“Ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise” – Thomas Gray
In his poem “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College”, Thomas Gray was referring to the wide-eyed innocence of youth and the cold harsh reality of entering adulthood, the beauty of not knowing… And so the phrase “Ignorance Is Bliss” was born, the more colloquial spin would be “what you don’t know can’t hurt you”. But does that really apply to everything? If someone dropped a load of pins on the floor but you were not there to witness it would that have any impact on you? As long as you’re wearing shoes you should be ok, right? But wouldn’t you have to know that you need to wear shoes??
What about cheating? Let me set the scene – a married couple, both with full-time jobs but a beautiful home and full life. Most weeknight’s are spent together but the occasional weekend he has to head off to another city to spend time with his friends. She doesn’t question it, she trusts him. But all of his friends are known for playing away even though they are in committed relationships, and every time she offers to join him on his trips he tells her how boring it will be for her, just boys being boys. She rarely hears from him when he’s away and when he is with her his phone is firmly locked away. This all niggles at her, but she ignores it because he is here. And then come the rumors…
“He was seen out with a large group of girls”
“He’s a good-looking guy so he’ll attract that kind of attention”
“But he had his arm around one of them”
“He’s really chatty and sometimes can be a little overly nice, that’s why I fell for him in the first place”
“I hate to be the one to tell you this but… He was kissing her”
How would you react? If that was me, I’d take a deep breath, ask if they were sure then calmly thank them for telling me. Once alone, I’d either burst into tears or call my friends and demand that they join me in plotting my revenge (I wouldn’t actually plot but there is something soothing in bad mouthing a man who has hurt you). Now you know, now you can’t plead ignorance, so what do you do?
A friend of mine once told me that she saw her cousin’s boyfriend kissing another girl, when she told her cousin and they confronted the guy he lied, she believed him over her cousin. Fast forward a few years and she found out whilst she was on holiday that he had moved away with some other girl. The saddest part? There are rumors about her current relationship and her own friends and family won’t tell her because they fear that she will not only shoot the messenger but bury her head in the sand as she has done in the past.
Choosing to overlook infidelity is your decision but the repercussions could be vast; in ignoring what is in front of you you risk being prone to STI’s, baby daddy/mamma drama, losing the respect of your friends/family or worse, your children. Tackling it head on could help you get to the bottom of why it happened in the first place making you and your partner realize how much you do/don’t want to be together.
Thomas Gray’s poem weaves a tale of naivety and light that is inevitably crushed once you are no longer sheltered by the anonymity of youth, to me this is no different to the ignorance that so many of us hide behind when we suspect the worst. If all the signs are there to make you question someone’s fidelity it is only a matter of time before you are confronted with facts… What will you do when you cannot hide from the truth?