This Huffington Post article recommending that women think twice before getting serious with attractive men generated more discussion than I’ve seen in a long time. Then there was the rebuttal, also on Huffington Post, from a man’s perspective, as well as numerous other responses in blogs, social media and the like.
Even after reading and participating in some of the discussion, my unscientific and completely un-researched response remains the same: looks have nothing to do with character. And whether someone cheats is a question of a) character and b) vulnerability.
Webster’s defines character as “…a distinctive trait, behavior typical of a person or group, moral strength, reputation…”
For the purposes of this discussion, let’s focus on the behavior part of this definition. Being in any sort of relationship with another human allows us to observe a series or pattern of behaviors. These behaviors began to take shape in childhood, through the guidance of parenting or at school or various other forms of social engagement. Over time, we can see patterns in those behaviors that make up character.
This entire discussion reminds me of a little chat I had with my former brother-in-law. I’d heard his family was about to host a teacher from another country for several months. This young Spanish fellow had friended my sister-in-law on Facebook and she had remarked to me that he was really good-looking. So, when my bro-in-law asked if I’d heard the news, I said, “Yeah, that’s really cool, and Veronica said he’s pretty cute, too!”
Of course I was teasing, but this came back to haunt me in a later conversation when I was “sat down and given a talking to.” My brother-in-law apparently didn’t have a sense of humor about this, and asked me if I was able to see how he might be upset and yada-yada-yada. My response, “No. You should know your wife better than I do. And I can imagine she’s ever given you any reason to question her trustworthiness.”
In other words, it cuts both ways — I mean for men and for women. You should know by now the character of the people you’re closest to. And looks don’t have a damn thing to do with it.
As for vulnerability…well, that’s another discussion entirely. Let’s just say that most people who “fall into” a relationship that they didn’t plan on were vulnerable, either because they weren’t getting needs fulfilled at home or because they failed to put the proper guard rails in place.
At forty, I can no longer say “never,” because I’ve simply seen and experienced too much. But I think we can mitigate the chances of finding ourselves with a cheater by observing character and giving our relationship the proper attention.