Respectful Infidelity: The Questionable Argument Behind Serial Cheaters

by Caroline McGuire
Twentieth Century Fox FIlms

There’s something really psychotic about serial cheaters.

A serial cheater is someone who leads an entire separate relationship alongside a pre-existing one, or it is someone who repeatedly has sex with people who are not his or her significant other.

A relationship involving a serial cheater is not be confused with a consensual open relationship. 

While open relationships don’t work for everyone, there's something significantly more honest about your indiscretions in this scenario, versus tiptoeing in and out of hotel rooms and unfamiliar apartments.

Open relationship or not, nobody is forcing anybody to be monogamous.

If monogamy is truly not your thing, why get involved in a relationship in the first place?

Cheating is often repetitive for a few reasons.

Some individuals enjoy the adrenaline rush of a cheater’s high, namely the lurking possibility of being caught at any moment.

According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology:

Unethical behavior can trigger positive affect, which we [researchers] term a 'cheater’s high.' Across six studies, we find that even though individuals predict they will feel guilty and have increased levels of negative affect after engaging in unethical behavior, individuals who cheat on different problem-solving tasks consistently experience more positive affect than those who do not.

As serial cheaters haven’t already been caught or faced any real repercussions, the behavior continues, and it might even be considered a normal part of their routines.

Quite simply, serial cheaters also want what they can’t have.

According to the same study:

People find objects and experiences that are forbidden or taboo to be more attractive and alluring than those that are not forbidden.

Cheating presents an even bigger problem to individuals: major trust issues.

For instance, during the introductory phases of my classes last semester, one of my professors began by emphasizing his zero-tolerance policy for cheating.

He made it crystal clear cheating would result in an F, no exceptions.

He followed up with an anecdote.

A close coworker had decided to branch off and form his own business. He asked my professor to join him, and he offered him a senior-level management position, a comfortable salary and a stake in the company.

The one deterrent and only reason my professor did not take the opportunity was because he knew his coworker had been having an ongoing affair for several years.

My professor thought his dishonest actions throughout his marriage would easily translate into the workplace, which only solidified his decision to reject the offer.

Another important facet of this situation to note is that serial cheaters often justify the act of cheating in questionable ways.

For instance, in an anonymous New York magazine article, “Confessions of a Serial Cheater (Who’s About To Get Married),” the serial cheater explained cheating ultimately “helps” his relationship because it allows him to appreciate his significant other more.

While serial cheating may help him realize his affinity for his partner through a plethora of other partners, he openly admits his partner has no idea about his indiscretions, and she would be crushed if he was somehow discovered.

The author believes “there is such thing as respectful infidelity,” to which the writer defines as deleting browsing history, blocking numbers and choosing partners outside the relationship wisely.

I think the word “sketchy” is appropriate to use in this instance, as opposed to “respectful infidelity.”

As stated before, “respectful infidelity” might constitute as an open relationship because those do exist and are widely accepted. Although, they might not be for everyone.

The anatomy behind a serial cheater is both complex and unnerving.

For someone who favors monogamy, it may be difficult to see the different point of view of a serial cheater.

To some, it seems absolutely ludicrous cheating would in any shape or form “help a relationship.”

While I neither condone infidelity nor encourage it, it's important to understand every story has two or more sides. In the instance of cheating, the cheater’s point of view is one of them.

There are certain scientific findings, such as the adrenaline rush associated with cheating, that are used in an attempt to justify the indiscretion to him- or herself, as seen in the New York Magazine article.

Ultimately, cheating is not ideal, but there is a specific composition behind these repeat offenders.