Affairs and cheating: Domestic Malaise?

Why do people have affairs?

I have just finished watching a particularly disturbing series called The Tunnel and in amongst the terrorist-themed plot, the writers nest a requisite subplot about the main character – a really decent guy played by the incredibly sexy (sorry, AND talented) Stephen Dillane.  You can also see him as some kind of fur wearing contender in Game of Thrones where he has some quite frankly scary sexual relations with a witch-human.

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Britain’s answer to anything

Dillane’s character is a British cop drawn into an Anglo-French homicide which has occurred in the channel tunnel.  He’s also a serial cheater, but is portrayed as kind of ‘hapless’ rather than ‘predatory’.  The ‘oh no, I slipped and my penis fell out, then I had to put it somewhere, quickly’ suggestion.

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“That ‘accident’ will cost you $38,000,000 thanks Eldrick”.

It got me thinking:  why would a guy in a happy marriage like this character, sleep with other women?  Aaron says it’s because the relationship is broken somewhere to start with.  Great Guyvice.

I mean I know WHY people have sex.  I know that humans love looking at other humans and wondering about what it would be like to…sometimes it’s just a fleeting thought and we have a quick cold shower and a big hot cup of What the Fuck is Wrong with Me and get on with life.

And of course my example of a male cheater is not atypical.  Women in relationships cheat too.

Case Study:  Why Women Cheat

One of my best male friends had this experience. Married for a long time, and the relationship was rocky, but still there was a house, a child and you know, the expected white middle-class ennui that can go with that scenario, unless you are truly compatible and then the day-to-day grind is outweighed by fantastic companionship, humour and physical attraction.

If he was honest, none of those latter factors were present, and the relationship was just playing out by itself, a bit like working out your notice, or listening to the last few remixes of earlier songs on a CD.

Gradually he noticed the dynamic changing.  He was no longer invited to his wife’s work functions.  His wife began losing weight and dressing unsuitably upmarket for regular outings.

One day he just knew there was someone else.  And it was confirmed when he discovered his wife and her lover lunching very publicly and it just looked wrong.

She explained it away as being a work meeting, but of course it never is, and she no more needed a work meeting in high heels with a colleague than I need a work meeting with our postie to discuss my mail, in Hervé Léger.

Later, she confessed to the affair but did not take responsibility for it.  It had gone on a long time and she regretted any hurt she had caused, she said.  He eventually left the marriage, because how can a person stay?

Instead of feeling hurt, my friend took it as a sure sign the marriage was over.  My friend believed that his wife had chosen (it was no accident) to leave the family home with the intention of sleeping with someone else, who it turned out, was also married.

What was she after?

She wanted to be the intense focus of someone’s gaze.  She wanted the teenage flutter in her gut, and the Rococo notion of pursuit.

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The Rococo idea of the pursuit of love and attention. Silly, eh.

Is it perhaps the external validation disease here that makes people – women – cheat?

But back to our man-cheater.  After watching The Tunnel, I spent hours and hours trying to figure out what was wrong with this guy that he cheated.  The ‘wrong’ part, to me was the willingness to risk everything for what seemed to be small returns.  Quick low-quality sexual encounters with zero payout for any party.

The other thing that disturbed me more was how forgivable he was as a character – and that some part of me believes that Men Cheat because of [insert – faulty marriage, stress, burdened with searingly tiresome domesticity, the thought of having ONE MORE conversation about which splash-back to buy- here].

Is it true?  Say it ain’t so, fellas.

8 Comments

  1. I’m sorry. I didn’t get past your caption “Britain’s answer to anything.” Because Stephen Dillane is actually *my* answer to anything. What a coincidence.
    Even though I am this shallow, I look forward to hearing how others respond to your question.

    • Haha! I know. He’s pretty um…special. The rest of it is such a connundrum – hopefully there’ll be some feedback.
      Katherine

  2. The guys I know who have cheated came in two flavours with a bit of cross contamination in most cases. 1. They were all selfish people in other aspects of their lives: as colleagues, team members, siblings, bosses, drivers. The first red flag withthem is that every story they tell about a conflict has them as the victim and the other person as the problem. They never seem able to take responsibility for any contribution to a problem. The selfishness in their relationship usually took the form of putting their own happiness ahead of their partner and children – not in terms of the affair, I mean in everyday matters such as how they prioritise their home work lives, how they choose to spend recreational time, and the sort of decisions they make around their careers. 2. The other common thing as I see it is lack of moral courage. Some just can’t do the right thing if it means turning down something pleasurable.

    I can’t speak about why women cheat, but I suspect the root causes (nudge nudge) are the same: selfishness and inability to do the right thing.

    Just discovered your blog by the way (thanks Sideswipe). Good stuff. Very funny and interesting.

    • Pertinent comments Guy. Thanks. I agree with you on the guy cheating and may write another one around that. But the most important question for today is – do you or have you ever owned a People Mover? 🙂

  3. Lordy no. A friend of mine (no really, it isn’t me. It’s a friend) chose one as his company car. I believe if you look up shameless in the Oxford Dictionary there is no text under the entry, just a picture of him.

    Seriously, not me. A friend.

  4. Wandered in off tumblr, somehow.

    Why do people cheat?

    Because in that moment, they are not thinking of their significant other, only of themselves.

    It is in the nature of humans to be selfish. Not all the time, certainly, but… our instinct is to get what we want, to gratify our own desires, to put ourselves first. “Love” supposedly counteracts that, since it becomes more about caring for the other person’s well-being / spiritual / physical / mental health than our own. But in cases of adultery, the love is absent in its truest sense — any thought of the other person is lost under… what? Lust? Boredom? Or is it just plain … selfishness?

    • I think they do think of their significant other they just don’t care how their actions will affect them

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