WARNING: This post is on the topic of cheating. And other things that piss readers off. 😁
Two nights ago, I came across an article on social media titled: The Night I Gave My Husband A Free Pass — which of course was perfect click-bait material for a married female and thus I ended up reading the piece and then promptly found myself falling down the rabbit hole that was the comments and…it DEVASTATED me.
I mean you would have thought that I inserted myself into the reality of someone else’s life and was in fact living it. That’s how devastated I was. :)
As a writer, I guess that’s sort of the way the job works…one seeks to understand.
But honestly, I was kind shocked (and it takes a lot these days) that so many people had commented agreeing with the author that they too were in her position (pun unintended ) and wanted nothing less than to be intimate with their partner.
That said, the article got me thinking as…once upon a time I wrote a book about a woman who had an affair and explored whether a “free pass” is ever OK. And then I was reamed for it by many readers. They HATED the character I created. It mattered not that her husband may or may not have also been unfaithful. The fact that she was a wife and mother and behaved in such a manner seemed (even in 2013) absurd and almost unspeakable. And I guess, I get it….cheating in books is often a line drawn in the sand for many readers. It’s a hot button topic, one that can be painful. But to say that I saw that kind of criticism coming though would be a lie.
In any case, it was a real experience for growth on my part in regard to what I allow to bother me. Meaning that almost always unconstructive criticism is not about the receiver at all. But that’s a story for another time.
Still, I felt that infidelity and its aftermath was a topic worth exploring in fiction— which is in large part how one book ended up becoming a trilogy. And on the flip side of the hate mail I received I also heard from people from all over who wrote to me to tell me of their own experiences with infidelity. Due to the shame surrounding it (from both the cheater and the cheated) I think that many of them were looking for a safe place to share their story and I was glad for it. That alone has made all of the (mean-spirited) criticism (mostly;) worth it. To be able to bear witness to both sides of the coin has afforded me greater perspective on what it takes to maintain a relationship and the importance of doing so.
I also learned (and it’s just my opinion) that the fear of infidelity is secondary only to that of death.
Neither of which we understand very much about—I might add.
So while I am NOT in any way, shape, or form saying I condone cheating, dishonesty, or betrayal I am hopeful that by discussing the topic— in a constructive manner it will bring about some small form of change.
And I do believe that creating an open dialogue particularly within relationships about the importance of intimacy— of meeting each other’s needs and understanding what those needs are— and how they may evolve or differ over time might bring about change that prevents betrayal and infidelity from occurring in the first place.
Lastly, full disclosure, I’m certainly no expert on the subject matter. But I did do a hefty amount of research (as I’m currently finishing the last book in the series) into sex workers and being a Dominatrix by trade and I will say that in my experience unmet needs and the feeling that one cannot be honest with their partner about said needs is often times what leads clients to seek services. Whether that is right or wrong—is not something I care to judge or discuss. It is what it is. My job was simply to tell the story as honestly as I could.
Undoubtedly some will say that what I’ve written above takes the blame off of the betrayer. That’s not my intention.
People that hurt those they love clearly have issues that need to be addressed. And more importantly they should have been honest. I’m not debating that.
But the truth is no one wants to believe that betrayal will occur in their relationship.
Until it does.
And then have to access where the blame for the breakdown in the relationship lies— beyond the indiscretion—and rarely is it pretty.
If that breakdown can be avoided I merely suggesting that we discuss how so.
I’m just the messenger.
Please don’t shoot. :)
P.S. If you’re interested in the topic, this video is certainly FOOD FOR THOUGHT: