Last night, I was chatting with old friends about infidelity and forgiveness. And as we exchanged war stories from our single days in Atlanta, a pattern began to emerge.
When the women cheated, it was always for a “reason.” She was neglected, ignored, misunderstood. Or the crowd favorite — it was for revenge. Her infidelity was never considered to be a reflection of her character or something to be taken at face value, because there was a “reason.” But when the discussion turned to men found guilty of cheating, the old axiom, “Women need a reason to cheat; men just need an opportunity,” ruled the debate.
He was automatically considered to be a dog, a liar, a “slut puppy,” someone so unworthy of forgiveness, that his behavior could be considered just cause for an addendum to President Obama’s controversial NDAA:
Any man even suspected of cheating can be apprehended by the United States military and detained indefinitely for subverting the peace of the nation and crimes against humanity.
Some argue that warm-blooded animals — including humans — are not meant to be monogamous, thus an inability to stay faithful in a monogamous relationship should not be considered a moral failure. I can dig that, but let’s tuck that discussion away for rainy day and ask the question:
Can a man ever be forgiven for cheating?
I’m not talking about that one eye on you and the other on any woman you so much as bat an eyelash at type of forgiveness. I’m talking about whole-hearted you made a mistake and I understand forgiveness.
I say yes, possibly.
Of course this doesn’t pertain to habitual cheaters who are so in love with the sight of their own penis they want everyone to have the pleasure. But for those men who cheat one time and are sincerely contrite, a woman (from a heteronormative perspective) should not be made to feel like the village idiot for staying in the relationship. Yes, there may be a need for couple’s therapy. Yes, the magnitude of his actions should be made clear to him. Yes, he must take full responsibility for being selfish, dishonest and immature. Yes, he should understand that the probability he will eeeeeever, eva, eva, eva be forgiven again falls somewhere between Tiger Woods dating a black woman and a Fugees reunion. But does he deserve at least a chance at redemption?
Absolutely — but only if the person that he’s hurt wants to give it to him.
In this patriarchal society, the mistakes that young men make primarily center around them stumbling towards manhood — what it is and how to get there. They are taught that women are trophies to be won. Often times they aren’t taught anything, instead figuring it out by watching BET and this mutated, commercialized Hip-Hop that will have some women thinking that being a stripper with an ass full of silicon is something that we all should strive towards in the quest for superficial male approval.
And those are our mistakes. As women, sometimes we change ourselves, deny our truths, dumb down and turn up in a bid to be that trophy. That’s what society does to many of us as we try to define womanhood, and does that make us unworthy and incapable of being smarter, better people as we grow and evolve?
All this to say, that people make mistakes, especially in relationships — romantic and otherwise — with other people. Simple as that. And some men make their mistakes while un-learning how to treat women.
In some cases, that doesn’t make them evil. It just makes them human.
What do you think, ladies: Have you ever forgiven a man for cheating? Why did you do it? And did he do it again?
Let’s talk about it.