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.
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!