Volume 91, Issue 77
Friday, February 13, 1998
chumping for joy
Facing the infidelity mystery
©Graphic by Colin Dunne
By Dan Yurman
For some people, Valentine's Day is a time to rejoice and bask in the glow that love creates. It is a day for them to stop and think how lucky they are to have someone who loves them unconditionally and without judgement.
However, Dave, a student who would prefer not to use his real name, spent Valentine's day doing just the opposite. Rather than rejoicing in the miracle of love, he was caught in an emotional roller coaster that had no happy ending in sight. Just two days before the celebratory event, his girlfriend of 13 months, Jennifer, informed him that she had been unfaithful.
"It was a horrible experience," he said. "At first, I was angry at her, I mean really angry. Then I was angry at myself. Maybe it was my fault."
This attitude is not uncommon, explains Wendy Campbell of Westbridge Consulting, a London-based organization consisting of a team of psychologists who help the public with personal problems.
"It's a traumatic experience," she says. "Many people become self-reflexive, especially if there were bigger plans with regards to the relationship."
There are many different reasons for infidelity. Campbell attributes the act mostly to the lack of courage on the part of the cheater. "If the relationship is unsatisfactory and not stimulating anymore, the one who is unfaithful will take that route, instead of facing the problem head on."
She says another reason for affairs is some people haven't fully examined themselves and whether they are really ready for commitment. "Some people are just not ready for a monogamous relationship and have not realized it yet."
A third reason is role change. "Some people are unhappy with their role as pursuer or pursued and wish to try the other," she says. "It is a lot easier to find another role elsewhere rather than changing the mechanics of the relationship."
For Dave, the answers were not as concrete. "We had problems in the relationship, but nothing that couldn't be solved. To this day, I still don't fully understand."
However, Jennifer sees it quite differently. "The spark really wasn't there anymore. I should have talked to him about it, but I couldn't. I needed to try something new. Something completely independent of Dave's influence."
She explains that she was not originally going to cheat, but she found herself in the position to do so and she couldn't pass it up. "It was nice to see someone else wanted me and saw me in that way. I knew his motives were purely sexual, but I didn't care."
A year has gone by since the infidelity and while Dave and Jennifer are not together anymore, they are still friends and roommates "I felt horrible about it," says Jennifer. "All I wanted to do was to explain to Dave that I still wanted to be friends. I did everything I could to make him feel good about himself and to respect me."
"The best thing to do for a victim of infidelity is help them to feel good about themselves," Campbell reaffirms. She further explains that victims are absorbed in betrayal. "They can't sleep well, they don't eat well and they lose integrity."
Dave agrees that he felt all those things, but also wanted to remain close with Jennifer. "I felt that if we couldn't be together romantically, we could at least be friends. I'm glad we are." To Jennifer, that seems to work "He's my bestest friend now."
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