Preface: A while back, I warned y’all that I’d write more things outside my comfort zone. The analytics are clear, though: posts about relationships, behavior, or anything adjacent to these topics are read by many people. I’d suppose it is because relationships are the central element of our lives. Most of us experience the same issues.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ve been on both sides of the coin.
I’m not ever going to be on the other side again.
I’ve been to therapy to discuss all these issues in detail. I’ve read every major relationship and sexual study out there. I’ve spent a lot of time digesting the conclusions. They all convince me that the blueprint I followed for most of my adult life is the only way I can be happy. To remind myself, I ask myself where not doing things the right way led me. Obviously, I was off course! Had I not been, I’d be happily married to someone who follows the same relationship blueprint I’m looking for. I can’t blame other people, not really. Not taking time for deep consideration would result in further disappointment for me.
And because it’s the only way to happiness for me, I’m assuming it will be more than enough for most people.
There is a difference between adultery and infidelity. Don’t fool yourself. Infidelity can be equally damaging. It violates trust, a promise, and commitment to your partner. It involves breaking any romantic, emotional, or intellectual agreements that you share. It does not require these agreements to be spoken. It’s true that boundaries and expectations between people might vary. But if you think rationally, you’ll discover that most of us have the same expectations. We certainly overlap regarding things that we know would hurt us.
Infidelity: any action or behavior that either makes the partner doing it feel guilty – or any action or behavior that is kept hidden or secret because the partner is aware that it will cause emotional hurt. This is true because it is infidelity to the relationship the moment either half of the first sentence becomes reality.
Don’t overthink it. It’s simplicity in its rarest form.
“Fidelity” is an old word, coming from a mix of “loyalty, faithfulness, trustworthy.” Generally speaking, if you can’t write it, say it, or do it openly and in front of your partner without a reaction, it probably falls on the wrong side of the line. You might argue and fight my interpretation. Obviously, though, behavior and words that are intentionally kept from your partner must have some impetus toward concealment. Motives may vary. The consequences don’t.
Behavior that is benign rarely gets cloaked. (There are exceptions.) If you don’t trust your partner to react rationally, that signals a bigger problem between you. The act of concealment, misdirection, or minimizing deservedly draws scrutiny. It’s not rational to keep things from your partner based on how they might react. Their reaction, if they are your ideal partner, won’t be out of proportion or indicate anything other than their confusion or hurt. You have to put in the work when misunderstandings arise.
Healthy relationships with an ideal partner require transparency.
Transparency is a child of honesty.
Stop defining infidelity as a specific act. If it triggers you to conceal or if it will hurt your partner to see it, hear it, or hear of it, it’s infidelity. Yes, I know my comments are a bit general.
Examples: flirty behavior, however you define it. Giving someone the impression they hold your interest. Secret conversations in any form. Sexual innuendo, as it leads to the false (or correct) interpretation that you are available. Sharing your time and emotional energy with someone. We all have a set amount of time, focus, and energy. If it’s spent with someone else, it’s done to the detriment of the relationship. Etc. Again, these are general comments, not an exclusive or inclusive list or blueprint. I didn’t include any physical examples because I’ve distinguished between adultery and infidelity.
Infidelity is a huge slippery slope of defense mechanisms, explanations, and rationalizations. A kiss, though physical, is infidelity.
The behaviors that get hidden or concealed are the stepping stones to a breach in your emotional intimacy.
The modern era makes it harder to honor your relationship.
Just reverse roles when you’re engaging in actions or behaviors that trigger recognition in yourself. How would you feel if your partner did it? That’s how you know you need to do things differently.
Compassion on a fundamental level.
We all want to be loved and appreciated. To achieve that, we have to learn and follow behaviors that contradict what led us to where we are.