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Taming infidelity needs sobriety

Sunday November 11 2018

if you try to stop ordinary everyday things that actually everybody does, you’ll just create an atmosphere of resentment.

If you try to stop ordinary everyday things that actually everybody does, you’ll just create an atmosphere of resentment. ILLUSTRATION | IGAH 

CHRIS HART
By CHRIS HART
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Where exactly does infidelity start? Because everyone flirts a little, and thinks that what they’re doing’s just fine. Though they’d probably object if they saw their partner doing it!

Most couples also assume that they’ll easily agree on what’s cheating and what’s not. Only to discover later that they don’t.

Because there isn’t a universally agreed boundary. Everyone decides for themselves what they’re comfortable with. So if you and your partner want to be faithful, you need to discuss what that means to each of you, clearly and honestly.

And to come to an agreement about what’s not okay, so that you both know what you’re committing yourselves to and are both willing to accept full responsibility for that decision. This way, you don’t end up saying one thing and doing another.

Because if you want your partner to be faithful, you must also decide to be reliable, consistent and trustworthy as well. Instead of being erratic, suspicious and dishonest. Because if that’s how you behave, your partner will be deeply unhappy. And much more likely to stray.

It’s also often argued that being faithful really just means you’re losing your freedom and independence. But deciding to be with just one person is a choice. So you can still feel free and independent, because you’ve chosen to live by that decision.

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BOUNDARIES

It’s also important to set realistic boundaries. Because neither of you can stop being attracted to other people, and everyone enjoys a little light flirting. So if you try to stop ordinary everyday things that actually everybody does, you’ll just create an atmosphere of resentment. And maybe destroy what attracted you to your partner in the first place. Like their warm personality and sense of fun, for example.

So it’s a really bad idea to give your partner a hard time whenever they even so much as glance at someone else. Because they’ll just start hiding their glances, and lying to you. And it’s really important not to lie.

So openly and clearly agree to a workable boundary that you can both stick to. Because lies and deception create distance and distrust, and will destroy your relationship.

You mustn’t lie to yourself either. Like don’t fool yourself that you’re not really attracted to that colleague at work. Or that flirting with them is okay, so long as your partner doesn’t find out. Instead, ask yourself whether your partner would say that what you’re doing’s wrong. You think they would? Then you need to stop.

What if it’s you who’s jealous of your partner’s behaviour? Ask yourself whether your partner really is being untrustworthy, or it’s actually all about your own insecurities.

Because if you and your partner drastically limit each other’s social life, then you’ll end up feeling dissatisfied. And your love and affection for each other will be replaced by a set of rules.

So allow each other as much freedom as possible, and you’ll be less likely to betray each other’s trust.

 

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