Starring Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and my boyfriend’s celebrity crush Kate Upton, “The Other Woman” garnered crap reviews but brought in $24.7 million at the box office as of April 27, according to Forbes.
While I haven’t seen the movie, I understand the plot to be this: A woman discovers her boyfriend is married, and meets the wife he’s been cheating on. It turns out the man is having a third affair, and then all three women link metaphorical arms in pursuit of revenge.
All three women are doing it wrong.
We’ve all been slighted in some way. Whether we were lied to, betrayed, cheated on or all of the above, many of us can recall that so-mad-and-sad-I-could-burst feeling. Rationality escapes us, and we cry, throw things around, or crank up Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable” so loud the neighbors call. That’s all fine and good. What’s important to remember, beneath the red hot rage, is that retaliation solves nothing, and often makes an already awful situation worse.
Seeking revenge really backfires in the larger picture. What it boasts in efficiency - it sure as hell tells the cheater/liar/offender that you’re pissed - it lacks in long-term purpose. Sure, you threw a closetful of clothes in the hallway or got coffee with an ex, just for the quid-pro-quo of it. But did you really fix anything, either in your relationship or within yourself? Did you realize that you deserve to be treated better, determine what that looks like, and communicate that? No, you emptied a dresser and shelled out $4 for a latte and a trip down a dead-end memory lane.
Beyond that, there is a key practical consideration here: the law. Just. don’t. do. anything. illegal. Keying cars, a pop culture cliche and a key component of a (wonderfully angry) Carrie Underwood song, still happens. And if the Elin Nordegren-Tiger Woods fiasco of years passed is any indication, so does straight up retaliatory violence. I never really understood why TIger and his team of mistresses stole all the air, while the fact that Elin was allegedly wielding a GOLF CLUB received scant coverage.
What might be ok in a Jazmine Sullivan song does not fly with the police. And nothing says, “I’m not capable of adult relationships” quite like vandalism and violence.
In simple terms: Revenge is ineffective and childish, and it is also mean and vindictive. Making a concerted effort to hurt another person - emotionally, materially or otherwise - is wrong. I know, cheating and betrayal are hurtful, but they may not always be purposeful and premeditated. Revenge, by definition, is a calculated retaliation.
Relationships should not be a fight-fire-with-fire transaction. Someone may have hurt you, but that doesn’t give you the right to volley back an equal or greater pain. In fact, it makes you a bigger jerk. If you are wronged, work through it like an adult, or move on, get a new haircut and focus on other things. You and your future relationships will be better for it.