by Donald Mokgale
A topic that has been on people’s lips for centuries and still baffles most to this very day and if you are one of them, then you are fortunate to be reading this article. Many names have been used to identify this behaviour such as infidelity, adultery, back stabbing etc but what do they mean? Most people are quick to say that their partners have cheated on them when they do not even know what is meant by cheating. So let us define it; cheating is when one becomes traitorous to their partner in a relationship. This unfaithfulness will be determined by the foundation upon which the relationship is formed i.e. if two people are in an open relationship whereby they permit themselves to see other people whilst together, so if one partner explores the terms implicit in this particular agreement then it is not cheating, however if two people are in a closed relationship and one partner kisses, intimately touches, seduces, has intercourse with, meets on the sly with someone else, then that behaviour is infidelity. People also have a tendency of imposing their belief of cheating on other people for instance: people in closed relationships may think that those in an open relationship are cheating. Remember, it is about dishonouring the agreement between the two people.
All human beings have a certain level of evil or badness in them; some choose to explore it more than others for example, naughtiness. When we were young, we felt the urge to be naughty just for fun, there was a level of intrigue in doing what one is not supposed to be doing, “sweet is the forbidden fruit” as they say, it provides elation and thrill. This urge never dies when we become adults instead; it haunts us in the worst of times such as when one is in a relationship. It is this evil/naughtiness that has led many to cheat as it is exciting and provides intrigue like no other experience, unfortunately, this evil is above many people’s comprehension which would explain why those who have found themselves cheating because of it, are usually unable to explain why they cheated when they get caught for example: a couple who have been together for many years in a fantastic relationship find themselves in a situation where one of them cheats and gets caught and when asked why, they have no answer and end up saying that they don’t know why they did it.
Greediness is another factor that causes people to cheat. Since what each individual describes as a perfect man or woman does not exist i.e. a person who has absolutely everything that you want in a man or woman from the physical right down to the spiritual side of things, there will always be something missing that you will be coerced to compromise on because that is reality (intellectuals will argue that perfection is relative of course). So there may always be a void in one’s heart about that which is missing in their partner that will make them perfect unless they decide to embrace that which is there, which eventually overwhelms the ‘flaws’ or that which is missing. This ‘void’ causes a particular hunger and an urge to be satisfied, it causes greed. For example: in a relationship, Lerato has a fetish for being treated badly or rudely by her boyfriend (gangster love as most would describe it) and she is with a sweet & caring Tshepo who naturally does not treat her that way. She knows that Tshepo is a right person to be with and wants to eventually marry him as he is a gentleman who will probably make a good father one day. She meets an arrogant Bafana (bad boy) who thinks women can’t resist him; she finds this attribute strangely attractive (the 80/20 rule i.e. Tshepo has 80% and Bafana has 20%). Bafana flirts with her and eventually sleeps with her, after this she is bitten by the jaws of regret because Bafana is not marriage material, he only possesses that which Tshepo lacks but her behaviour will lead to her losing Tshepo for ever. This is one of the ways that greed causes one to cheat. For the sake of not seeming chauvinistic, I will also utilize an example in which the male is a perpetrator. Thabo is in a relationship with Bonnie who is very beautiful and has great looking breasts but Thabo has a fetish for an ‘ATM’ (African Trade Mark) aka booty which Bonnie isn’t very gifted in. He meets Refilwe who is as curvaceous as a sculpture and probably less beautiful if not equivalent in beauty, he acts on his ‘hunger’ for a woman with a body that arouses his 6th sense in an adrenalin rush that leaves him erect. Unfortunately for Thabo, him being male, will divulge this desire to one of his friends, who will either tell him to go for it or just go on about how enrapturing Refilwe’s butt is which will inadvertently lead him to pursuing to fulfill his ever-lasting desire which can never be filled by Bonnie. This is one of the ways that greed can lead one to cheat.
A very close friend of mine once theorised that every human being possesses the innate ability to cheat and that for this ability to manifest itself into action, external factors would have to provoke it, in other words only through the provocation of this innate ability to cheat by external factors, will one cheat. This is indeed a very astute observation. Selfishness is another factor that causes people to cheat. We live in a society that promotes “I”. “I am great, I am the best, I, I, I…” This mentality unfortunately, promotes selfishness and self centered behaviour because “I come first”. For instance, a monogamous Thandi is married to Themba, a pilot, who is always working and ergo hardly ever present at home. This absence (external factor) creates a void in Thandi’s love life which means that her sexual needs will not always be attended to as and when she requires and as a result, will provoke the innate ability to cheat, if I were to apply my friend’s theory, this is how I would explain it. So because Thandi wants her needs to be satisfied, she may become vulnerable toward suitors not only because of her sexual needs but also because of her emotional needs (being lonely), pending on the type of person she is of course but it is in this way that selfishness can lead to cheating.
Fear (insecurity) is also a factor that can lead people to cheating. Ironically, fear can also prevent people from dating in the 1st place. We live in a society that used to preach that “do unto others what you will have them do unto you” but today they preach “if you are not cheating on your partner, then they are cheating on you”. This mentality evokes fear in the minds of people that if they don’t cheat, then they will be the one who will be disgraced by being cheated on. As atrocious as it sounds, it is unfortunately true. The idea of cheating in itself has become a sort of norm in people’s minds to an extent that you are looked down upon or not believed if you have never cheated in your life. Males acquire credit from cheating and bragging (ironically women lose a gargantuan amount of credit for doing the same), as they want to be seen as alpha males (women would be seen as whores). I have heard a prominent neo-soul artist who recorded a track about cheating and before the song starts, he says “everybody cheats right…” even though he was very conceptual in his execution in that he says that he is cheating on his girlfriend WITH his girlfriend, it is the fact that he mentioned it that illustrates what a norm cheating has become in an odd almost in comprehendible way.
“What you don’t know can’t hurt you” is a very prominent ideology that a lot of people use to justify cheating because they wish to have their cakes and eat them, this would still go back to either greed or the innate evil that I spoke about earlier. What causes people to cheat you ask? Well, their innate evil, greed, selfishness, fear (insecurity), it being a societal norm and lastly provocation by external factors. If you think about it, we can actually put them all in one sentence as follows: A person’s innate evil can make them greedy and selfish which will make them cheat because they fear to be cheated on or that it’s the norm or that they have been provoked to do so. There are of course a wicked few, who cheat for the sake of cheating, do it to spite somebody, do it for the experience etc all of which are special cases and aren’t general. In all these factors, I deliberately left out one of the most pertinent aspects of life that all individuals have which is…choice!
Is cheating a choice? Well the truth is, choice is inherent in all situations for instance, if you were to get mugged or hijacked by delinquents with weapons where your life would be at stake, you can still choose not to comply with their demands, even though I would strongly advice against that for obvious reasons, but even in this life threatening situation you have a choice ergo, there is no exception when it comes to cheating, choice is also innate. “And what about flirting?” You may ask, well flirting is a toned down form of seduction, which entices infidelity so depending on one’s standards, (presuming you have some of course) that is also cheating.
I believe, I have just explained cheating in its entirety. To test this, I challenge you to think of all the instances you have come across that do not fit any of the factors I have stated. If you do find any, please contact and enlighten me. Now, lets us examine the aspect of choice in life. What do I mean when I say that it is inherent in all aspects? How does its existence influence the way we think and do things? Well for these insights and more, you will have to wait for my next article because yes, it is a topic for another day.