A Goose and A Gander

By Jackie Torkelson and Nick Pace
Elm Staff Writers

Between looking up sources in the library and hooking up with their suitemate’s best friend’s roomie, Washington College students lead busy lives. Here to help you sort through some of the finer points of your social life are Jackie and Nick, The Elm’s resident relationship gurus. This week, they’re posing the question…

Cheaters: forgive them or forget them?

Jackie says… In a relationship, trust is essential, and when that trust is broken it can be especially hurtful, even more so when that trust is broken due to infidelity. Cheating: it’s never OK, but it happens to more people than it should.

What exactly is cheating? Kissing? Hooking up? Is it only physical or can it be emotional? In my opinion, anything you do or say to another person that you wouldn’t want your significant other to find out about is cheating. You obviously know that they would be uncomfortable or even upset by your actions or else you wouldn’t care if they found out.  If those actions are something as innocently intended as dirty dancing with another person just for fun or something more extreme like actually having sex with another person, it doesn’t really matter. If you know that it would be seen as a betrayal by your partner then you probably shouldn’t do it. You know it’s hurtful, so why do people do things that they know will wound the person they supposedly love?

I understand people make mistakes, especially when they are intoxicated. Cheating comes in two categories, the regrettable, one-time mistakes and the serial cheating that often results in a full-on hidden affair with another person. The single offenders to me are forgivable, the blatant cheaters who falter on multiple occasions? Not so much.

We all know cheating isn’t OK, but how do we deal with it when it happens? The big question people normally face is whether to stay with the person who cheated or to just be done. I know personally I would be able to forgive someone for an indiscretion, but I would not be able to stay in the relationship. I would never be able to forget what they had done and I don’t think I’d be able to let it go. I would allow that forever to be the elephant in the room, and it wouldn’t be worth it. Every situation is different and every person is different. Others may be able to move on and work things out, but I know I’m not one of them. I don’t like that I wouldn’t be able to handle working it out, especially if I really wanted to, but I just know myself and that  wouldn’t be something I could do. If you are on the opposite end of the spectrum, I would suggest having a very open and honest conversation with your partner about what happened, why it happened, and how to remedy the rift the infidelity has undoubtedly caused in your relationship.

If you are tempted to cheat on your partner on a regular basis then you might want to do some self-evaluations. Are you really happy in your relationship if you constantly look for enjoyment from someone else? The part I have never understood about people cheating or having full fledged affairs is why don’t they just break up with the one they are with if they obviously would rather have someone else? I know breakups are obviously hard and unpleasant for everyone involved, but I would think it would be exhausting trying to keep your liaisons hidden. I would think it would be so much better to just let go and let everyone get what they want, what they deserve, an honest and loving relationship with someone devoted to them.

Nick says… There are lots of phenomena that occur in this world that have little to no explanation or reasoning for why they happen. One of these is the action of the all-too familiar “cheater.” For some reason, there are people in relationships, both guys and girls, who think it is perfectly OK to mess around with someone other than their significant other. Now, depending on the situation, the cheater may have an excuse for their deed, but other times it could have just been for the thrill of it. Either way, knowing how to deal with a boyfriend or girlfriend who cheats on you is important, because it can happen to anybody.

First of all, defining the actual act of cheating is something that is much harder than it may seem. This is due to the fact that not all people view cheating in the same way. An insanely jealous guy may think his girlfriend is being unfaithful if she talks to another guy for support, whereas a girl may find it frustrating if her boyfriend is casually flirting with other girls. Personally, I would define cheating as the moment a boyfriend or girlfriend initiates a physical relationship with a person other than their partner. So, basically I mean anything that ranges from making out, to full on sexual acts. While not everyone will agree with me on this, no matter what cheating is to you, the best thing is to just know how to respond to that situation.

One thing I always found really bizarre is how, when people get cheated on, a lot of times they are willing to go right back to the perpetrator.  I believe that cheating is one of the major offenses a person can commit in a relationship. For me, that’s the point that ends a relationship. If that person did not have the decency to end their ties before betraying them, then how could you ever trust them from there on out? This may not be the popular response to cheating, but I believe the best way to deal with a cheater is to end the relationship with them immediately. Even if they have some excuse, the point is, they didn’t have enough respect for you to come clean and express their unhappiness in the first place. I do believe that a guy or girl should hear the cheater out before making their final judgment, but no matter what, it should end in a break up. These are college relationships, not marriages with established family units, so one should not feel bound to someone who doesn’t give back that same amount of attachment. Morale of the story, cheaters suck.

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