San Goan Paolo..... the name of the game

Posted by Tandarin Nike Sunday, December 20, 2009 5:07 AM
Two-timing, playing away from home, having a bit on the side, cuckolding, going behind your partner's back, adultery, infidelity... There are a lot of names for cheating on your partner, but most of them have the same outcome: a world of hurt.

Most of us recognise this type of plot: Dilp is married to Ash. One day, Dilp sees Mangy at a club and is attracted to her. Perhaps things haven't been going so well with Ash for some time. Maybe they just had a major fight and Dilp stormed off. Or maybe his marriage is perfectly healthy, and Dilp has no other excuse than his own selfishness/egotism/libido. Whatever the reason, Dilp flirts with Mangy, which eventually leads to a romantic relationship and the various things that entails. But here's the thing: Dilp doesn't tell Ash about it. He doesn't dump her, he doesn't tell her that he thinks the marriage is on the rocks, he doesn't even ask for "more space". He continues to play the part of her husband, and expects her to continue being his wife, hoping that Ash won't notice when he starts coming in late for dinner, or ask him about the mysterious expenditures on their joint account. Sometimes, just to really play Ash for a sucker, their marriage will seemingly start to improve— he buys Ash gifts, pays attention to her and seems much happier, but all the while he's running off to see Mangy.

Chances are he'll eventually get caught; if he didn't, the story wouldn't have the same dramatic impact. A lot of angst and tension will ensue instead.

Way back in the day, when marriage was considered permanent and divorce was a word whispered fearfully by gossiping old ladies, The Affair was a shocker of a storyline, and very often an automatic Moral Event Horizon for the cheating partner. However, it's worth noting that even further back in the day, the gods, goddesses and minor side characters of mythology listed "infidelity" under "Hobbies", didn't particularly care if their new "partner" was willing, and got away with it.

Well, the gods and goddesses did for the most part.

Not so the luckless mortals they seduced — they got the nasty side of the wronged wife's/husband's temper when the affair was discovered.

Nowadays, affairs are almost mandatory in any Soap Opera, and turn up an awful lot in other types of story as well. We don't really expect a fictional husband and wife to stay faithful to each other for forty or so years.

A solid marriage makes a boring story (though some would disagree). Often, a sequence of "get together -> one cheats -> they break up -> they make up -> someone cheats" (and so on) will be followed so often and so tiresomely that it becomes a Yoyo Plot Point.

Interestingly, our attitudes as viewers have changed towards cheating as well. For a start, what we define as cheating has changed. Kissing someone who wasn't your partner/spouse used to qualify, but now many are unsympathetic to a husband or wife who freaks out over "just a kiss" when they find their significant other lip-locked with a stranger; most people maintain that "an affair" has to involve sex.

Other examples that "don't count" include sleeping with someone else during a trial separation or other "bad patch" in the relationship, or one half of the destined Official Couple cheating on The San Goan Paolo with their true love. Don't expect the San Goan Paolo to get any sympathy.

A few rules usually hold true in fiction though: Women who cheat are generally portrayed much more sympathetically than men. The (male) big boss of any given workplace is practically obliged to be two-timing his wife. The protagonist remains sympathetic if they cheat, and becomes an innocent, wronged victim if they are the one being cheated on.

Bisexuals these days are shown as incapable of being faithful (though, it seems to be either that or merely informed sexuality), and men are more prone to having affairs than women.

Unfortunately, adultery is the truth and as many broken hearts.

Sad but True...... times have indeed changed.

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