You’ve probably seen a viral video or meme with the caption: When you see your side piece in public. Sometimes these stories are even told via Twitter threads. While these can be entertaining to some of us, for many people constantly seeing this glorification of cheating can plant seeds of doubt, distrust, and affect how we view future and current relationships.
Furthermore, it can be a constant, painful reminder to those who are currently trying to fix their relationship that has been hurt by cheating. Of course, this internet culture of side pieces isn’t wholly to blame for cheating, but it is worth noting the way it can affect millennials’ relationships and normalizes infidelity in a way that’s unlike anything our parents had to deal with.
Not Your Grandmother’s Marriage
The standards of our relationships have been evolving with each new generation. Marriage today is remarkably different than that of previous generations — and the standards for cheating have changed as well. Sexuality counselor Jessica O’Reilly, PhD explains to Fashion Beans how infidelity is actually more unacceptable now than in previous decades, “Non-monogamous relationships have been the norm throughout most of human history. Monogamy and love marriage are both relatively new concepts and accordingly, so too is the concept of ‘infidelity.’”
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the concept of cheating has suddenly appeared, but rather the boundaries and expectations we have in our relationships are more defined and cheating especially has become a deal breaker for most relationships. As O’Reilly further explains, “In terms of attitudes toward infidelity, I believe that we are less tolerant than in previous decades … We have more options — we can stay single, find another relationship, or opt for a consensually non-monogamous relationship.” Moreover, the way we cheat has evolved.
In the world of social media, cheating is no longer just physical. Considering the constant access we have now to nearly anyone in the world, cheating can be found within DMs, Snapchats, and text messages. This means that feeling secure in your relationship can become a difficult, ongoing battle, especially if you’ve been cheated on before. Side piece culture does nothing to help with these insecurities and depending on the situation can leave people feeling anxious and worried, eventually leading to a detrimental disconnect with their loved one.
It’s Just a Joke, Right?
Some might argue if you aren’t secure in your relationship, it’s your problem, and if your partner can’t share a side piece meme occasionally, then the relationship is doomed anyways. Let’s unpack that way of thinking for a moment. When cheating threads and memes go viral, it sends the message that it’s harmless fun — that it’s the norm. However, if asked, the majority of people in monogamous relationships would say that cheating is extremely hurtful and devastating. If you have been cheated on before, you also probably don’t find these cheating jokes funny — because infidelity often ruins relationships, marriages, and trust.
In monogamous relationships, there can be a lot of worry. As the experts at Medical News Today explain, “long-term monogamous relationships have many perils, including habit, boredom, decreased libido, and the worries of a shared everyday life … eventually, we may begin to worry that daily wear and tear is taking its toll on our romantic bond and that one of us might stray toward a different lover.” Add all of these concerns with the constant consumption of social media (which often gives us unrealistic expectations and FOMO), it can weigh heavily on the hearts and minds of partners, leading to suspicion, stress, and fights. Even if your partner isn’t cheating, if you are constantly exposed to this side piece culture, you may begin seeing smoke where there isn’t fire, which also has a huge impact on relationships.
Saying Sayonara to Side Piece Culture
Millenials are undoubtedly major players in the unique internet culture that has a strong presence in our society and day-to-day lives. We are able to make lasting connections through the internet, even meeting future partners on online platforms. Unlike previous generations, we have a lot more opportunities to meet our “soul mate.” Be that as it may, side piece culture has definitely spread throughout social media, glorifying infidelity to the point that people may feel as though they have to cheat in order to keep up with culture norms. This is obviously problematic, infecting current and future relationships, and it’s time to address it.
Communicating with your partner exactly what you consider as cheating is important in building trust and setting the expectations of your relationship. The values we have today have certainly evolved, and being honest with your partner is vital; this includes expressing an interest in polyamory to your partner sooner rather later if you find yourself wanting more. Moreover, de-normalizing side piece culture is imperative if we want to start taking better care of ourselves and the people we want to spend the rest of our lives with.