‘Men are dogs! Men are dogs!’
I have heard, and read this statement countless times since I was a little girl. We were taught to expect that men were animals, and they only look at us as conquests. Once they capture your heart, or your body, and in many instances both, they are on to the next one, and the cycle never ends. The victim here is always the woman because when she loves, she loves with all her heart. She is so innocent and so pure. And men, men are just pigs!!
This is the notion we grew up with as young girls, and for me, it played an incredible role in how I viewed men. We were taught that all men cheat, and we were taught to not only expect it but accept it as the norm. We were taught that there is nothing you can do about it, and your only two options were to stay single (which was deemed impossible and just plain weird because you can’t live without a man, duh) or accept that cheating is part and parcel of being a man, and just learn to live with it.
We were also taught that women don’t cheat. Women can’t cheat; women shouldn’t cheat. Women are too emotionally attached to sex, and it is unimaginable that they could be unfaithful to their partners (sad to say but there is a little ho in each and every one of us; societal dogma just forces women to keep their ho-ness on a leash, most of the time).
In my mind, it felt kind of unfair. The society tells us that cheating is wrong, but in most instances, members of one sex are less severely punished for this act than the other. This makes it seem that it is more acceptable for some of us to step out on our significant others but deemed an atrocious, unforgivable act for the rest of us.
This double standards always confused and angered me because it felt like I was being told what to do. For me, it was fine that cheating was in a man’s DNA. What was not fine was being told to accept it and live with it. If men could cheat and everyone is fine with it, so could I.
And cheat I did. In many of my ‘situationships’ with men throughout my late teens and early 20s, I was hardly 100% committed. I did not even try. It did not even bother me an inch, because, ‘hey, he’s probably cheating anyway, and I’m just trying to save myself some heartbreak. No one is getting hurt here’.
Wait a minute! Don’t throw the stones yet.
Let me be honest, I don’t think I would have been so hell-bent on cheating if it had not been drummed into my head that women weren’t allowed to cheat but men were. Most of the time, I was just proving a point; a big FUCK YOU to the society for trying to dictate how I should live my life (it sounds so stupid now).
I know this to be absolutely true about myself…I really do not like being told what to do especially if the instructions apply only to me because of certain physical characteristics that I cannot change e.g. my big forehead. It’s not really a feminist thing, it’s a hard-headed thing. I am a stubborn little person, and you cannot tell me what to do. If you try to tell me what I can or cannot do, I’ll find a way to prove you wrong, and annoy you in the process (I know; it’s a terrible, terrible, character flaw).
But, as I have grown older, I have realized that there is so much more to cheating than just stepping out on someone. For instance, in my case, it wasn’t just to prove that I too, a woman, was emotionally and physically capable of stepping out. It started out as simple as that but every experience shed light on the actual person I was at the time.
I realized later on, cheating came easy for me mainly because I have this inexplicable fear of getting close to people. Like, it’s a serious fear to a point of it being toxic. That probably stems from severe abandonment issues, and cheating was one way of ensuring that I do not get too attached to one particular person who might end up leaving and breaking my heart (daddy issues, anyone?).
Aside from that, I have noticed that cheating was my go-to tactic whenever I wanted to exit a situationship. It was my method of escapism from situations that I am not particularly comfortable to be in. I am not highly effective at communicating my feelings, my needs, my unhappiness, or my discomfort with the other individual. Hence, instead of continuing to suffer in the silence, I choose to cheat as an expression of my dissatisfaction with the significant other and ensure that he finds out about it.
Sometimes, this strategy would backfire, as some would forgive me for my indiscretions. This meant that I was still stuck in this situation, and I had to find other means to get myself out of it e.g. cutting off all communication for several days at a time. I would go to all of these extreme measures rather than just let the other party know that I was not happy and that I wanted to move on (I have never denied that I am a big coward when it comes to telling people what I think and how I feel).
Cheating was also easy because I mostly assumed that the other individual (almost always male) was also cheating. That is exactly what we were taught to expect, and my cheating was a way to ensure that his cheating did not sting as much. That I did not end up crying and shocked, and miserable when his indiscretions would be laid bare. My actions ensured that I would not be the victim like soooo many other women in sooooooo many relationships.
It was fun in the beginning, but it stopped being fun a long time ago. It almost became engrained in my personality, and often times I would find myself chanting prayers begging the universe not to allow me to cheat. I’m in the house on my own endlessly chanting, ‘please do not let me cheat, please do not let me cheat, please do not let me cheat‘.
You get to see the monster and the coward you are when you’re stepping out on someone who actually trusts you. I have come to realize that in the end, you are hurting them, but not to the extent that you’re hurting yourself.
From this VERY limited experience, I have also come to see that cheating is not an overwhelmingly male characteristic, and often, cheating is not as simple as just men having an insatiable lust for the opposite sex, or their inability to keep it in their pants in the presence of individuals who are not their significant others, or the myth that men are allergic to/above commitment.
Nope. There is almost always an underlying personal (almost unique to their circumstances) element that pushes someone, male or female, to that point of stepping out.
We (men and women) cheat because we are unhappy; we cheat because we are sad. We cheat because we are scared of settling for less, but we really have not yet determined our worth.
People cheat because we are scared to be vulnerable.
People cheat because, growing up, some of us never really learned how to accept ourselves and the others around us for who we and they really are.
There is also a ‘biological‘ twist to the entire saga with many people actually genetically predisposed to promiscuity and infidelity. How do you fight against your own genetic makeup? HOW??
People cheat because of their own mental health issues. Some people cheat because they are narcissists.
People cheat because they feel a connection to others that they do not share with their significant ones. You only live once and you do not know if you will ever find such a connection again.
And then there are those instances where someone is just too attractive to let them pass you by without you giving your pudenda the opportunity to have a dalliance with theirs. Again, you only live once!!
The spectrum for reasons why people are unfaithful is so wide and it is not sex specific.
People cheat. Not just men. All of us. The media’s constant portrayal of men as players and emotionally inept smooth operators has had us believing that ALL men cheat ALL the time.
It’s a folklore that has shaped how the Kenyan men and women relate with one another. This folklore has been fanned by our mothers, grandmothers, elder sisters, and teachers who felt bitter that they had been cheated on and they were unable to return the favor, slowly slaving away in relationships they should have ended when they saw the signs. I can honestly deduce that majority of relationships in this great land of ours are RUBBISH!!
Men aren’t dogs who lack control over their gonads. Men are just people. We are all just people making stupid mistakes every day because we do not understand who we are, what our needs are, and how we can have these needs met without getting ourselves or others hurt.
Figure yourself out first before committing to someone you are not completely sure you can be faithful to. Because, in the end, cheating on someone who trusts you is wrong, regardless of the reasons behind your actions.