Ask Demetria: Why Is There A Double Standard on Cheating?

Screen Shot 2014-01-03 at 4.17.22 PM“It amazes me the double standards of cheating: Friend cheated on wife; both their families more or less were upset but shrugged, expected her to stay/forgive. She then cheated two years later and everyone was screaming he should leave her. Why is a woman cheating more unforgivable?” —F.T.

We live in a patriarchy that’s full of double standards that often benefit men, especially when it comes to sex. There’s a “boys will be boys” outlook that stems from the idea that monogamy is just not natural for men. For men, sex is believed to be just pleasure and nothing more.

Of course, women are not believed to have similar sexual desires as men and sex must “mean something.” Thus, women are perceived to be naturally faithful and expected to be faithful. When a woman is not, it is perceived to be a grave betrayal to the relationship.

You know, if a man or woman doesn’t believe in monogamy, I’m totally fine with that. I just encourage them to stay single-single—no relationships and no marriage, unless, of course, they have a spouse who is fine with them having sex with others and they are happy to extend the same “courtesy.” If they’re both on the same page? Good for them. May they get tested with their partners, have safe sex and carry on happily. Singles, of course, can do as they please and should take similar precautions to protect themselves and anyone with whom they have sex.

I do take issue with the couple you’ve described. If the family, who shouldn’t be all up in this marriage anyway, is telling the wife to stay and forgive when her husband cheated and telling the man to go now that she’s returned the “favor,” then these folks weren’t in an open marriage. My grandmother liked to say, “What’s good for the goose

is good for the gander,” which loosely means, what applies to one, should apply to all. There shouldn’t be a different outlook on the consequences of cheating solely based on the sex of the person who’s doing it.

But, unfortunately there is. Last week, a woman wrote into my to say that she recently discovered her husband of eight years had fathered a 6-week-old child with his ex-girlfriend. She was, unsurprisingly, devastated to know that her partner had lied to and deceived her for at least the last year of their union. Her inclination was to leave her marriage, which you can guess most people who read her story supported, as that is a huge betrayal.

However, there were naysayers, who didn’t think this heinous scenario was worth “throwing away” her marriage. When I posted about the situation on my Facebookpage, one woman was adamant that she stay with her husband:

“I always thought the women who stayed were strong and powerful and I’ve always applauded them for not letting some lesser chick tear down their house or take control of their husband. I think I’d feel, she may be his entertainment, but I’m his wife. I clean his dirty underwear until death do us part and no woman is going to make me leave so she can try to fill my shoes. When he comes home, I get his paycheck. No one else gets that privilege … I worked hard to get him where he is, and she isn’t getting the fruits of my labor. You’re taking care of that kid and you’re coming home every night.”

The outlook of holding women to higher standards than men is pervasive and unfortunate. The commenter missed—or was willfully overlooking—the quality of the man she would be keeping. She’s washing the dirty underwear of a man who lies, who has unprotected sex with other women and risks catching a sexually transmitted infection that he could pass on to his wife. Much like the families that you described, her vitriol was only reserved for the woman. She didn’t seem to get that the other woman isn’t so much taking a man as he is giving himself to her.


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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. BlacknGolden says:

    I believe in forgiveness however when it comes to infidelity it can be tricky. I have forgave and I have been forgiven. BUT there are some situations I believe are unforgivable, ie: std, extra children, crazy side lovers, etc. Loyalty and Trust are large components of relationships and once its broken, its very hard to rebuild.

    In regards to the commentator “I clean his dirty underwear until death do us part…” She is cleaning his underwear so he can see his mistress with clean draws!

  2. Guest says:

    Men and women often do cheat for different reasons. A weak impulsive man will subconsciously or consciously try spread his DNA given the right circumstances, even if he’s in a happy committed relationship with a great woman. A happy woman will often reject opportunities for extramarital sex to protect her family/offspring and ensure stability in the family unit. Women who are having their needs met won’t cheat (by and large). Men can be having their needs met and still cheat. An unfaithful woman is of less value to a man because he’ll always question his offspring and doubt his ability as a man. Women never have to question that their offspring is theirs, so they often can’t understand why men put more value on a faithful woman than anything else. That’s HUGE. No woman can understand that feeling of uncertainty in maternity, just as no man can understand the true experience of childbirth. Women also don’t have to question their abilities as women, since some men will cheat despite her proficiency as a wife/mother. The double standard exists because it’s worse when a woman cheats. That does NOT mean both acts aren’t despicable.

  3. MajesticOne says:

    Cheating is never okay and anyone that thinks so does not value themselves. I am not perfect but I know what it feels like to have someone cheat on you and you have been good to them. And I know what it feels like from the one time I did cheat. I did not like myself and confessed when I could have just lived with the lie.

    I chose to be honest because I believe in redemption and I believe in Karma. But at the same time, I am not the people police nor am I Jiminy Cricket.

    I am getting over a very bad experience where I dealt with someone that has chosen to use women and yes chooses openly to deceive women so that he can have sex with them. When he is done, he disappears by not answering their calls, not returning their calls, no explanation, lies about where he is and has been and blatantly avoids them once he is done. He spends time and money on the chase and depending on how good the sex is, he will stay around no more than 3-6 months with the next 3 or 4 women already lined up.

    I have expressed to him not only is the karma gonna come back and get him hard but he could very well come up against what I call the “burning bed b**ch”. The chick that snaps and does him in. He does not believe me because he has a lot of money and thinks he is untouchable. He owns his own law firm and conveniently hides behind his diploma when it gets too hot to handle.

    It is never cool. To make someone think they are the only one when they are really number 2 of many.

    When I saw that small segment that aired on Bravo Television, I was upset because at no point should I be responsible for someone else’s choices. I have to trust my gut. I was given one for a reason and if I had listened to it sooner, I could have saved myself a lot of heart ache all my life including the past 6 years I allowed this person to come in and out of my life.

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