What makes a person unfaithful? And does infidelity always wreck a marriage? Writer Wendy Plump has experienced both sides – as the betrayer and the betrayed – and has learned some surprising lessons.
19 FEBRUARY 2013 by Psychologies
I first met Steven on vacation, on a marina dock down in South Carolina, fresh off a fishing trip. It was 1990 and I was 29. Steven was 35, curly-haired and sun-streaked. His eyes were sharp green, like microdots, and his voice all southern honey. It was not only attraction I felt on seeing him. It was attraction on nitrous. We ended up leaving the dock that night and spending the next few days in rapturous togetherness. That would have been fine, except that I was married. And so was Steven.
Infidelity is not a practice that invites much sympathy. Even as a concept it works people into such a froth that thoughtful discourse is difficult. But I have had a lot of time to think about infidelity and the ways it has worked both ruin and surprise in my life.
Now, many years after that meeting on the dock, I have an odd view of adultery. It’s not exactly sympathy. It’s just a gentler view, one that acknowledges that hardly anything at this point is as black-and-white as we make it out to be. At one time or another, temptation crops up on the radar screen in nearly every union. Of course, every union doesn’t experience the level of infidelity that mine did.