Confession: I don’t do too well with excuses, especially when I’ve decided to build a life with you. Reasons, I’ll take sometimes, but excuses? Not so much.
One thing I cannot tolerate is when folks make excuses for a sh**ty mate. I know your significant other is trash, you know he or she is trash, yet you vehemently defend, well, trash. One of the most widespread arguments that usually lead to trashy romantic partners being absolved of blame and accountability for their role in violating vows and agreements is the myth of the “homewrecker.”
There’s what seems to be a widely accepted belief that some woman—or man for that matter—just inserted herself into your “perfectly happy” union, claimed what was yours and wreaked havoc on some hotel bed sheets with your significant other all on his or her own. Granted, there are some folks who are committed to being the side piece and have absolutely no respect for boundaries, but despite their loyalty to a life of slutty ways, their mission would not be fulfilled without one key ingredient: your significant other’s permission.
I’ve been cheated on, have strayed, been the other woman and have cried a lot of tears. I’m not proud of my experiences, but I for damn sure gained a lot of wisdom from them. With that being said, in each and every instance previously described, one common element was present—that one or both partners granted an outside party permission to invade the relationship. Yes, invade. In my mind, that’s what an affair is. An invasion of a commitment unless otherwise stated.
Often when one discovers that their significant other has been unfaithful, they tend to blame the third party. In many cases, they allow the range of emotions that usually comes with discovering infidelity to overpower their logic. The desire to hold on to what once was, even if it is no longer how it used to be, makes them feel territorial and threatened. So they lash out at the third party, regardless of what they’ve been told, and cling to their significant other. Staged or not, a good example of the range of emotions felt upon discovering your mate has been unfaithful is The Jerry Springer Show.
I know, I know. Daytime television certainly isn’t the go-to resource for all things relationships, but bear with me. The show kicks off with some poor, unsuspecting (or at least it appears that way) soul on stage talking about how much he or she is in love with his or her mate. They claim to have no idea why they’re there as they sit in marked confusion, and after a commercial break or two, the love of their life comes on scene. Then there’s the confession of infidelity with the indiscretion having occurred with someone who is usually a close friend or family member. He or she eventually appears on the stage, talks all kinds of smack and a “fight” ensues. Following the brawl, the betrayed party usually decides to work it out with their cheating mate in the name of “love,” while damning the third party to hell with a whole lot of unflattering words and additional fist licks that pave the path of whoredom.
In sum, it’s a hot mess, but a pretty common reaction that displays actions similar to those executed during the five stages of grief.
Regardless of what someone else’s motives are, you have to grant them access to your attention, to your body and to your desires. If you are in a committed relationship, you are responsible for being loyal to your union. Yes, that cute 20-something-year-old could opt to NOT flirt with you, but you cannot control the actions of another person. Yes, your significant other can be more attentive to your needs, but it’s up to you to communicate the deficiency in your relationship. No one else is responsible for honoring the commitments that you signed up for, and no one is responsible for your slip-ups.
It’s best that we stop blaming “homewreckers” for gaining access to what should be reserved for our mates only. You did what you wanted to do, and an effective way for infidelity to not occur in your relationship is to set clear boundaries and be willing to cut off people who do not respect your union.
Shantell E. Jamison is a digital editor for EBONY.com and JETMAG.com. Her book “Drive Yourself in the Right Direction” is available on Amazon. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter @Shantell_em and Instagram @Shantell_em.