Why does being cheated hurt?

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-01-2003
Why does being cheated hurt?
7
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 12:44pm
There are polygamous societies... are people socialized to scorn those who have sex outside of a romantic relationship? Why is it considered a betrayal or a breach of trust? When he/she tells you "it was just sex" or "I don't love him/her," why do you still feel betrayed, why is it painful? People have had no strings sex before, people know what it means. Sex means something with your significant other, but it doesn't mean anything with the "receational-just-for-fun-no-strings-sex" person, so why does it still hurt the significant other? You can say the one having sex outside of the relationship is selfish...but if the sex doesn't mean anything, how does it adversely affect the partner?

I am very confused about how I feel. I just know it hurts. Any clear insight would be helpful. :)

-Melissa

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 12:56pm
This might provide you some beginning....if sex is just sex, a physically pleasurable act between two consenting and skilled adults....then that is all sex ever is.

It's "justifications, rationalizations and excuses" (aka - lies and self-lies) to say otherwise.

If sex is just a physically gratifying act between two consenting and skilled adults...then it means nothing more when it's done with your significant other or spouse. It's just tha tyou've emotionally invested in them and committed to them - while reserving the right to share your body with others and whatever hazards that involves to your partner are a result.

That I believe is subconsciously what terrifies a partner when another partner cheats. It's that the one being cheated on has attached significant emotional involvement and investment with thier partner to sex....as in, they didn't have sex with that partner until they were emotionally involved and invested and wanted to make that more physically bonded by becoming sexually intimate. They likely assumed the partner did the same.

Now, the partner is sleeping with someone else and saying "it didn't count, it was just sex". But technically there is no difference between the sex with the one-nighter...and the sex with the spouse. What the spouse was using as a gauge and proof of emotional investment and commitment to them as an individual and the relationship as an entity - has been proven to be a "false indicator" of anything based on the partner having had sex that was just sex, with someone else.

Erin

quickblade14@hotmail.com

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 1:16pm
"There are polygamous societies... are people socialized to scorn those who have sex outside of a romantic relationship?"

In a sense, yes. Just as we are socialized to think of killing, rape, lying and taking the Lord's name in vain as a bad thing. These are the mores and values taught to us from when we are young and are what we based our society on. Naturally some of those things are directly harmful because of the inherent value of things (such as life). Other things are considered harmful, simply because we have put value on them. Such as mores about "breaking traditions".

"Why is it considered a betrayal or a breach of trust?"

That's an easy one. Relationships, unless otherwise negotiated in advance, are considered monogamous. Which means both of you are acting under the assumption that there is a rule in place that says "I care for you above all others, therefore I will not have sex with anyone else". When one person breaks that "rule", then it's a form of lying. You claimed to be monogamous, but then went out and did what you wanted for your own personal pleasure, with little or no thought given to your partner. Who wouldn't feel betrayed?

"When he/she tells you "it was just sex" or "I don't love him/her," why do you still feel betrayed, why is it painful?"

The funny part, is that the cheater just told you that they devastated you and broke your heart all over "nothing". A meaningless act that has no inherent value. Kind of like selling your children for a penny. This also ties to what Erin said about it lessening the value of sex withing the normal relationship as well.

Last but not least, it shows a clear divergence of core values. Which can never be healthy for a relationship.

"People have had no strings sex before, people know what it means. Sex means something with your significant other, but it doesn't mean anything with the "receational-just-for-fun-no-strings-sex" person, so why does it still hurt the significant other?"

Because the SO does not believe it, or think that way. If they did, then why agree to be monogamous in the first place? The SO would be out sleeping around... (and strangely enough, this concept actually bothers most cheaters).

Given the choice between an open, honest relationship, where both partners are free to sleep with other people, or being in a monogamous relationship, the cheater will choose monogamy (most times). They get all the security of knowing their SO will always be there for them, and they get to go out and cheat on them and have sex. Win/win for the cheater.

"You can say the one having sex outside of the relationship is selfish...but if the sex doesn't mean anything, how does it adversely affect the partner?"

It's akin to A giving away B's prized possession. To A, it has no real value and is meaningless. To B, it is very private and very valuable. B doesn't really care if it means anything to A. It's B that has gotten hurt by having something they value be given away without their consent or choice.

I hope that helps.

There are many people who have relationships that are not monogamous by choice. Ones based on open honesty. However, they must negotiate and agree to the rules that both with follow, and they must stick by them. Someone who breaks the rules without consent of the other, is still cheating. Even if it is not by the standard definition.

Brokk...

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 1:57pm
Why does being cheated on hurt? Lots of reasons. I agree with Brokk's post (and I think I agree with Erin as well, but I found her thoughts a little hard to follow). Here's my additional $0.02.

Yes, in Western society we are socialized to believe that monogamy is the One True Way. TV, books of all kinds (not just romance novels), movies, magazines, etc all portray monogamy as the ideal in a relationship. Judeo-Christian religion (which most of us grow up around, if not in) preaches that monogamy is the only acceptable lifestyle choice. Essentially, we are fed monogamy with our mothers' milk. As Brokk says, most relationships are assumed to be monogamous unless specifically negotiated to be something else.

Personally, I also believe that some, perhaps most, people in Western society are hardwired for monogamy. Whether this is the result of early childhood societal conditioning, or is somehow genetic I don't know. My degree is in English Literature, so I have zero actual expertise on which to base this belief. ;-) If you're wired for monogamy, that's just how you are, what you feel. Trying to feel any other way about a relationship is hard and painful and just feels *wrong*. Kind of like trying to force yourself to write left-handed if you are right-handed by nature.

So why does it hurt to be cheated on? Because if you're a hardwired monogamous person trying to accept your SO sleeping with someone else, you're trying to force yourself into an unnatural, painful thought process. Also, because you have been lied to and betrayed, as Brokk mentioned. No matter who you are or how you're wired, betrayal and lying hurts. Trust has been broken. You trusted your SO not to sleep with anyone else, and he did. Ow.

Reading between the lines of your post, I am guessing that your SO cheated on you, and is trying to minimize his culpability by feeding you the "she didn't mean anything, I didn't love her, it was just sex so you shouldn't be hurt" line. That's crap. He betrayed your trust, and you ARE allowed to feel hurt and betrayed and sad and angry.

People who genuinely want to live non-monogamously talk about it, negotiate with their partners, and set rules and limits BEFORE any clothes come off with anyone but the partner. Unless you have this sort of relationship, accept no excuses or minimizations for cheating.

--fc

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 2:40pm
You feel what you feel - it's simple - it doesn't matter what society or your mother or your next door neighbor says - if you have certain expectations about relationships and sex or certain values or standards they are yours and you should stick to them and not settle for less. I don't care if others want to be polygamous or have no strings attached sex - I don't and likely never will - since I know that I don't participate in that kind of situation. It's not about why you feel what you feel it's about how you react to what you feel - if you feel badly about what happened then you know next time to take a different approach.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-01-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 3:33pm
Your responses to why does cheating hurt are very clear and the idea of exclusivity makes a lot of sense to me, I appreciate your insight very much. Thank you for your help!

How about this one: Why does it bother me that he got a massage from his ex-girlfriend, as opposed to say...him getting a massage from a physical therapist or something? He genuinely does not understand why I would be jealous (he's really NOT playing dumb). Am I just F-ing insecure? Or am I allowed to be jealous in this circumstance?

I think it bothered be because I know the woman still has strong feelings for him so the massage must have had sexual undertones, or was a sexual experience for her, regardless if he doesn't have any feelings for her. As opposed to him going to a physical therapist where the relationship is professional and there are NO sexual undertones. What do you think?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 3:53pm
In my opinion, it's not really about sex or sexual undertones. It's about fidelity. It's about his commitment to be with you and only you. In my relationships, I've had my SO get bothered about me seeing an ex, where if it was anyone else it wouldn't have mattered. Sex really wasn't the issue. It's about risk, and about you being insecure.

Ideally, we'd all be 100% secure about every aspect of our lives, every single day. We could walk about nude and not care what anyone thought. Public speaking would be a breeze, because we would completely confident and not care who was in the audience, and not worried about what we said or how it was heard.

It's not an ideal world. We all have issues, baggage, self-image problems, insecurity... it's actually quite normal and quite natural.

Let me put forth two new scenario's. Think about each one, and tell me which is closer to how you feel about his ex and him.

a) An old flame from his HS stopped in from out of town. She lives across the country and is married with two kids, they've kept vaguely in touch for the last 10 years and you've heard what a great friend she has become. They go out to dinner alone, spend hours catching up, and he comes home a bit on the late side with a smile on his face and a glow about him that you only get from an evening with close friends.

b) A attractive office mate of his, who's constantly trying to flirt with him and has made it clear she's *very* interested in much more than that takes him out to dinner alone. They are gone for hours and he comes home late.

My guess that you would equate your current situation more with B than with A. It's not so much about someone's past. It's about the feeling of risk that people always have with a recent ex. That for some odd reason, he might change his mind, abandon you and go back to his ex. That risk is not really apparent in scenario A. It's very aparent in scenario B.

If your SO has cheated on you in the past, then you have every right to be concerned about him being with *any* woman who has shown a clear interest in him. If he cheated once, and doesn't see any problem with it, then there is every reason to think he will cheat again.

Brokk...

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 3:59pm
Hello.....why did he go to her vs. a physical therapist? If he wanted just a physical therapy massage - that is where he would have gone.

If she IS a physical therapy masseuse.....then I can see the rock and the hard place.

Let's reverse this....if after you ran your marathon you got your ex boyfriend to give you a massage - what would his take on that be?

Erin

quickblade14@hotmail.com