Posted by Prerna Mittra | New Delhi |
Updated: August 17, 2020, 10:44:10 am
I just woke up that morning when I received a text from my friend R that said, “Infidelity is a Communication error “. I was still dazed, but R was a few hours ahead of me – he lives in a different time zone – and as such, in the mood for a brooding conversation that you can only have after you’ve had a cup of coffee. And since I hadn’t, I held my cell phone aside and slept a bit until it was time to finally get up in my time zone.
What R had said stayed with me, however. I also realized that something was wrong with him. He ended up informing me of the complications in his life – mostly a messed up equation with his roommate, including his former partner, her current boyfriend, and R himself – who was stuck in the world like a little kid. I nodded resonantly as I listened and gave advice whenever I could; but mostly listen.
When the call ended, I began to think about the complexities of modern relationships. R had been betrayed, which had spiraled, and now he was simply seeking clarity and distance from all the negativity. Unfortunately, the country he lives in is extremely expensive, not to mention the threat of a deadly virus that is preventing people from doing absolutely anything – even moving houses.
R is not alone. All over the world there are many people facing the obstacles posed by the pandemic. A lot of it has to do with figuring things out, drawing a line, asking for space, and ultimately testing the relationship. Infidelity isn’t a new concept – it’s an umbrella term that epitomizes everything from cheating to strays to adultery (for married couples). It has long been used to initiate feverish debates about whether or not it is acceptable. While for some people infidelity is a deal breaker – no questions asked – for others, it’s not that big of a deal. For example, when the host of a popular celebrity talk show asked a Bollywood A-Lister for her views on relationship deal breakers, she promptly replied, “emotional infidelity.” On the same show, she had simply said “infidelity” when another actor was asked the same question.
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Emotional and physical infidelity are two aspects that branch out from the tree that bears the fruits of infidelity. While they mean the same thing to some people – you’re cheating on your partner at the end of the day – to others, one can prove to be more harmful than the other.
However, Delhi-based author Ishan (25) believes that both emotional and physical intimacy are equally harmful. “Physical infidelity is a sudden thing that shows that the person may be involved – it’s a deal breaker for me. As is emotional infidelity, because when you invest so much in one person who then seeks emotional satisfaction from someone else, it shows that your relationship may not last that long, ”he says. Ishan is currently in a relationship but has been disappointed by former partners in the past. “There are subtle things – you know they are lying when they can’t look you in the eye or appreciate something romantic that you do for them because the guilt really eats them up. An ideal relationship for me would be one in which there is mutual trust, honesty, and compassion. While I’ve forgiven unfaithful partners in the past, I’ve now realized that I wouldn’t do that anymore, ”he says.
His thoughts are repeated by a 34-year-old project manager from Bengaluru who, on condition of anonymity, says that she will be deterred by any kind of dishonesty. “I’m currently in a relationship, but I had an uncomfortable experience with a former partner who wasn’t really honest with me. I found out about the infidelity much later after we broke up. Looking back, I found that I had ignored red flags regarding honesty and possible infidelity. My instinct is to trust and to be suspicious is just not a given to me, ”she says, adding that she sees no difference between physical and emotional infidelity and is unwilling to forgive an unfaithful partner.
The idea of infidelity has also been extensively studied in pop culture, particularly in films in which female protagonists almost always showed compassion towards their unfaithful partners. Movies like Masoom (1983), Silsila (1981), Ijaazat (1987), Life in a… metro (2007), Rock star (2011), to name a few, explored the tropics. Then there was some slapstick like that Masks Franchise and No entry (2005) or even the 2019 revised version of Pati Patni Aur Woh who dealt with the topic with cheap gags.
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In a 2017 article for The Atlantic entitled “Why Happy People Cheat”, Esther Perel Notes: “For years I have worked as a therapist with hundreds of couples who have been struck by infidelity. Around the globe, the answers I get when I mention infidelity range from bitter condemnation to resigned acceptance to cautious compassion and complete enthusiasm. “
Anu Raveendran, 30, a Kerala mother who has been home for three years, cannot understand the reasons why people cheat on their partners. “I don’t think there is an ‘ideal relationship’. You can’t set benchmarks. In the three years of my married life, I’ve found that I’ve changed a lot. Although I am completely ready to forgive my partner if they have been unfaithful, I want to know why. Often times people cheat when they need attention, and that’s why I want to know if I am at fault anywhere. If that’s not the case, and the reason is completely different, I don’t think I have it in me to forgive them. My husband and I haven’t discussed it yet; Maybe we can have this conversation now, ”she says.
Dr. Aarti Dahiya, relationship expert and founder of ‘Niyati by Aarti’, talks about it. “I’ve seen that incompatibilities between partners make it difficult to get back together. Lack of care and love can also cause people to deviate from their existing relationship. In fact, gender isn’t even an issue as I see many cases where a woman who cheated on her partner comes to me for a counseling session. It is important for couples to focus on and appreciate each other’s choices and preferences. It is possible for people to forgive their cheating partners and give them a second chance, ”she explains.
Dr. Dahiya also points out that sometimes people act unintentionally when their partners do not pay them enough attention. “As today’s generation refuses to compromise, I also see more and more couples willing to sit down and have a conversation about what’s going on in their relationship and what they can do to save it. “
In Boston, USA, 27 year old Samrudhi, who works in development, believes that her ideal relationship is what she is in right now. “I’m married to the man I dated for five years. We are extremely open and communicative about our needs, fears and problems and how we would like them to be resolved. I believe that an ideal relationship is one in which you feel heard and seen. where they are common interests and hobbies. Infidelity is definitely the best deal breaker for my husband and I, and we’d even talked about it at the beginning of the relationship, “she says.
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Samrudhi says she had a long-term relationship with someone who cheated on her repeatedly, both emotionally and physically. “He hid it from me for years, which produced many poisonous properties in me. I was always suspicious and suspicious of him. I would constantly invade his privacy, keep an eye on him, be suspicious of the people he was hanging out with; because I was always afraid he would cheat on me. At this point in life, I certainly won’t forgive a partner who has been unfaithful. “
While Samrudhi believes that there is a “little tangle of emotional and physical infidelity,” says Dr. Dahiya that physical infidelity could be more harmful. “When both partners are working and deeply involved in their work, they may not always find the time to talk to each other and understand the other party’s point of view. Whenever we had counseling sessions, they recognized this and made a point of giving each other time. Eventually they will also become more convenient. However, if there is no physical satisfaction, it can become an irreversible problem, ”she concludes.
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