This article is so interesting. Our opinions on morality and the way we feel entitled to our opinions of morality being honored socially….I wonder. What is really the problem with infidelity from a more survival based perspective? Does it actually in reality hurt anyone on a physical level (barring the passing of diseases)? Or is it more of an emotional upset we are trying to avoid with boundaries and rules? I myself, am not sure. But its such an interesting thing to think about.

Add yours Comments – 17

  • Josh Neff

    on January 22, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    I think this also points to the question of monogamy. I think monogamy is a social construct, not something humans are inherently programmed for. I suspect the French are culturally more tolerant of non-monogamous relationships than most Americans are (except for those people who clearly identify as non-monogamous or polyamorous, like Mo’Nique and Amanda Palmer, to name two famous people that immediately come to mind, or a number of my friends and me, none of whom are in any way famous). Our most popular stories in novels, movies, TV shows tell us that the most desirable relationships are monogamous ones that will last “forever” and being non-monogamous means infidelity, which is WRONG. I think you ask some very good questions about infidelity. It’s really, really interesting to think about.

  • Amber Topping

    on January 22, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    I’ll take the opposite stance! It is a difficult question and definitely deserves thinking about, but I do believe infidelity is wrong. That said, do I think infidelity is something that can be forgiven? Yes. But I do think it can hurt people severely. It may be natural to cheat and not be monogamous, but as human beings I believe we can show restraint. Maybe I’m idealistic and romantic, but I do believe that two people can love each other and devote their lives to each other without turning to cheating. I’ve seen people happily do it. I’m someone who admires loyalty more than anything. However, mistakes can be made since we are human after all. But I still see them as mistakes, especially when you make promises to the other person and then you break that trust. Also, the emotional trauma can become physically harmful from the aftereffects of said emotional experiences. I have seen it happen to people I care about and I’ve seen it also destroy people emotionally, whether they were the cheater, the one being cheated on, or even the one who participated in the cheating with the committed person. It even effects children. I believe there is right and there is wrong and infidelity is wrong as well as damaging to many of the people involved. If people didn’t think it was wrong they wouldn’t go to such extremes to hide it. That all said, again I do think it’s something that can be forgiven and maybe some people can be a little too quick to become too harsh and unforgiving; but then I’m not in their shoes. Perhaps we can all learn more compassion and be more forgiving of infidelity when it happens. Maybe if we try to understand why the person cheated. Though, at the end of the day I think some social rules are there for a reason. We don’t want to become animals just because we feel the urge to do something. That’s just me! Thanks for your thoughts on the subject. It’s always interesting to see varying thoughts on subjects like these.

  • Florian Dis Mer

    on January 22, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    I think, that’s not a question about morality! I learned, that it’s about the deepness of feelings. Infidelity is not about forgiving. It’s the wrong side. Forgiving is something that happens afterwards. After the act. Infidelity has nothing to do about sex, but about the game, risk, and the step before… It’s about the question, if you can get away with it… You risk your relationship… …it’s a game… you risk everything or nothing… The act ist not importent… …the step before is…!!! I’ve learned the hard way, that a relationship has many reasons… …real love, help and many more reasons. Real love is rare. I’ve not found it, so I believe, that infidelity is a sign, that my opposite “partner” has not found “real love” yet. Infidelity is a sign, that real love is not present in the relationship. It means… …it’s not a real relationship! It’s not real love… I believe in truth… …I believe in helping others and in not cheating! It’s not about the “act” of infidelity, but the step before. It’s about the trust and the breaking of this trust. The Idear of infidelity or using the opportunity or getting away with it…! It means, that the feelings are not real love. Forgivness means only, that you’re ok with the fact, that you love the other person more and are willing to suffer… …for your love. If you’re in the position, than yu forgive… ..but you deserve more. In conclusion: It’s not real love. I’ve not found my real love, but I hope, that she’s out there… …and she shares my believes. Because in real love there will never be this question. The question of forgiving means, that real love is’nt present. I hope, that my believes aren’t wrong and I’ll find the true love, that shares my believes… …because that mean, there is no room for infidelity in real love!

    I hope, there is still a place in our society, where selfishness isn’t the top priority! I rather suffer for the opportunity of real love and my believes, than loose hope. I played and lost, but there is still hope. I believe, that it’s not a question of forgiving, but about the depth of love. It shows, how deep you love someone… Forgivness means, that you are willing to suffer in your believe in your real love. My expirence has shown me, that infidelity means, that real love is not present, because you’re not loved… …as you love.

    So it’s not a question of you are frensh, german or american, It’s a question about real love and if you are willing to suffer for your love…

    i don’t want hurt people severel… …and that means, that I don’t cheat. I rather be truthfull that play the “game”. I’ve been destroyed by indidelity or lies emotionally and I’ll not do it to others. I rather will truthfull than cheat. I rather hurt myself than others. It’s in my upbringing. I hope, that I find my true love this way, because my greatest compliment in live was from e greek poet, that said: “Never loose your open sight!”. Maybe it’s naive, but it’s my way of life…

    It’s not about social rules , but about your upbringing and your believes. It’s about your love and your willingness to suffer… Is your forgivness worth the suffering…? I learned, that I’ve not found my real love and the forgiving and my suffering was only hurting myself. There was no real love, but I stil lhave no regrets. I tried… …I hoped… …and I lost… …but it still doesn’t mean, that that there is no real love out there for me. I believe in others… …and I still hope in real love!

    (Excuse my english, because it’s not my mother tongue!)

  • michael j

    on January 22, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    It hurts both. The emotional is obvious, but the physical comes from those so hurt that it leads them to a breakdown of their life. Nothing hurts more than someone you love breaking your heart and it can lead to drinking, drugs, depression and countless other things that will all effect your body physically.

  • Chloe Harding

    on January 22, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Personally I have been cheated on in a couple of relationships with the person fully aware of my feelings against it. I think the risk is fun for some people but I would never be willing to risk that in my own relationship no matter how good looking the other person is. I feel like one of my close friends has given her husband far too many chances after being unfaithful to her many times and I have seen how stressful it is not leaving a relationship like that. I also believe that once a cheater always a cheater is a good way to look out for people that have a tendency to stray from their partners. If I would have went with that theory when I was much younger I would have avoided two of my worse relationships. I think the morality behind the issue comes from each individual, to me I think it is morally wrong to cheat because my partner is aware of my views, now if you had an open relationship there wouldn’t be a morality issue because the unfaithfulness isn’t exactly what is morally wrong it’s the act of betrayal.

  • Aaron

    on January 22, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    It’s wrong; point blank. We aren’t in a world where you gotta spread your seed to help keep the race alive.We are now beings that use reasoning in an over populated world. Open relationships are just an excuse to have your cake and eat it too without having to settle. To willingly disregard someones feelings and do them wrong; so wrong when you promised them to you and you to them? We aren’t animals; and we have hearts, use them and don’t do something or put yourself in a potential situation that may cause you to hurt a person you ”claim” to love. I wouldn’t call cheating animalistic; more like savage and unbecoming.

  • Z

    on January 22, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    There’s an evolutionary reason that humans are predisposed to prefer monogamy. From the Wikipedia article on jealousy:

    The emotion evolved in order to maximize the success of our genes: it is a biologically based emotion (Prinz after Buss and Larsen, 2004, p. 120) selected to foster the certainty about the paternity of one’s own offspring. A jealous behavior, in men, is directed into avoiding sexual betrayal and a consequent waste of resources and effort in taking care of someone else’s offspring.

    The gender-based differences are interesting too; women tend to fear emotional infidelity in their partner (no one to help me raise my offspring), while men tend to fear sexual infidelity (am I wasting my time raising a child who is not my own?).

    • Josh Neff

      on January 23, 2014 at 12:07 pm

      Citing a biological reason for jealousy and extrapolating that monogamy is the natural human relationship is really, really problematic, just like using biology to say that men are naturally non-monogamous because they’re biologically driven to spread their seed to as many different partners as possible. Yes, we have some biological programming, but we also have powerful cultural programming. Historically, cultures have had different attitudes towards monogamy than we do in the US today. And different cultures today have different attitudes towards monogamy. Among consenting adults, there’s no objective “right relationship” and “wrong relationship,” but the stories we’re confronted with in the US–in novels, movies, TV shows, magazine articles, advertising–teach us that the ideal relationship is two people finding their “soul mates” and living in a monogamous romantic and sexual relationship “forever and ever,” and any extramarital romantic and sexual relationships are ABSOLUTELY WRONG. But the reality is a lot more varied and complicated.

      Even bringing up issues of “men have one attitude towards monogamy and infidelity while women have a different attitudes” brings up questions of gender, sexuality, and the way our society teaches us how men and women ARE. What does this mean for transgender people? What does it mean for same-sex couples? What does it mean for women who aren’t interested in living monogamously (and anecdotally speaking, I know a number of women like this). And if Aaron is right that “open relationships are just an excuse to have your cake and eat it too without having to settle,” well, as long as we’re talking about consenting adults, what’s wrong with having your cake and eating it, too? Cake is delicious!

  • Josh Neff

    on January 22, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    I wrote a really long follow-up comment about the different between infidelity and open relationships/polyamory, about what goes on between consenting adults and how it isn’t anyone else’s business to judge, and how relationships are generally complicated in all kinds of ways…but it got eaten. *sigh* So, um, let’s pretend I wrote something really profound and thought-provoking, OK?

  • Sunrisegirl

    on January 23, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Everyone has such interesting perspectives! So cool! I don’t have a super long comment, but I just wanted to point out people who are swingers, and have their own communities. I don’t necessarily think that that is wrong, because that’s their personal choice, and the people in that community are also supporting that same value. However, I don’t think it’s fair for someone who wants a non-monogamous relationship to be with someone who does not want one, because that would put both members of the relationship up to false expectations: one expects a relationship where infidelity is okay, and the other expects an exclusive relationship. There has to be a mutual understanding between the two people.
    Great post Allison!

  • Steve K

    on January 23, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Having sex with someone releases a few different ‘bonding hormones’, Oxytocin is the best known. If the sex was a one night stand you immediately break this bond. This can cause morning after letdown, regret or depression.

    In other words you select someone as a sex partner. Your hormones tell your brain that you have bonded. Then your brain imprints this pair bond and begins to create an emotional bond.

    I think that about 20% of men and women can have many sex partners with little effect on the psyche, they do not bond due to a relatively small hormone release. The other 80% will bond to different degrees depending on the amount of hormones released and how it receptive they are to it.

    But say that you bond strongly (large hormone release). You attempt to live the swinging life style but each time you break a bond you add some depression. Time after time, year after year until eventually a shrink puts you on an anti depressant.

    Sexual morality is a set of rules that develop over many generations. The culture discovered that this behavior resulted in the greatest happiness/health for the greatest number of people.

    Since the ‘sexual revolution’ of the 60’s people that bond weakly have been driving American sexual culture. They got what they wanted, ‘free love’. But what about the other 80%. Since the 60’s suicide, depression and divorce have skyrocketed, is there a connection. The sexual revolution was supposed to make us happier…. wasn’t it?

  • Raygun

    on January 24, 2014 at 12:42 am

    As the human animal, there is nothing wrong with it. As the human civilized, it’s straight up wrong.
    I see it like this. A spouse should be your best friend, someone you can confide in. Anything that upsets that, including infidelity, can disrupt that trust and you start to throw up defenses against the very person whom you thought loved you, and whom you love. Once this starts, its very hard to get back to that all trusting state. I feel it is imperative to a relationship for people to be honest and trustworthy. The second the man or the woman starts being selfish and placing their desires first…that is the second the relationship starts to fail. Marriage is about the man giving his everything to the woman, and the woman giving her everything to the man.

    Also, there are roughly 50% men on the planet and 50% women. Any one person who chooses to be greedy and keep multiple partners, is also taking a partner or potential love from someone else. Only if the unfaithful is an equal balance will things work out.

    So..for me, its easy. I have never been unfaithful and I never will be.

  • AT

    on January 25, 2014 at 4:56 am

    The wisdom of God replaced with the insanity of man. As the world delves into ever-greater chaos and tyranny, know that it is God who delivers liberty and men who destroy it.

  • O.D.D. OldDutchDavid

    on January 26, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    First, I think if you are talking about infidelity, what do you mean? Talking about it or doing it?
    A lot of cultures think very different about that.
    Second, I think, if there is enough love and trust between people ( two or even a group) why think of infidelity?
    Trust is a big part of the whole issue. It is not all about sex.

  • Eleutherna

    on January 27, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Forgiving infidelity and non monogamous relationships are two very different things! I am french, and I have never personally heard of polygamous people. trust me, these people would be shunned, because most french can be intolerant. I suspect french people are more forgiving because of
    1) family (for the children)
    2) less religious influences & the thought that god would forgive
    3) the belief that “men are men”, but they will come back to their wives
    4) fear of having to start over and give up their confort and habbits
    5) belief in “for the better and for the worse”
    6) culturally accepted – movie, books or even by society in general
    However i think that this apply mostly to the older generation. Me and my friends are all in our mid twenties and we do not think that way, our parents do.

  • Jared Annis

    on February 3, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Infidelity isn’t the betrayal of love or faith, it’s the betrayal of trust. Physically I believe there is nothing wrong with a relationship between multiple people; However infidelity isn’t the act of taking another lover, it’s the betrayal of a current lover.

    From a more morbid perspective fidelity relies on control; You don’t want your partner with anyone other than yourself, you want that person as part of your life and not anyone else’s. It’s why friendships between married women and unmarried men and vice versa just don’t seem to work out in so many occasions. That said, it also goes back to times when men married women and expected them to be faithful and obey. In modern days where equality is, thankfully, freely given to all, it is simply the natural viewpoint; The view of the religious and the majority, raised to believe in monogamy.

    Alternatively, there are married couples that sleep with others, and this would only be considered infidelity by certain religions as it is approved of by the partner of the married person in question. Sleeping with another behind their back, however, is completely different. Basically it’s all about views and tradition. It is fully possible to love multiple people and be married, yet have it not be considered infidelity.

    If my partner asked me to sleep with only them and I truly loved them enough, I could gladly be monogamous. However, if I loved more than one person, no matter how much it would hurt either of us I would be completely honest and accept their decision. Fidelity isn’t sleeping with just one person or loving only one person, it’s about trusting and being honest to them. Marriage isn’t fidelity, it’s simply a bonding oath. How you treat your partner(s), how much you trust or believe in them, and they in you, that is what defines fidelity. (In my opinion.)

  • guest2

    on August 29, 2014 at 6:33 am

    even in France, only 12% said it was morally acceptable. So, 47% said it was morally wrong and 41% essentially said it isnt right but I’m not judging you for it.