Vironika Tugaleva says that there are two simple reasons that she feels no desire to cheat on her partner.
The following post is part of a continuing discussion that began with Elloa Atkinson’s piece on Huffington Post: I Love My Husband, But Here’s Why I Want to Cheat. Her husband, Nije Atkinson, replied to her on Good Men Project with My Wife Told Me She Wants to Cheat: Here’s How I Feel. These popular articles have brought up empathy and outrage in hundreds of readers. They’ve also provided a space for us to have a real, deep conversation about cheating, love, and relationships. The following article attempts to join that conversation in a meaningful way.
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The subject of cheating has, historically, made my insides twist and my heart pound. Every time I saw an article like Elloa’s or a comment like in Nije’s response (“I’m a normal guy; I have thoughts of sexual attraction towards other women almost every day. Some are fleeting while others linger.”) – I’d die a little bit inside.
As a child, I watched infidelity break my family apart and I watched them try to haphazardly sew together pieces that were irreparably broken.
I spent much of my life asking the question, “Why?”
Why did this happen? And how could I make sure that this never, ever happened to me?
Like a crazed animal, I’d root through explanations and become attached onto answers. It must be porn. It must be TV. It must be the male instinct. It must be human nature. It must be inevitable. Oh god, inevitable.
I suffered so deeply from my inability to understand why, why, why cheating happened.
The worst thing was that I spent most of my time in relationships experiencing the very feelings I feared in my partners. My eyes would wander. I’d have fantasies. I’d develop crushes. I’d want to cheat.
I think this, more than anything, fueled my fear. I was everything I feared people could be.
Now, things are different. A few years ago, I went through an incredible life transformation that, like a tornado, washed away almost all of what I’d spent decades building and allowed me to rebuild a new relationship with myself, with other people, with the idea of life itself.
Now, I have an incredible relationship with a man I’m crazy about, and I’ve never, ever wanted to cheat. My eyes don’t wander. I don’t have to control any urges, because they’re not there.
From these incredible changes in my life and my love life, I’ve been able to look at that relationship in my family more objectively and realize that:
- a) There were giant intimacy gaps that were around long before the infidelity occurred,
- b) Neither of them were happy with themselves
- c) Perhaps most importantly of all, it’s really none of my business what happened between them – I don’t have all the facts and I may as well stop ruminating on other people’s problems and attend to my own
Like this, I released my compulsive urges to cheat right along with my compulsive urges to understand why other people cheated
In joining this whole discussion about cheating, I’ve had to, once again, ask myself the question “Why?” once again. Why is it that I used to stare and drool and obsess and conduct infidelities in my mind, while now I wouldn’t even think of it?
It can’t be my “nature”, nor my “disposition”, since I’ve been on both sides. It can’t be because I’m more of a saint or less of a human being. It must, then, be something I’m doing now what I wasn’t doing before.
It’s been interesting to explore this question now that I’m not feverishly starving for an answer, because it has allowed the answer to come almost effortlessly. As Lao Tzu taught me, “when I let go of what I want, I receive what I need.”
Based on my introspection, I’ve come up with two reasons as to why I’ve got no urges to cheat anymore, though there could certainly be more.
1. I live my passion
Human nature isn’t necessarily to be sexually passionate for a lifetime. Human nature, I believe, is to be passionate, period. We’re meant to obsess about things, especially those of us who get excited at the drop of a hat.
I used to chase sex and chase what I called “love” because I had nothing else to get really, genuinely excited about. I’d get addicted to people, addicted to thinking about them and feeling close to them, addicted to a temporary high that distracted me away from my lack of stimulation elsewhere.
Now, I am passionate and excited about my business, my book, my life’s work. I am excited to be changing the world and that’s what I get passionate about every single day.
Sure, I still get passionate about sex, but I get more than enough of that from my partner. I don’t need to get passionate about sex with other people. Instead, I get passionate about helping other people and changing the world.
2. I love and respect myself
What goes up must come down and, just as much as we need passion in our lives, we need to have a plan for what we’ll do when that passion isn’t there.
When I was younger, as the passion would fade from the relationship I was in, I’d be left alone with myself. That was always a horrible experience. I had a mean inner bully and chronic anxiety. In those passionless moments, I became self-abusive. To be obsessed with someone else meant a break away from my own endless tirade of thoughts.
Now, I take my relationship with myself very seriously. I care for my mind and body every day. I am careful about listening to my own communication and cultivating self-compassion.
Like this, I am not getting sucked into any type of addiction – not TV, not drugs, not alcohol, not cheating fantasies, nothing – because I don’t need to avoid myself. I can be peaceful and quiet in my mind, happy just to be alive, without needing to always distract myself with some new fascination.
My hope, in sharing this, is to add to the discussion begun by Elloa and Nije, not to shut down what they’ve said. I believe that everyone has a valuable perspective to share and, when we allow ourselves to see from others’ eyes, we can gain a more holistic understanding of each other and ourselves. Sharing authentically is not a zero-sum activity, and all of our feelings and experiences are equally valid, even if we are doing and feeling different things.
Above all, my greatest hope, in writing this article, is to reach those people who, like myself, become horrified when they hear things like, “everyone wants to cheat sometimes,” or “everyone’s eyes wander,” or “we’re sexual beings, so it’s our nature to get attracted with other people all the time.” If those ideas make you uncomfortable and you find yourself desperately hoping that there is another way, I hope I have helped you breathe a sigh of relief, because there is. There is another way.
Develop self-awareness. Work on your relationship with yourself. Learn to be alone with your thoughts in peace. Cultivate passion in your life that has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with creating positive energy that changes the world.
Then, you’ll attract people who do the same, and in that beautiful merger, find yourself in a relationship where you can feel safe, loved, attracted, and free of what others call “human nature” but you know is simply a culturally accepted defense mechanism.
The solution to infidelity isn’t to resist our animalistic, ferocious urges in the name of being true and righteous. It’s to investigate why those urges, which so deeply interfere with our ability to live our lives, exist in the first place, and believe that it’s possible to alter our experience of them by altering the way we think about ourselves and our relationships with each other.
There is always another way if you dare to look for it.
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