Sounds like a simple question, right?
Maybe they have no morals.
Maybe they don’t think they’ll get caught.
Maybe they’re bored.
Maybe they think they deserve more.
Maybe they are weak and easily led to temptation.
Maybe they never learned that commandment.
Maybe they don’t believe in commandments (or God.)
Maybe they don’t believe in vows.
Maybe they’re just really horny.
I don’t know. Probably many of the above come into play but, in light of the new podcast Thomas Wade and I are launching in a few weeks (Screwing Around with Thomas and Vickie – where the ONLY topic is sex!), I have been contemplating this question as the theme for our first episode. Because Tom and I have both experienced infidelity. The giving and the getting. And I have come to realize that the WHY isn’t really a simple question at all.
That said, I do believe the world is filled with narcissistic horndogs (of both sexes) who are simply seeking the thrill of the chase and the exhilaration of conquest. That spicy something on the side to put a spring in your step when that old boring married sex ain’t doing it for you anymore.
Yeah, they are out there.
But what about the person of reasonable moral fortitude (please note I said reasonable, not perfect) who is lost? Feeling abandoned or rejected? Neglected? Unseen? Does that person have the right to seek solace elsewhere?
Well, some of you might clamour “no.” You’d say “work on the marriage” or “open up a dialogue” or “go to counselling” or something like that. You’d insist there is no excuse to break that sacred vow.
But YOU are not that pitiful soul drowning in a sea of confusion. Wanting to do the right thing and trying to hang on but then suddenly finding yourself drawn into an inexplicably enticing liaison. That seemingly innocent invitation that comes out of nowhere and leads you – against your will, goddamnit – astray.
We all know there is “love” and then there is “in love.” And many times, as the years race by, we find ourselves aging, more and more in touch with our mortality, frightened by the reflection in our mirror and desperately seeking “in love.” Desperately seeking that glorious feeling of reckless abandon that comes with new infatuation and unbridled passion.
That reckless abandon that can, in an instant, compel you to abandon the love that you have so un-recklessly built up over months and years.
But that’s where infidelity comes in. Because you don’t always abandon. You don’t just up and leave and chase that new dream. Nope. You play both sides. You teeter-totter. You cheat and keep cheating because you want to have that big fucking cake and you want to eat it and keep eating it in secret, all to yourself, with icing dripping down your face, all the while never gaining a single pound. You actually believe it could happen. You believe you can gorge on salacious sweets indefinitely (or until you’re sick, whichever comes first) with no repercussions whatsoever.
But that’s impossible, right?
We all know that if you eat too much and don’t get exercise you will pay. We all know that if you drink too much booze or smoke too much anything you will pay. We all know that if we lie to our friends or our employer we will pay. We all know that for every action there is a re-action … or consequence.
And yet, with infidelity we are SO desperate for SOMETHING … we take an incalculable risk.
When I cheated on my husband I truly had no idea why. I was continually looking and searching and questing and then suddenly I just thought I had found my soulmate. You know, I made a bit of a boo-boo getting married and then magically Prince Charming showed up and it was my God-given right to be happy and soul-mated and blah blah blah. Oh yes, I was singing that song at the top of my lungs like a diva at a football game.
None of that was true. I just decided to make it true to excuse my behaviour.
The real truth was this: I was desperately seeking … intimacy.
Let me repeat that. INTIMACY.
Not better sex or different sex or more frequent sex or fireworks or clandestine thrills or something new.
I wanted intimacy.
I was desperately seeking that emotional communion that truly makes us feel seen. That special connection that allows our heart to soar and our bodies to give freely – with abandon – because we know so deeply that we are seen and we are loved anyway.
That is correct. We are SEEN, with all our aging imperfections and insecure foibles and screwed-up self-doubts and we still feel so SEEN and ACCEPTED and LOVED anyway we give our bodies and our imaginations and our best sexual intentions with so much faith and love because we KNOW the connection is there. It is there for us at all times. At any time. Whenever we are in need, we are seen.
This is why I cheated. I am not saying there is ever an excuse to cheat. If you’re feeling seen elsewhere, please … go there post haste! Before you cheat.
The problem is we don’t always understand. We don’t get it. We do not understand that the gasoline fueling the engine is igniting the flames. If we only understood and could then communicate EVERYTHING to our partners we could possibly start a different blaze. One that does not involve outside wood.
That was a horrible analogy, right?
It’s far too easy to stake some moral high-ground and label every infidel as a bonafide scoundrel deserving of disdain and condemnation. My Facebook jury could not wait to bellow “Sexaholics, Satan (yes, someone mentioned that old devil), ethics, mental illness, selfishness and low self-esteem!”
Just make sure that before you start bellowing, YOU make sure that your beloved feels SEEN. Rediscover that intimacy or if you must, build it from scratch. I am not suggesting cheaters be offered carte blanche. I am simply saying there isn’t always a black and a white. Some people will suffer in silence, some people will try to fix the problem and some people will jump on the Infidelity Highway because it’s slick and fast and damn it feels good to drive a Ferrari.
Many years after my marriage dissolved and many years after I realized that emotional intimacy had been the issue all along, it occurred to me (better late than never, right?) that I really did not have to cheat. What I could have done is address the issue, seek help, insist that my husband do the same and work, work, work harder. And then, if after all that there was still no resolution, well then I could have ridden off into the sunset with Prince Charming.
If you’re wondering what leads a person to infidelity I gently suggest you look within. What gaping hole in your own soul might compel you to seek sexual solace elsewhere?
If it’s just that you’re bored, restless and want more, well then I gently suggest that you go fuck yourself.
But if you are aching to be SEEN, I recommend figuring that out. Figuring out your aches and your desires and your emptiness and your NEEDS and then explaining them to your partner.
There is NO excuse to cheat. But there are very good reasons to leave.
Vickie…I am so glad you are writing again!
I have read all your previous blogs (and your book) and that was a gift to myself. After I finished all the blog posts, I eagerly awaited the next one, and I am so glad you are writing again. I love your honesty and how unapologetically you express your opinion. Thank you!!
Thank you SO MUCH, Mira … you just made my day! Do you think I should turn my blogs into a book?
Absolutely! with a capital “A”!
Thank you!!! 🙂
Thank you for your take on infidelity – oh wise woman! Love your writing, as always. I am happy to see you’re back at it here.