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Cheating: Who Is To Blame?

Spitzer’s Client #9 shenanigans brought out a lot of dialogue about fidelity across news shows and the Internet alike. We polled our readers last week asking if the person who’s been cheated on is to blame and gave a choice of three answers – yes, no and maybe. Can we determine who had the right answer?

Possibly.

Dr. Laura Schlessinger has never been one to shrink from controversy and she leaped headlong into one on Monday when she appeared on the Today Show and said that if a husband cheats, his wife may share some of the blame.

“When the wife does not focus in on the needs and the feelings, sexually, personally, to make him feel like a man, to make him feel like a success, to make him feel like her hero, he’s very susceptible to the charm of some other woman making him feel what he needs,” the popular psychologist and radio personality said.

Now, I hate Dr. Laura with the fire of a thousand suns, so anything that comes out of her mouth leaves me ready to come out fighting against her or makes me turn the ignore button on in my head, but after initially dismissing her as being wrong yet again, I thought about what she’d said.

I shudder to type this, but: she’s on to something.

Reverse the usage of wife/husband and he/she. How do you feel about her statement now?

If you say that what Dr. Laura is saying applies to BOTH sexes, then you have the answer to our poll. It absolutely enrages me that she didn’t go further to say that the same thing applies to cheating women but that’s annoying Dr. Laura for you (I still hate her guts). Both people can share some of the blame when it comes to cheating, though I will say that it is not necessarily shared equally. The cheater does shoulder more because it’s plain wrong and no one deserves to be cheated on.

I realize that the culpability game is not always so black and white and that there are instances in which the person who has been wronged has been an amazing partner and the other person is too entrenched in their own issues, be it substance abuse, addiction of any kind, or just plain egotism. Who knows what was going on in the Spitzer household – maybe it was his ego that made him think that he wouldn’t get caught. Maybe she neglected his needs. Maybe they neglected each other’s needs. (Though given my opinion of my former Governor, in my head she was a great wife and he’s a freak who believed that he could get away with infidelity).

I’ve been a cheater and I’ve been cheated on. For the cheating that I’ve done in college, I cannot place any blame on my then-boyfriends. I was drunk-–that was my excuse, meaning that I had no excuse. But in the long term for real relationships that I’ve had, I’ve held myself and the guys that I have dated to a much higher standard.

In long relationships and especially marriage, it somehow becomes more complicated because when things get hard or hectic, you tend to neglect your relationship. Not because you consciously are abandoning it, but because you think that it’s strong enough to take care of itself. And that’s just not how things are.

It’s when you aren’t careful that the distance between the two of you can start to push you apart.

It is the space between that develops when our needs are not met that allows one person to consider cheating to fulfill the void.

Cheating is NOT an appropriate response to feeling neglected, unloved or unappreciated but it is a symptom of perhaps a larger problem in the relationship.

Ideally, we all would be able to talk to our partners when we’re feeling such disconnect. But it’s the disconnect that makes us fearful to broach any uncomfortable topics – including how we’re feeling like we’ve slipped down on the list of important things in our partner’s life.

Have an opinion on cheating? We want to hear it.

Candy -- NYUCOLLEGECANDY Writer