Why must you cheat when you can have an open relationship?

When we begin to know the difference between love and lust, we can accept the fact that lust is primal and instinctive.

 |  6-minute read |   22-05-2017
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Have you ever wondered why people cheat? Cheating is the dark truth of our times. But what makes people take a risk so huge that can cause them irrevocable damage?

A few days ago, a friend of mine confided in me that he had been cheating on his wife. He has an arranged marriage. His wife according to him is beautiful and educated. She takes care of him and his family. The marriage is going pretty smooth.

Yet, he is having an extramarital affair with a woman whom he feels more connected with. I asked him if he has ever thought of talking about it with his wife. “She would never understand,” he replied, “the only way I can find my happiness is by cheating.”

We build relationships on needs and wants. When that need or want fails to be fulfilled, one seeks it outside of that relationship. One way is to end the relationship which fails to fulfill you and begin again. To continue to seek till you finally find the person who can complement you in ways no one else can.

Many times, keeping in mind a lot of factors wherein one is not able to move out of the present relationship (mostly in the case of marriage) one decides to stay in it and yet seek fulfillment outside of it. When it comes to marriage, lack of friendship and communication between the spouses and absence of physical and emotional intimacy often leads to cheating.

It is a commonplace thought that most people cheat for sex. But that is not the complete picture. Sex was not the only reason that made my friend cheat. He sought an intellectual and emotional bonding that was lacking in his marriage.

With his extramarital partner he can discuss books, his favourite authors and philosophers, his dreams, his lost ambitions, things that he couldn’t communicate with his wife.  Although he respects her as an individual, that intellectual bond just never developed between the two.

People seek according to their individual needs. Some also look outside their relationship because of a want, a desire to experience newness, because hey, you have one life.

Cheating has been one of the most known secrets of any society. Boredom is a disease. When relationships get monotonous, people generally start looking for a spark outside. Newness of any kind is attractive. It might or might not be sexual but the charm of something new is definitely a clarion call.

cheat1_052217070036.jpgCheating has been one of the most known secrets of any society.

One does not wander into this realm by chance or can be forced into it. It is a conscious decision and most of the times the person cheating is aware of all the pros and cons.

At the end of my chat, I asked my friend if he feels guilty and what if his wife finds out. “I do feel guilty at times. If she comes to know about it, my family will be destroyed. I wish she could understand. I am ready to give the same freedom to her,” he says.

His concluding words got me thinking. Is it possible for people to do away with cheating? What if one can experience the newness without the guilt and risks that come along with it? What if one can be honest and transparent with one’s partner about their needs and wants outside of their relationship and still feel loyal and connected to them?

Open relationships/open marriages works between a couple which is not insecure of their bond with one another. There is a confident assurance of being there no matter what. Such a couple need not hide anything. There are no secrets that need to be brushed under the carpet. Everything is out in the open.

On a confessions forum, I read the confession of a 17-year-old girl whose parents were into an open marriage. I was amazed at the maturity of the kid who understood that her parents deserve the love they have outside of their marriage. They both used to love someone else but because of family pressures had to go for an arranged marriage.

Soon after the marriage she was born. Just so they could raise the child together they kept their not-so-fulfilling, at times abusive marriage intact. Being in an open marriage gave them another chance at being loved.

Open relationships enable a couple to be transparent to each other. The level of acceptance and trust not only increases the bonding but also confidence in self and the spouse. One can get the best of both worlds. It makes one experience the stability of a family life and at the same time one can enjoy the adventure that a new person brings along.

But it certainly makes one question whether open relationships/open marriages are full of benefits? Can they not go wrong?

An open relationship or marriage can become a disaster if one or both partners start finding more charm in people other than themselves. This affects the bond and causes a drift between them. Another reason is when one partner becomes insecure or is forced into it.

Honesty and transparency make the foundation of an open relationship. Faking comfort within an open relationship will only break the relationship sooner or later.

In India, marriage is considered sacred and venturing out of it is nothing except promiscuity. An open marriage is not seen in a good light. It is considered an excuse by both partners who are often labelled immoral to have fun outside their marriage. 

Many people who want to be into an open marriage/relationship do not go for it because of the fear that the partner may never understand this concept because of the pre existing notions of morality that are conditioned into their minds. Hence they find cheating as the easy way out.

In the book This Love that Feels Right by Ravinder Singh, one of the protagonists, Manvika, who is into an open marriage, makes a clear point: “I am in love with only one man and that is my husband. The rest is attraction.”

When asked how she differentiates between the two, she replies, “I won’t make similar sacrifices for someone I am attracted to, as I would for somebody who I am in love with.”

When we begin to know the difference between love and lust, we can accept the fact that lust is primal and instinctive. Humans are inherently polyamorous. Attraction can happen at any point for anyone. Love on the other hand is built over years of companionship, understanding, mutual compromises and sacrifices. One can fulfill one’s lust and still love someone ardently.

Cheating is the dark underbelly of our relationships. The acceptance of open relationships will kill the need to cheat. The question is when can this possibility become the reality of our times?

Also read: I don't care if my husband cheats, as long as he comes home to me


Ruchi Kokcha Ruchi Kokcha @ruchikokcha

Author is a writer and a poet. Her debut book, Obsessed, a romantic thriller, has been published by HarperCollins India.

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