The author of this story delves into this thorny issue after one of her friends confesses to being unfaithful.
By Victoria Roisman
Laura: “I feel terrible, I've cheated on Peter,” said Laura while tears began to well up in her eyes.
Vicky: “I can't believe you did such a thing. You've been un…”
While I struggled to say the word, my own thoughts became silent, inarticulate. Apparently, what Laura did happens in some couples, but for me, being unfaithful is definitely on the Don’t list of love. Suddenly, a feeling of emptiness took hold of me.
I found myself passing judgement on a friend, not for what she was, but rather for what she had done. Why did I feel this way, so confused inside? Honestly, I couldn’t see it myself. It was at that precise moment that I wondered why I had such a conception of unfaithfulness. Basically, for me, it was synonymous with betrayal.
My mind slowly began to drift away from the conversation. I felt that cheating on a partner was the greatest crime of love and that there were no excuses for such action. Yet, I failed to see where my beliefs stood. Faraway memories of my parents and grandparents brought some kind of certainty to my puzzled heart.
Though not explicitly, as a child they had taught me that choosing to spend a lifetime with someone not only implied respect, passion, sacrifice, and love, but it also implied devotion. “When you love, you commit: commitment to one and for once,” my grandma used to say. Probably, my concept of unfaithfulness was rooted in that simple and loaded word: commitment.
My mind kept on wandering when images of me as an innocent and madly-in-love teenager suddenly came back to me. How powerful I felt walking next to him the first time, how great it was to hear him say “I'll always be yours,” and how stupid I felt knowing we were no longer a couple. After this episode, I made a list in my head of what to do when it comes to love. Basically, we have to give and receive, offer and take, to put it simply: exchange emotional experiences. Yet, the Don’t list was quite empty; the only word written there was unfaithfulness.
As a young adult, all these memories and thoughts of unfaithfulness felt like an anchor: I had to break free or go under, but I could not remain there lingering in the sea of mixed feelings. Who was I anyway to claim what was right and wrong about love? Was I even sure that love had such strict delimitations? Silence. I have realized that my structural mind had pushed my way out of love.
Maybe infidelity is not the enemy of love; maybe unfaithfulness is not a close friend of love either, but it is a casual acquaintance love might (hopefully not) bump into one day.
Vicky: "un... maybe you're being unfairly judgmental with yourself… Tell me more about it".
Cover photo: Milan Popovic
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