The internet is abuzz today with coverage of GQ’s exclusive interview with Rielle Hunter, the woman best known as ex-presidential candidate John Edwards’s mistress and baby mama. Apart from the pantsless photos (watch out, Lady Gaga!), the most shocking part of this article is Hunter’s determination to stand by her finely-coiffed man, despite his continued lack of promises and the unlikeliness of a fairytaleending.
From a casual observer’s perspective, Edwards’s behavior towards everyone involved in the scandal has been pretty despicable. Not only did he hurt his wife Elizabeth in all the obvious ways, but as the GQ piece notes, he went on national TV and claimed that he was NOT the father of Hunter’s baby and that he did NOT love her, all the while renewing his wedding vows and apparently yelling at Hunter every time she was dumb enough to get caught by the paparazzi (but never cutting off their sexual relationship, of course). So Hunter’s refusal to get mad at him, and her insistence that she unconditionally loves him “till death do us part, and probably beyond,” and that he never lies to her, even though “he’s lied to his wife and his state and the country,” seems a little odd.
Are we softening on cheating?
TigerText is suddenly an acceptable app to have on your smartphone. Women everywhere are attracted to Don Draper, despite his philandering ways. In his bestselling book, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” Steve Harveyunapologeticallyexplains to his female readers, “You can’t be a man of power and not step outside your house. I don’t know one man of power who has not stepped outside his house. Such a man may exist, but I have not met him.” Smart guys may not cheat on you, but it’s considered a constant battle against their very nature for them to not do so. Self-help gurus are allowing themselves to be The Other Woman. Are we all fooling ourselves when we hope, or daresay, expect, that our partners won’t cheat on us?
I wonder if, in a romantic universe where rules are made to be broken, and where every relationship is created on idiosyncratic terms, the rules about monogamy and fidelity are shifting as well. We still don’t want our presidents to cheat on their wives, but we don’t care if our movie stars do – just as long as they’re not photographed together during the first few months of the obligatory ‘they’re just friends’ PR ruse. And maybe on some deeper level, we’re even questioning whether strict monogamy and lifelong partnerships are still our best options anyway. Perhaps they don’t fit our lifestyles as well as they used to fit the lifestyles of the older generations who passed these traditions down to us. If we begin to see cheating as an inevitable urge of human nature, an indiscretion that deserves a quick and forgettable slap on the wrist, then why continue to stick to the formula of exclusive, lasting partnerships, just to get unnecessarily hurt in the end? You can’t be a cheater if you haven’t promised long-term monogamy in the first place.
So are we really starting to see cheating as a lesser evil, or barely an evil at all? Or is the media telling us one thing, while our own hearts are telling us another?
This piece was originally published on our beta blog on March 16 2021.
Jess is the co-creator of Dating & Hookup, alongside her childhood best friend Becky Lynch, and is the author of the book - yep! - Dating & Hookup. She never tires of hearing your post-dating stories. She wants you to enjoy your love life, and is full of advice on how to do so.
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