I started watching the show Doctor Foster on Netflix the other day (yes, I am VERY behind), and it got me thinking about the psychological stress people go through when they have been cheated on. The questions, you begin to ask yourself, unpacking and reliving major or even minor events in your life, to see if there were any signs you missed. Wondering how you could be so blind and essentially blaming yourself for potentially pushing them away or for being “too much”; in whatever capacity that means. This week on the blog, though both are horrible experiences, I share why I believe emotional cheating to be worse than physically. Hear me out…
I want to be transparent and I will tell you that I have been cheated on both emotionally and physically by ex-partners and for my part in some ways I have also cheated emotionally as well (I’ll explain). Relationships are hard, they require work, you can’t fake it and you have to commit, to invest time, to reinforce and to nurture the bond(s) that got you there in the first place. We know this, and we also know that it’s not like the movies. Life happens, we work, we go to school, we are busy and in most cases take the person/people closest to us for granted. I was in a 13 year relationship; the beginning stages of that relationship was spent on two different continents- me in Canada and him in Europe. Was it hard, of course, but did it feel like it, no- because we found ways to remain connected, I was literally glued to my phone and was for all intents and purposes wrapped up in all that was him, despite him being time zones away. There was plans, letters, calls, video chatting, emails sent, gifts and all the typical things young and distance love entails. It’s cute, the flirting, the lovely messages, all build a foundation of connection, intimacy and desire. When you’re already in a relationship, to take the time, the effort the energy to invest in someone outside your relationship, to send intimate, loving flirty messages/intensions to someone else is not only a kick in the gut-it is devastating. Especially if it seemed to come out of nowhere.
Cheating is a choice, not a mistake.
Although, I fully accept that physical cheating is one of the worst betrayals, in most cases, people don’t tend to fall on top of random people naked. There is groundwork laid, the very notion of having to hide it, the lies, the deceit, the living a double life and all the little lies that are required in order to keep the main lie hidden. It is multilayered and it becomes a slippery slope. Even the feelings leading up to any of these small decisions are in and of themselves little betrayals. you don’t go walking one day and bam! When you decide you want to be in a relationship with someone, but if the boundaries are set, respected and ultimately reinforced, there would never be an opening or opportunity for anything to happen with someone other than your partner. So for me the lead up is what makes emotional cheating so much worse than the physical.