What should I be doing instead of this?
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By Erma P. Sanders · February 22nd, 2001 · Diva
Why do people cheat? It's the one question I am asked the most. For months now I've had a little slip of paper in my purse to remind me to re-address this topic since it seems to come up over and over again. I've been avoiding it, because I wasn't sure I had an answer.

I think I know why we remain faithful. We treat as we want to be treated. Because if you get caught, it can bite you in the ass. I think I even know why some people cheat repeatedly. Because your partner let you get away with it the first time.

But what would cause you to stray the first time? What would make you risk your relationship for just a few minutes of sex with another person? Although it is one of my pet peeves when somebody answers a question with a question, I have no other recourse. Why do we cheat? Have you ever seen your mate scratch his butt deeply, dig something out from between his toe then eat a pretzel all in one sweeping motion? That's the answer.

We cheat because it's an escape from the reality of our lives. Think about the sex when a relationship is new. Everybody is clean and sweet smelling, all bad bodily functions like gas and halitosis are kept at bay, no raggedy underwear or socks with holes, and you have your partner's undivided attention.

Enjoy it while it lasts ... because it doesn't last. Once you get into a relationship, you let your guard down and become more relaxed. What separates the cheaters from the non-cheaters is that some of us can make that adjustment and some can't. Or some can adjust for a long period of time -- months or even years -- until another person or situation triggers a response in us that we can't ignore.

I think most of us are situational cheaters. We love our mates, and we even want to remain faithful. However, there is a set of circumstances out there that will make us cheat. Your mind may forget, but your body remembers a time when all the planets were in alignment and the booty was too good to pass up.

In certain situations (different for everybody), you will stop thinking with your head. It is totally subjective. It explains why a guy will cheat on his woman with an ugly woman. There was a trigger there he couldn't explain. Maybe the ugly woman reminds him of his first time with the ugly friend of his older sister who let him do it to her even though he was only 14 and had acne. He may not consciously remember it himself, but his little penis is winking at him, "Remember that time in the basement 20 years ago?" Before he knows it, he's cheating.

No doubt there are as many reasons why we are unfaithful to our partners as there are stars in the heavens. I've only cheated once, on my college beau, Ed. I cheated because I wasn't getting what I needed at home and, since he was resistant to talking about it, it was easier to have a joyful night with a man who was clean and sexy and giving me all his attention than to try and work on my relationship. Call it revenge sex.

Would I cheat on my current man? No, because my wants and needs are different now than when I was 21, and I know that any problems in my relationship could not be solved by sleeping with another man. Or my answer could be "no" because he's reading this right now. Either way, I'm keeping my pants on.

contact erma p. sanders: letters@citybeat.com



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