Cheating is a funny subject.
For those of us who haven’t yet taken the wedding vow, where does the obsession with pledging our fidelity come from? Why do teenagers and college students worry so much about breaking a covenant they’ve never made at an age when they should be dating the widest variety of people possible?
Given that the genesis of fidelity was probably to ensure that we women didn’t go around bearing children with other men’s DNA, it doesn’t seem to affect those of us in college, childless and armed with a multitude of birth-control options (some of them flavored!).
So maybe it’s just a residual peer-pressure from the rest of society. Everyone else has a (read: one) significant other – why don’t you?
But you have to stop thinking that way. Dating exclusively during your formative years isn’t always the best idea.
That isn’t to say I didn’t fall into that trap. In high school and college, I had a few serious long-term relationships. But I also dated a lot of different men. And while I didn’t ‘cheat’ on most of them (key word: most), I did often toe the line. I remember feeling anxious about the whole thing, like I was grievously close to committing a mortal sin. Looking back, I overreacted; I was far too young to be that serious about one person. What I should have done instead was be more honest and accepting of my basic inclinations to date lots of people: It was perfectly normal to want to have my cake and ‘ um ‘ eat a few other men’s cakes, too.
The idea of casual dating isn’t a new one. In fact, when I first began worrying about ‘violating’ the sanctity of my (at the time) very youthful relationships, it was actually my grandmother who snapped me out of it. She would say: ‘Julia, are you married?’ (‘No, grandmother,’ I was supposed to answer.) ‘Are you engaged?’ (‘No, grandmother.’) ‘Are you pinned?’ (‘No, grandmother ‘ what the hell does ‘pinned’ mean, anyway?’)
‘Then,’ my grandmother would say, ‘You may date anyone you like.’
And that is how I began to see the world of non-exclusive dating as a good one. If my God-fearing WASP of a grandmother condoned it, well, then, it must be all right! It was almost as if she didn’t understand the idea of cheating, unless it pertained to a committed relationship ‘ and that commitment only came with a ring (or a pin, I suppose).
That makes more sense than getting all worked up about the guy you’ve been seeing for two weeks (two weeks!) kissing another girl. Who cares? Does it really hurt you that much? Yes, jealousy sucks. But that feeling is eternal, and believe it or not, the most jealous people are the most insecure. So why aren’t you out kissing other guys?
Humans are naturally flirtatious, sexual beings. College students, unlike humans, have little or no capacity to restrain this side of them, and yet they often make promises to another party that they’ll try. Do some succeed? Sure. There are definitely people who have monogamous relationships in high school and college. But I’m just not so sure that’s good for them. Experiment now while you can!
Casually dating a bunch of people is an excellent way to learn about what you really want in a partner. Why tie yourself to one person when that’s what you’ll be doing (if you’re like the majority of Americans) for the greater part of your adult life?!
There’s no reason to go on feeling badly about your inclinations to cheat ‘ just be honest about them and don’t give anyone a disease. But get it all out of your system now because, I assure you, when you’re married, the stakes are a lot higher. Maybe if Bill had dated around a little more when he was in college, he wouldn’t have needed to cheat later in life. Well ‘ maybe not. Some people just weren’t meant for monogamy.