“Trust is like blood pressure. It’s silent, vital to good health, and if abused it can be deadly.”

Frank Sonnenberg

A lifetime partner is often the goal we have as people. It’s frequently our natural desire to have that certain someone who understands us, who we trust and in turn trusts and loves us without asking for anything in return. However, what do we do when the person we’ve trusted with our entire being betrays us? There are many ways in which this betrayal can occur; lying about finances, not sticking by each other during hard times etc. But the most notable of all kinds of betrayal, that encompasses all of these ideas is infidelity.

What is Infidelity?

Infidelity itself is hard to define, there are some parts of infidelity that are completely objective, with it being up to the people in the relationship to determine whether the acts of their partner count as infidelity. But simply put, infidelity is the act of breaking a promise of devotion that you’ve made to your partner, whether it’s a promise that’s implied while dating or one that’s spoken in matrimony. The breaking of this promise is achieved through involvement with someone outside of your relationship, this involvement can be purely emotional or physical, the main idea being that you’re seeking comfort in somebody other than your partner. There can be multiple reasons why someone may commit infidelity, they could feel unsatisfied in many departments including emotionally, and sexually or there may be personal problems such as fear of commitment. Contrary to popular belief, cheating is not primarily about sex, with a study being done in which around of the participants in the study reported showing extreme care to their partner in the affair and roughly less than ⅔ reported that the relationship they formed was both emotional and physical.

While infidelity may often seem like an act done out of desperation or an uncalculated act it’s actually the opposite. Some cheaters are more “careful” than others, with some choosing to keep their affair completely private while others go on public dates and openly flaunt their affairs. Infidelity destabilizes relationships immensely, it turns a situation where you’re supposed to feel safe and comfortable into one where the party getting cheated on becomes anxious and terrified. Infidelity is meant to empower one party while disempowering the other, whether this effect is achieved consciously or unconsciously it still happens nonetheless. As a result, it then creates an environment within the relationship where the partners are constantly vying for a leg up.

The Stages of Imbalance

During the beginning stages of infidelity, the party getting cheated on is often not fully aware of the cheating, regardless of how long it may have been going on, they may have an inkling however, but nothing to confirm their suspicions. It’s during this stage that the cheating party often becomes standoffish or even angry towards their significant other. This behaviour achieves two things, it satiates the cheating party’s guilt as they try to rationalize their behaviour, resulting to blaming their partner for their cheating. This anger may manifest in the form of insults. Insulting their partner for their looks, personality, sexual abilities etc. Anything that may make their partner feel inferior. This then places the cheater in a position of power, their partner is in a constant state of suspicion and worry which often ultimately translates to the party getting cheated on trying their best to please their partner in worry of an impending doom they’re not completely aware of.

If the party being cheated on does eventually discover the infidelity, either of their own accord or by their partner telling them which happens less than 30% of the time,  this may seem like the end of the relationship but it’s often quite the opposite. Even if the partner decides to confront their cheating partner in an attempt to regain whatever trust and balance might have been lost in the relationship, often, cheaters choose to deceive. Admitting to infidelity in their minds is the equivalent of waving a white flag in defeat, and so they twist reality in an attempt to regain control of the situation. They deny whatever it is their partner may have heard or seen. A woman, Alexandra, divulges her first story account of this very situation, after finding out her long-term boyfriend had been cheating with multiple women through texts. That same morning she confronted him and he claimed she had simply “misread the texts,” Alexandra decided to believe him but the suspicions, anxiety and paranoia she felt after were all-consuming. Alexandra felt the overwhelming need all humans often feel, the need to trust someone who she believed cared about her. It was her partner who then abused that trust for the chance to not only continue the relationships outside of the relationship but also to further break down Alexandra’s mentality, creating a further imbalance of power.

Eventually, however, the party being cheated on must decide, and it’s here that they are able to regain their own power. It’s up to this party to determine, once finding out about the infidelity, if they want to continue with their relationship or leave. Only around of all relationships in which cheating occurred ended due to the affair, some relationships (a little greater than ⅕) remained despite their partner finding out about their infidelity and about the same amount stayed together due to their partner being unaware of the affair(s). Of course the ending of a relationship is not that simple, especially one of marriage in which the two parties will then have to go through the long and torturous process of divorce in which a lot of animosity can occur between the two.

Infidelity is the betrayal of trust, it’s an action that mentally affects both the cheating and non-cheating party, creating a toxic environment within the relationship of suspicion, anxiety and anger. It often destroys both the relationship and the people in it, affecting the way they love, behave and speak.

About the Author

Hi! I'm a blog writer for WEW at the uofa! I'm in my first year majoring in biology and love consuming any forms of media I can: music, reading and movies, I love them all! I hope you enjoy my blogs and come back to WEW to read more!