Think about this: up until the last hundred years or so (and still, today, in many parts of the world), we’ve had, over hundreds of thousands of years of human culture and tradition, multiple versions of marriage. From legally bound and slave wives, sister wives, and child brides to polygamy and same-sex marriage, “the institution of marriage” is a prodigiously layered creature.
But in the First World, we’ve accepted “monogamy until death” as the majority and legal norm, and have come up with many variations of cheating to define the things that draw us away from that one legally bound person. Whether it’s an emotional affair or harmless flirting, the best thing is to a) identify the attractive element that leads you to stray, b) call it what it is, and c) fucking walk away from it.
But most people don’t and never will do that. In fact, most people seek secret freedom within their marriage where they hope they will be able to betray their spouse and have the best of both worlds. Only one world includes someone who will be made a fool out of, and the other usually ends abruptly or embarrassingly so. And the relief that comes from the end of a cheating relationship is never worth the pain it causes all parties.
But what’s so great about both worlds when each is incomplete at some point? Some marriages or committed relationships start with infidelity, and end up lasting. There’s no judgment here. There are better ways to end a partnership than humiliating your best friend and then going broke to pay people to legally separate you from the very same old best friend.