Thus in my view, cheating is a perception, personal experience or intrinsic quality of some of our actions. What other people do with their experience of our conduct is their responsibility. The way I use the term, cheating does not exist in our tangible, objective, consensus reality. It's entirely subjective and idiosyncratic when it occurs. However, the patterns of those occurrences are highly familiar and shared among us.
Those cognitive patterns (which I'll explore tomorrow) structure our conduct to be:
- self policing: we catch ourselves before we pay in the long run, cheat ourselves or kid ourselves about the ultimate consequences
- self-regulating: we limit how deviant and disruptive we can be before we cross the line of attracting suspicions, censure or confrontations
- self-enhancing: we look after our best interests and long term benefits which are also good for the community over the long term
- self-replicating: we do what works again with less uncertainty or hesitation which frees us to be more considerate and responsive to others
- A spouse gets mislabeled as cheating on his/her marriage. The context that supports a story of "infidelity, betrayal and selfishness" is widely shared. The idiosyncratic experience is invisible to those who are not confidants of the "cheater". The departure from monogamy may play out as a return to the marriage that renews the vows, a disruption of interaction patterns in the relationship, or a departure to explore relationships with more rapport, companionship and reciprocation. It comes down to living with the effect on the marriage, the spouse and oneself over the long term.
- Someone in a position of authority is accused of getting bribed when either making a political appointment, selecting an individual for a promotion, filling a vacant position or awarding a contract to a bidder. It appears that unfair advantage was taken by the party brokering a side deal to influence the main deal. Yet the obvious manipulations may obscure a win/win reciprocation. When the strings attached to the deal are not one-sided, both parties have made a long term commitment. Both are hampered by, obligated to and responsible for future impacts on the relationship. Stability has been created amidst the flux of changing allegiances, narratives and agendas. Living with the side deal is likely to be easy for both if the benefits of the collaboration benefit others over the long haul in ways their accusers did not anticipate.