I don’t know what hurts more: knowing he kissed someone else or the fact that he didn’t do a very good job of covering his tracks,” says Pam, a law student at New York University who learned of her boyfriend’s indiscretion from a well-meaning friend. When she confronted her guy, he told her he still loved her and it was “no big thing. ” Pam isn’t so sure about that. “I thought we were in a committed relationship,” she says. Infidelity comes in many forms, from a few stolen kisses or an e-mail romance to a full-blown affair.
But no matter how it appens, it hurts if you’re the one who’s been cheated on. When it happens to you, chances are you’ll experience a range of emotions from anger to hurt to “Why me? ” Your Cheatin’ Heart Your first question is likely to be, “Why did this happen? ” People cheat for many reasons, some of them more hurtful than others. They may be bored with the relationship or they may have fallen for someone else. Or maybe they simply can’t resist temptation. They may even be trying to make their partner jealous.
Gender plays a role, according to David M. Buss, Ph. D. a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and author of “The Dangerous Passion” (Free Press, 2000). He studied the infidelity track records of thousands of young adults and discovered that men tend to cheat out of the desire for sexual variety. “They go for immediate gratification,” says Buss, “especially if the risks are low. ” For example, if they don’t think they’re going to get caught. Women, on the other hand, usually stray because they are “unhappy in the relationship and are ooking to see if they can do better on the mating market,” he says.
He believes that the feminine impulse to shop around may be a holdover from the cave days when the men folk were often killed off during hunts and it paid to have a backup on deck. The only way to find out why your partner strayed is to ask. The answer, as well as his or her post-cheating attitude (begging your forgiveness vs. shrugging it off) will help you sort through your tumbled emotions and decide whether to stand by your philandering squeeze or shout, “Next! ”