One rarely-discussed side effect of being cheated on is the vicersal reaction that occurs when you witness infidelity secondhand, even when it only involves strangers. The symptoms can be severe and may include any or all of the following:
- a sense of disgust and even nausea
- a feeling of panic or needing to leave the room
- headache and shortness of breath
- a sinking or churning sensation in the gut
- building discomfort and distress
- confusion and uncertainty about how to respond
- powerful empathy for the unsuspecting partners at home
I had an attack of cheater aversion syndrome last week at my gym. A woman (who I had never seen before) entered and was immediately greeted in a very familiar manner by one of the trainers. At first, I thought nothing of it. After all, PDA between two consenting adults is none of my business.
They stationed themselves right in front of the treadmill I was using, so I was within earshot of her statement, “My husband doesn’t know where I am, so if he calls, I’ll have to leave. Will you be here all day? I can try to sneak out again later.”
The wave of nausea that immediately came over me made my sprinting more challenging.
His hand casually cupped around the curve of her hip as they talked certainly didn’t help.
I pushed through the end of my intervals as he “trained” her in front of me (honestly, I think “posed” would be a more appropriate verb for what I witnessed). Visions of her unsuspecting husband at work kept swimming through my head. I wondered what impressions he had of the health of his marriage.
I contemplated what drove her to make this choice. Did she feel unappreciated? Were insecurities taking root as the years began to threaten her attractive appearance? Was she no longer happy with her husband but was determined to stick it out for the kids? Was this a full-blown affair or merely the first steps on the slippery slope to that end?
I found myself passing judgement on this stranger in front me. A stranger that, if I hadn’t witnessed the blatant extramarital flirting, I probably would have thought was quite lovely.
Instead, I did what I usually do in these situations.
A sure-fire cure for cheater aversion syndrome.