Well, they do, every country has men and women unfaithful to their partners. But it’s nothing compared to Poland. The short time I’ve been here, I’ve come across some crazy-ass cheating, marriages coming apart at the seams like it’s a religion or something.
There’s a couple of obvious reasons for this; a lot of Polish couples get together in their teens, they get married relatively young and somewhere in their late twenties they start to regret not having sampled the full menu, or at least getting past the starters – I mean, how long can you be happy with soup?
Another reason, and this is just my own hypothesis, is socio-economic. When you’re paid five to seven times less than your European counterparts working as a white slave for a multi-national, infidelity parachutes you temporarily out of this Dickensian existence. It throws a bit of excitement your way. The Poles are gluttons for all things western and coming out from under the scissor blades of Communism and Catholicism, they’re overdosing on the get-it-all-while-you-can-culture.
To my knowledge, and I admit this is a huge caveat, my social circle in Ireland hasn’t been touched by cheating and I’m including friends-of-friends in there too. Even a few years back, when I was actively seeking men who cheated so I could interview them for the play ‘Why Men Cheat’, it was hard work. There were cheaters to be sure, but thin on the ground compared to say, England, Scotland or France.
Was it always like that in Ireland?
My friends and their families seem untouched by it. My dad never cheated. He had Parkinson’s. Well not really. We just said that to people when they saw him coming home drunk. You could always tell when he had been drinking because he’d be nice to you. He would start off his conversations with ‘oh contraire’ instead of his usual, ‘that’s shite talk!’ And despite only having 34 pounds in his bank account, he’d promise to buy you a speedboat.
And it would take 12 hours for his hangover to subside. Some might say 12 steps but that would be one hell of a hangover. His hangovers were terrible. He’d start off by vomiting for about an hour before having a shower and he’d be roaring and complaining that the water was hurting him until he realised he hadn’t turned the water on. After the shower, he’d get a whiff of my mother’s perfume and the vomiting would start again so he’d spend the rest of the day cuddling his only friend in the world, the toilet.
I don’t blame him for having a few jars back then. My parents had it rough in the early days of their marriage. They were poor and had to live with my mother’s people in a small little house in Monaghan. There was no space. If they wanted to argue they had to go out to the chicken shed. If they wanted to have sex, they had to go out to the chicken shed. These were the only reasons for going to the chicken shed. Either to fight or fuck. There weren’t even any chickens in the shed. They died from watching all the fighting and fucking. If you wanted and egg you had to go and mug one of the ducks. But my parents were faithful. I think this is because my father was afraid of my mother. There’s nothing like a bit of fear to keep a couple together.
But let’s get to the chequered flag and wrap this up with a few stats from ‘Why Men Cheat’;
Most men who cheat, roughly 80%, cheat with a younger woman. But 95% of cheaters – 95% – cheat with a woman who has longer hair than their wife.
Two-thirds of the time when a man confesses to cheating, the marriage will survive.
Two-thirds of the time when a woman confesses, the marriage breaks up.
And more depressingly, 55% of all people in London have cheated on their partners. 55%! That’s you, and you and you and you and you, hmm…yeah you, eh…not you…definitely not and you and…you over there at the back. In fact you’re probably cheating now, aren’t you?