//This post was inspired from this post.
So, I think 99% of the bookish community stands united and steadfast in this one opinion : cheating sucks. Any form of cheating, be it cheating on your one true love, or cheating for your one true love is a bad bad bad thing to do, and of course we end up hating books which portray cheating!
So now, my question is : exactly why do we despise cheating so much?
In a community where we encourage ‘realistic’ books and appreciate books which can truly refelct and portray human beings and human emotions and all such human shenanigans, why is cheating so intolerable?
Okay, before you launch into a 100 kmph rant about how cheating is unacceptable, and immoral, and wrong – let me clarify that I AGREE. I know that cheating, as a thing, as an activity, as a behaviour, is wrong and amoral and unforgivable. And cheating not just in a romantic relationship, but in each and every facet of life. But I’m talking about a specific kind of people.
The first time I started noticing this issue was with the book Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Now, I read this book way too long ago to actually remember what kind of cheating or behaviour is portrayed in this book; so I’m not going to comment on that. I’m just going to say that back when I read this, I never had any such ‘cheating-related’ problems. So anyway, I first noticed this issue with this book. I heard and read so many people say that the only reason they hated the book was because it included cheating. (I personally loved the book though I do respect your individual opinions). What irked and baffled me was how so many people hated the book because of one basic factor – cheating.
I’ve read in so many reviews and in general, so many people’s opinions that in a book they were normally enjoying, as soon as a certain character (especially the main character) cheated, they ended up hating the book. Basically, this ‘cheating’ was the only factor which led them to hate a book. And my question is, WHY?
Cheating is something which happens in real life. Real human beings do that, and it happens all over the world, in all different ages, in all forms, in all shapes. Then why shouldn’t we portray it in books? When MCs are off killing people and behaving obnoxiously and passing snarky comments (ahem, Will Herondale) – that is encouraged and swooned over. That is accepted, and people fall in love with MCs who are snarky, or dominant, or stupid, or murderers, or thieves, or criminals, or kidnappers, or thugs, or street-fighters. Everything is accepted. But the moment the MC cheats, the book suddenly becomes THE MOST HATED BOOK IN THE WORLD. Of course, because something as human and realistic as cheating cannot be accepted unlike murdering and being arrogant because of that is so romantic and hot.
You probably are bursting into a protest and the words ‘cheating is amoral’ is springing from your lips. (For which my answer is murdering and stealing is also amoral). But there is another point I want to lay stress on. There’s this thing with cheating. There’s the situation when you meticulously plan hiding your affair, when you continue to cheat on someone over a considerable period of time, when you continue having an affair and lying over a certain period of time. And then there’s the accidental kiss, when you’re stuck in a relationship you’re not sure about, and then you meet the person who makes your soul sing (yeah okay I know that’s dramatic I’m rolling my eyes too but still) and in one moment of desperation, you give in to your desire and BOOM that’s it the readers are put off and the book becomes a BAD BOOK just because a character gave in to his/her true feelings and probably ended up with his #onetruelove!
Yes, both situations are cheating, but both are also human. Both happen in real life, then why do they need to be shunned in books? And out of the two situations I just described in the previous paragraph, though the first one is wrong and immoral, I honestly don’t find anything wrong with the second situation. Sometimes these accidental kisses are the ones which make you realise what a wrong relationship you’re in and what your heart truly wants. Then how can this be considered so ‘dsigraceful’? Of course, when these incidents continue for a longer period of time, and the person keeps lying and cheating on his/her partner, that’s wrong and should be discouraged. But we’re not here to discuss that, are we? (I just needed to throw in some relationship pep-talk :D)
The whole point I’m trying to make is that something which is so regular and so common in real life has no reason to be such a turn off in books. Of course, books can be used to set an example of how wrong cheating is, but to declare a book ‘horrible’ or ‘bad’ or hating the book just because it has cheating is (to me) ridiculous.
Honestly, I’ve never understood this. I’ve never been able to synchronise with people who declare a book to be terrible because it has cheating, or who specifically mention in their review policies to not request them to reveiw any book which has cheating in it. I don’t even understand why cheating is such a ‘big thing’ (in books ofc). In real life, it’s a huge drama but when we’re talking about books? Come on. When characters in the books I read cheat, I usually try to judge the situation by looking at the original relationship, the person with whom the MC cheated, and whether this cheating is based on true feelings or just a fling.
So anyway, that’s just me. How I read and how I judge. I repeat, cheating is wrong. But portraying cheating in books isn’t.