Yeah, you’re right it isn’t fair. There is so much going on at university and there are so many interesting and interested people around you. How are you supposed to stay true during this time of your life? Is it even possible? Should you just give up and give in?
No! You can do it! You can stay true! You just have to follow these steps:
Oscar Wilde famously said ‘I can resist anything but temptation’. Though he might have meant that quote tongue in cheek, there is actually some truth in what he has to say. It turns out that the best way not to do something bad is to make sure you avoid situations where you can actually get tempted, as there is a big chance you won’t succeed in turning away.
The reason we allow ourselves to get in such situations anyway is that when we’re not in that situation, we think we’ll be much stronger than we actually are because we find it hard to imagine feeling emotions that we’re not actually feeling – something known was the empathy gap. It’s why you think you’ll be brave when somebody points a gun at you and why think you’ll be reasonable when other people get angry. It’s also why you think you’ll be able to resist temptation.
Hey, maybe you will. But wouldn’t a better strategy be not to give yourself the chance to prove yourself wrong?
Try this exercise – don’ think about a white polar bear. What happened when I said that? I’ll bet you a shilling that the first thing that happened was that you thought of a white polar bear. That’s because we’re not very good at telling ourselves not to think things. In fact, we find it almost impossible.
To not think about something, you have to think about something else instead. For that reason, if there is a risk of temptation the best strategy to employ is to go do something else. Hang out with friends. Go do something that you find deeply engaging. Go shopping. Do something that will take your mind off of the temptation as much as possible. This will work far better than locking yourself in a dark room and trying not to do whatever you’re trying not to do.
You know the saying ‘out of sight out of mind’? Well, there is a surprising amount of truth to it – especially if you’re far away from each other. For that reason, don’t try to stay out of each other’s sight too long. Instead, make sure you hang out often – virtually if physically isn’t that easy to accomplish.
Also, make sure you keep each other’s life interesting and exciting. Don’t fall into the same old routines every time as that will quickly get boring. And once that happens, you’re going to find it much more difficult to stay faithful to somebody (I mean, we all prefer staying faithful to somebody that excites us than somebody that makes us yawn, right?). So, surprise each other with dates, special occasions, poems and rewarded essays.
The reason we go astray is that we imagine that somebody we don’t know will somehow be more exciting than the person we do. Then we do things we shouldn’t and often discover that it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. The thing is, by then it’s too late. We’ve done something we shouldn’t have and are now in the situation where we either do or don’t tell the person we’re with.
Don’t let it get to that. Remember that most people are terrible in bed, that just because you haven’t tasted the forbidden fruit it’s better than what you’ve already got, and that the short amount of pleasure you’ll experience will outweigh the guilt you’ll feel afterward.
So, if you’re being tempted, just imagine what the person looks like sitting on the toilet squeezing out last night’s Thai food, or puking in the toilet after too many tequila shots, or any other embarrassing position. For just because you don’t know their warts, doesn’t mean they don’t have any.
Being faithful is not a choice. It is countless choices, every day. It’s a struggle that you’re going to have to deal with by sidestepping the worst moments and dealing with the rest. Yes, it can be incredibly difficult. The thing is, that it’s worth it. Because ultimately when we love somebody that struggle shows that love and when you lose it, you’re letting that other person and yourself down.
So remember that moving forward. Being faithful isn’t just about not hurting the other person, it’s about making sure you’re the best person you can be. Do it for your love and do it so that in the future you can stand tall.
For though relationships might come and go, what you remember about how you behaved will stay with you forever.