My friend Maya's sex column from last week was about cheating. Here is my response to it:
A further, interesting consideration is how to define cheating in the internet era. More info, from a class I took in New Zealand, is in an earlier post.
It seems that our feelings about cheating is maybe one of those things that stems back to evolutionary pressures – that’s what they told me in one of those intro psych classes, anyway. It was once important for people not to cheat, because women need someone to provide for them and their offspring, and men need to pass on their genes. It may no longer be important in a biological way, since sex doesn’t necessarily lead to pregnancy anymore. However, it’s still hardwired in our brains that cheating is wrong, it’s bad and harmful. And it is definitely emotionally harmful for most people. It’s still something a lot of people fear when in a relationship, and those kinds of things are hard to change.
But there’s another reason why cheating can be problematic, and that’s the spreading of STIs. If a partner cheats, and doesn’t use a condom, he or she may have contracted a disease. The other partner may not be concerned about STIs if it’s a monogamous relationship, so if the cheating partner doesn’t confess, the STI can be spread. Of course, this is not much different than the risk you take if you don’t know a partner’s sexual history, but you can see how it has potentially damaging consequences.