Out of the three of my most significant relationships, two of them have been marred by infidelity. For some, this would lead to a life-long suspicion that really, everyone they’d ever date would find their penis a nice home in another vagina, to me it’s just one of those things that just is. To date, I’ve never gone through my husband, The Daver’s, cell phone looking for the record of an illicit phone call, nor would I…unless I suspected that he was using another woman’s vagina as a beer caddy for his penis. But I don’t go walking around worrying about “when it happens” or “if it’s going to happen” because really, my past doesn’t dictate my future. Plus, he knows that I’d go all Carrie Underwood on his ass and beat the bejesus out of him and the pick-up truck he doesn’t own, so there’s that.
There’s still the question, though, of why cheating happens in the first place. Of the two times it happened to me, the worst was when I was pregnant with my son, and it wasn’t just because I felt as attractive as an ox in toe shoes. It was the massive sense of betrayal and of helplessness that went along with it. There’s very little as vulnerable as a pregnant woman, and for someone like me, twenty years old, isolated from her family and living in an emotionally abusive relationship, this was just one more thing.
After he didn’t come home one night, I knew what was going on. My spidey-sense was strong and I just knew. So the next morning when he rolled in with hickeys on his neck claiming he “didn’t get much sleeping done, hahahaha” there wasn’t much left to be said that my fists of fury didn’t already say for me. He got a black eye for that one. If I’d have been any smarter, I’d have cut off his testicles and force-fed them to him. His excuse later on was that “he was scared” about his impending fatherhood and I suppose sticking his penis into someone else was his way of acting out.
But it bothered me for ages, long after I stopped being indignant, long after I expelled my crotch parasite, long after I dumped his sorry ass, why did he do it? Why had it happened again? I couldn’t think of any good reason why I’d been cheated on once again by an entirely different guy under entirely different circumstances and really, I had no good answers.
Science, my trusty and nerdly sidekick, thinks it can explain some of it. Turns out, some white coated geneticists have discovered that a gene known as “334.” Those without the gene, or with only one copy of have showed (in preliminary studies) to be more monogamous, interested in family life, and caring for their young. Conversely, those with TWO copies of the “334” gene seem to be either unmarried or have a greater difficulty in monogamy. Turns out, fidelity may have a genetic, not simply a social or emotional, link which is interesting and science-y, but not exactly an excuse.
Genetics aside, clearly there are other factors that go into why a partner chooses to cheat and shockingly (to me), most of the time, they have nothing to to do with the actual sex act itself. Most of the time, men cheat because they’re unhappy. In this case, he was furious with me for having the audacity to get knocked up while on the pill and then “ruining his life” and then “trapping him.” Always the smart ass, I snappily asked him if it was for his money or his good looks, which was a joke because he wasn’t working, instead preferring to lay around playing old Nintendo video games while I worked. This was his way of showing me just how unhappy he was in our relationship, and while I wasn’t particularly happy with it either, I was mature enough to know that that wasn’t the way to handle it.
There are countless articles devoted to reasons that men cheat, and with services such as Ashley Madison being so popular is it any surprise? Most say that it’s just because that’s what golly-gee-shucks men do and there’s nothing we can do about it, because clearly there’s no such thing as personal accountability in a relationship (no matter how floundering they are). In that case, it’s clear that biology is biology and we should just give up and allow ourselves to have free reign over whatever it is that we want to do. I mean, let’s give into ALL of our primal urges, right? Nah, I don’t think so. I’m willing to bet that none of you do, either.
Men often claim, just to drive the stake in a little deeper, that they cheat because their spouse drove them to it for one reason or another. Maybe she didn’t lose all of the baby weight or stopped prancing around in those adorable little nighties as much as she used to. Maybe he feels that they no longer connect with each other, or he’s afraid of intimacy. Or maybe she just doesn’t give it up enough and Rosey Palm and her Five Sisters aren’t doin’ it for him. For each of those points, any of us can counter it with another. But it’s hard to hear that sort of thing because your initial reaction when you find out that you’ve been betrayed (once, of course, you take your fist off of his face), is “what did I do to drive him away?” So having that solidified BY CHEATERS is just digging the nail in a little deeper. But, it’s also bullshit because you’ve taken any sort of personal accountability by the cheater out of the equation. Cheating is about choices and the cheater is not the victim.
Ten years later and I still can’t tell you why men cheat, but I can tell you that it’s happened to pretty much everyone I know and while it feels like the end of the world, it’s not. They say living well is the best revenge. I disagree heartily. I find that giving someone a black eye and dropping a hugemongeous pile of dog shit onto the lawn of the cheater is far more satisfying. Not that I would know anything about that.