Dear Hollywood, Stop Glamorizing Affairs

It never fails; I’m finally sitting down to watch a movie that I’ve been dying to see, but five minutes in and I’m already annoyed. Boy meets Girl. Boy marries Girl. Girl meets hotter, richer Boy and they bang into the sunset. The end. Why does everything have to be about unhappy couples cheating on each other?! Are people really incapable of being faithful? What drives someone to stepping outside of their marriage, rather than filing for divorce? Can anyone really be happily married forever?

It feels so discouraging to even get into a relationship when it seems like no one can be trusted. I don’t know about you, but divorce left me with trust issues and a little guarded. I was terrified to let myself love again, after being hurt in the past, so I find myself constantly trying to protect myself from future heartbreak.

I can’t be the only person who drives myself insane every time I have to witness actors engaged in another act of infidelity on screen. Or am I?! Am I crazy? Please Someone, put me at ease and tell me that you do this too!!! I silently seethe on the couch next to my boyfriend, as all of the possible scenarios play through my head: What if he is cheating on me? How would I find out? What would it do to my life? Could I recover from another devastating blow to my heart? I find myself mentally going through all the stages of grief for an affair that the actors on screen are having.

Realistically, these emotions have nothing to do with my boyfriend. I’ve never been given a reason to distrust him; he’s always treated me with love and respect. Hollywood and the media are really at fault, for their uncanny ability to portray affairs as exciting, romantic, and about love, when in reality, they are selfish, painful, and ruin lives.

Most people don’t leave their spouses after an affair and live happily ever after. Studies say that fewer than 25% of cheaters actually leave their spouse for another partner, and the ones who do leave, usually end up in another failed relationship. In most cases, the cheater realizes that the affair was a mistake and decides to stay in their marriage. In the meantime, they’ve destroyed their partner’s trust, self-esteem, and happiness.

Fantasizing About Infidelity

Recently I was questioning the media’s intentions after Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper’s performance at the Oscars. They went crazy, speculating that the two were secretly in love because of their chemistry on stage. Many people said that they felt bad for Cooper’s girlfriend, who had to sit through the performance and watch them together. Every time I saw another news anchor or celebrity comment on their secret love, I got more and more annoyed, not because I believed that they were having an affair, but because it almost seemed like the media was hoping that they were!

My disgust escalated when I did some research to find that Cooper and his beautiful girlfriend share a daughter together. Did anyone care to look into how serious their relationship was before making up terrible rumors? Hollywood, keep your ridiculous fantasies to yourself. You do realize that the point of being an actor, is to convince the audience, right? Gaga and Cooper played lovers in a movie, performed their song together in hopes of promoting their movie, and did a wonderful job of selling it, the end.

Photo by Jake Noren on Unsplash

Stop trying to make it seem romantic that Cooper would cheat on the mother of his child, just because we loved him with Gaga in a movie! This scenario would not be romantic, it would be atrocious. Most importantly, it isn’t factual. It’s a twisted fairy tale that Hollywood has created to drive sales.

I understand that infidelity does exist and those stories deserve to be told as well, but it would be nice to see the truth behind it, rather than a glamorized version. I understand that affairs happen and that they bring drama to movies, but do they need to be so prominent? People who have actually survived an affair and have either decided to divorce or stay with their partner don’t want to continuously be bombarded with seeing infidelity portrayed so idealistically.

Why Cheat, Rather Than Divorce?

Yes, an adulterer can change and learn from their mistakes. Yes, everyone makes bad decisions at one point or another and shouldn’t be labeled or punished forever. Yes, these people deserve happiness too. But for God’s sake, WHY DON’T YOU JUST CONFRONT THE ISSUES INSTEAD OF CREATING MORE?!

Is it really necessary to put your spouse through immense pain because you are unhappy or bored? Maybe you feel that divorce is too extreme, or maybe you are afraid that asking for a divorce will hurt your spouse too badly, but going to another person for comfort is only going to hurt them worse. Think before you act! There are millions of beautiful people in the world, but everything isn’t always as good as it seems on the surface. That woman who seems so sexy, interesting, and fun, may just be a terrible person deep down. Or maybe once the initial excitement dies down, you would find that your personalities clash or lifestyles are incompatible and you would end up more miserable than you are now.

Photo by HENG YIN on Unsplash

It is never a good idea to give into temptation, at the expense of another person. If you can’t be happy with your spouse, get a divorce. If you love your partner, but are not feeling fulfilled, than discuss it and make changes to better the relationship. If your sex life sucks, find ways to spice it up. Marital problems are not one-sided, both people play a role. You are probably doing things that drive your husband insane or are not doing things he wishes you were, just as much as he is disappointing you.

The key to resolving issues and having a happy relationship is communication. Sit down and talk about the things you need. Discuss the things that are bothering you. Marriage is work, so put in the work if you want to make each other happy. If you really believe that you belong with another person, then do your spouse a huge favor and be honest, because cheating on them is far worse than divorcing them.

Too Close To Home

After seven years of being faithful to an emotionally abusive man in my first marriage, I allowed a male acquaintance to reach out to me through email and I discussed my marital problems with him. I didn’t realize what I was doing at that the time, but this laid the groundwork for emotional comfort to turn into a drunken kiss one night when we are all out.

Photo by Fred Mouniguet on Unsplash

That is all that happened, a kiss, but I have always had an extremely guilty conscious and I couldn’t handle the weight of it on my heart, so I told my ex. Two weeks later he filed for divorce. This was not surprising, because he had always threatened divorce over the years, but this was the first time he actually filed. I was devastated and had a difficult time forgiving myself for a very long time.

After years of tormenting myself over what happened, I came to understand that the mistake I made was a scream for help. I don’t mean to minimize what I did, because I was definitely in the wrong and I wish I would’ve been wise enough to know that it was time to leave, rather than allowing my misery to lead to that mistake. The truth is, I hated my life, I hated my marriage, and I hated the person I was with my ex. I wanted to get out but I was too young, scared, and confused to know how to do it the right way. Deep down, I knew if I did something bad enough that my ex would actually follow through on the threats of leaving that he had been making for years, and I was right.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Although sharing these unflattering details makes me uncomfortable, I tell you all of this because I believe that it is important to be open about my experiences in order to give you the best advice. I was young, stupid, and made some bad decisions when I was in unhealthy marriages. This being said, I know how devastating it can be to a marriage when you turn to someone else for comfort. I understand the pain it causes someone when they are betrayed. Although I have never experienced myself or a former spouse having a sexual relationship outside of the marriage, I know how excruciating even an extramarital kiss or inappropriate conversation can be.

These flirtations and interactions didn’t make anything feel better and they didn’t turn into a fairy tale romance. They were destructive and heart breaking, and absolutely the wrong way to get out of a failing relationship. This is why I feel so adamant about sharing the less glamorous side of an affair; I’m hoping that by sharing that the negative impact far outweighs any temporary comfort, people may think twice before going down that path.

How To Avoid An Affair

You can avoid causing a lot of pain if you take the right steps to keep yourself from tempting situations. Many affairs begin because one person isn’t getting something they need from the marriage, is not feeling validated or loved by their spouse, is bored, wants attention, or simply just gives into temptation. Everyone likes attention and to feel like they are still attractive to other people, but it’s important not to cross any lines. How can you avoid an affair? Don’t put yourself in a vulnerable position!

  • Don’t confide in a person who you could become sexually or emotionally attracted to about marital problems. This is a recipe for disaster. If you need to talk about issues in your marriage, talk to a family member, platonic friend, or even a psychologist. Discussing issues with someone who could end up as a love interest is a horrible idea, because sometimes when we are emotional and not thinking rationally, we confuse comfort for something more intimate.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be in risky situations. This is a controversial topic, but in my experience, men never just want a one-on-one friendship with me. Female/male friendships outside of group settings are not a great idea when you are married. Don’t go for drinks or dinner or anywhere alone with someone you are attracted to, especially if you don’t feel comfortable telling your spouse. What is the point of getting close to someone who could come between you and your spouse? Do you really need to have a close friend who has the possibility of destroying your marriage? I personally, don’t feel that anyone is worth that.
  • Avoid private conversations, whether in person, through email, text, social media, etc. that you would not want your spouse to read or hear. If you have to sneak around, then you are already doing something wrong and treading in hot water.
  • Don’t black out!!! Getting drunk is enough to lead some people in rocky marriages to make regrettable choices, but blacking out can ruin even good marriages. If you are out and drinking to the point of blacking out, there are so many horrible things that could happen without you even trying! Be smart if you are drinking and your spouse isn’t with you. Alcohol has an amazing ability to destroy marriages.
  • Keep your spouse in mind while making decisions. Would this choice upset my spouse? Would this person make my partner uncomfortable? Would I do or say this in front of my wife/husband? How would I feel if my spouse were doing this?

Can Anyone Really Be Happily Married?

It would be great if Hollywood would stop making affairs seem like something romantic, or as a good outlet for a bad marriage. This is dangerous propaganda which encourages people to make devastating decisions, in hopes of achieving happiness. Real happiness comes from love, not deceit.

Everywhere you look there are stories of people cheating, divorcing, and even killing each other. It’s depressing to turn on the television, look at social media, or even stand in line at the store, because these dramatic headlines surround us. It makes us start to feel like no one is really happy and that the vision of growing old with someone is an unattainable dream.

Cheating can’t be as prevalent as the media wants us to believe, right? It can’t be true that ALL men cheat. I’ve met couples in their 80s and 90s who have been married forever and are still madly in love. I truly believe that if you take the proper precautions, stay away from temptation, maintain communication, and spend each day choosing to love your partner, that love can last a lifetime.

We can have happier, more faithful, and successful marriages if each of us stops allowing the glamorization of affairs to affect our minds and we learn to work on our issues, rather than running from them. After two failed marriages, I really should be a spokesperson for staying single forever, but for some frustrating reason I can’t give up on love. We all make mistakes, but those are opportunities to grow up and become better versions of ourselves. Love is so worth the chance that it may end in heartbreak, which is why I am willing to put myself through the possibility of pain again in hope of achieving that lifelong love that I’ve always hoped for. Are you willing to do the same?

Love Always, Alex Prince – Creator & Editor-in-Chief of Damsel Divorcée

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