I recently learned that one of the couples I’ve long admired started their relationship while one of them was married to someone else. Decades later, no one would doubt that they are one of those “meant to be” couples.
My own parents met when my mother was dating someone else (whom she promptly dumped for my dad). I actually know quite a few couples who met and fell for each other while one of more of them was involved with someone else.
My knee-jerk reaction is to feel that leaving your partner for someone else is morally questionable, to say nothing of the dubiousness of outright cheating. But who am I to judge another person’s path to happiness? Is staying in one relationship when you’re in love with someone else doing you or anyone else any favors?
I’m not so sure.
Let me be clear – I don’t tell you this to say that cheating is good – in fact, I think that cheating is a bad idea. Morality aside, it typically doesn’t end well, which alone is enough of a reason not to do it. But I have to recognize that judging other people for a set of circumstances I didn’t personally experience is just as morally dubious as anything I might judge in someone else.
One of the most beautiful things about life is that we all have many different paths – we could never guess the twists and turns our lives will take. And what is more unpredictable than love?
On a more everyday scale, I talk to people who spend a lot of emotional energy judging themselves for their own paths. Whether they’re embarrassed they’re on a dating app, or that they don’t yet have children or the “perfect” career, body, home, etc…
Imagine a world where we practiced more compassion towards ourselves and towards others. That’s a world I want to live in.