Early last month, I corresponded with a writer at SheKnows.com about cheating. Specifically, the writer “need[ed] professional tips on what people should do right after you find out your partner cheats. Please list and explain some of the actions you should take.”The story does not seem to have ever been published, but the topic is still pretty important — even if SheKnows doesn’t really know, you know?

Here’s what I had to say regarding what one could do immediately after finding out some shitty cheater news:

From a sociological standpoint, when we are talking about any aspect of interpersonal social interaction, it’s important to be mindful of meanings. On a social level, we have constructed and attached meaning and meanings to every aspect of a relationship, and as individuals we then process and internalize these meanings in unique ways.

Though there is certainly some variability amongst humans regarding what counts as “cheating,” one through line is generally present: a partner engages in some sort of behavior that another partner does not consent to. And though this may be uncomfortable and sound difficult, one thing a person can do when they perceive cheating behavior to have happened is to consider meanings. Was this a side effect of incongruent understanding of what cheating is? Was it a side effect of incongruent understanding of the nature of the relationship? etc.

Though it may not be as cathartic (nor as satisfying in a raging fury-type way) to think about cheating as a social construction, it might help to put some distance between oneself and behavior that is not in line with the meanings one has attached to a relationship — and with that headspace, it might be easier to process the events unfolding.

(pictured: Are these dice cheating? Image via Phototric Photography)

Got a sociology question? Need some social justice informed life advice? Contact Dr. Chauntelle right here.

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