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  1. You’ve taken the culturally narrow definition of fidelity being only about sex and done a great job of making it about Faithfulness, as it really should be. What does betrayal mean? Can a person be 100% sexually faithful, and yet still be an unfaithful partner? I would say absolutely. If you break anything you’ve committed to, it’s being unfaithful.

    A cultural norm for marriage is a formal declaration of what you’re committing to. Could be anything really, but it’s public and defined. I would be very interested to see is this makes any difference in the perception of “fidelity” compared to a couple where the commitments are more assumed and less defined.

    Forgiveness is always a hard thing. I’ve been thinking about our definitions of forgiveness, and I’m starting to separate forgiveness and reconciliation. I personally don’t need someone to be sorry for me to forgive them, but my forgiving them doesn’t make things all better between us. Reconciliation needs contrition on their part. It needs a desire to move forward and do better.

    1. @Topher: What a wonderful distinction – sexual exclusivity versus faithfulness.

      There is an angry comment on my previous post about infidelity that blusters about monogamy being a tool for men who wouldn’t get sex otherwise. I took the same stance as you – about marriage being a formal declaration of a commitment. Whether someone else believes that practical or not, making that promise and then breaking it is unethical.

      I know people who practice ethical nonmonogamy where all adults involved communicate clearly and respectfully about how they feel, what they can accept and what they cannot. Unfortunately, I know more others who practice what you mentioned – assumed commitments. And from what I can see, the second kind live messily with constant fighting, manipulating each other, nurturing resentment, playing oppression olympics and weaponising pain. It seems very clear to me which way of life is actually about love and which way is the opposite.

      And finally, fidelity and faithfulness have to be driven by love, not fear, wouldn’t you agree?

  2. I think to understand infidelity better you also need to read up/ know/ think on more on monogamy. monogamy, just like gender is a social construct and it came into practice to benefit men from lower class or socioeconomic status for who getting sex/ regular sex without being in a formal monogamous relationship was impossible. otherwise, monogamy would not have thrived. so you got to understand that human beings are not innately, biologically monogamous. neither is monogamy governed or ordered by biology. it’s a social construct. so in fact, i find it fabulous that in India adultery laws have changed to de-criminalise adultery in a marriage! to be honest, if you go into a relationship thinking that your partner would never cheat on you is the point where it is already doomed. people cheat on their partners for various reasons and sometimes they grow to become someone who “can” and “will” cheat. it is devastating for the partner who did not expect it, no doubt. but if one knows enough about monogamy being a system designed for mediocre men to get sex, one would not enter a monogamous relationship with an expectation of a lifelong romance/ love/ loyalty. also, what does this paragraph even mean – “Years later, a different social circle wanted to set me up with someone. I realised that he was the guy she liked (she had been talking about him). His friends told me, “We don’t like her at all. But you’re great. You and he would get along so well!” I found myself at one of those life-defining crossroads. I could hurt her so badly if I wanted. And I didn’t even want him.” ???? it sounds very childish. cheating is way more complex than what this post makes it out to be. sometimes people cheat never having the intention to hurt anyone. the indian judiciary system declaring that it is not a crime is in tandem with the fact that it is human to have sexual/ romantic relationships outside heteronormative monogamous formal relationships. and you cannot persecute the person who did it, atleast not by law. if all the parties involved know enough about the fallacy of the ideas of heteronormative ideas of love and relationships, nobody needs to be saved.

    1. @Goonkar Pujari: I am aware of the belief that patriarchy is at the root of monogamy. That said, an agreement between two adults to enter a monogamous relationship is their choice. Arguing that this is patriarchal or a doomed premise does not invalidate that choice.

      “Sometimes people cheat never having the intention to hurt anybody” is irresponsible and juvenile and does not justify their actions. Cheating is about breaking a word given to someone else (regardless of whether you consider it a practical promise or not).

      You seem upset by my posts and I respect that – this is an emotional matter. It’s odd then that your comment is so dismissive of other people’s emotions.