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The Measure of Fidelity

Couples often agonize about each other’s faithfulness. Being secure in the relationship can be a source of much anxiety for both of them. But is there a way to ensure the loyalty of our partne...

Couples often agonize about each other’s faithfulness. Being secure in the relationship can be a source of much anxiety for both of them.

But is there a way to ensure the loyalty of our partner? What observable behavior or visible guarantee can we rely on? What actions of our partner can we regard as definite signs of faithfulness? Is it enough that the person declares his exclusive love for us? Are words sufficient? Or is it being able to check the person’s cellular phone to see if there are no flirtatious exchanges of messages with someone else?

Signs of infidelity are easy to spot, but we often engage in denial and refuse to believe that our partner is being unfaithful. This is perhaps due to our inability to accept the possibility of being betrayed and regard it as impossible, unthinkable or too painful to contemplate. And because of this, we eagerly turn a blind eye or easily believe the reassurances our partner gives us.

What are the possible signs of infidelity? When the person changes his routine, such as the sudden absence of a morning greeting, or when saying ‘I love you’ becomes scarce, or when there is no more time for each other, perhaps the reason is that his affections and time are being directed toward someone else. And when our partner begins accusing us of being unfaithful even though there is no reason to do so, he may just be engaging in projection because in truth he is the guilty one. Sadly, there are people who even treat courtship as a contest and regard the relationship as a trophy to be flaunted for bragging rights. In such cases, we simply cannot expect these relationships to last.

But is the absence of such proofs of infidelity enough to reassure us that our partner is indeed faithful? Fidelity is not about outward manifestations or observable behaviors. We can impose all sorts of restrictions and hope that these will be enough to ensure that our partner will remain faithful. Faithfulness begins in the mind. If the person is serious about the relationship, he will avoid creating doubt in his partner’s mind. He will further ensure that he does not make his partner jealous. Fidelity is not about checking each other’s cellular phones, it’s about deciding each moment of each day to remain faithful to one person. It’s about a desire not to hurt one’s partner. And it’s about controlling our tendency to become attracted to others and not entertaining this attraction.

If we truly value the relationshipFind Article, then we will do everything we can to guarantee that we do not destroy it.

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Frederick Fabella, PhD is a research director, a dean and a graduate and undergraduate professor in the Philippines. He is an editorial board member of the IRP international research journal and a Fellow of the Royal Institution Singapore. He is the author of Transcendence: Essays For Personal Reflection. His blog can be found at Meanings and Perceptions.

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