200538384-0085.jpgThere is this television show that I hear is on – I have yet to watch it – that places people with their ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends over the weekend in a secluded environment. All of this happens while the current boyfriend and girlfriend watches what happens through a hidden camera. Well, before I even heard the results of what typically happens, I already knew where that was going.

How many of you, if placed with an ex for three straight days on a secluded island, would remain faithful to your current love? Tick, tick, tick… crickets. I figured. This begs the second question: why are the bonds of past relationships so hard to break? Beyond the obvious answers of comfort, attraction and convenience, what causes people to be stuck in the past?

It is because a part of us remains with everyone who we have an intimate encounter with over a period of time. Imagine three years of intimacy and comfort, and then suddenly, it is gone. That’s not something that you just get over. That’s what makes the X-Factor such a compelling concept. Who among you can survive that test?

There are three categories of relationships in this scenario. You have the first love syndrome, the case in which you broke up with your first love for whatever reason. Whether it was a brutal ending or a melancholy ending, that person will always own a piece of you. The soft spot will remain. So when trapped – or euphemistically speaking, placed – in a room with this person, it is almost a done deal that something will be sparked. So, let’s just say that there’s nothing that a current lover can do about that (of course, the case of marriage could preclude any of that cheating stuff from going on, but we know that emotions overtake rationality in matters of the heart in most cases).

Picture the heart as a pie. A pie can be divvied up among many people, a few people can partake in it, or one person can eat the whole pie. When a person shares many intimate partners, these are pieces that go away for those lovers’ consumption. If one person is only intimate with one person, then obviously, the pie is theirs alone. The second category is the ex who has taken the biggest chunk of the pie. Sometimes, it is not the first love that takes the biggest chunk. In this case, the category applies.

When placed in an environment with this ex, it is imperative that you remember the reasons that you are not together anymore (this can apply to the first category as well) and cling to them. What makes this so hard is the fact that the heart, naturally, is healed with time. People tend to forget bad memories as time progresses, and you start to see your ex in a positive light again. The nature of your breakup with a person of this category plays a significant part too. If you (ladies) cheated on your ex and broke his heart, then it is more likely that you will continue to sympathize with him and have strong feelings remain. If you were on the receiving end of an abusive relationship, then you will probably be motivated to not ever cause your current lover the hurt that you received, right? You would think.

The third category is the ex who has proven to be the most memorable – emotionally or sexually stimulating. There are the instances in which all three categories interlope, and when this happens, then the current lover stands nary a chance against those odds. So I guess that leaves us with the goal with finding the man or woman with the least amount of baggage. If we do that, then the chances of us having our trust betrayed is diminished, no?

If only people were that simple.

The purpose of a show like the X-Factor and similar real life experiences is that our fidelity is not so much of what is in us, but more of the context in which we are placed. The human spirit is an amazing thing. It can propel us to heights only imaginable to some, but it can also lead us to foolish pride in our decisions–into thinking that we have the will to withstand anything. Staying faithful is more of keeping yourself out of “relationship threatening” situations than our willpower.

Talk to any faithful person out there, and one common trait will prevail: they do an extraordinary job of controlling their environment. Controlling our environment is often overlooked because many would have you believe that our success is solely dependent on what is in us. What is in us is highly important – don’t get me wrong – but what is equally as important is the external factors that are surrounding us. How many success stories have you heard that the successful person was in the “right place at the right time”? Environment matters.

Simply put, the best way to ensure fidelity is to keep out of unsafe conditions. The best way to tell if the person you are with is being unfaithful is to calculate how many times that person put themselves in unsafe positions.

Then you wouldn’t need a hidden camera to figure out what is going on.

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