me in was Lexington, Kentucky. As I spoke with a client who requested personal training session with his “lady friend” to be billed separately from his session (because his wife handles the bills), he explained to me that cheating was normal. He elaborated, “everybody does it, but nobody talks about it,” and “sometimes it’s the right thing to do.”
Meanwhile, I was talking to (and really excited about) a guy who kept initiating plans for us to go places and do things, but never nailed down a day and time. It seemed strange, and with my client’s words in my head, I asked him if he was single. His answer: “it’s complicated.” It’s complicated = wants to break up with his live-in girlfriend of 2 years + works for her father + shares her friends + doesn’t know how to leave + is a tool.
Together, along with seeing loved ones fall into the ethical gray zone of relationships, these experiences led to a true mindfuck, where I was questioning the most basic strands of social fabric. For a little over the next year I asked over 50 people to do a survey for Cheating June that explored how people viewed cheating and what their experience with it was. It has now been 2 years, and though this is the most interesting and important line of questioning I have ever endeavored with friends, family, and random strangers and people on the street, I never wrote it up and published it.
This survey brought me understanding and peace regarding the subject, and I now have a better way to answer the questions I had pondered for so long. From these surveys, I also know that I am not alone in feeling that their answers are ambiguous in our society; people are looking for those answers. So I will share the results in this modest blog hoping that they help whoever finds them have more of an answer to their big questions about cheating and fidelity in relationships.