The question why people cheat may seem rhetorical or even impossible to answer but it is definitely worth exploring. Although it would be quite comforting to believe that most of society likes to live the honest life, cheating is quite common. Many think of relationships and infidelity when cheating is mentioned, but cheaters exist in all areas of life.
One of the leading drama series on television is called Scandal and has millions of viewers who tune in each week just to see the scandalous drama. The show actually represents one part of what seems to be an unending stream of dishonest trickery. Scandals are everywhere; they flood the news and affect many areas such as education, sports, finance and even science.
For those living in a box and unfamiliar with Shonda Rhimes’ hit show Scandal; Olivia Pope, played by Kerry Washington, is having a scandalous affair with the leader of the free world, President Fitzgerald Grant III (Tony Goldwyn). Olivia worked on Fitz’s campaign as a media relations consultant. Her professional relationship with him led to an extramarital affair which has been ongoing. After Fitz won the election Olivia rose to power as the White House Director of Communications. Soon after, Olivia realized that his wife, Mellie, was aware she was sleeping with her husband, so she quit and formed Olivia Pope & Associates. Olivia quit her job but not her role as the president’s mistress and it is this scandalous affair that keeps the viewers glued to televisions around the globe.
Cheating, the act of dishonest behavior to gain an advantage, is not new; it has been going on since the beginning of time. Research proves cheating is not restricted to human beings. Throughout the living world, cheating exists wherever there is competition for limited resources. Scientist, in an effort to understand cheating, have discovered that fear of loss, creativity and witnessing dishonest behavior in others can spark the desire to cheat. In nature, it is a way for organisms to gain an advantage of others without the required effort otherwise.
Studies reveal more than 90 percent of Americans view infidelity as inappropriate and unacceptable, yet nearly 40 percent engage in it. What is even confusing is even after experiencing the negative impact of infidelity many still cheat. Some believe once a cheater always a cheater, but this is not true because that would mean people do not have the ability to change. While some are more prone to cheat there are others who have more rigid values who are less likely to engage in infidelity.
Many times people cheat because they are dissatisfied with their current relationship. Research has determined that partners who experience high conflict or unfulfilling sex are at a higher risk for infidelity. Also the more different partners are as it relates to education level, personality and other traits; the more likely they are to cheat. When couples stray they must examine facts about their “supposed” relationship to understand the defect.
There are those who are less likely to cheat but find themselves in precarious situations due to their environment. They may be in a happy relationship and but find that their environment has become a risk factor. Studies have shown that the nature of a person’s job can put them at risk for infidelity. Often people cheat when the sex ratio is off-balance or when their “work” involves personal discussion, touching or just an abundance of one-on-one time. Truth is humans are surprisingly quick to cheat when the circumstances are conducive.
Most modern research substantiates when people are placed in a situation where they believe their actions are anonymous and they will not be caught, their risk of cheating is increased. In other words, suggestive darkness creates an “illusory anonymity” and although people are not really more anonymous in the dark they feel as though they are. As a result they are more likely to engage in behaviors they otherwise would not.
Couples should discuss their personal definitions for infidelity and set the proper expectations. Cheating can take on a different meaning and is based on individual experience and perception. Setting the proper boundaries and understanding what would hurt the relationship can better protect a relationship from infidelity. While having sex outside of the union is a common form of cheating, having lunch or social media conversations with the opposite sex may be a form a cheating as well. In short, having an open dialogue about what is and what is not acceptable reduces the risk.
Going back to Scandal and the infamous relationship of Olivia and Fitz, there does not seem to be a cure. Ms. Pope may be a gladiator who can fix everyone else’s issues but she has a hard time solving her own. Her extensive on-again and off-again love affair with the president has become a vital element of an all-around gripping show. The phrase “Once a cheater, always a cheater” may indeed ring true for this couple. Tune in to catch the “scandalicious” excitement Thursday evenings on ABC.
Opinion By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)