“This is what is hardest: to close the open hand because one loves.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche
I have a rather extreme suggestion to make on how to respond to a cheating partner who seeks forgiveness. I believe my proposal ideal for romantic commitments in which exclusivity is understood and agreed upon. But since our relationships are different from one another just as we are different, applicability may differ.
But before I state my seemingly outrageous recommendation, I would like you to know upfront that my source of inspiration is actually Love, not a sense of retribution, although the love I speak of here is of a less favored aspect and hue.
So, let’s begin.
Contrary to the assumed belief that love is particularly emotional and mushy and can be nothing else, there is a side of love that is resolute and principled. It is, I believe, what some folks mean when they use the term “tough love”.
Though largely used in the context of parenting, I believe this facet of love should be well extended to relationships between grown-ups devoted to building a meaningful connection. This is important because we often let our feelings run wild, in a way that we spoil one another and make allowances that potentially harm rather than make stronger our relationships.
I once witnessed an incredible example a few years ago. A young lady, beautiful and intelligent with a wonderful soul caught her “unremorseful” boyfriend in bed with another woman. After a week of ranting and losing her cool with the promise of hell and the irrevocable decision to end the relationship, she called him in tears, begging and demanding that he come back to her, for she had forgiven him already and was willing to move forward.
This might sound a little bit outlandish, but the majority of the human race is guilty of this lack of control over how we feel. What the lady did had nothing to do with being the matured one in the relationship, neither was it the best way to salvage what they had lost.
Instead, it was, unwittingly, her own big contribution to making what they shared inconsequential. I know that might sound harsh, but it is like that, that we as a society have enabled the callous and extreme butchery of our standards – so bad that there is hardly any resemblance to what they used to be.
“All men cheat” is a well-worn slogan by the womenfolk here in Nigeria. So it isn’t out of place to hear an enlightened lady say something like this, “I know at some point my man will cheat, as long as it is not rubbed in my face I don’t mind.” This is not to say that only men have defiled the sanctity of relationships, for women have also done their own share of duplicity.
However, the issue here is not about pointing fingers and holding one party responsible. Instead, it is about everyone playing a part in ensuring that the values that make what we share worthwhile are preserved and protected. For when you think about it, putting up with a thing as sordid as infidelity isn’t in any way worth the time and effort.
So, here is my special piece of advice. If it happens that any person should deem it okay to cheat on their partner, for whatever concocted reasons they may have, as long as it was understood between the two that they’d entered into a mutually exclusive relationship, the aggrieved party should, out of intentional love and respect for themselves, end the relationship immediately, or revoke all privileges.
I prescribe this because I believe there is hardly anything else, more than a definitive breakup, that could restore enough merit justifying the possibility of a rewarding and reasonable resolution.
The thing is, in ending a relationship, the offense is often appreciated in full measure, most especially by the cheater. For it is useful that the unfaithful one still has a conscience if there’d be any hope of coming back together. Naturally, the breakup would act as a litmus test to show if there is still any sense in fighting for what has been lost. And in that lies the crux of the matter:
To be principled again. To master our feelings with enough firmness and discipline, so that we may insist on the quality of life we truly deserve in this one-shot life.
Yes, considering how limited our time on earth is, we can’t afford to miss out on the wonders of a committed and unselfish loving relationship. It is worth fighting for, but not with someone who hasn’t really grasped the substance of sharing something as precious as Love.
Again, I say, dump the guilty partner. First, because you love YOU enough to protect your heart and self-worth. Secondly, because you see the practicality and wisdom in showing tough love in this regard. For loving someone doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be in a relationship with them. Especially if that someone doesn’t have the maturity to be faithful.
Perhaps, by so doing, you might even inspire them to be desirable versions of themselves. Hopefully, after considering the implications of what they’ve lost, they may consciously change for the better and try to win back your TRUST.
However, out of that same spirit of tough love, do not make coming back too easy. Earning your trust again should be through fire and a series of clear proofs of adherence to changing for a sturdier relationship.
Case in point: Jay Z, one of the most successful and influential rappers in the world, decided to undergo therapy, among other things, to save his marriage with Beyonce – a woman who clearly knew her worth as shown in her visual album Lemonade.
Photo Credit: Kumar’s Edit