I’m not sure what’s up, but I’ve been surrounded by women having affairs lately. I thought it might be just me. After all, I’m an OB/GYN, so I tend to attract women who are suddenly freaking out about the chlamydia they just contracted from their lover — the one their husband doesn’t know about.
But then I read my friend Pamela Madsen’s fabulous book Shameless: How I Ditched The Diet, Got Naked, Found True Pleasure, and Somehow Got Home In Time To Cook Dinner, and she wrote about how all her friends were having midlife affairs, and it got me thinking.
How many of us are cheating?
And why is this happening?
If you’ve ever cheated on someone, or you’re having an affair, or you’re tempted to have an affair, this post is for you.
But first off, let’s not talk about what’s right or wrong here. Let’s make this an exploration of a common phenomenon without muddying the waters with morality, religion, or judgment.
Let’s make this about love. So we can all feel safe to discuss this issue as sisters.
My own cheating heart
I’ve never cheated on a husband. I’ve never had an affair. But I did kiss another guy the day before I broke off an engagement once. It was incredibly hot. And I felt like a total worm. I never told the guy I ditched about what had happened, but when he took my diamond ring and put it into a little oyster shell and sent it out to sea, I felt like a heel. I try to live a regret-free life, but I deeply regretted not having the guts to break up with him before kissing the guy.
I think I knew he would be so upset about what I’d done that kissing this guy sort of got me off the fence and made my decision for me. Beforehand, I was 90 percent sure I wanted to break off the engagement. But I think I sucked face with that dude as a crutch. Once I’d given into a moment of passion, I figured I might as well go ahead and end my engagement, since if I didn’t — and I told my fiancé the truth — he would dump me instead.
It was sort of cowardly, when I think about it. I wish I had treated my fiancé with the respect he deserved by making up my mind first. And then kissing the other guy.
Next: It seems like a good idea at the time…
Of course, in retrospect, I know how I wish I behaved. But in the moment, I did the best I could.
Makes me flash back to a moment in family therapy when my sister was in the midst of her troubled teens. We would ask Keli, “Why would you do something like that?” And our therapist would interrupt us and answer for her, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” No matter what she had done, this was the explanation. I could see Keli breathe a sigh of relief every time he said it.
Because it’s true — not just for her, but for all of us.
One some level, when we’re there in the moment, it seems like a good idea at the time. It might not feel that way later, but at that second, it does.
And that explains a lot. Especially when it comes to passion.
I’m definitely not the type to get swept off my feet and wind up in the bartender’s bed the next morning with JBF hair. In fact, sometimes I wish I was more that way. But I’ve made peace with the fact that I’m not. My yoni is choosy and she doesn’t like to come out for just anybody. And my passion is — sadly — a bit regimented, more like boot camp than sexy, sweaty, animal magnetism.
My hubby and I have had some sexual issues recently. After almost nine years, we could use a little somethin’ somethin’ in the bedroom department, if you know what I mean. So have I fantasized about running off with some other guy? You bet I have.
But would I do it? I don’t think so. I think, for me, it would just be an escape. When I came back, my problems would be amplified, not resolved. And since my goal is always inner peace, I have a feeling I’d be relinquishing any inner peace I do have if I made such a choice. So I’d rather focus on ways to spice up my sex life with my husband, rather than cheating. Plus, I love and respect my husband and would never want to hurt him.
But that’s just me. Some women just seem less apt to plan and consider every angle and more prone to getting swept away in the moment. Who am I to judge?
But as a Pink Medicine Woman coach…
…something niggles at me when I think about this issue. I might be totally off base, but I get the sense that these women might be getting in their own way. Perhaps, like I did, their Inner Pilot Light has already decided to end their committed relationship, but they haven’t made peace with the consequences of that decision, which might mean a painful divorce, a custody battle, financial insecurity, social isolation, religious objections, or other heart-wrenching real obstacles to overcome should they follow the guidance of their Inner Pilot Light.
Perhaps the affair is just a self-sabotaging behavior that doesn’t get to the root of the real problem, which often revolves around the lies we tell ourselves. Like, “I want to be a monogamous committed woman” (when you don’t). Or, “Hot sex doesn’t really matter to me” (when it does). Or, “I really love my husband” (when you’re comfortable, but not in love).
Perhaps the real problem lies not in the cheating but in the self-deception that keeps us from owning who we really are and making peace with that part of ourselves we may not find acceptable. Is the affair just a crutch? Are you using it to avoid being unapologetically YOU?
If that’s the case, I’d like to invite you to sign up for this free Get Out Of Your Own Way mini e-course.
And to those of you who are cheating — or who have cheated in the past — how do you deal with the conflicting feelings that surely arise? Do you tell yourself the truth about how you feel? Can you look yourself square in the eye and make peace with who you really are? Can you love the real you?
Your Inner Pilot Light knows the way, my love. Let it guide you. And don’t be afraid to come face to face with the radiant brilliance of who you are at your very essence.
I could go on about this — but I won’t. So stay tuned for Part II in the Are You Cheating series.
PS: A note to any non-cheaters reading this. Please refrain from passing judgment in the comments here. Having interacted with many women in the midst of affairs lately, I can tell you they beat themselves up enough without needing to face any reproach from the rest of us. So please — offer loving kindness and compassion, not fear, judgment or a lecture. Linking arm and arm, we as women are friggin’ powerful, so let’s keep this in the Red Tent and make it safe to talk about anything here.