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“Caught in the act” is what the News Reporter called it.

She was a married woman, an upstanding citizen, an active community member and a model Teacher respected among her peers.

But a secret relationship with a student came to light suddenly. Her husband, who suspected something was amiss, walked in on ‘the act’ in a parking lot. She was caught red-handed cheating on him.

“After being married for more than 37 years I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair.”

These were the words of Gen. David Petraeus who resigned as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, for “. . . behavior . . .  unacceptable, both as a husband and as a leader . . . “, addressing his staff last week.

It was the most “stupidest thing I have done in the whole relationship. . . .”  was how Arnold Schwarzenegger puts it, when asked, after being caught cheating on his wife.

Many people have been caught in this slippery trap!

Those in the spotlight, and those in no light at all.

The young and old alike.

The wealthy and the not-so-wealthy.

It is this trap commonly called. . .

Cheating.

In its simplest form, cheating is when someone in a committed relationship, steps out of that parameter and secretly engages another person in a similar relationship reserved exclusively in the first relationship. It always involves acting dishonestly to avoid being caught.

It can be a physical act, an emotional one, on the internet, in the parking lot, an office, a hotel or even in texting.  (In my next post, I will address what constitutes cheating.)

Why do people in committed relationships cheat?

Surprisingly, the answer is simple; because they want to!

It is always a matter of choice and those who go on that path choose to do that.  “It just happened”, like an accident – stumbling into a ditch – is just an excuse, a timid cover-up for this gross irresponsibility and diminution of accountability.

No one can make you cheat!

Gen. Petraeus puts it best when he said it was “poor judgment”,  and acknowledged the affair was a “colossal mistake”.

And that is where the blame should be squarely placed. On the one who does the cheating; the Cheater.  

It is an issue of personal choice, preference, responsibility, and integrity at the core of all human beings.

So the question should be . . .

 . . . . . why do people make this poor decision to become unfaithful?

The focus here is the poor judgment on the part of the offending party, the Cheater.

There are many reasons why people willfully make the conscious choice to become unfaithful. But none includes the action or inaction of the offended partner. It begins with a decision by the Cheater.

While many reasons often cited include: 

Lack of communication

Boredom

‘Needs’ not being satisfied

Revenge, or getting even

Being under the control of evil spirits

 . . . . . and many other flimsy excuses like, “Just wanting to see how it felt like .”  These are no valid reasons, but mere justifications for desiring and eating the forbidden fruit.

The basic drive operating below the veneer of infidelity is, as Dr. Dobson  in his book, Love Must Be Tough, best puts it,

“. . . the way one spouse begins to perceive the other and their lives together. It is a subtle thing at first, often occurring without either partner being aware of the slippage.  But as time passes, one individual begins to feel trapped.” (Bold and Italics added)

For the trapped person, love and commitment becomes a burdensome obligation rather than a sacred honor, and an amazingly delightful privilege.  They eventually ‘reveal’ their disenchantment in cheating ways that violate commitment to themselves first, and then to their partners.

Of course, the debate and passionate discourse will continue to include the other reasons because life IS complexly messy, and we humans like to further complicate things!

 But slipping and dipping is a simple matter of personal responsibility!

 In your opinion, what constitutes cheating?