When I was much younger, the world seemed very black and white to me. Some things were wrong, and you were bad/immature/unwise if you did them. Over time I realized that life and people aren't as clear cut as I wanted them to be. I learned that people are going to let me down. We're all imperfect and are going to disappoint each other and make horrible mistakes. I know I've done things and said things that I never thought I would. Still I thought cheaters were a special class of awful. A lot of experiences have changed my condemnation of the unfaithful, including personal experiences and a better understanding of my faith. Oddly, one of the first things that changed my view was the movie The Bridges of Madison County
So anyway, today AM and I were chatting and cheating was a topic of conversation. AM and I both agreed that cheating in a dating relationship should signal the termination of said relationship. In my mind, there's just not enough of a commitment there to warrant the effort/therapy/heartache. There's also a part of me that thinks that if you'll cheat on me when we're totally still in the new-exciting phase and I'm not that old, then you'll really have a hard time staying in line when I'm old and have had a couple of kids.
Marital infidelity, however, is different in my mind. I would hope that despite the betrayal, anger, and sadness, I would not automatically end my marriage if my spouse cheated and wanted to attempt to repair the marriage. I've seen the type of despair that infidelity causes, but I've also admired the people I've watched who tried to keep their family together. And yes, I've seen some of those same people ultimately get a divorce, but they had the peace of mind that they tried to save their marriage and did everything they could to fulfill the commitment they made. While the commitment of marriage makes the discretion worse, it also warrants more reflection than "you cheated, it's over." Granted, a spouse who isn't remorseful, isn't willing to try, and/or had so many affairs it's clear that he'll never change, may result in little reflection being needed. In short, life isn't as simple as I once tried to make it, and the dissolution of a marriage requires at least as much thought and prayer as any other major decision, regardless of the why. There are a lot of other caveats I want to throw out, but I'll resist. So here's the question: would your reaction to cheating in a dating relationship be different than your response if you were married and why?