Let’s Define “Unfaithful”: Is It Still Cheating If You’re Not Married?

Let’s Define “Unfaithful”: Is It Still Cheating If You’re Not Married?

When I was in high-school, I told my friend’s mom that I had just broken up with my boyfriend because he cheated on me, I was stunned when she immediately rolled her eyes and said, “You kids. It’s not cheating if you’re not married.”

Let’s Define “Unfaithful”: Is It Still Cheating If You’re Not Married?

When the news of Kristen Stewart “cheating on” Robert Pattinson exploded in the news yesterday, I was reminded of that conversation,  described as a “shocking cheating scandal” the news coverage surrounding this couple has been absolutely hysterical and I just don’t get it.

The backstory is Kristen and Rob met on the set of the 2008 movie “Twilight”. “Twilight” is the first in a series of four vampire-themed fantasy romance movies. The two star in the movies as a couple and predictably became a couple in real-life. Recently, Kristen starred in Snow White and the Huntsman. Last week a paparazzo snapped pictures of the 22-year-old making out with the movie’s 41-year-old director in a car. Us Weekly ran the story (and a picture) on their front page and, in a bizarre move, both Kristen and the director Rupert Sanders released a statement to People magazine admitting to the actions and apologizing. Rupert’s wife tweeted “Wow” before shutting down her social media accounts and Robert reportedly moved out of the apartment he shared with Kristen.

The most bizarre thing of the coverage is the fact that Rupert Sanders’ marriage and consequent adultery seems to fall second to Kristen and Rob’s dating relationship and inevitable breakup.

I get that Kristen and Rob are the celebs here and therefore the only reason why Rupert’s philandering is news is because he was smooching Kristen. Still, I find it very strange that dating relationships and marriage are treated as one in the same despite them being very different — one decidedly less serious than the other.

It’s not just Hollywood though. Even we regular folk are playing marriage despite not being married at all. What some of us have found out the hard way is dating doesn’t imply any serious commitment whatsoever, neither does sex and neither does sharing an address. Marriage is marriage and dating is still dating.  Just because a couple is doing all the things that married couples do, they still can’t realistically expect the commitment that being married provides. It just doesn’t work that way. Though there’s a surplus of conversation about the “main chick” versus “side chick”, both are essentially the “nothing chick” as far as having “nothing” to indicate a promise of fidelity.

Marriage is so much more serious than deciding to exclusively date a person and should be treated as such in every single way. In a dating relationship, a person is expected to be faithful solely because he or she wants to be, whereas in a marriage, a person is expected to be faithful because they’ve made a commitment to be faithful whether they want to or not. People are out here moving in together, having indiscriminate and unprotected sex, moving across the country, creating kids — all in relationships where neither person has committed to be there past next Tuesday. When these relationships meet their inevitable demise, others are shocked as though a relationship confirmed on Facebook means anything past the next second.

I think we would do better to put the emphasis on fidelity where emphasis is warranted: marriage. And, in turn, treat dating relationships like the fickle, irresolute relationships they are because dating and marriage are not nearly the same.

What do you think? Do you think it’s still cheating even if you’re not married? Do you think people equate dating with marriage?

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