Your Cheating Heart: Infidelity Is a State of Mind


Dude, you’ve got a LOT to learn.

It’s a pleasantly warm and bright Sunday afternoon.  On one of the first real days of spring, the squirrels are playfully scampering around the path to your boyfriend Kevin’s apartment, and there’s more than a touch of excitement running through you, too.  You’re about to pay your man a surprise visit to celebrate this gorgeous day.

As you thrust the key into the lock, the butterflies do that little dance in your tummy.  Elated smile.  Walking in, those same butterflies rapidly morph into 50 pound stones.  Pained grimace.  You find yourself open-mouthed, staring at Lucinda (the only female friend of his that you never worried about) in a bright red apron, four-inch heels, what looks to be MAC Lady Danger lipstick, and nothing else, bent over the stove with Kevin behind her.  You do NOT like the smell of what they’re cooking.

In fact, it’s safe to say that you’ve probably lost your appetite for the entire week.  But should you lose your boyfriend, too?  Probably not, and there are two good reasons why.

First off, in all likelihood his cheating had nothing to do with you.  Yes, he broke a promise and probably your heart, right along with it.  For that, he’s as wrong as two left shoes.  But there’s a really good chance that his feelings for you are still just as strong as ever…it’s just that Lucinda’s ass looks like it’s pregnant with twins.  His embrace of her body is not a rejection of your love.  Dude just got caught up in the bootyliciousness, and I’d bet good money that if you give him a choice, he’ll choose you.  If he doesn’t, then that means that you didn’t have his heart in the first place.

The second, more important reason why you might wanna reconsider closing the door on Mr. Lova-Lova is the fact that you ain’t no angel yourself.  Please, don’t look all shocked.  Yeah, you may not have physically done anything with your colleague Jamal, but you damn near got carpal tunnel rub-a-dub-dubbing to mental images of him in the shower.  Plus, on more than a couple of occasions you even used him as a tool to push you toward the “little death” on those nights when Kevin just wasn’t killing you hard or fast enough.  Oh, and since y’all work together, you go to lunch with Jamal at least twice a week, and when he can’t make it…your day just isn’t the same.

In my book, that makes you just as guilty as Kevin, if not more.

Yes.  Kevin was definitely burying his bone in somebody else’s backyard.  But you were having a whole ‘nother relationship with another man, complete with full on muthaphuckin’ emotional attachment!  Where I come from, any real relationship is built on emotional bonds, not physical ones, so I’d say you and Jamal were going steady…even if it was only in your mind.  I mean, your mind is the most important sex organ after all, and we’ve known this for millennia.  The Bible says that “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”  I may not believe the theology, but I’ll be damned (hopefully not) if this ain’t one of the Good Book’s many nuggets of wisdom.

Where the scriptures get it wrong is on the moral implications of said burning yearning: lust is a perfectly natural, amoral emotion, not a sin.  You couldn’t stop yourself from lusting any more than you could stop poor white folks in Texas from voting against their interests.  But, what you can do is acknowledge that those desires abide within both you and your partner.  Don’t try to live in the illusion that no one else exists, ‘cause that will only lead to an unhealthy relationship with dangerously repressed feelings bubbling just beneath the surface.  Science has my back on this, people.  Apparently, being forced to block out other options actually ends up weakening a person’s resolve to stay committed, and who wants that?

So breathe for a second, little one.  Collect yourself.  Slowly walk over to the kitchen…and disrobe.  On top of being the only girl-friend that you never suspected, you always thought Lucinda was sexy as hell.

Hey, it’s a beautiful day.  Time to put a little work into your relationship!

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14 Comments

Filed under Philosophy, Relationships, Sexuality

14 responses to “Your Cheating Heart: Infidelity Is a State of Mind

  1. Good article bro, emotional attachments are a whole other can of worms. She got that special friend that she talks to every day and can tell all her relationship problems to because he understands

  2. I agree w/everything except for disrobing!!!

  3. TH

    Wow. This is one of many reasons I stopped dating. Seriously.

  4. anon

    did i miss it or can we get STDs from thinking about people now? i call b.s. on this. that cheating dude is NASTY and who knows what kind of nasty stuff he’s bringing home. girl please…keep it moving!

    • That’s just ridiculous. No, you can’t get an STD from thinking about people. Honestly, your parents should have protested the quality of your school’s sex ed program.

      Seriously though, I hear your point. What I’m trying to say however, is that by acknowledging the degree to which we all have desires that don’t include our significant others, we might be able to avoid the very risky physical violations that you reference. At the very least, we’ll be able to enjoy psychologically healthier relationships that are more open and honest.

  5. Random Dude

    Dear Author,
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all before… lol. Give me a freakin’ break already…
    1 – It’s not a pre-req, but I’m ‘attached’ to the people I sleep with… typically.
    2 – Keep it real. Homegirl has already (perhaps guiltily, perhaps not) fucked Jamal’s brains out…

    • Random Dude, I hear you on the no sex without attachment thing. I’m definitely not trying to say that this has to break out by gender, if that’s what you thought that I was implying. For example, I can’t get down with anyone for whom I don’t have SOME level of affection.

      And the funny thing is that your second point actually supports my premise. You just take it to the extreme and assume that as a woman thinketh, so she is. I can’t take it that far. Your desires are certainly a window into what you’d LIKE to do, but not necessarily what you WILL do. The real question is, “Is there a substantive difference?”

  6. cranberrysimone

    you can rationalize his behavior by refocusing the moral gaze away from his wrong and look towards her putative emotional infidelity but your premise only holds up if she was actually emotionally cheating in the first place….dont you think that is a big leap?? in your scenario they are both cheating on one another and the relationship is doomed no matter what…she should as per your advice, keep her cheating ass in the cheating relationship and maybe join that all around trflin’ threesome…

    BUT, if she (like most REAL LIFE situations) was not emotionally or physically cheating then what ?? seems your thesis was “emotional cheating is just as bad as physical cheating” but you lost me…im actually turned off by what could have been a very valid point….#pleasetryagain #everybodysacritic

    • The story in the post was meant to act as an illustration of both forms of infidelity, that’s why I made the heroine guilty of thoughtcrime. I mean, since I made up the story, I can say whatever the hell I want happened, right!? The point was that, before the heroine starts feeling completely self-righteous because she didn’t physically violate the relationship, she should remember how much she herself was emotionally violating it. But, I was definitely NOT saying that the above scenario is applicable in every case.

      In your comment however, you go so far as to say that the scene that I described is somehow a rare event. That, I believe, is a bridge too far. I’d argue that emotional infidelity occurs far more frequently than we recognize, but because it’s largely an internal happening, it’s harder to acknowledge, document and prove until one day somebody just up and says, “I’ve found someone else.”

  7. Margaret Anadu

    You have GOT to be kidding me!!! I know you are not actually suggesting that any man or woman stay with some douchebag disgusting putting-your-life-at-risk cheater just because he/she was daydreaming about some co-worker??? True commitments are about understanding clear boundaries and not crossing them. I get what you were trying to do but the comparison is just silly. Compare emotional cheating to no cheating at all!

    • Margaret, you neglect to consider the possible real costs to emotional “cheating”. As a person develops and fosters feelings for an individual outside of their exclusive relationship, feelings which must remain unresolved due to the inherent restrictions of a relationship of that kind, it can create serious resentment. The sufferer becomes ever more sensitive to the tension created by the battle between their sense of duty and their desire to the point that it begins to warp their entire perspective of their current relationship. Subconsciously, they start to blame their partner for their tormented predicament, which leads to emotional distance or even the eventual dissolution of the relationship. So, no, I am not kidding you. While it might not usually be life-threatening, it can certainly be emotionally damaging to both parties.

  8. mstamara

    Oh lawd… I appreciate the perspective not that it is what I wanted to hear but it is important for men and women to hear what each other honestly have to say… My response, first why not be real in the beginning of the relationship? Maybe it is just an LA thing but I know a TON of people in open relationships or who are into threesomes… and that’s cool. Do you and do what is best for you… this takes the element of deceit out of the situation. Then everyone can decide how they want to live their life…. just a thought.

  9. Kristin

    If I were to have feelings like the ones this woman has toward Jamal, it might take a few weeks/months but I know I would eventually back out from the relationship with Kevin. I know because I’ve had in the past. I have to live truly and I can’t stay in relationships that don’t give me both intellectual, emotional, and sexual stimulation. It seems as if she turns to Jamal for most of these things, in different ways (including when having sex with Kevin).

    That said, I don’t think we stop being animals just because we enter relationships, desire will always be there. The goal for me, however, is to find all I need (note: “desire” is more than “need”) in the person I’m with. And one of those needs is to be able to trust that person to live just as truly toward me and toward what we’ve got, as I do. Because let’s face it, the type of thing Kevin does with [insert any name you can think off, because as it is spun here it’s all about the ass] is not a one time type of thing. And that would definitely reduce my intellectual, emotional, and sexual stimulation with him. So why on earth put up with it? Staying with a person like Kevin would not be anything near living truly. Even if I gave it a try, I know it would never work.

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