The Timeless Question: Is Infidelity Ever Justified? - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog


The Timeless Question: Is Infidelity Ever Justified?

Anna Karenina will make you ask yourself: what would I do in her situation? You just may find that your answer surprises you…


How would you feel if the person of your dreams fell wildly in love with you? How would you feel if every time you saw that person they gave you butterflies and made you laugh? How about if they were honest, kept no secrets, and lavished you with the perfect amount of attention and affection? If you were never bored with this person and that they always revved your engine?

Imagine that’s your reality, but your family and friends told you that you couldn’t be with this person. No, this isn’t a Romeo and Juliet tale; this is quite a different story.

The Timeless Question: Is Infidelity Ever Justified?

This is the story of Anna Karenina, the celebrated tale from the 1800s. It’s about a woman who finds perfect love while living in imperfect circumstances. It is the story of Anna who is both moral and immoral, sweet and sassy, a woman who seeks advice but who then refuses to listen to it. Anna sounds like the modern girl, sometimes polished and proper but other times raw and unrestrained. As you listen to her story narrated by Golden Globe winning actress Maggie Gyllenhaal on Audible (they’re offering a free 1 month trial), you’ll find yourself both rooting for Anna and against her.

Her marriage to the formally stiff, impassionate bureaucrat, Alexei Karenin has become the ultimate emblem of everything Karenina despises, as it is loveless and false. However, the tastefully reserved, elegant Karenina has no wishes to end her marriage or leave her beloved son… until she meets Alexei Vronsky, the dashing, passionate military officer. To Karenina, Vronsky represents a life she yearns for, filled with passion and affection.

You’ll feel as though you, or a friend, could be in her exact circumstances. The truth is, all of us have been where Anna is — maybe not with a husband, but certainly with a boyfriend (or two). We’ve all searched for true love, sometimes finding it but more often picking through fool’s gold. We’ve wondered when the perfect person–the one with looks, brains, personality, and utter sex appeal–will sweep us off our feet.

But very few of us stop and think about what happens when we do find this person. Do we immediately jump in if the circumstances aren’t right? Do we try to change the circumstances to make them right? What if we know that we have to do wrong for things to be right? Do we still do it?

Nowadays, if you find yourself in an unhappy marriage, you can get a divorce. There are no repercussions such as social exile or the possibility of estrangement from your children. Can you imagine living in the time of Anna Karenina where women married young, and yet divorce was all but unheard of, and women who stepped outside of their marriages became social pariahs? So many women must have missed out on true love.

The Timeless Question: Is Infidelity Ever Justified?

Anna Karenina will make you ask yourself these questions. Just like Anna, I feel that I’m a moral person, and yet I’m not so sure what I’d do if I felt similarly trapped. Listening to the story, it made me feel her emotions, question my approach to fidelity, and provided fodder for some enlightening conversations with my friends. As I listened to it narrated on Audible, I wondered: what would have happened if I met my hubby (who is fortunately the man of my dreams) while I was stuck in a loveless relationship? What would I have done?

What would you have done if you were in that situation? This story will help you answer that question.

Now imagine that the man you fall for is also married. Does the inevitability of destroying another woman’s life change things? Would you stuff those feelings down and ignore them, as Anna’s husband (much more poetically) requested she do? We may sometimes be tempted to deceive ourselves when it comes to relationships, convincing ourselves that the one we’re with is “the one,” even if we suspect, deep down, that something isn’t quite right. But is self-deception ever a good thing?

Another wrinkle in this story is the blatantly sexist double standard; while Anna is cast as a “depraved woman” and shunned from society, her lover is distraught, yes, but never overly apologetic. When his friend chides him, he jokingly calls his friend a “moralist,” implying that the entire situation is to be taken lightly, despite his wife’s inconsolability. This demonstrates the double standard that is still alive and well today; that “boys will be boys” but women who commit the same adulterous or sexual acts as men are labeled as a “slut,” “bitch,” or somehow socially devious and therefore an unworthy individual.

If you want to engage with an entertaining tale that will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you question right and wrong, look no further than Anna Karenina on Audible, my fav source to listen to the best books on the go (which is always!).

Speaking of audiobooks, I love listening to them while driving. On long plane, train or automobile rides, nothing is more absorbing than listening to a good book. When I’m sitting in traffic in an Uber, I find myself lost in a spectacular story rather than listening to the persistent sirens, construction noises and honking.

So the next time you’re looking for an escape, your next adventure is only a click away….

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible.
The opinions and text are all mine.

A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she spends most of her time traveling around Europe, with pied-a-terre's in Zurich, London, Milan and Lyon, France. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 53 Comments

  1. Joan Samonte

    infidelity is only justified in movies and make believe fairytales and pop songs. In the real world, it’s just dumb justifying infidelity.

  2. Nadia Lawrence

    A big NOPE!!! Cheating is cheating in whatever shape or form, so stop creating scenarios in your head to justify it. If you want to cheat, just don’t. End things first and have some respect for your relationship before committing to another. Cheating just plain dumb if you ask me.

  3. Nina Smith

    hell, no! cheating can never be justified. that’s just a dumb mindset, cheating is never an accident it’s always a choice. no matter how you sugar coat the circumstance it’s always cheating even if it is for revenge.

  4. Martha Gilmore

    They should cut that itch. If a man and a woman are committed to somebody else, then they should stick with their partners and will not cheat — that can only put them in big trouble. They should set aside their feelings and be more mindful of the consequences.

    • Sarah Parker

      Nobody is perfect. It’s so easy to say than do. Sometimes if it’s you who is in their shoes you may not be able to think straight and commit cheating. Life is evil actually. You cant have control over anything. I’m trying hard not to be like them but I mean who am I as well to judge?

  5. Satina E. Stebbins

    When people hear a story that tells about love, you can’t really avoid listening and going deep into it. We are wired to have and to fulfill this kind of longing . We can stay passive and wait or we can go actively seeking adventure. The author’s story stirred me up. I hope my story would be this exciting.

  6. Sonja Fallow

    So true, Hilary! Together with ‘War and peace’ and ‘Resurrection’, Tolstoy wrote three of the greatest novels ever. 🙂 – by the way, can I use Audible on my Kindle?

    • Roberta Bennett

      Yes, you can! I have it on my kindle, and it even allows you to directly download the books on your kindle over wifi. 🙂

  7. Teresa Tanner

    I have to admit I read this story because it has been made into a film and I wanted to read the book to gain a first impression rather than the film version.What can I say?!I usually read modern fiction and and I found the writing style of Tolstoy bit of a challenge. But I liked it enough that I’m actually considering to sign up on Audible to get the free audibook version. 🙂

  8. Sabrina Wellington

    I read Anna Karenina: In Half the Time (Compact Editions) instead because the original book was just too long for me, however that said this is a beautiful book and I can’t wait to get the audiobook!!

  9. Matilda Parker

    You’re well spot on, Hilary! ? This for me is the best of Tolstoy. The story is excellent and Tolstoy’s description of salon society in Tsarist Russia is fascinating. In a way Anna’s fall from grace is similar to bonfire of the vanities. Tolstoy does tend to set up each chapter with about 5-10 pages of desriptive prose on agricultural woes or other countryside news, but once we get back to the story it is excellent.

    • Winona Miller

      A lot of people claim this is “the best book ever written” and other such originalities, but I kindly disagree. Obviously Tolstoy does demonstrate a good grasp of his language and imagination. Apart from that the characters are truly despicable, each and everyone of those so called nobles and aristocrats. I was relieved when I finished it so now I can slate it when discussing it with friends.

  10. Dorothy Harris

    Why does work on a subscription, rather than à la carte model? Amazon sells books. iTunes sells audio files, both are really successful at selling by the piece. So why does the main purveyor of books that are audio files use a subscription model? I mean, I guess it works for them, but it really confuses me as a consumer.

    • Loraine Aguilar

      You can buy individual titles from Audible, but their prices are prohibitive. I think that Audible found, early on, that people wouldn’t pay those prices, and that most audiobook listeners are frequent listeners and want a subscription model. And it works better for me that way. ?

    • Debbie Jones

      For the same reason your gym charges you every month. To get a guaranteed revenue stream regardless of whether you use it or not. There’s a bonus to being a member as well: Their a la carte prices are discounted by 30%.

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