Sometime last year somebody published a study done by someone that claimed that men have a gene that makes them more likely to cheat on their partners than women do.
That’s my reply. Yes, you got that right. I scoff, I sneer, I snort. I am skeptical. How on earth can one prove a thing like that? Besides one of the most profound things I heard in b-school was “There are three kinds of lies…white lies, damn lies and statistics.” And so there.
For all the men who love to hate me on the grounds that I am a feminist, kindly sit up and take note. I do not blindly assume that men are capable of every vile thing around. (Only the dumb, moronic things!)
Coming back to what I was going to talk about…..cheating in relationships. I think the world can be easily divided into two types in a lot of ways. One of them is this: Those who cheat and those who don’t. I could have said that as those who are capable of cheating and those who are incapable of cheating. But these days I’m beginning to think that capability is only a matter of attitude. And attitude is a momentary thing.
Personally I can’t fathom the dynamics of cheating. No, not what lies work best, how to say them etc. But deep within the cheater’s (I know that isn’t a word but its easy to say and easier to type) mind, what strange thoughts twist emotion and attitude?
There are enough of shattered hearts and tattered illusions out there. And there are people causing them to be so. Relationships are available to nearly everybody, stability grows on most people and love happens to a select few. But some people never stop looking. There is always that new person with a better body, smarter wit, funnier jokes, more money. There is always that one irresistable opportunity that it is wrong to take but what the hell, what is the point of an opportunity if it isn’t taken? Yet not everyone does. I wonder if most people stay loyal to their partners out of fear or out of values.
There is an interesting discussion about cheating with one’s body and with one’s mind. Cheating with the body, that’s so easy. Easy to define, easy to catch, easy to judge. But cheating with one’s mind….that’s a different ballgame altogether. Where does one draw the line? Is it wrong to feel attraction for another when one is in a relationship? If so, is it being true to oneself, to deny it? And if one admits it to oneself at least, how does one stop the mind assuming that as permission to run into the very dangerous realms of fantasy and yearning? From there on, cheating with one’s body is but a minor step that barely seems to matter either way.
The reason I don’t believe that cheating is a gender-specific thing is because I know a lot of women, close friends many of them, who admit to have cheated. What’s more I even know someone who continues to cheat with no intention of stopping ever. This lady is married and a mom and one of my good friends. While I’ll never admit it openly, I have a lingering doubt about the paternity of the child that she adores. I also suspect that she continues to have the rip-roaring love life that she enjoyed in her younger days.
But I’m not gossiping. I adore her (as I do all my friends). Yes, in my eyes she still is the fun, affectionate gal who can make me laugh and cry alternately. I will still take up for her if anyone dares sully her name. But yes, deep down I’ll agree with the person who does. Strange, is it?
Certainly I know men who have cheated too, particularly a few who even boast about it. In fact I think the typical ‘cheater’ (yes, it is a type, there is a particular kind of person who is prone to cheating no matter who they are with)….is a bit like a hunter, who likes to display his/her trophies. Hunting has been outlawed in many parts of the world. But people still collect furs and animal heads. And hearts.
Ever read the book ‘Peter Pan’? It was about a boy who never grew up. And a girl who followed him, cared for him, made his life comfortable and generally adored him. One day he forgot her and she accepted it. He was after all, the boy who never grew up. Some people don’t ever become adults. Some people are not meant to collide with the monster called responsibility. Their own or other people’s.
I’m sure a lot of people who have read and enjoyed Peter Pan will be fuming at my comparison of this much-loved character to an essentially weak, spineless, selfish person. No denying that is exactly what a cheater is. And yet, anyone who has ever encountered such a person may remember just what makes it possible for them to be the way they are…its called charm. People use charm like a personal wand of power. Seasoned with liberal doses of sweet words, mixed in carefully with empathy and topped with that magic ingredient….an unshakeable love of themselves. Don’t those describe Peter Pan too?
Interestingly most people I know who are this way are also very dependent. Not in the way that they need someone else to boost their egos or heal their hearts. But these are people who need someone to be the stage for the performance they put up. These are people who will wilt when the stage crumbles. Annoyingly enough, they are also resilient enough to find a new person who will be willing to be the backdrop to their antics.
Its not fair, sure it isn’t. One part of society runs around doing whatever the hell they want to with our emotions and trust. And the rest of us hang around to sweep up the broken pieces.
For my part, I wish I was a Peter Pan rather than a Wendy. But well, those who will forget, will, no matter what. And those of us who are meant to remember, just are meant to be that way.