The sad truth about relationships is that people cheat. Cheating is a lot more common than people might think. Generally speaking, about 25% of relationships entail some form of cheating. This might seem like a low percentage, but when we’re talking about just how many people are in relationships, the number of people involved in infidelity is in the millions.
Cheating is a profound source of pain in a relationship. The person who is cheated on’s trust has been broken by a massive betrayal and quite often, the person who cheated is riddled with shame and guilt. Sometimes even the person with who the cheater had relations with the outside of their relationship feels a sense of shame. Regardless of any feelings, cheating is a winning situation for absolutely no one.
When cheating is unveiled in a relationship, it is extremely difficult to know what to do. What can either person even say when that happens?
Many couples simply end the relationship, and that is perfectly fair. Some stay together, which is also fair, though admittedly something that is quite challenging. However, a third option that is less common some people have considered. This is where when the cheater gets caught, they attempt to resolve the relationship whose trust they have broken by asking for an open relationship.
It is difficult to say whether or not this is a definitively good resolution. It really depends upon the person who has been cheated on and how they might receive this solution. On the one hand, maybe you had a purely or nearly purely sexual relationship with this person and you want to just keep having sex with them. Then this solution might actually work.
On the other hand --and I believe this will be the reaction of the vast majority of people who have cheated on-- the person who was cheated on will become even more resentful than before. They’re probably thinking, “its one thing to cheat on me, but now you’re trying to justify it by asking for an open relationship.” Indeed, it is most likely that someone who has been cheated on who is suggested by the cheater to enter into an open relationship with them will become extremely indigent.
And at bottom, those who become indignant as a result of this have every right to be. The cheater has done something wrong and to try to bring up the option of open relationships to someone who is (1) hurt and (2) potentially not at all interested in open relationships, is fundamentally to completely disregard their feelings at that moment. It is to shift the focus elsewhere and to not take full responsibility for one’s betrayal.
Open relationships are a wonderful option for those whose sexual and/or romantic preferences are non-monogamous. They can be a deep, meaningful, and fun way to express yourself and have your needs met with others. In the vast majority of cases, it would be a profound shame to shatter the image of open relationships by using it as a cop-out for your acts of infidelity. Doing this would be to conflate open relationships with an avoidance of responsibility, which would be erroneous and an added negative implication onto the taboos against open relationships. Furthermore, it is to assume that cheating is not possible in an open relationship. Really, it is just the utilization of the misconception of open relationships as a sexual free-for-all as a get out of jail free card. It can’t be that easy, and you really shouldn’t try to be slick in this manner if you’re going to comport yourself morally.
There is a better route to take if you are a cheater. If you have not been caught yet, own up to it. Insofar as the person cheated on does not know about your infidelity, they really are not consenting to the relationship --which is to say, if they knew about your infidelity, they might not want to be in a relationship with you anymore. If you have been caught cheating, whatever happens, is not in your hands anymore. Really, the decision of where the relationship ends up is in the hands of the person cheated on --in a sense, cheating has made you lose the right to make such decisions.
The true moral of the story here is don’t cheat. On the one hand, it's mean to cheat. On the other, you won’t have to worry about bringing up solutions like the open relationship solution to cover your own tracks.