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Being unfaithful to a partner while in a relationship is one of the biggest issues a couple could face. The ideals many people set for a relationship often are confined to the parameters of monogamy with the intent to never deviate from that structure. It’s as if many individuals have the expectation—or at minimum—the hope that their partner is so deeply and madly in love with them that any urges or desires to experience the physical touch or the love of another have disappeared. And to make matters more problematic there is the assumption that if a partner does deviate from the confines of monogamy, that somehow the love for you has dwindled or diminished or that there was something you did wrong to deserve such treatment. The truth of the matter is being faithful is a challenge to many and there are a few reasons why:
We Don’t Know What Being Faithful Is
All over the world, partnerships and marriages are different. Due to cultural and environmental aspects of life, individuals develop relationships in a myriad of ways. Aside from monogamy there is polygamy (one husband multiple wives), polyandry (one wife multiple husbands), polyamory (multiple partners), and even open-marriages/open relationships (partners are able to have their additional partner(s)). In this sense we recognize that humans have different needs and different ways of getting those needs met. In addition, one can also note that being faithful can be defined in a variety of ways depending on the circumstance.
It primarily in the Western world that we see monogamy as the only viable form of relationship building. There is an assumption that monogamy is our innate human nature, when actually it’s not, we are ultimately choosing to be monogamous and with that it can be a challenge.
The concept of monogamy, like other forms of partnership development is a social construct, one that has been taught. There is no default setting inside our brains—or our hearts—that says monogamy is the only way to be faithful. Often we see any form of relationship outside of two partners as unfaithful, uncommitted, and just plain wrong. We have allowed that to be defined for us, and most of us have not taken the time to explore other possibilities or even to understand the parameters we place on so-called faithfulness.
We Don’t Know How To Be Honest
As previously stated, most of what we have come to believe about what relationships and faithfulness are is through social constructs. We have let our family, our culture, our religions, and our education define for us how to participate in the world we live in — often times without questioning. Because we have been breed to believe certain things about ourselves, we have essentially learned to be dishonest. This dishonesty finds itself at the core of many relationships and it is not just being acted out by the partner who is seen as unfaithful.
But because we have defined faithfulness as monogamy without desire for others, we have become dishonest with ourselves therefore creating the belief that being faithful is an easy undertaking.
In order to actively work towards freeing ourselves from the emotional taxation of feeling cheated on, being fearful of deceit, and being insecure about others experiencing love and/or physical affection from our partners, we must redefine faithfulness.
To redefine faithfulness each person should come to an understanding of whom he or she is and what they expect, even if it’s not what is seen as socially acceptable. There is no harm in letting a partner know that while you may be in love with them, find them attractive, and have the upmost respect for them, there may be times where you have the desire and want to experience other people. Therefore, discuss what that means to you and to them.
Also, define ways to approach these desires. Should you feel the need to experience someone outside the relationship address with your partner if there will be complete openness where the partner knows about it, or is there a ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy in place.
And for those individuals – who once they become monogamous lose all desire for anyone else – also be honest. Do not simply accept being in relationship with a partner who is not monogamous or faithful (according to your definitions) only because you love them.
The bottom line is love, like people, comes in all forms. There is not just one way of relationship building and therefore definitions of faithfulness can also vary from person to person. The key is not letting others confine you to a life of unhappiness and unfulfilled desires simply because of what is deemed the norm. Being faithful is only as easy or as hard as you make it, once you have decided what faithfulness truly is to you, and you alone.