Of all the ways to improve a relationship, cheating isn’t the best. Celebrity has been canceled for it. Beyoncé wrote an entire album about it. It is even one of the Ten Commandments, for God’s sake. And yet, in the second season of The White Lotus, the key to saving the show’s most troubled relationship is clearly the biggest romantic sin of all: cheating.
n Mike White’s award-winning satire of the rich – about wealthy travelers vacationing at a sunlit luxury hotel in Sicily – cheating seems to solve all problems in life. marriage between two smug new intellectuals Harper and Ethan, played by Aubrey Plaza and Ethan. Will Sharpe. In contrast, the couple they’re vacationing with – Cameron (Theo James), Ethan’s high-testosterone college friend and his boyfriend. Ted Lasso-loving wife, Daphne (Meghann Fahy)–always together, insisting with nauseating exaggeration each time.
As the series goes on, however, it becomes clear that Cameron and Daphne’s relationship is maintained by a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach. Meaning they both cheated on each other, while Harper and Ethan pride themselves on honesty.
However, it all starts to fall apart when Ethan kisses a prostitute and then becomes attached to the idea that Harper and Cameron slept together. Tired of her husband’s paranoia, Harper eventually confessed that Cameron had kissed her. Subsequent scenes lead us to believe that Ethan and Daphne may then have had a separate relationship with each other for revenge. However, the craziest part is that for Harper and Ethan, this endless suspicion acts as a defibrillator for their ailing relationship, resulting in their only sex scene.
For most couples, cheating is the ultimate deal breaker. But for a select few, as Daphne puts it, it “makes things interesting.” Could she be right? Can cheating on your partner create such a tantrum that it rekindles your current relationship? Such an arrangement is hardly customary – and of course, having a relationship based on games and lies won’t work for most – but reframing social perspectives Fraud is becoming increasingly common in contemporary relationship discourse.
Consider world-renowned relationship therapist Esther Perel, whose 2017 book Status quo: Rethinking infidelity, calls for a more compassionate approach to cheating — an approach that allows for a better understanding of why people cheat and acknowledges that “the complexities of love and lust are leads to a simple classification between good and bad, victim and perpetrator”. Expanding on this, Perel also famously said that “happy people cheat”. It was – and still is – a groundbreaking thesis that goes against everything we’ve been taught about love. But maybe there’s something to it.
“Cheating is an overwhelming word and can often polarize our views in a way that doesn’t allow us to have a more nuanced way of thinking,” says Holly Roberts, a consultant at Relate. “Sometimes people ‘cheated’ when something was missing in themselves or their relationship, or they might be looking for an emotional need they couldn’t meet.” But there can be outcomes. “Cheating can allow a person to fulfill this emotional need, which can help them feel fulfilled and therefore make them happier overall.”
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This certainly seems to be the case for us White Lotus Couples who leave Italy after an affair look more loved than ever. Honesty is often seen as the norm for healthy relationships – but perhaps this is not always the case.
“There may be some cases [honesty] not helpful,” explains relationship psychologist Dr. Madeleine Mason Roantree. “For example, there are couples who agree that it’s okay to break the precept about sex and that they shouldn’t tell each other about it.” For couples like this, other things are a bigger priority. She adds: “They may value the commitment aspect of the relationship – the structural and functional aspects of a marriage, for example – more than emotional fidelity.
It is a concept that is gradually being expressed by contemporary relational trends. Take, for example, monogamy infidelity (ENM), a term used to describe multi-partner relationships in which everyone is fully aware and accepting of this new way of loving. It is also becoming extremely popular, with more than one in five people in the United States having had a relationship with an ENM. It has also become an option for casual dating app users, with Hinge recently touting ENM as one of the “relationship types” users can say they’re looking for.
“In most romantic relationships, one would expect monogamy,” says Dr. Mason Roantree. “When this expectation is violated, people feel loss and rejection, damaging trust between partners, which in turn leads to the breakdown of the relationship.” However, perhaps the secret for some couples, like Daphne and Cameron, is to completely free themselves from that expectation. “It can be hard for our partners to be everything we want them to be: a best friend, a lover, a playmate, a caretaker,” says Roberts. “Sometimes having an extra partner can be a way to meet these needs.”
It’s also important to understand why cheating causes problems in relationships. Because it’s not as simple as one partner sleeping with another. “It helps if you don’t think in such absolute terms, such as cheater as perpetrator and deceived as victim,” says Roberts. “This can lead to blame and can cause the cheater to be looked down upon. If we think of it this way, it is the responsibility of the scammer to ‘atone’ and the victim is not blamed. Thinking like that doesn’t allow us to understand why cheating happens and what role both people can play in worsening the relationship.”
At the same time, she adds, you have to be aware that, for many people, cheating is unforgivable. “It’s about betrayal,” Roberts said. “The lack of trust actually makes us emotionally vulnerable to others, which can lead to feelings of disconnection and coldness.” This will lead to growing tension and resentment. “We put up barriers to protect ourselves from our partner’s rejection. We may feel unable to be close to our cheating spouse. This can quickly break a relationship.”
However, in an ENM relationship, or a variation of it similar to what Daphne and Cameron have, betrayal isn’t really an issue, because sleeping with other people outside of your relationship isn’t really an issue. you is a term accepted and agreed to by both parties.
Of course, this won’t work for everyone. And it can take a lot of learning to get to a place where monogamy is no longer the default state in a relationship. But if White Lotus teaches us anything about love, it’s that there are many ways to think about cheating. And as our great prophet Daphne said, if opening your mind means you’re not a victim, that might be something to consider.
https://www.independent.ie/style/sex-relationships/is-cheating-the-key-to-a-healthy-relationship-42230882.html Is cheating the key to a healthy relationship?