Earlier this evening I had some twenty somethings here for an impromptu supper. This happens now and again when my grandson and some friends show up hungry and I happen to have fast fixins on hand. They were talking about mutual acquaintances who split up because she cheated on him. Hmmm. What exactly does that mean in today’s world? Apparently these young people were dating, which in itself is very different now from when I was young a long time ago. Dating, if it includes several dates, probably includes sex, not just sharing a malt and seeing a movie. So, cheating seems to consist of sex with someone else. In my world it wouldn’t be cheating unless there was a committed relationship. Dating may not actually be a committed relationship and if it is not then a date with someone else would not be cheating, it would just be a date.
Maybe it’s only cheating if you are sneaky about it. Now that makes sense to me. If a girl and a guy are spending time together frequently there may be an implied agreement that this is an exclusive arrangement. I am not fond of implied situations. I much prefer explicit definitions of what the relationship consists of and what behavior is expected and what is unacceptable. So, youngsters, here’s what might save you some grief. Say what you mean. Say it early. Assume nothing. If you are dating and you want to be with someone else be open and honest about that. Chances are if you are interested in someone else the relationship you have isn’t a committed one. This is one of those things better discovered sooner rather than later.
Of course there are many kinds of cheating. It happens in sports and at school all the time. People cheat at work. Tax cheats are common. I wonder if I know anybody who never, not ever, had someone else do their homework or sneaked a peek at someone’s paper on a test. Now I am not much into confessions but I can’t honestly say I never cheated in school. I am sure that I didn’t cheat on taxes because the consequences could be a problem.
Is a cheater a bad person? Maybe, maybe not. And maybe just how awful one is because of cheating is a matter of degree. Is it really horrible to round the number down a bit when asked about your weight? Do we refuse to have a person in our life if they didn’t tell a cashier about making a mistake and giving back too much change? I think we usually consider these to be minor, human failings and tend to overlook them. Cheating that is also a betrayal is another matter. I think my young friends have low regard for a cheater because of the betrayal, the lie. If one of them tells the person they have been going out with that they are going out with someone else they would think that is unkind, but would not call it cheating.