The one and only time I lived with a man, I learned within two months that he was a compulsive liar and a cheater. His false charm not only worked on my coworker but also our neighbor with three toddlers who "just needs my help because she doesn't have family". One too-quiet evening, I tiptoed to the living room to catch what appeared to be him snatching his foot back from hers. I pretended like I didn't even see it but I thought to myself, Yep, play your footsies now because I got something for both of you bihs.
I also told myself I needed to be there in the meantime.
On a recent episode of The Real, co-host Adrienne Bailon Houghton led a discussion on women who remain in relationships after several bouts of infidelity. Here's her take:
"I do think there is something to be said for a woman that stands by when a man continues and perpetually cheats on her. At some point, you have to ask yourself, 'Why is she staying?'"
Adrienne Has a Theory About Why Women Stay With Men That Cheat
Adrienne mentioned the typical reasons for staying: status and money. And of course there are vows for the women who are faithful wives and rightfully expect that loyalty to be reciprocated. Marriage and children add a whole other layer to the conversation and I don't want to be dismissive of that commitment, even though it's still not a sole reason to ever accept constant disrespect.
I'm single, as in unmarried, and I can't fully speak from that perspective. However don't get it twisted. That still doesn't mean I'm going to be more lenient when it comes to community penis simply because I haven't exchanged any vows. Unmarried couples who are committed still experience the same repercussions and range of emotions.
My mind still conjured evil thoughts and drifted to these mofos weren't going to touch toes or any other body parts off my financial contribution to that household. But since I was contributing to the bills, it meant that I couldn't dip out as fast as I wanted. Adrienne was on the money about the money.
What made me pause is when Adrienne said women stay because they don't really love these men:
"But their feelings aren't hurt anymore. They're not in love with that person. When they found out that the person cheated on them for the 17th millionth-hundredth time, they're like 'Kanye shrug.'"
From my point-of-view, Adrienne's statement was for the most part accurate, at least for the first week. I didn't love dude. In fact, I didn't even like him anymore. But it took an excessive amount of energy to navigate unwanted sexual advances or even pretend to be cordial. I couldn't live in that environment even with a lack of emotion. I quickly said to hell with him, his second or fourth girlfriend and those few coins I planned to stack for my own moving expenses. Instead I left that apartment and stayed with my college roommate for a few weeks, which worked in my favor because I was able to save money much quicker. I hope another woman living with the same dilemma doesn't miss that message.
Still is Adrienne's assumption that all love must be lost for every woman who stays a bit too simplistic?
Many women do remain in love with their partner even after the 17th millionth-hundredth time he steps outside of the relationship. In an Everyday Health article, one of the reasons given is that the women are emotionally invested in the relationship. They've generally spent too much time and energy to throw it all away after a "mistake". Besides it's hard starting over in these dating streets. In an interview of infidelity in The Lily, "deep love and affection" were cited as reasons for women to remain in the relationship.
I'll admit the implied consensus is reconciliation after one indiscretion not multiple. But there's a stigma associated with not ending the relationship and moving on periodt. While I know of women who hang on after their significant others have repeated trysts, they definitely aren't going to openly admit it. It's their love that blindingly convinces them their partner deserves a second, third or 17th millionth-hundredth-and-one chance.
Listen, I believe in second chances but it's difficult for me when betrayal is involved. I'm quick to trust someone but I'm slow to rebuild trust with them. But I wouldn't spend an excessive amount of time wondering where or how he's spending his time because I'd have to move on. If I stayed I'd often question how I could accept this and still feel good about myself. What message am I sending him about me if I choose to stay?
I also realize and accept that these questions come from a place of only loving myself in my situation with Mr. False Charm. I still can't help but doubt my answers would've carried as much weight had I actually loved him.
What I know is that women who stay for love often drift between forgive and can't forget. There seems to always be a trigger and prior cheating often reenters the conversation, even years later. It makes for a more open conversation but it's not exactly a healthy one to keep rehashing the same words.
Things would be a helluva lot easier if Adrienne was 100% correct on the lost love part. But love is a contributing factor to one's decision to stay. It's not enough, though. Perhaps the best decision for both parties is to let that relationship – and that love – to just simply dissolve.
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