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Image credit: Infidelity Healing

Back in October, I wrote a post that pondered the question of when you’re most in love. It was inspired by a TED talk featuring Esther Perel, a relationship therapist and psychotherapist. She was pretty damn awesome in the first video and her second talk, about infidelity (the video is embedded below), is equally riveting. It gave me some thoughts.

The quote above also seemed appropriate. Infidelity is fascinating. It feels wrong to say it, but it is. We read books about it. We watch movies about it. We look for it everywhere but, when it happens to us, it most definitely is not fascinating.

My personal feelings about infidelity are quite strong (as I suppose most people’s are). I have friends who’ve been cheated on (by their husbands… when they were pregnant). I’ve had youthful relationships where I’ve cheated/been cheated on. My current relationship is not without its flaws/indiscretions but I firmly believe that, if you’re with someone and the agreement is that you are exclusive, then that is what you should be until you agree otherwise or until you break up.

Yet, as Esther says, there are many definitions of infidelity. Is it simply watching porn? Flirting? Sexting? Kissing? Fucking? It’s different for everyone. I think for me, it’s an emotional connection that rivals the one I have with my partner. For me, sex isn’t the main thing. I could easily be in an open relationship but I would not want my partner to have an emotional connection to the other person/people he sees. Perhaps that’s being naïve but I genuinely don’t care about sex with other people so long as it’s open and honest and the terms are agreed upon. I would just want to know that he loves only me.

Or maybe that’s being selfish (or not totally honest on my part). Maybe I would be OK with him building a relationship so long as it was something we shared and did together, not something he did off on his own away from me. Maybe it would be best to say it as “us” building a relationship with someone else. Not just him. Dangerous territory perhaps but I think it comes down to trust. Trust that your relationship is strong, that you will be honest with one another as well as honesty (with yourself mainly) that this is what you want and are not getting pressured into it or doing it just to keep the relationship.

Anyways, I’ve gone a bit off topic here. I think, for me, the idea of monogamy is one I struggle with. We expect so much of that one person, can they possibly be expected to fill all those roles? For some people, yes. This is what works, this is what makes them happy and they are happy to do it for the rest of their lives. For others, no. Both are perfect. You should do what works for you and your partner. But what it boils down to, what makes the difference between infidelity and not infidelity is whether there is honesty.

We are together + we both want to see other people + we’re both ok with this = not infidelity.

We are together + one person wants to see other people + other person is hurt and betrayed = infidelity.

There has to be honesty and agreement otherwise there will be pain and suffering. And yes, your relationship can rise from the ashes and be better than ever, but someone (often more than one person) will have to suffer first.