Infidelity: is it really worth it?

2013-07-31 00:00

SEEMS like yesterday when, at the news of Pope John Paul II’s death, obituaries were written condemning him for being the cause of many Aids-related deaths because of his opposition to condoms.

The pontiff and his church had argued that the best way to save oneself from the possibility of being afflicted by the potentially deadly virus was to abstain, and once in a committed relationship, be faithful.

It seemed to me to be very practical advice, given human beings’ propensity to cut corners.

I confess to having agonised over writing this column for fear that I might be accused of attempting to impose my views on readers. I also feared that someone who might have access to the cupboard in which I think my skeletons are securely locked, might accuse me of being a hypocrite.

Since I am a columnist, I suppose that such accusations, if they are to be, are an occupational hazard I’ll have to live with. The column must stand and fall on the strength of its own argument, not on what may or may not be my moral standing. That said, this column is not about the morality of fidelity. It is about the practical benefits of a lifestyle that so-called modernity pretends is archaic.

It does not really matter whether you believe in a higher power or the authority of the pope, the Ayatollah or the Dalai Lama, one thing that believers and non-believers will agree on is that infidelity hurts.

News of Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi’s sexual indiscretions, which have consumed media space this week, point to the ultimate futility of infidelity, and the deep pain it causes.

It is amazing how, despite its indisputable benefits, abstaining until one is ready for a sexual relationship and being faithful to one’s partner, continues to be viewed as a moral issue instead of a practical way to a happy relationship, or if not happy, unhappy for reasons other than the hurt that comes with being cheated on.

The sexual revolution that started in the sixties has done well to liberate the inhibitions that unduly incarcerated many adults. But clearly there have been unintended consequences.

Sexually transmitted diseases have not only increased, but have killed millions of people around the world. Doubtless, other factors such as government intransigence and pharmaceutical companies’ profiteering at all costs have contributed to the death of people who perished as a consequence of sexually transmitted illnesses.

It is undisputed that not all those who have acquired sexually transmitted illness are to blame or are sexually immoral.

Ultimately, individual behaviour has a lot to do with the spread of the viruses that cause many sexually transmitted diseases.

Apart from diseases, the strife infidelity causes families, as it must for the families of Vavi and the woman in the messy drama, is immeasurable.

The saddest thing about it all, is that it could have been prevented. As with most road accidents, it continues to happen because of our attitude that we can get away with what we know is dodgy behaviour.

In the light of Vavigate, perhaps a question worth asking ourselves is, whether living a life hoping we will never be caught is worth the kicks it gives us in the moment.

• Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya is a freelance journalist and former editor of The Witness.

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