A while back, my friend Veronica, cheated on her boyfriend Dale. Veronica and Dale had been going through a rough patch, when she met a charming man who made her feel beautiful and wanted. In a moment of weakness, she slept with him. I remember Veronica calling me, hysterically crying and hyperventilating. She wanted to know what she should do.
She had already called a mutual friend and asked for his advice, and he had immediately berated her for her decision and called her every dirty name under the sun. He told her than she had 24 hours to tell Dale or he would do it himself. Veronica was beside herself, she could barely talk on the phone.
I had this moment of clarity then… I realized it was not my place to judge or to tell Veronica what to do. Every relationship is different, and you just don’t know what is going on unless you are in that relationship. It isn’t anyone else’s place to give ultimatums or threaten with exposure. It was none of my business whether she told or not, and I couldn’t possibly judge her for any decision she made. It was a mistake, and mistakes happen.
I think it’s these moments where everyone judges. We hear the word “cheat” and we draw conclusions that we have no business drawing. An outsider to a relationship will never be able to grasp the nuances and complexities of any given relationship, so it’s simply unfair to pass judgement based on a limited knowledge of the relationship.
Our readiness to judge others based on cheating is a result of our own bias. I have been cheated on, and I hate cheaters. The idea makes me angry, but this is a byproduct of my own experiences. When I hear the word “cheater” I think of them as people with huge and glaring personality problems. I think of weak-minded, selfish, and mean people. I think of cheaters as “takers,” the kind of people that take and take from you and that drain you of the desire to love.
But then I think about the men that have cheated on me… and I know they were not bad people. They were definitely not nice to me, but that doesn’t make them bad people. I know many people that have cheated on their significant others, and this does not make them bad people either. And, if I were being honest, I would tell you that I have cheated too and I still do not think of myself as a bad person.
This is not to say that cheating is “okay” or should be tolerated, I simply mean to say that cheating is not dispositive of the entirety of a person’s character. Instead… it’s something that is simply none of anyone’s business but the parties involved.
I’ll leave you with the rest of Veronica’s story as an illustration of this. Veronica told Dale about the whole thing… including our friend who threatened to tell. Dale? Well, Dale went around and told every single person that he was the luckiest man alive, because not only was he in a relationship with someone beautiful and smart, but someone who was brutally honest too. They are still together today. I always meant to ask Veronica how it all transpired to turn out that way, but then I remember… It is simply NONE of my business!!!