Is Cheating Really The Secret To A Happy Marriage? Well, That's What Hollywood Wants You To Believe

The White Lotus 2 featured yet another murder mystery at a five-star hotel, while also following the vacation of two couples who are facing their own unique marital troubles. Cameron and Daphne seem to be a happily married couple who have an unconventional way of keeping their marriage alive: they cheat on one another.

By Gina Florio3 min read
white lotus cameron daphne

Cameron and his buddy from college, Ethan, are both married and on a beautiful vacation in Italy with their wives. While the ladies are away for the night in a small town called Noto, the boys enjoy a day of jet skiing, followed by a dinner that eventually delves into a night of partying. Before things go sideways, though, Cameron and Ethan discuss monogamy. Ethan says he and his wife are always honest with each other, and they only have sex with one another. Cameron has a different take.

"You've been brainwashed into thinking that, man. It's very bourgeois," Cameron says flippantly. "Dude, monogamy was an idea created by the elite to control the middle class. Meanwhile, all the priests were f*cking the altar boys and the aristocrats were f*cking everything that moves. Same now as it ever was. And the most ambitious guys? They're always the horniest. Like you and me. And of course, women are attracted to that. But if you don't make their dreams come true, they make you suffer. That's why it's safer to stick with wh*res."

Not long after, Cameron invites over two prostitutes with whom they spend an evening of debauchery and infidelity. Cameron has sex with the spunky Lucia and Ethan makes out with her friend Mia before pushing her away in order to decline sex. That same night, their wives stay in a beautiful Italian palazzo and Daphne, Cameron's wife, admits that she knows Cameron cheats on her. But she says she does whatever she needs to do to feel better about herself, later hinting at having an affair with her gorgeous, blonde-haired trainer (who fans think is the real father of her children) to help her get over Cameron's extramarital activities.

Hollywood Loves to Glamorize Infidelity

There are various movies and TV shows that make cheating sound exciting and glamorous. From shows like Sex and the City to movies like The Notebook and The Bridges of Madison County, there are endless examples of hot, passionate affairs that don't always end in destruction. In fact, there are plenty of Hollywood love stories that use infidelity as a way to display true love and finding oneself. The White Lotus 2 is just another example of that.

Notice during the entirety of the season, Cameron and Daphne seem very much in love. They're affectionate, sweet, and loving. They laugh and have fun together. They have sex. They show vulnerable, intimate moments that indicate they care for each other on a deep level; when Daphne recalls her traumatic experience with birth when she had to have an emergency C-section, Cameron shows raw emotion and fear over the prospect of potentially losing her.

They're the stark opposite of Ethan and Harper, who rarely have sex (if ever), bicker often, and seem disinterested in their marriage altogether. She treats him like a child and even micromanages what he eats at dinner. Harper displays discomfort and even jealousy toward Cameron and Daphne, as their public displays of affection bring her face to face with the reality that her husband isn't really sexually attracted to her anymore. Ethan is much more concerned with watching porn than having sex with his wife. The show's writers clearly tried to portray Cameron and Daphne in a more successful marriage than Ethan and Harper, and it's only after Harper kisses Cameron and Ethan maybe has sex with Daphne (that's a mystery left to the viewers to decide) that Harper and Ethan reignite their spark and finally have passionate sex for the first time in a long, long time.

If it weren't for their infidelity (even if it was just a kiss), would Ethan and Harper have reconnected? If Cameron and Daphne didn't cheat on each other routinely, would they even be as happy together? These are the questions that The White Lotus 2 want you to ask yourself by the time the finale rolls around.

Hollywood does this all the time. Romance stories like The Notebook portray a hot affair that makes two people realize how much they love each other and how unhappy they are in their respective relationships. Allie (Rachel McAdams) would have married Lon and gone on with her life if she didn't go visit Noah and have sex with him. Even if their love was strong and they were teenage sweethearts, the fact of the matter is, she was engaged to another man when she visited him and had a passionate affair. That is objectively immoral, but it was made out to be the most romantic thing in the world and their love story lives on. You can say it's just a novel and just a story, but these are the most popular stories delivered to women in today's culture, and it informs the way we think about infidelity, marriage, and love.

Is Cheating Really the Secret to a Happy Marriage?

After seeing how happy Cameron and Daphne are with their extramarital activities, there were several articles online that asked the question: Is cheating the key to a healthy relationship? People discussed whether infidelity—and being honest about one's infidelity—might be the secret to a lasting marriage. Relationship experts like Esther Perel, who has always had a more empathetic approach to cheating, has helped reframe the way people think about infidelity. Maybe it's not a terrible thing that is done to ruin a relationship. Perhaps it's just a reflection of some deep soul-searching that can actually help people find themselves and even strengthen their marriage.

It doesn't matter how many experts or movies there are that try to paint infidelity in a positive light. Cheating is wrong. It is immoral. While there might be an increase in the popularity of open relationships, which would take the immorality out of cheating because both people are honest with each other about their affairs, that doesn't change the fact that having sex with other people is the antithesis to what marriage is. While we might be encouraged to leave monogamy behind because it's archaic or just downright dull, we can't forget the fact that marriage and the nuclear family are the bedrock of any healthy society. And you can't have successful families if everyone in society is struggling with the insecurity, jealousy, and heartbreak that comes along with open relationships.

While it may sound exciting to sleep around while being married to the one person you trust and cherish most, it's a recipe for disaster that has never been the foundation of a healthy society. It can be entertaining to watch shows like The White Lotus 2 and fantasize about what an open marriage might look like, but there isn't anything sustainable or healthy about cheating, even if it's done in an "honest" way. And with the high rates of depression and anxiety happening in our culture today, the last thing people need is yet another thing to be jealous and unsure about in their life. If anything, the stability of a lifelong, monogamous husband can help women feel more cherished, loved, and stable. Sure, it's not always easy to be monogamous. But it's certainly worth it, especially if we're thinking about the wellbeing of both women and society at large.