We live in a highly binary society- one that has preconceived notions of good and bad, right and wrong. In most areas, we’re only beginning to progress from such rigid approaches. Anything that deviates from cultural norms (and/or the learned behaviour humans have adhered to for thousands of years) is considered taboo, even if a large population relates to it.
Annoyingly ambiguous intro aside, love, sex, and relationships are so innately complex it’s kind of silly that they’re not considered highly contextual. On top of that, they don’t exist outside of mainstream discourse nearly enough. Our standards on love, sex, and relationships are built around the patriarchy, and if they’re not spoken about from other perspectives, people have difficulty understanding that they are never just black and white.
With that being said, a topic I feel *strongly* belongs in that grey area is cheating. I’ve cheated. I’ve been cheated on. It’s not a good feeling on either end of the spectrum, but I think its level of ugliness is highly contextual. Of course, knowingly hurting someone that cares about you isn’t justifiable. It’s straight up RUDE. However, cheating is often a very individualistic act. In other words, people who cheat are not thinking about their partner— they are thinking of themselves.
The most common reasons for cheating (derived from various scholarly journals and sassy online think pieces) can be boiled down to a lack of, or desire for more sexual and/or emotional satisfaction. So, whether that means the cheating individual has the insatiable sex drive of a rabbit, needs a great deal of validation, or is simply curious about new experiences, seeking others whilst keeping it a secret is usually the easiest way out, albeit the most inconsiderate (of their partner).
I happen to believe wanting sexual and emotional fulfilment is completely valid, which is why I can never condemn a cheater to eternal hell or whatever. I also believe that much more ethical solutions than cheating exist— that an open-minded perspective on love, sex, and relationships is necessary in alleviating a lot of senseless inner (and collective) pain.
If non-traditional structures like polyamory, non-monogamy, open relationships, etc were more widely accepted, talked about, and explored, people would learn a lot more about themselves, their relationships, and society as a whole. Perhaps the future allows these to be a more accessible option— I know I wish they were stigma-free during my own past failed relationships.