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Sex, lies and a whole lot of deception

Infidelity is a common problem in many relationships. Terence Pillay looks at the scourge of cheating. 

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If there’s one thing I cannot abide by, it’s someone who cheats on his or her spouse or partner. It’s disrespectful. There’s no other way to put it. I was at a dinner party recently where the topic made its way into the conversation and everyone was talking about how some woman was cheating on her husband with a co-worker and was proffering opinions on it. But not once in that entire discussion did anyone think to tell the man being cheated on that his wife was stepping out on him.

I think this is the thing that grates me so much about cheating spouses – the fact that the one being cheated on is always in the dark while everyone around him or her whispers behind their backs.

I remember being at a hotel bar once and heard the conversation going on next to me by a group of businessmen who were all looking to meet someone while they were in Joburg for the week to “let loose” as they put it. I thought about their wives and children at home unaware of what their husbands and fathers were up to and how utterly blasé these men were about having an extramarital fling while away on business.

So there were quite a few views on the subject around that dinner table at my friend’s house that day. Some were quite liberal believing cheating was evolutionary and quite natural, while some adopted a more conservative stance on the matter.  One was saying that it’s natural because we have to “sow our wild oats” and find the best place to plant our seed, irrespective of which vessel carried it. This was the evolutionary defence of infidelity – that we need to do it because we need to survive. In truth, I imagine that this guy was just a big old cheater and was trying to find an excuse to justify his adulterous behaviour.

Then there was the serial monogamy approach, which is that you’re a monogamist and only have one partner at a time but they don’t last very long and you go through them like you do cereal – once a day. But make no mistake, this is only barely different from being a full on cheater.

Then, of course, there are those people that would just go to the most elaborate lengths to cheat on their spouse and ensure they don’t get caught. This includes lying about being away on business, going fishing and coming back with fried chicken, booking dirty weekends at hotels and so on.

Early on in my career I worked in town and travelled with a lift club and we parked at the Workshop in Durban. A man and a woman would arrive around the same time as us every morning and always walked to work hand in hand. Sometimes she would arrive earlier and he would leave a little note or a flower or something on her windscreen, which I thought was pretty romantic. I, of course, assumed they were married. But then I judged a kid’s talent contest and there was this man sitting in the front row with his wife and three kids – but the wife was not the same woman from the parking lot. He seemed decidedly uncomfortable when he saw me and tried very hard not to meet my stare. The thing is, he seemed perfectly happy with his wife and children so I couldn’t reconcile this man’s duplicitous life.

And I have heard of so many stories like this where a man has an entire other life away from his wife and kids; an apartment for his concubine and has to maintain these two lives. I often wonder why people think they could be happy with this person with whom they’re cheating. If he or she is willing to step out on their marriage, what assurance do you have that the same thing is not going to happen to you when the next new and exciting relationship comes along? Shouldn’t there be some alarm bell that goes off and you consider that “I’m never going to have a long-term relationship with this person”?

I have always wondered if relationships that are borne from cheating last. I don’t know of any. But I do know of entire families that have broken by a cheating spouse who doesn’t end up with the person he or she has cheated with.

I have also considered whether I would tell a friend if I found out that he or she has been cheating on their spouse. I’ve canvassed the opinion of so many of my friends who feel that it’s a personal and a domestic matter and should be handled by just the people in question. I disagree. I mean I would certainly want to know if someone has been cheating on me so I can confront the problem and make a choice.

I may not necessarily lead with, “Hey your husband is having an affair.” I would be a little more subtle and suss out how much the person knows with something like, “It was so good to run into John the other day at the Holiday Inn. Does his company put him up there when he works late? I didn’t recognise the woman he was with. Perhaps she’s new at the company.”

But the question is: at what point does it become any of your business? I suppose it would depend on your relationship with those people and the level of comfort in that relationship.

I recently read an article on the subject on verywellmind.com and here are some signs to look for if you suspect your partner may be cheating on you:

Warning Signs That a Spouse May Be Cheating on You:

  • Your spouse seems bored. Bored with you, with a job, with kids, with hobbies, with life in general.
  • Your spouse seems to want danger or thrills in his/her life.
  • There is considerably less intimacy or connection in your relationship.
  • Your sex life is practically non-existent.
  • Or, there are lots of new things introduced into sex that were never before.
  • Your spouse has a low self-esteem.
  • Your spouse doesn't show any jealousy about you, no matter what you say.
  • You notice your spouse has a sense of confusion about him or her self.
  • Your spouse has become lazy, especially around the house.
  • Your spouse is more negative.
  • Your spouse becomes more critical of you.
  • Your spouse seems to be picking fights more often.
  • You can't get your spouse to communicate with you (stonewalling).
  • Your spouse gets very defensive if you mention infidelity or affairs.
  • Your spouse is suddenly more attentive than usual.
  • Your mate is working longer hours at work.
  • Your spouse is dressing nicer, looking nicer or there is a sudden interest in appearance.
  • You notice charges on credit card statement that don't make sense.
  • You are aware of different scents of cologne or aftershave lotion on your spouse's clothes.
  • Your spouse is indifferent to family events like birthdays and holidays.
  • You find your partner has been lying to you about a variety of things.
  • Money becomes more of an issue between the two of you.
  • The words "I love you" are not spoken by your spouse any longer.
  • He/she doesn't want to go anywhere or do anything with you anymore.
  • You can't even get your mate to fight with you.
  • You feel as if you are being avoided.
  • Your partner abandons religious faith.
  • Your spouse seems more secretive.
  • You discover lipstick smudges on a shirt.
  • You learn that you have an STD and you have not strayed.
  • When you ask for reassurance about cheating, you do not feel satisfied with the response.


You can email Terence Pillay at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @terencepillay1 and engage with him there.

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