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Please do not read this post if you have not watched the Into the Woods and want to, it contains a mild spoiler.
I read Scandal by Carolyn Jewel and watched Into the woods and The Crucible play recently, and this got me thinking about main characters who cheat. I was discussing love triangles and cheating with my cousin a while ago which lead me to creating this blog post.
The question is what do you class as cheating and would you forgive a character who cheats?
The question of what I class as cheating is a bit murky, obviously if someone is in a committed relationship and has sex with someone else that is definitely cheating. In my case if someone has declared their love and so it is understood they are together but it is not official as yet and they sleep with someone else then that is cheating too. The reason I think this is cheating as there has been some form of commitment. For me if a main character was to do this then I would stop reading the book straight away, I as a reader cannot forgive them even if their romantic interest in the book does. The character is not redeemable for me from this point. I know some people like seeing the redemption and how the character grovels to make up for it but I always think if that character has done it once then what is stopping them from doing it again. How can you love someone and cheat on them?
There is a scene in Into the Woods where the bakers wife (who is happy with her husband and wants a baby with him) kisses the prince because he comes on to her and he is so ‘charming’, she thinks it’s wrong at first but after she says it’s like fantasy and really it’s not going to happen again so she kisses him back. When I say kiss I do mean a proper kiss. This for me I also class as cheating, I maybe able to forgive the main character for this and move on in the book but I will be very disappointed in the character and they would have to show that they were sorry for me to forgive them. I do not know if other people would class this as cheating? My reasoning behind it is they are for example in a committed relationship and if the other person love is not enough then why are they still with them? By kissing someone else you are showing interest and will hurt the other person’s feeling when they find out.
It makes no difference to me if the main character cheats on the other main character or a side character because they want to be with the other main character. If a main character is with someone else but them meets them the love of their life (who happens to be the other main character) then please just break up with the other person, it’s might hurt their feelings but just think about how worst it would feel for them when you find out you strayed while in a relationship with them. Personally I refuse to read the book if any of the two main characters cheat on someone else. It does not make a difference to me if the character is male or female.
My cousin has said I have a pretty much black and white view with this and apparently there can be grey areas but I refuse to understand this and is this is so then I agree. I personally can see no reason for someone who loves anyone to stray but if they are unhappy then they should just leave.
I have a very very slight exception to this, and that is historical romances. Not always but there is 1 or 2 books that I have read where the main character is married (but lives separately to their spouse and their spouse also has affairs) and still in a relationship with the other person who is the love of their life. This sometimes I think is acceptable just because back in that time divorce was unheard of and it was common to marry for title and find pleasure outside marriage. But my preference is there to be no cheating at all.
What is everyone else’s thoughts on this?