Recently, the results of the annual Hindustan Times-MARS Youth Survey 2016 was declared. The survey covered a wide array of subjects in the country, including relationships. One of the most startling aspects of the survey that caught our attention was the topic of cheating. Among those who participated in the poll, 22.3% said that they would cheat on their partner if they had the option of keeping it a secret. Though the number seems small overall, city-wise the figures give a different picture. In Mumbai 29.6% said they would cheat. Delhi topped the list with 48%participants saying they would cheat on their partner. Other cities included Chandigarh (30.2%), Chennai (27.9%) and Lucknow (25%) among others.
Reasons for cheating
Why are so many people open to cheating if it’s kept a secret? Is it a new phenomenon? Or that it always existed in our society, but no one ever talked about it?
Says Suyog V Jaiswal, professor in psychiatry, HBT Medical College, “The moral values of people in general are the result of the experiences of fellow society members getting away with it. If the guilt is not there and social inhibition is removed, it makes infidelity more likely.”
Clinical psychologist Tanushree Bhargava says that cheating wasn’t rampant many years ago, but times have changed. She says, “Nowadays, there is easy accessibility to dating sites where people can meet like-minded people who can give them more happiness and comfort as compared to their committed relationships. Situational reasons such as a person spending most of his or her time with other people might make him or her vulnerable to cheating.”
People in the survey were also asked if they would say no to cheating, if given an opportunity. While 26% of the people in the survey said they were unsure, 22% said that cheating in a relationship doesn’t bother them at all. Jaiswal says these could be people who are dissatisfied with their current relationships or aren’t serious about their partner. He says, “People who said ‘unsure’, are opportunists, who would cheat if it suits them. In both cases the guilt of cheating is either not there or is superficial and lying comes easily.”
The different forms of cheating include emotional, physical and cyber cheating, among others. Jaiswal says emotional cheating is vast in its definition and is the only kind of cheating which totally replaces one’s partner on an emotional level and deteriorates the relationship. Relationship expert Vishnu Modi says that most people in India wouldn’t consider other forms as actually cheating. He says, “The number of people coming to me with issues related to cheating has increased drastically in the last few years. Almost, all of these cases involve physical cheating. People just overlook other forms of cheating or don’t consider them as cheating. But, there is the danger of the other forms of cheating leading to physical cheating.”
While people may be open to cheating, one should know that it is avoidable, with a little extra effort. Says Bhargava, “In most cases people who cheat have valid reasons as to why they do it. Such people should open communication channels with a partner, or take help from a friend. Avoid situations which can make you vulnerable to cheating. Think about its consequences before you cross the line. Take professional help if needed.”