Cheating is never fun. It tends not to be fun for the cheater, as they get to carry guilt and fear with them after the act, and it’s certainly not fun to be cheated on. Research conducted by two researchers from CU Boulder found that 21 percent of men and 13 percent of women reported infidelity at some point in their lives, and just over half said they engaged in an extramarital affair with someone they already knew well. 
Although the experience of being cheated on is deeply hurtful, attitudes about cheating, and monogamy itself may be shifting.
“People conflate monogamy with decency,” sex expert Dan Savage told the Georgia Straight in an interview. “That’s not the way sex works. In my opinion, people have very unrealistic views of themselves and their sex partners. Convention says that love means you don’t want to sleep with other people. And then couples spend the rest of their lives in a committed monogamous relationship, policing each other for evidence of what they know to be true.” 
Editor’s note: The above interview with Georgia Straight includes some graphic language.
Savage’s attitude may seem wrong to you, but there’s a growing number of Americans who are falling out of love with monogamy. According to a YouGov poll published in early 2020, a survey of more than 1,300 US adults found that 32 percent of respondents said their ideal relationship was non-monogamous. 
Among that group, and perhaps unsurprisingly, millennials were the least likely age group to want a completely monogamous relationship, with a 43-43 split between those who want complete monogamy and non-monogamy.
For some, it’s only an ideal. For others, it’s a reality. According to the same survey, 23 percent said their current relationship was non-monogamous to some extent.
Regardless of where you stand on the issue of monogamy, one thing rings true for all relationships: you owe it to your partner to conform to the parameters of the relationship. Everyone has boundaries, and in a healthy relationship, boundaries are acknowledged, respected, and not crossed.
In 2018, the University of Maryland’s Department of Psychology published research examining why people cheat. They surveyed 562 adults who admitted to being unfaithful. Some said they cheated because they felt neglected in their relationship or because they had fallen out of love. But interestingly, one of the reasons commonly cited was anger – they cheated as a way of exacting revenge. 
And it is revenge that played a central role in a groom-to-be’s plot to humiliate his bride, who had been unfaithful to him in their relationship. In December 2019, a story trended across major Chinese media outlets about a groom who showed an x-rated video of his fiance’s infidelity to their wedding guests.
The video shown to the guests featured the bride and her brother-in-law engaged in a sexual act. The footage played for a total of approximately 5 minutes.
Some reacted with amusement, feeling as though the groom received satisfaction in humiliating his wife-to-be in such an intimate setting, but there is a subtext to this story: the groom engaged in revenge porn, which is illegal in most places.
The video the groom aired was stamped with the logo of a video app, indicating that it had potentially been shared online. Laws vary from location to location, but international distribution of non-consensual pornography is a form of online harassment.
According to Find Law, the following are considered broadly unlawful:
- Publishes or distributes electronic or printed photographs, pictures, or films that
- Show the genitals, anus, or female breast of the other person, or
- Depicts that person engaged in a sexual act.
The real lesson of this story is, while cheating is indeed painful and wrong, revenge is also wrong and in many cases, illegal. No one reading this article should be getting any bright ideas.
- “Extramarital sex partners likely to be close friends, and men are more apt to cheat.” Colorado.edu. Doug McPherson. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
- “Sex experts Dan Savage and Esther Perel explain why people cheat on their partners.“ Georgia Straight. Kate Wilson. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
- “Millennials are less likely to want a monogamous relationship.” YouGov. Jamie Ballard. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
- “Why do People Cheat? UMD Research Identifies 8 Motivating Factors.” University of Maryland. Sara Gavin. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
- “State Revenge Porn Laws.” FindLaw. Retrieved November 25, 2020.