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To forgive or not to forgive? That is a question many of us at iVillage and many of you in the iVillage community have been asking in recent weeks -- especially following the Weinergate Twitter scandal and the bombshell news that Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered a child with a former member of his household staff.
With one man virtually cheating and another physically cheating, we decided to craft a poll to find out what forms of infidelity women might forgive in the age of Facebook and Twitter, and what they considered a "kindly move out now" offense.
What we learned is that single women are a whole lot less forgiving than women who are married. Among the 338 women surveyed -- 58 percent of whom are married and 13 percent single (the rest being divorced or separated, widowed, or in a domestic partnership) -- there appears to be a definite gap when it comes to infidelity. Check out these numbers: 48 percent of married women said sexting a la Anthony Weiner was unforgivable, compared to a much larger number for single women -- nearly 70 percent. And when it comes to a one-night stand, 60 percent of married women considered it an unforgivable act, versus 75 percent of single women. Meanwhile, cyber-flirting with an ex on a social networking site was unacceptable to 36 percent of married women and 51 percent of singles.
“I think you have a huge commitment to your partner and if you have kids involved…you take that into consideration,” says Joann, a married mother of two. She adds that she wasn’t surprised by the findings and yes, she could forgive infidelity -- although she probably would never forget. “You don’t want to put [the children] through the hell that may come down the line,” she says.
“You know how they say once a cheater always a cheater?” asks Milan, who is single. “I believe in that. If he did it once, I do believe he’s going to do it again.”
Interestingly, the split was reversed when asked about a partner being active friends with an ex, with 40 percent of married women calling that unforgivable, versus 30 percent of single women. Married or not, 8 out of 10 women in our iVillage poll say the explosion of social networking sites makes it easier to have affairs -- and easier to get caught. “It’s right at your fingertips -- absolutely,” says Joann.
But Rebecca, who is single, says people found a way to cheat even before Facebook (although she concedes that the chances of tracking down a cheater are greater in today’s world). “I think maybe women are more apt to go and check someone else’s computer, and I have friends who check…their boyfriend’s cell phones for texts and stuff so I guess it’s easier in that sense,” she says.
We also wanted to know what factors moms specifically might take into account before deciding whether to leave a cheating spouse. The top answers? Children living in the home (85 percent) and their current financial situation (70 percent). More than 50 percent of moms say one factor wouldn’t impact their decision -- what their family might say.
As we put this story together and did interviews on the streets of New York, imagine our good fortune of coming across a former marriage counselor named Amanda, who left us with words that could help anyone dealing with any type of infidelity.
“Yes, they are potentially forgivable with work,” Amanda says. “It just doesn’t mean I forgive you; it’s done.”
Follow Kelly Wallace on Twitter: @kellywallacetv