I read an article recently about cheating spouses. The question of whether or not you’d want to know if your partner has been unfaithful is complicated by tense, time and tally totals but, in my opinion, there’s only one answer. Yes, I’d want to know; not least of all because, obviously, one other person knows and who’s to say there aren’t more.
The impact of the blow of such knowledge may depend on the ‘here and now’ or the ‘then and past’. Are we talking about the time they missed an important family gathering, or were simply an hour late for the neighbourhood barbecue due to a dalliance? Are we talking about a singular event or a habitually recurring, consistent routine of long-term duration?
If we’re talking about that time 30 years ago when said partner had one too many and his/her “#*/^” fell into a stranger’s opposite bits, well, forgiveness, if not laughter, will probably be my response. If we’re talking serial adultery, many extracurriculars spanning the duration of said relationship (be that three months, three years or three decades) well, that would be a horse of other colours.
Unhappily, I had the extreme misfortune of falling for a narcissist in my mid-60s, after leaving a marriage that lasted more than 35 years. Intelligent, educated, well-travelled, naïve, inexperienced me was no match for this brilliant actor with the ever-ready, at-the-exact-right-moment compliment, not-too over-the-top love talk, gently persuasive, experienced love maker, eager-to-please conditioning but, to my eventually well-informed, single-status knowledge, only-loved-the-chase charmer.
Three to four weeks of build-up, then success! There was three to four weeks of truth dawning and three to four weeks extrication of the tried and true plan. Obviously desperately trying to defend my choice ‘of’ him plus my belief ‘in’ him, the lies were initially successful. Shocking revelations in time had me querying not only him, but my sanity.
“It’s not a lie, it’s simply a harmless deceit”, “I simply tell them what they want to hear. The truth would make them angry”, “It’s only sex with them. You and I make love”, “She asked me for a cuddle, why would I say no?”, and “Who’s to know?”
To my continuing shame, somehow, I decided (or he convinced me) to accept this new situation as the ‘norm’ in this brave new world of singledom/sort-of committed/but monogamy-free circumstance. I thought I was number one with a few bits and pieces on the side. Sadly, the ‘other’ bits and pieces thought they were also number one.
On two continents, this very plain looking, severely wrinkled, not rich, elderly, but well-preserved, man had one or two ladies he took seriously enough to introduce to friends and family, a subgroup who waited to be invited for a cuppa (code for a cuddle, afternoon delight) and the more casual pick-up that was by chance, a crime of happenstance or luck if you will.
How did he do it? Well, there-in lays the rub (pardon the pun).
This man presents as a quietly spoken, unattached, single agent, hard done-by by all manner of life circumstances. All of his exes (wives, partners, girlfriends) were desperate females of the lowest order, all drama queens, all jealous demons and psychopaths. Knowledge not imparted immediately but drip-fed over time. Even most of his family and children have deserted him. Talk about playing to every female’s natural urge to mother and ‘fix things’.
Each and every one of us thought we were ‘the one’. We were going to make him whole again and he allowed each in turn to believe that to be the case.
Trust me, I know how absolutely dumb and unbelievable this sounds. As I read my own writings I still can’t believe I’m talking about me. But, please try to understand his Machiavellian hold. No, don’t. Time and distance reminds me of what I fool I was and how powerful being ‘in love/lust’ can be.
In the 12 months since I finished our on/off again ‘friendship’, mutual friends and social media confirms he’s now up to victim number seven. With each new ‘girlfriend’ my heart aches for them. I desperately want to impart my knowledge, warn them, but the sour-grape image rings loud and clear. In the first throes of lust and wide-eyed acceptance, who am I to dash all expectations? You never know, the next one just might be ‘the one’ to stop this monster, although I doubt it very much.
Should you tell of unfaithfulness? Yes, because it’s up to both parties to decide on forgiveness or not. It’s up to both parties to handle the truth, or not. Keeping secrets, in my newfound, modern opinion, only leads to unhappiness and bitterness.
Most men are not like the above-mentioned Neanderthal throw back. Most men cherish and respect their partners. Please don’t presume the above is gender specific, I’ve met a few female equivalents who fit the ‘bill’ (inside joke) exactly.
If your union is at all salvageable, tell the truth, confide in your partner, discuss it till it hurts, then, just the two of you decide on your way forward. Tell them before someone else does.