All’s Fair in Love and War: Thievery

In the history of romance it has always been understood when a person is married, engaged or in a relationship he or she is off limits. They belong to someone.  For nearly as long as this unwritten rule has reigned, audacious thieves have been challenging it.  There are even articles and Wikihows devoted to spelling out tactical approaches for relationship robbers. Despite the constant attack on this unspoken understanding, it has not waivered and the efforts of the thief are generally frowned upon by the whole of society. But is this fair?

A friend of mine recently met a girl and fell heels over head and then back again. But as many of the most enticing individuals are, she was taken, engaged, months from the wedding. Not willing to give up on this perfect girl, he decided he would be a better match for her than her absentee fiancé. He took it upon himself to prove this to her no matter what it would take, up to and including cheating. In his mind, her future husband didn’t deserve her so he was free to snatch her up. His justifications were fairly standard: “The guy is a dick. She is simply with him because she doesn’t know how to end it. She would be so much happier with me.”

I began considering these justifications. I have never been in the position of the thief.  If I’m attracted to a guy and I find he is taken, the possibility of a relationship is completely taken off the table in my mind. On a couple of occasions, I have been the girl caught in the middle of a boyfriend and the guy who is convinced I belong with him. Knowing how I mishandled the situations from the other side, I don’t know why any guy would want to pursue a girl tied to another guy.

I strung it out for months. Spending time with my boyfriend and the guy who was chasing me, knowing exactly what his intentions were. Though I never technically cheated on my guy, there was nothing innocent about my behavior. I felt neglected by my boyfriend and relished the attention that is often lavished upon the pursued. If my boyfriend was busy one weekend, I had no problem hanging alone with the would-be thief. My boyfriend knew what was going on, but he never let on. After ultimatums from the bandit and tearful conversations with my boyfriend, I made the decision to end my relationship. It didn’t work out with the thieving individual, but I wouldn’t change the end result. However, I’m not proud of the web I got sucked into. I’ve since apologized to the jilted boyfriend, but still I’m pinged with guilt when I recall how everything unfolded.

Whether she intends to or not, if a girl is at all interested in the guy who is not her’s, she will likely hurt both individuals. If the current boyfriend is a sucker he will ignore the signs that his girl is considering straying and be completely crushed if it ever comes to light. In the interim the thief will put copious amounts of time and energy into a relationship that may never come to fruition. And if it does come to be, how does the winner know that she really wants to be with him and didn’t just view him as a logical out from a relationship she didn’t have the courage to end when she knew it needed to be over?

Of course the character of the thief is called into question as well. He isn’t cheating, but is it acceptable for someone to take something that doesn’t belong to them? I understand the free will of a person makes these situations different from breaking into someone’s home. But does the responsibility of moral behavior rest solely on the shoulders of the prey? In addition to wronging the significant other, it seems the tactics required to successfully pull off the robbery are by nature manipulative. So ultimately the pursued the girl becomes a victim of his subterfuge on some level.

I’m sure there are situations where the clandestine relationship turns into something wonderful and the two love birds fly off into their unorthodox sunset. Still, it seems that a relationship that sprouts from confusion, betrayal and sneaky tactics doesn’t have the ideal foundation.