How responsible is someone for their drunken cheating? Is it possible to innocently fall into the arms of another when you’re wasted?
These are the questions I’ve been pondering this week. People’s feelings about drunken cheating usually tend to depend on their own experiences. If they’re someone who has accidentally snogged a friend on a night out when a little tipsy, they might feel differently than someone who has never, and would never, get so drunk as to become out of control.
Over the last few years I’ve conducted a tonne of research into infidelity, but last year was my biggest project ever. Along with my website, IllicitEncounters.com, I surveyed 4,000 UK spouses about their views on love, sex and fidelity. And one of the key questions we asked was about this very scenario.
Interestingly, people seemed to be more lieniant that we expected. Over a quarter of women (26%) and almost a third (32%) of men feel that if you cheat when drunk you should feel almost no responsibility or guilt. No responsibility at all.
For the rest, a considerable proportion believe that, because your decision-making ability is impaired when you’re drunk, it’s not as simple as ‘guilty or not guilty’. A conversation needs to be had about the who, where and why of the situation - especially the who.
I'm of the latter opinion. Cheating is relative, and everyone has their own boundaries when it comes to what is and isn't okay. I do think, for couples that are pursuing a monogamous relationship, it's worth having this conversation before it needs to be had. A great way of avoiding upsetting and confusing misunderstandings about cheating is to talk about your feelings about monogamy and explicitly draw out acceptable and unacceptable behavior. It might sound a bit over zealous, but considering that between 40 and 60% of people will cheat on their partner at some point, it's more than likely going to be helpful in the long-run.
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