Confessing: Is It Always Right?

Hold still, this will hurt.

I’ve written before on infidelity; It’s a big “no no” in my book—which, in case you were wondering, probably closer resembles a dog-eared trashy paperback than a manual on ethics. But I’m going to get into ethics now. Bear with me.

Most of us already know that when it comes to emotions, not everything is in black and white. We all have feelings, and these feelings can make a bigger mess than a two year old with a white wall and a box of crayons.

However, if we want to get ethical, are there shades of grey when it comes to right and wrong? Are moral standards based on the eye of the beholder? Does right and wrong change situationally? Is a hero still a hero if he only saved that little boy from the well because he knew he would be showered in praise?

Oh man, that was some rapid fire questioning. Back on track. I think that cheating is always the wrong thing to do. If you’re unhappy or unfulfilled in your relationship, get out of it. Don’t cheat. But no one can be right all the time, and so let’s consider what happens after you have cheated. Most would consider that the “right” thing to do would be to tell your partner. Come clean. You’ve already been unfaithful, let’s not double the offense with dishonesty. Right?

I think it depends on both the situation and motive behind your confession.

As for situation: How big is your offense? If you meet with an old flame or a stranger and share a fleeting kiss, a one time mistake completely regretted, is that something worth uprooting your partners’ self esteem and your relationship? Some would say no, and others would say yes. You made your bed, now lie in it—crumbled relationship and all.

What if you’ve cheated but plan on leaving anyway. Is it better to just leave and save your partner a bit of dignity (being left is bad enough, being betrayed and left is even worse), or should you tell them before you go?
What if you’re a habitual cheater? That sort of dishonesty is often a personality trait; someone who tends to veer toward the hedonistic side of things. Should Sir Tryst A Lot come clean while someone who kissed a stranger at the bar should keep their lips sealed? Does it matter the level of offense, or is a cheater a cheater a cheater?

And as for motives, what if in your confession you lift your own burden of guilt only to place it on the shoulders of your partner? You may feel better, but they all of a sudden feel betrayed and hurt. And anyone who has ever been cheated on knows that even if you KNOW the offense had nothing to do with you or your actions, you cannot help but take it personally. It will make you insecure, even if only momentarily. It’s insanely difficult, even for the most logical and mature of us, not to turn betrayal inward. And on top of the pain you put on your partner, the relationship will suffer, trust will have to be rebuilt, if possible. So in this light, is it always right to be honest?

I think the righteousness of a confession can also depend greatly on the motive behind the confession. A friend of mine recently brought up the concept of acting out of love vs. out of fear. Not to get all new agey on you, but I think that could have a lot to do with what makes coming clean the right or the wrong thing to do. Are you telling your partner because you love them truly, because you’re truly sorry, and you want to correct your dishonest behavior and rebuild? Or are you telling them because you’re trying to remove your own guilt, which some may argue is a product of fear. Or on the other end, could you argue that in staying quiet, you are acting on fear–the fear of your partner leaving you if they find out what you’ve done? UGH I know this stuff has some merit but I really can’t talk about love and fear without thinking about Donnie Darko.

Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion

So let’s take this into pop culture, shall we. Recently to the horror of all those Twihards, Kristin Stewart admitted to cheating on R-Patz (nose wrinkle) with the MARRIED director of Snow White and the Huntsman. However she only admitted to it after some photos of her and director Rupert Sanders surfaced. Stewart regrets it, Sanders regrets it, lots of tears all around. But neither of the offenders came clean without the pressure of being found out, which makes their admissions completely fear based. Double fail for this shady lady.

So what do you think? While I believe infidelity is wrong every time, is confession the right way to go every time?And what makes it right or wrong? Is it based on situation? Is it based on motive? Convince me!

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11 Responses to Confessing: Is It Always Right?

  1. Maria says:

    I agree, cheating is ALWAYS wrong. It’s not the act, but the betrayal. If someone cheats, at least be cautious enough not to get caught. Finding out, to me would mean all trust would be lost – regardless of the source leading to finding out. Admitting to cheating just proves how selfish the cheater is, for going through it, and then having the nerve to confess. It’s just vile, whichever way I look at it…

  2. Andrew says:

    I agree with most of what Maria said. Cheating is wrong in all circumstances, and those who cheat should certainly lie in the bed they’ve made. As far as confessions go; that’s a tough call. I don’t believe that any good comes from lies, but to confess in order to make yourself feel better is insanely selfish. If you honestly hope to confess, deal with the fallout, and repair the relationship, then confession makes sense. If it’s merely to brush some weight off your shoulders, and the incident was a stupid mistake that hasn’t happened before/won’t happen again, you’re probably better keeping it to yourself. Like you said, it’s not black and white. Just don’t cheat?

  3. Becca says:

    I really liked this post and the way you said things. A lot of good questions and some good insight to match. I was wondering if I could use it on my blog? I would link my post back to your blog and give you the credit. Just let me know if that would be okay. I really appreciate it.

  4. Pingback: Should You Confess to Cheating? | College Life- Sex and Relationships

  5. Shannygirl says:

    You have to ask yourself if she admitted only because she was caught and new she couldn’t get out of it, or if she truly is feeling guilty. I believe it is the first.

    I have a friend in Texas. He is married and says he will never cheat on his wife. He has been friends w/ this other woman for several years and he’s told me how she’s always inviting him to go visit her and apparently is making it very hard for him to stay faithful. I asked him once if he and her had ever been intimate and he said they had kissed and fondled a few times before he married. I said well have you seen her since and he said yes, a couple of times and that he kissed her, but he always managed to get away from her before it went any further. I didn’t say anything to him because I really didn’t want to upset him but to me, he’s cheated on his wife already if he’s kissing this other woman. In his mind it’s like if he hasn’t put the P in the V then it’s not cheating so there is no reason to confess as there is nothing to confess. I guess it just boils down to how each person views cheating and that will determine whether they feel they need to confess, lie or hide.

    • SexyTofu says:

      Agreed, and to me, emotional cheating (why does he continue to see this woman if he isn’t emotionally connected to her?) is more devastating than sexual…It would hurt either way, but knowing the person I love has feelings feelings for someone else would hurt even if they never acted on them.

  6. marielelundi says:

    I’m gonna have to use my favorite Martin Amis quote here: “The only thing your girl can’t give you is a change from your girl”. That’s exactly how I feel about long-term relationships. I am in one, and even though I would like to spend the rest of my life with my boyfriend, there is no denying that the newness is gone, and it would be naive to think that we don’t want to have sex with someone else sometimes (or just feel the excitement of meeting someone else). I don’t exclude having sex with other people in the future, and I wouldn’t mind if he did the same thing (we discussed it, obviously). The only rules to me are: don’t actively seek it, don’t let it last too long, don’t tell the other and make sure he/she never finds out. By the way, this is different from poly-amory, it’s a shade of grey in-between I think.
    To me, the pressure of fidelity is yet another remnant of judeo-christian rules on mating and marriage. I think it can also lead to long-term relationships failing. I can’t imagine ever finding someone that will bring me everything I need in the long run, and that’s why I also have friends. You mentioned emotional cheating, so if I’d rather see my best friend than my boyfriend tonight, or wish she was here when I’m with him, is it emotional cheating? I don’t think “cheating” is a very useful concept here, because it is based on the idea that a relationship depends on loyalty and that having sex with someone else while in a relationship is a “betrayal”. It’s only a betrayal if we are taught that it is. For example, my boyfriend wants another tattoo, and I really don’t want him to get one because I like his body the way it is; if he still does it, is it a betrayal? Am I allowed to feel hurt that he disregarded my feelings? Most people would say “No, it’s his body, he can do what he wants with it, you just have to accept it”. Well, what’s the difference with sex? It’s my body (or his), why should I not be allowed to use it the way I want? Especially since my partner won’t have to see it branded on me ’til the end of times, unlike a tattoo…
    I guess what I’m getting at is that if you’re going to go the whole “fidelity” route, you need to consider all of what it entails, not just when it comes to sex, which is just one of the things we do and which can hurt people. And what I’m really getting at, is that nothing really matters but whether it’s going to hurt anyone, and whether that pain is your responsibility or not…
    I could go on and on about this! Sorry for the loooong comment but you did ask to be convinced!!! 😉

    • SexyTofu says:

      Love your insight. I believe what you are describing is an open relationship, as opposed to polyamory. I think different things work for different people, and I am glad you found a partner who is on the same level as you when it comes to being open to seeing others. I can’t imagine finding a situation where jealousy never comes into play! And I love your take on “betrayal” and “loyalty.” It would definitely not be betrayal if it was agreed upon as okay.

      As for emotional cheating, wanting your best friend instead of your partner would not be emotional cheating unless (in my opinion) your feelings for them were romantic. Every relationship, platonic or not, provides different things and so it is completely normal to want the company of different people.

      I, however, can most definitely imagine finding someone who gives me everything I need in the long run, and the things I need are emotional support, sexual excitement, intimacy and affection.

      I like commitment, it makes me feel secure. I think in being open to my partner seeing other people, I would feel insecure not on the sexual side of things, but I would worry they would find someone else they prefer better and leave.

      ANd when you mention your rules of seeing other people, which I find fascinating, I thin the whole “actively seeking” and “not lasting too long” could be seriously messy. What counts as actively seeking? What is “too long?” What if you think too long is a few weeks, and they think it’s a few years? While making (for instance) an online dating profile or something would clearly be actively seeking, is just heading to the bar with your friends and being open to someone approaching you not actively seeking? A mess!

      Thanks for weighing in!

      • marielelundi says:

        Hey, thanks for your reply! I guess the term “open relationship” does fit. And when I say “not too long” I mean one-time things. The “actively seeking” part is more tricky, as you pointed out. All of this only comes from the fact that I think it’s hard to find someone you want to be with (and who wants to be with you) and I don’t want to throw it all away just because I’m attracted to other people. Sounds simple, so why is it so complicated?! 😉
        Thanks for your blog!

  7. NICK says:

    SPARKLE MOTION!

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