High Infidelity

Infidelity is a complex subject so I'm not going to try and give a few glib answers about why people do it but it does seem to me that people are a lot less enlightened about infidelity these days than you might think. In the old days it was, Oh Mrs Simmons from 93 had an affair and everyone knows her son Jimmy isn't really Mr Simmons' but let's not talk about it. Basically you just ignored the fact your husband or wife was up to no good and let the pain fester like a septic wound until you died because divorce was taboo.

I remember visiting my granddad (83) after being out of touch for many years - a British upper class somewhat overbearing character - in his cottage in England. My grandmother had died ten years before and actually I was pretty fond of her. So we're having a chat about the weather and the price of petrol when I notice there are no pictures of my gran anywhere in the sitting room and there is some other old woman plastered all over the place. So I say, "Oh, who's that?"

He doesn't bat an eyelid and says, "Oh that's Daphne, my lover. She's been my lover all my life." He then goes on to tell me he's been bonking her all these years while I want to put my fingers in my ears and scream, please make him stop! Then he goes on to say after gran died he married this old bird and bought her a flat and they moved in together. All very touching, until she died after falling off a bus. I don't know, I just thought, you jerk. Did you really have to tell me that you are basically going to pretend your wife didn't exist? It really turned my stomach. His attitude was quite modern I suppose: let it all hang out, let's not brush this under the carpet, but he was the type that existed then and exists now, a kind of sociopath who feels no guilt whatsoever for his behavior even though now, looking back I am sure my gran knew what he was up to because I remember her calling him ten times a day at the office and being jealous of other women etc etc.

But my point is this, it takes two to tango and the one who is cheating does so precisely because they know he/she can get away with it. I know so many women, married with kids, whose partners have cheated and they sort of forgive them and then guess what, the guy does it again. I think maybe you can forgive them once but after that you have to simply slash their tires and change the locks.

Like this woman Sally I know who has a daughter and told me recently that her husband has been cheating on her for the ten years they have been married. She said, "He recently confessed that two months after we were married he was with some prostitutes, but that doesn't bother me, that was just blowjobs with condoms."

"I don't get that. How could he do it after two months?"

"Well he'd do it after we'd had rows."

"Still ..." The situation here is it was obvious this guy was a real weirdo if he was doing this so soon into his marriage. Maybe it simply slipped his mind that he was married.

"But recently he got involved with a woman at work, emotionally involved, and that really bothered me. He told me it was finished but then I went round to her flat and found them in there and I confronted them, and I really think that affair is now over. And now I've joined a church and Peter is coming and he's going to get control of his impulses. It's for our daughter - you can't just throw in the towel. He says he's sorry and he won't do it again and I believe he can change."

Well I applaud her faith in human nature but I don't think he will change. Now, I'm not saying I am pure as the driven snow. I had a boyfriend once - for some reason although we were very close we could never commit to each other - who after we split up moved in with another woman and we'd sleep with eachother sometimes and I can't say I felt any guilt. Still, I wasn't the one attached (justifying it to myself!)

So, where would you draw the line? Could you forgive your wife/husband/partner for cheating on you? It just seems to me like it is a slippery slope.