42-15701022Cheating is one of the most common reasons why couples break up. It is a phenomenon which is becoming more and more widespread everyday. Infidelity is so common that it makes me wonder if it’s even possible for one to be in a relationship without being either guilty or a victim of it. I’ve been thinking about why people cheat, why it is so widespread and how one is to prevent it. Following are some of my conclusions.

There is one fact that I am certain of. Everyone is capable of and has the desire and potential to cheat. It’s a part of human nature and denial of this fact is in my opinion where it all starts. Humans have been created with certain desires that can only cause harm and part of being pious and righteous is to be able to overcome these desires and to rise above them. Man is a social and sexually active animal. It’s only a matter of time before he/she finds someone with whom they are more compatible and from whom they can derive greater sexual gratification; and that is the time when the desire to cheat is ignited. Women are spiritually stronger than men and henceforth have stronger self control which explains why we hear about men committing adultery more often.

Many people think that only certain type of people can cheat. It is true that there are people with lower standards of morality that are more likely to cheat and don’t consider it to be a sin of any kind. However, the truth is that you could be the most righteous person on the planet but still cheat. It might take more for you than it would for someone else, but you are still capable of doing it. One might think that people cheat because there is something missing from their relationship. Maybe the lack of love, trust or sexual satisfaction is what propels them to cheat. While I agree that this is true and many times the main factor, I also believe and know that you could be happily married with no problems in your relationship and still cheat.

So, how is one to prevent cheating if everyone is capable of doing it? Cheating can only happen if you allow for environments in which it can happen to exist. It’s sort of like how bacteria can reproduce and grow only in the right conditions. If you want to get rid of the bacteria you don’t kill it, you just change its environment i.e. add heat to it and the bacteria dies as it cannot exist in the new environment (apologies for any scientific inconsistencies in that analogy). Many times people end up cheating because they were intoxicated at some party and just managed to hookup with someone. If you want to avoid that type of cheating, avoid going to places like that or just don’t drink.

Here’s the second fact that I am certain about. There is always someone out there with whom you will be more compatible and will have better chemistry with. There is always something missing from a relationship and things are never perfect. In other words, you can always do better. This is something that people wouldn’t be willing to recognize because it takes away the specialness of the relationship and they probably shouldn’t. But it’s something that people need to be aware of. When you commit to someone you shouldn’t be under the illusion that you are committing to them because they are the perfect person for you, rather its because you love them for what they are. There is someone out there who is ‘perfecter’ than this person but you shouldn’t want perfect, you should want THAT person.

The reason I mention that second fact is because people have this attitude where they tell themselves that since they are with the perfect person there is no way they could cheat, since there is no one else they could get along with. That, however, is not true and it’s only a matter of time before they run into someone better. In order to prevent cheating, couples need to put limits and barriers on themselves. Rules such as ‘don’t spend time alone with the opposite sex’ are important. This may sound extreme to some people but when two people spend a whole lot of time together, feelings will inevitably develop. And more often than not, people tend to act on these feelings. The Prophet Muhammad is right when he says that two people of the opposite sex are never really alone, the third person is Satan who is pushing them to give into their desires. People need to recognize these things as it is the denial of our own true nature that leads to cheating.

It’s important to find a moderate ground when coming up with limits and barriers. These rules shouldn’t be enforced by the couple on each other as this can result in a very controlling relationship. People should recognize these things and enforce it on themselves. For e.g. instead of your wife asking you to not go for drinks after work with your female co-worker, you should recognize that this ‘friendly’ gesture might lead to something and just not go yourself. One only needs to take these simple and small steps and that I think seems to be a reasonable way to prevent cheating from happening.