If cheating cases went to court, the jury would be your friends, the judge your gut and the offense punishable by deleted text messages and stolen hoodies.
Like most cases, there’s two sides, a million details and one gut feeling. There’s a guilty party, a victim and a ton of questions that may or may not get answered.
The most important and relevant parallel of cheating cases to murder cases (the loss of a relationship is a death, isn’t it?) is the ability to prove intent.
Did the accused plan to do it or were he or she just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Did he or she make a mistake that could fall under an insanity plea or did her or she know full well what they were doing? Most importantly, is this offense something the victim can forgive?
Relationships aren’t black and white and neither is cheating. There are varying degrees, unknown outliers and of course, extenuating circumstances. There’s a big mass of gray matter in the middle of any sexual relationship, yet there are markers that help decide on which end of the spectrum a cheat falls.
The main thing is the difference between a mistake and a deception. To make a mistake is human. To deceive is malicious. If we’re getting lyrical with it I would say, cheating doesn’t make you deceitful, but you have to be deceitful to cheat.
Drunken mistakes have innocent parties. Communication, advance plans and dinner dates have only malicious intent.
Anyone can make a mistake. The actual act of cheating (sex) isn’t what upsets us. We think and say it does, but it’s the intent behind it--going behind our backs, making plans and knowing full well what they were doing. What makes it so hard to get over someone cheating on you is getting over the deception it.
A drunken act of sex that he or she confessed to right away is a lot different than an ongoing affair. An accidental kiss is more innocent than months of texting or Facebooking. Contrary to what you believe, texting is more intimate than sex. Contrary to what he or she may tell you, there’s not always more to the story (and sometimes there always is).
Cheating is unacceptable, deception is unforgivable
The idea of someone you love giving their attention and affection to someone else is enough to make anyone sick. That queasy feeling in your stomach is uncomfortable but not exactly unforgivable. While it can be hard to go back to someone who has been with someone else, it’s impossible to go back to someone who wanted someone else. In the case of cheating, it’s all about intent. Did they plan it or just fall into it? Did they want it or just happen to get it?
Cheating is a mistake, deception is a betrayal
The hardest part about leaving a partner who cheated on you is deciding whether you believe him or her. Was it a mistake or will it happen again? Did it mean nothing or did they want it to happen? No one knows the answers to these questions besides the two people in the relationship (if that). The only thing you can do is follow your gut and if you think it was a mistake and still want to be with him or her, then forgive. If you think it’s sketchy, leave him or her now and don’t look back. Remember, always follow your gut the first time. Any man or woman who is making you question their motives isn’t worthy of a retrial.
Cheating is random, deception is planned
While a one night stand is always awful to hear about, the details are important. Whether it was with strangers or someone they knew are key elements to their testimonies. While it may not seem important in the beginning, the randomness of it can make all the difference. The knife in the back comes when he or she did it with someone they knew, someone they’ve been talking to, someone they planned to do it with. That changes it from wrong place, wrong time to a planned attack.
Cheating is inexplicable, deception has reasons
When a man cheats on you, he’ll either confess right away and beg for forgiveness or get defensive and try and point out exactly why he did what he did. Be wary of the latter. Any man with a loaded gun of excuses is also a man with a loaded phone of numbers. This is the kind of guy who has practiced his story, planned his alibi and created a plethora of rationals to make himself feel better for his indiscretions, which he will also use to try and make you feel better. Just remember, if he can rationalize his way into it, he shouldn't be able to rationalize his way out of it.