Posted by Jamie C. Baker
I’ve been thinking lately about cheating. NO, not like that. Cheaters is one of my favorite shows, even though I barely catch it on TV anymore. It’s somewhat fascinating to me to see people who trust each other so fully to fall apart because someone can’t keep their pants on. I don’t mean that in a cruel way; it’s never a pleasant thing to see hearts break and relationships fail. We all want love to conquer all and it simply sucks when that cannot happen. But the thing that grabs my attention even more is the trust that the cheater is putting with their new partner.
Sure, there are people out there who cheat in the dumbest possible ways, seemingly asking to get caught in the act. But for every one of them, there exists a person who is shamefully good at being unfaithful. They lead a double life effortlessly and mostly free of guilt. At least one, if not both (or more) of the people they are with are being duped into thinking that they are the only one receiving love, sex and affection. They play this game of balancing their lovers, never revealing their true colors and intentions. They cover their tracks beautifully and leave nothing in question. Even though it’s wrong, you can’t help but be slightly impressed at the way they keep blinders on everyone around them.
What I never thought about until recently is how much trust goes into these affairs. When Mike is unfaithful to his wife with Stacy, he needs to trust Stacy to keep her mouth shut, to keep her distance from his family, and to not grow too attached and do something stupid to reveal the entire ruse. (fictional people, obviously) Mike has to have faith in Stacy to either accept that he has a life away from her that he wants to keep, or that she won’t find him on Facebook or elsewhere and flip out when she discovers his wife and children. There must be an enormous amount of trust put into Stacy upon beginning the affair, and it’s incredibly hard to trust a person with so much of your life and happiness.
With social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and others, it’s near impossible to keep your personal life 100% personal. If Mike begins his affair with the intent to keep Stacy fully ignorant of his wife and family, Facebook can ruin that plan in a heartbeat. Even without a Facebook friend acceptance, Stacy would be able to see the minimal details that would show Mike to be a family man with a woman he is committed to. Photos on Instagram and Twitter can do the same. More digging from Stacy could put her in direct contact with Mike’s wife, blowing his cover and making his poor spouse very unhappy. It’s made even worse if Stacy is armed with text messages, voicemails, emails, or any other type of concrete evidence of Mike’s infidelity.
This type of trust confuses me. If you’re married (or committed to someone in the same respect without the certificate) you obviously trust that person implicitly. Trust is a hard thing to earn and to give, so it makes sense that it would go hand in hand with marriage (or similar commitment). It’s not something you give to everyone, yet the cheater gives it to their new lover almost effortlessly. They get flirtatious and cross the line, surely knowing full well that their new lover could tear their world down in a second. Yet they trust this person not to do so. They trust that this person will understand and respect the boundaries and rules put into place, even though they have no reason to respect anything.
I imagine that while cheating, the trust does begin to bend a bit. The cheater generally begins to lose trust for their spouse or primary partner, thinking that they are the one lying and sneaking around. They project their activities onto this person, analyzing their every move and every word. I suspect that they may even do this with the person they are cheating with, assuming that they are doing their own share of sneaking around. The trust wavers, not because of the other parties, but because the cheater subconsciously acknowledges that they are betraying the trust of someone important to them. But even then, the motivation to stop simply isn’t there.
Mike could have been called out by his wife on his activities that don’t match up to his stories, he could be called out by Stacy after she discovers that his background isn’t what he has presented it to be, but that still isn’t always enough for Mike to cut ties with Stacy (or his wife) and decide to live and love honestly. Even in the face of failure, the cheater maintains the trust and faith that things will work out and run smoothly. It makes no sense to put faith in something so broken, but people are out there doing it every single day.
Trust is an important thing and it’s sad that these strange perversion of trust exists out there and gives cheaters validation to do what they do. But it may also be their ultimate downfall. When you’re doing something shady, any trust you give to your accomplice is tainted and destined to shatter. You can’t play with someone’s emotions and then expect nothing negative to come of it. You can’t assume that your penis pictures won’t see the light of day eventually after you tick off your new lover due to your inability to commit to just him/her. If you’re going to trust in anything while cheating, trust in this: It will fall apart and it will fall hard. Secrets aren’t well kept when everything we do can be put online or emailed in a screenshot. Everyone has their limits and eventually your “other” will get tired of that status and your secrets will be revealed. Unless your trust also comes with total and complete honesty, it is destined to crumble and take you down with it.