It was one of those occasions the ‘Mr’ had sent me some movies to watch, and he did ask me to watch one first. My curiosity heightened as I thought it must be a good movie for him to make such a request… So I did. ‘Last night’ is a very simple movie with yet, a compelling story-line which focused on the subject of infidelity. This is one movie that left me thinking a thousand and one things at the same time because of its realness. The story-line followed a married couple who were apart for a night. While the husband takes a business trip with a colleague to whom he’s attracted to, his wife also encounters her past love. This got interesting as they both battled with temptation simultaneously in that one night. Things got pretty intense, and the husband succumbed to the temptation to fulfill his physical desires while the woman still had the decency to resist sex with her past lover because she is a married woman. However, this did not deter her from sharing the same bed and being cuddly with her ex throughout the night. It was very apparent that she still had an emotional connection somewhere with her ex which I really don’t know if it was something different from what she felt for her husband.
The husband later cut his trip short due to his mistake, and possibly because he could not handle the guilt anymore. He returned home to find his wife amidst tears, but what he did not know is that his wife was crying over a man she could not have because she was married to him. She was unhappy in a marriage where her husband had tried his possible best to make her happy, (except for that one night he fell) simply because of some unresolved feelings lurking somewhere in the depths of her heart for an ex. I analysed this scenario with ‘Mr’ after watching this movie and we both agreed that both of them failed terribly but what I could not decipher was which was worse or harder to recover from ‘the emotional infidelity or the sexual infidelity’. I am still tad confused because I really don’t get to hear much about the emotional infidelity side of things or probably a lot people just overlook this phenomenon and its impact but, it happens.
The tricky aspect for most people is that, it is often disguised as a harmless friendship which may breed some form of emotional connection along the line as it progresses- or some unresolved feelings somewhere for someone other than your partner. Then, they become propagated by those long phone calls, text messages and chats you engage in, and the devil may even begin to manipulate your mind into ‘denial mode’ thinking ‘it is just a harmless friendship’. I have heard about setting boundaries with others when you are in a relationship, but where exactly do we draw that line? What about those who have the opposite sex as their best friends?
Emotional infidelity is defined as when one partner goes outside the primary relationship to get his or her emotional needs met, and this is more common and more damaging than you can imagine. Emotional fidelity is the hardest thing to build and to most people it takes the biggest toll on a relationship when it is betrayed… although I reckon that anytime an agreement is broken between you and your partner, you undermine the trust and safety of your relationship. On the other hand, studies have revealed that intrinsic differences in gender trigger different responses towards infidelity as most men often view infidelity from the sexual aspect; most women view infidelity from the emotional aspect. Regardless, if you are up for something real and lasting then you must protect the emotional integrity of your relationship above other aspects.
I have tried, and still try to understand how the human brain and mind works especially in terms of attraction and relationships. Perhaps, we are attracted to different things in different people, but one person does not have it all. How are we able to attach and detach so freely? When exactly do we decide that what we feel for one person is greater than what we feel for another?
I listened to a TED talk by Helen Fisher who had been studying romantic love for about 20 years titled ‘why we love, why we cheat’. She stated that the human brain architecture may contribute to infidelity as we have three types of brain systems related to love but can function independently of one another. First part is the sex drive, which evolved to motivate individuals to seek copulation with a range of partners. Then romantic love, which evolved to motivate individuals to focus their mating energy on specific partners.
Lastly, attachment which evolved to motivate mating individuals to remain together at least long enough to rear a single child through infancy together. According to her, these three basic neural systems interact with one another and other brain systems in flexible and combinatorial patterns to provide the range of motivations, emotions and behaviors necessary to orchestrate our complex human reproductive strategy. But this same brain architecture makes it biologically possible to express deep feelings of attachment for one partner, while one feels intense romantic love for another individual, while one feels the sex drive for even more partners. Tad complex, I know!
This is still a mystery to me, and I have not been able to come up with anything concrete (may have to conduct an academic research to get more answers) but I do know some certain things. Contentment is key, and it is one of the hardest parts of any relationship because there is something about ‘newness’ that is interesting and intriguing for everyone. When you meet someone new, there is always mystery unraveling which elevates your dopamine levels and you become really excited. But really, the grass is not always greener on the other side and in this case, you would have lost what you had before you figured that out.
Relationships and marriages require effort, so if you find something real, you need to protect and guard it with integrity. Also, you have to deal with the symptoms that could compromise your relationship as they come up (e.g. emotional distance is the symptom that often leads to emotional infidelity).
Emotional infidelity should not necessarily mean the demise of a committed relationship, but healing needs to take place as soon as possible before it is too late. So if you’re dancing on the edge of inappropriate behavior, ask yourself this question and be honest: Is seeking an emotional connection outside my relationship/marriage truly the best thing for my long-term happiness? In a relationship, you can always weigh your options and decide what is best for you, but what you should never forget is the 80/20 rule. There are lots of twenties disguising as eighties and to be honest, you would never know from the surface. Very dicey I must say! It really is a gamble, and your decisions should be influenced by hints of ‘educated guesses’ on its outcome. And perhaps you are like me who believes in a higher power, ask him for direction… never leave him out of it (these kain matters, odikwa too serious).
Another way to view this is from the deception outlook; if you are lying to cover it up, it is already cheating 🙁 Let your conscience convict you, and therein lies your answer. No matter how hard it is, you owe your partner honesty and in a relationship you have two options; it is either you quit the relationship and move on, or you fix the root cause. Nobody forces anyone to be in a relationship with them, neither is anybody doing the other person a favor by being in a relationship with them so, never use an emotional connection with a third party as a means of escape.
Unfortunately, I do not have all the answers and this relationship/marriage issue is not a one size fits all. So, feel free to share your contributions and advice… I am still not sure which of the either forms of infidelity is more severe or harder to recover from.
Photo Credit: arabia.com
Oluwabusola Adedire is a graduate of Medical and Pharmacological Sciences, an enthusiast on social issues, and loves to inspire people about life, God and Love. Find her on Instagram @hrh_oluwabusola and on Twitter @HRH_oluwabussie