There are a lot of misconceptions about affairs and cheating spouses. Perhaps the biggest misconception is that it could never (or would never) happen to you. “I know my husband…he would never cheat!” or “I hate cheaters…I could never be one!” However, cheaters aren’t born cheaters. Many times, they are not horrible individuals who set out to hurt their spouses, but rather, regular people who have found themselves caught in a messy situation.
Maybe it starts at home: his wife stops showing affection, loses her sex drive, is quicker to snap with him, even ignores him altogether. When this coldness is carried on for months or years, the interest of another woman can be hard to decline. This new woman doesn’t get after him (again!) for not doing the dishes. She doesn’t roll her eyes when he says she looks pretty today. She has no obligations to be with him—only her desire. More often than you may think, it is an emotional connection that leads men to cheat, rather than a need for sex.
Another misconception about cheating is that it is primarily men who are doing the cheating. The old stereotype of a man leaving his wife to be with his secretary has lingered long after its legitimacy left. More and more, it is women who are straying. With such popular television shows as Desperate Housewives, the women feel they are lacking something in their relationship, and venture out to find it. As is the case with many men, women may decide to stray if they are not receiving adequate attention and affection at home.
Recently, I talked with a female friend. She is not your archetypal cheater: she loves her husband, is dedicated to their marriage, and has never had thoughts of straying before. However, she confessed that an ongoing email conversation with a coworker has lately turned inappropriate. It started with a typical office email, in which they made jokes at the bottoms of memos, shared funny stories, or secretly gossiped about coworkers. As friends, they even talked a bit about their respective relationships. He revealed he was not happy, while at the same time, always comparing her to his wife. “You’re so much cooler,” he had said. “If we were single, I would much rather be with you.” After weeks of hearing how great she was or how beautiful she looked that day, her will was starting to cave. Furthermore, the emails had begun getting steamy and suggestive.
It has been said that once that seed of desire has been planted, it’s hard to not let it bloom. She went home every night and automatically focused on her husband’s flaws: how much better-looking, fitter, or attentive her coworker was.
And that, right there, is essentially why people cheat: the grass on the other side is greener. They become accustomed to the grass right in front of them. When that grass starts to brown from lack of attention and care, they can’t help but focus on the bright green grass across the street. What they don’t see, however, is that that same vibrant grass will, with time, also start to brown if they are not careful.