First off, I have the best readers ever. The end.
Second, as I feared, the subject of this post has produced some fallout in my personal life and while I have much to say on this topic, I will be keeping my personal experience out of it. Not because I don't think my experience is mine to share, but because I realize that this is the internet and I cannot control who is reading what I write and further, I cannot control their reaction. It is more important to me that my blog does not affect my husband and my daughter's relationship with my in-laws than it is that I be able to purge here.
So. Having said that, this is what I think about cheating IN GENERAL.
I think men cheat because they stay in denial that these good physical feelings they're having about another woman are dangerous until it's too late. They give themselves too much credit to stop it before it goes too far.
I think women cheat because they feel neglected, either by themselves or their husband. With women, I think it is more of a conscious choice to cheat to feel better emotionally.
Someone commented in reference to a recent study that showed women are more likely to be forgiving of a physical affair and men are more likely to be forgiving of an emotional one. While, personally, a physical affair would devastate me more than an emotional one, I can see why this statistically may be the case.
Women recognize that men require constant stimulation. Men want to feel like men. And you know what? I am okay with that. When Chris and I were first dating, I would go cry in the bathroom if he looked twice at another woman. But, I've been in a relationship with this man for almost ten years now and in that time I have learned something shocking. Chris is his own person! Men are people too. And it doesn't mean he doesn't love me! Who knew?
We are all naturally drawn to beauty and there is nothing wrong with that. As long as it stays visual and superficial and natural. Once it crosses the line to flirting or constant porn or strip clubs or something that bleeds over into your marriage, that is when you have gone too far. That is when "a guy just being a guy" turns into "a guy just being a selfish ass".
As far as the claim that a man wanders because he's not getting enough attention at home, I say bullshit. A man wanders for the same reason a woman wanders: ego. You go from being young and in love with constant attention from your spouse to kids and diapers and m*rtgages and stretch marks and gray hairs.
When you are committed to each other - truly committed - these challenges enhance your marriage. When you're selfish, then it becomes all about "what has changed" and "how I'm not being treated". Couples get lazy - they get lazy in their love for each other. They start arguing more and more, apologizing less and less, and then when you introduce someone new! and exciting! into the picture, someone is going to go towards the pleasure. And away from the pain.
How many women do you know who have spent decades being a wife and a mother, possibly sacrificing education and career and body, just to be left in their 40's, 50's and 60's?
We want to believe it's possible. We want to believe that this is 2007 and we're strong confident women and we're all adults and no one should be off-limits to anyone else blah blah blah. Yet, you have to be realistic. Not everyone has the best intentions.
Can I tell you what her response was to me when I confronted her about her emails to my boyfriend? That she did nothing wrong and for me to get over it.
Get over it.
So, my answer is no. Except in rare instances, no, I do not believe men and women can be friends. Because marital happiness ebbs and flows. And it is just too easy to come off of an argument with your husband and into a pleasant email exchange with another man. It's too confusing to leave a wife at home who is maybe battling depression and then have a good time lunch with another woman.
And that's when the doubts set in. The what if's start. And I am sure that many a "harmless lunch" and a "simple email" has morphed into a broken heart and home.
The bottom line is respect. Respect for yourself to demand more from those around you. And respect for your marriage to demand more from yourself.