Empowerment

When Is Staying with an Unfaithful Partner Okay

We need to stop judging people for choosing to work on their relationship.

It seems like every single time I go on Daily Mail or glance at the covers of the magazines at the grocery stores, I see a story about an unfaithful partner. And what’s even more frustrating is that people judge their significant others for staying with them. Whether it’s Tristan Thompson or Jay-Z, it seems like Khloe Kardashian and Beyonce get more heat than the actual cheaters.

For most of us, one of our worst nightmares is being oblivious while our partner sleeps with people behind our back. According to tabloids, Tristan Thompson was cheating on his girlfriend Khloe Kardashian just days before she gave birth to their daughter, True.

Beyonce wrote an entire album about Jay-Z’s cheating.

More than a handful of celebrity couples have broken up due to a cheating significant other. Many of us have been affected by someone unfaithful – whether it’s a friend, a family member or even ourselves.

Even more of us can’t comprehend why someone would stay with a cheating partner. It seems like women get the majority of the heat when it comes to that. I remember reading stories of men cheating on their wives and girlfriends and thinking that these women had zero respect for themselves by continuing to stay with them.

To stay with someone who betrays your trust like that was unimaginable to me. But then I grew up and started to realize that amazing and inspiring women stayed with an unfaithful significant other regardless of what they had done. Then I started to question why these women so many girls look up to would do something like that.

I used to believe that being in a relationship was supposed to be a breeze. That if you loved someone, nothing could ever go wrong, and everything would be sunshine and happiness 24/7. Although I don’t have firsthand experience, I learned that making a commitment with someone for the rest of your life is a lot of hard work. It takes a lot of forgiving from both parties.

Life is not painted in black in white. There are tiny corners of the world that are black and white – most of it is a spectrum of grey. There are a lot of things that go into infidelity, and believing that all of the cases warrant leaving their partner is a naive way of looking at the world.

As in most instances in life, there are no absolutes when it comes to infidelity. Why did the person cheat? What was the severity of the offense? A drunken kiss in a club is very different than a year-long affair. How hard is your partner willing to work to earn your forgiveness and gain back your trust? And even considering an open relationship or a polyamorous one is something people have to consider.

The media paints an ugly picture of people who having cheating partners. Cardi B was judged more than her partner Offset when he cheated on her. She responded by saying, “I’m not your property. This is my life… I’m going to take my time, and I’m going to decide on my decision.” That should be the response of every woman who keeps getting unwanted advice about an unfaithful significant other.

When kids are involved, everything becomes so much more complicated. Children of divorce are 50% more likely to develop health problems than children from two-parent households. They are more likely to develop asthma, headaches, speech impediments, and get lower grades. Not to mention watching your parents break up is an often traumatizing and difficult thing to go through.

I am not saying that couples should never get divorced. Sometimes, a divorce is healthier for a family than staying together. But women should not be judged if they choose to work things out with their significant other for the sake of her children.

Sometimes the person who is unfaithful feels like there is no other place to go. I am not excusing those who are unfaithful – there is no explanation as to why they chose to turn to someone else instead of talking about it with the person they care most about.

Cheating is a symptom of something larger, and sometimes there is a solution to infidelity. There is a way to fix a broken relationship.

Especially if the unfaithful partner is deeply apologetic for their actions and hurting the person they’re supposed to care for the most. If both parties are dedicated and committed to it, it is possible to heal and move on.

Yes, building up trust again after infidelity is tremendously difficult. I live by my parents rule – that once trust is broken, it’s almost impossible to gain back. But for some people, it’s worth it.

We are in a world of women supporting other women. So why do we judge women who decide to forgive infidelity? It is hypocrisy at its finest when women talk about how weak these other women are who decide to work hard at a relationship they feel is worth saving.

We do not know their stories. We do not know their relationship. So we shouldn’t judge them for their decisions.

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Also published on Medium.

Jen Garg is a student at Arizona State University studying Journalism and...