While Twitter lit up during the week over the viral video that brought us #HurtBae, three main thoughts came to my mind.
First, I was astonished the conversation had even happened.
As someone who's never had anything close to such a conversation, the idea of a guy who's cheated repeatedly having a woman willing to calmly hear him out was hard to wrap my head around.
Second, I was amazed by just how many women I knew who said they could relate.
Over the past few years, I've had an increasing number of female friends tell me about the worst things guys have done to them.
And yet, it still shocks me how the worst-case scenario also seems to be such a common scenario.
Then, there's the third and most obvious thought: Men really have to change in terms of how they treat women.
That's not me trying to be sanctimonious, either: It's just pure logic. If men unapologetically cheating seems more like a norm than a rare occurrence, it's safe to say the responsibility to fix the problem falls on, you know... the men who do it.
There's no arguing that.
But those first three thoughts brought me to a fourth one, and it's a thought I often express to my close friends.
While I find victim blaming to be a complete waste, I really can't help but wonder sometimes about how much change we can actually expect from a number of guys if things stay the same.
Here's what I mean by that: The most cynical assumption about guys usually goes along the lines of something like, "All men are lying scumbags."
Now, obviously, not all men are any certain way. But you can see how that assumption gets fed after a story like #HurtBae.
So, if we're operating on the assumption the worst cheaters are all "scumbags," what reasons would we have for a scumbag to change his ways if there are few consequences?
Do we expect that to happen out of the kindness of their hearts? I'd want to... but I'm not that optimistic.
Plus, I know how the world works.
When men talk to others about cheating, they're more likely to get laughs than criticism. When women talk to other women about a guy who cheats, it's not exactly shocking to hear the guy gets taken back.
We're so impervious to the idea of guys cheating, we can even accept it as a punchline.
I say none of this to blame any particular party, necessarily. I say this to make a simple observation: Somewhere along the way in society, we decided it's just not that big of a deal if a man treats a woman poorly.
There's often too little shame associated with being a cheater and too few consequences in the relationships cheaters violate.
Yes, any conversation about why cheating occurs so often should place the blame at the feet of the cheaters. But until there's more intolerance for infidelity, it hard to imagine that those who created the problem will voluntarily fix it.