On Being “The Other Woman”

More Dear Prudie:

Dear Prudence,
I have always tried to be a kind person. However, I have lived my adult life in a way many people would disapprove of. During the last 11 years I have been a mistress of five married men. One had a long string of previous affairs. One was a friend for whom I had much tenderness and who told me he would rather have had me. One was a three-year relationship that caused deep feelings and deep distress. I do not regret these or the other adventures. I have not been the initiator of the affairs; the men have pursued me. Apart from one, I would not have wanted to live with these men. I do not know any of the five wives, and I am discreet. When people discuss adultery, the cheater and the other woman are often spoken of harshly as deceivers and egoists. I have never felt like either, and have never felt guilty. Is it possible the rest of the world that has a limited emotional imagination and cannot see that such affairs are meetings between two people who don’t want to hurt innocent partners, but who choose to explore their intimacy and chemistry in secret? Or have I somehow become morally crippled since I can so easily do something most people would chastise me for?

—The Other Woman

Dear Other,
Give the rest of the world more credit. Most people’s emotional imagination is able to grasp that affairs are precisely about delivering the kick of clandestine intimacy and chemistry. That they exist in a nether world of pure sex, without all the domestic thrill kills of bills, groceries, kids, and mortgages. Of course it’s silly to say there’s only one way to live and everyone should settle down to a monogamous relationship. (I don’t have to tell you, since your lovers are all people who vowed to do just that and then found it lacking.) But you sound proud of your furtive life—you’ll never be the deluded wife who doesn’t know that the real secret to her devoted marriage is that her husband has a girlfriend. Sure, you can say you were never the initiator. But at least acknowledge how much you enjoy the pursuit, how well-versed you are in sending signals you’re available. You’ve ruminated here about your choices, so I suggest you examine why you so easily have slipped into the role of other woman. Maybe you are afraid of being in a sustained, open relationship. Maybe you’ve become addicted to the narcotic of the illicit. Maybe you like the safety of knowing the affair is bound to end. Imagine that you are writing to me five years from now, and you’ve concluded affair No. 7, or 8. Perhaps in that time you will have started seeing these interludes as not so much tender and deep but tawdry and dishonorable. There are women who spend their whole lives as the other woman—until perhaps they realize that while men are still pursuing, they’re no longer pursuing them. If this is not a place you want to end up, take a long break from this role. Decide not to exchange those glances, or stop at just one drink, and see how it feels to create a different kind of life.

—Prudie

1. Shockingly, I actually think Prudie is mostly right here. There’s something strange going on when you have FIVE relationships with married men. That isn’t a “It just happened that I met the right person and he was married and oh crap” situation. The common thread here is you.

2. Sorry lady, but you are morally bankrupt. Being involved with a married person (with the usual caveats — married person doesn’t have an open relationship, etc) doesn’t make you a bad person, but you are surely doing a bad thing. You are doing a thing that would be very very hurtful to another human being if they found out about it. And yes, the blame lies with the piece of shit who’s doing the cheating, but the person doing the sexing with the cheating piece of shit (CPOS from here forward, to borrow Dan Savage’s lingo) is at the very least partaking in something extremely shitty. And when you partake in something extremely shitty that is extremely hurtful to an innocent party, you should feel bad. Even if doing the shitty thing feels good. If you show zero remorse for being involved in something that hurts someone else, you have a problem.

3. Just because the people doing the cheating don’t want to hurt their partners doesn’t mean that they aren’t hurting their partners. Romantic and sexual (and many other) relationships are built on trust. Breaking that trust is a major violation. Being party to that violation is not good.

4. You aren’t the person in the “monogamous” relationship, so no, it’s not your responsibility to make sure that all men everywhere don’t cheat. The person doing the cheating is the one who is violating the relationship trust and is the one to blame. And there are really poisonous cultural narratives about “the other woman” that blame women for men’s affairs while giving CPOS men a pass (of course women cheat too, pretty much as often as men, but the cultural conversation there is very different). However, that doesn’t mean that we need to give women who knowingly sleep with married men a pass. Are they temptresses who lure men away from marriage? No. Are the “other women” to blame for the affair? No. Are they still doing something morally wrong that deserves a bit of condemnation? Yes. (And for the record, I have been close with people on all sides of these triangles — so again I’ll emphasize that this isn’t to say that people who do X are terrible human beings, but rather, people do all sorts of morally wrong things and this is one of them. The “other woman” is probably not actually a bad person. But she’s still doing a bad thing, even if it’s not as bad as the bad thing that the CPOS is doing).

5. Is this all that complicated?

211 comments for “On Being “The Other Woman”

  1. Lizzie
    August 2, 2012 at 11:18 am

    I don’t think I understand why this woman wrote in to Prudie in the first place. I know sometimes people write in the hopes of having their viewpoint and/or actions validated, but I can’t imagine TOW was thinking that Prudie would be someone who’d do that. On the other hand, I also know that sometimes people write letters to advice columnists because they know what the right course of action and just need to hear an objective party say it out loud, but that doesn’t quite seem to fit TOW’s letter, either…

  2. August 2, 2012 at 11:42 am

    I agree with Prudie – so much of cheating is about escaping the mundane. “Oh, I have a mortgage with my partner – this just got a little too real, how about someone on the side?”

    A lot of people cheat because a relationship is dead in the water – but too many bonds exist, you can’t hope to have a clean break, or a break at all, for that matter.

    And on the other side, being the other woman (or man!) is often a good way to have intimacy without intimacy, or at least intimacy with an expiration date. It’s also about setting yourself up as That Hot Chick Whom Guys Would Risk Their Relationships For. Because you’re so terribly comfortable and secure with yourself, naturally.

    Sometimes, as one relationship falls apart, another will “rise from the ashes,” but there is no clear dividing line – especially when there are extenuating circumstances. You’re the other woman (or man, once again), but you end up sharing a bond, he breaks it off with her for real, and you ride off into the sunset.

    Not that I would know anything about any of those scenarios I just listed, of course.

  3. stop and think
    August 2, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Sorry, but short of a spouse pretending not to be married, both parties are to blame for an affair. And sleeping with 5 husbands does make her a bad person because at that point it is a trend, not a mistake.

  4. Drahill
    August 2, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    And sleeping with 5 husbands does make her a bad person because at that point it is a trend, not a mistake.

    Would it be as bad if the five men she was involved with all had open marriages or were part of consensual swapping (like swingers?) Not all husbands are cheating when they become involved with other women. Cheating only happens when somebody who has committed to a monogamous relationship cheats. And “bad person” is a subjective value judgment. So the term itself really holds no weight.

  5. August 2, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    And on the other side, being the other woman (or man!) is often a good way to have intimacy without intimacy, or at least intimacy with an expiration date.

    Everyone knows that that’s what college-aged guys/gals that live at least 100 miles away are for!

    ….just me??

  6. stop and think
    August 2, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Drahill,

    The writer signed her letter “the other woman”, self identifies as a mistress and uses the word affairs. She also mentions the word adultery and cheater. The 5 men and the 1 woman involved are not “swingers”.

    RE: Subjective judgement. Yup “bad person” is a subjective judgement. And since you think subjective judgments carry no weight please cease making them from this day forward ok?

  7. bleh
    August 2, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    “about setting yourself up as That Hot Chick Whom Guys Would Risk Their Relationships For”

    Yep, that is exactly it. Hystrionic Personality Disorder anyone?

    Some men, of course, are just CPOS, and the woman and her personality are not important.

  8. Beauzeaux
    August 2, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    The CPOS will say that his wife doesn’t know but many times the wife DOES know but hasn’t decided to do something about it.

    Five affairs with married men didn’t just happen. I had an affair with a married man many years ago. Only one and I regret it. Never repeated the experience because it wasn’t right and it didn’t even FEEL right.

  9. Miriam
    August 2, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    This lady sure does sound like she has intimacy/excuse-mongering issues. Setting this specific situation aside and borrowing more from Dan Savage, I wanted to put in a plug for the cheating-is-not-always-wrong position. Consider the following situations:

    – Partner #1 has come down with a debilitating illness and is incapable of or uninterested in sex. Partner #2 is #1’s primary advocate/caregiver/support and also has sexual/intimacy needs that must be met in order to stay and remain sane; it would shatter #1 to find out that #2 is meeting them on the side. #2 gets them met, is discreet, and is able to carry on being a loving and supportive partner to #1.

    – Partners #1 and #2 have a cordial, companionship-filled, but totally sexless relationship and have kids or other reasons that divorce/separation is prohibitively undesirable. Partners have tried to work on it, communicated, counseled, etc., but partner #1 is totally uninterested in sex, unwilling to work on it, and also irrationally negative about openness. #2 gets needs met, is discreet, and is able to carry on being a supportive companion and/or co-parent to #1.

    – Partner #1 has an overwhelmingly important, identity-defining sexual kink that, when indulged, poses zero or near-zero health risk (think foot fetish, non-sexual D/S play, adult baby, etc.) to shared partners and for some reason wasn’t thoroughly vetted before a lifelong commitment was made. Partner #2 totally uninterested in/disgusted by said kink and 100% closed to openness. Divorce/separation prohibitively undesirable for some reason as in previous situation. Partner #1 gets need met, is discreet, and is able to carry on being a supportive partner to #2.

    Is honesty, transparency, communication, and honoring the commitment you made better 99% of the time? Of course. Is “cheating” occasionally a gray area where sexual infidelity is the lesser of two evils? Yup. It’s highly unlikely that *all five* (geez) of this lady’s philandering lovers had great reasons to get their needs met outside of their supposedly monogamous relationship, but it’s possible that not all of them were CPOSs. (Aaaand cue the outrage.)

    • August 2, 2012 at 1:23 pm

      Is honesty, transparency, communication, and honoring the commitment you made better 99% of the time? Of course. Is “cheating” occasionally a gray area where sexual infidelity is the lesser of two evils? Yup. It’s highly unlikely that *all five* (geez) of this lady’s philandering lovers had great reasons to get their needs met outside of their supposedly monogamous relationship, but it’s possible that not all of them were CPOSs. (Aaaand cue the outrage.)

      It’s possible, sure. And I agree with Dan that cheating is sometimes the lesser of two evils. But I see this crap trotted out all the time, when the reality is that the situations in which cheating is the lesser of two evils are incredibly rare situations. The vast majority of people who cheat are just CPOS.

  10. Drahill
    August 2, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Uh, I never pointed out that subjective judgments are wrong. I pointed out that subjective judgments vary. You came here and said “She IS a bad person.” You stated it as a matter of FACT, not of opinion. However, it is very much your opinion. You may want to note that your opinions are not facts from here on out. Perhaps a nice disclaimer? If I were going to say my opinions, I’d say “To me” or “I think” or “I am of the opinion that.” See how easy that is?

    And, uh, you are totally aware that historically, “mistress” was the term for a woman who had relations with a man with his wife’s knowledge, correct? And uh, a close reading of the letter indicates that 3 of her relationships were with men who were cheating in a monogamous context – she says nothing as to the other 2. Maybe it’s just my lawyer-ness talking, but you can only read what’s there.

    And my point was that you said “sleeping with five husbands.” Not all non-mongamous husbands are cheaters. Thus, there are situations in which sleeping with a married man is not cheating at all. Perhaps you should refrain from blanket statements from here on out? It may help.

  11. August 2, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    This brings up an interesting question:

    How do you talk to a friend who is on the verge of becoming a habitual “Other Woman”? I have a couple of female friends who do this. I love them dearly and would never think of them as bad people, but this is a really horrible thing to do to someone and to yourself.
    I was once in a situation where I was friends with all three people in a love triangle and wound up being each person’s crying shoulder. It was incredibly awkward.

  12. pheenobarbidoll
    August 2, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Know who defines cheating in a relationship? The person being cheated on.

    If I consider X as cheating, and my spouse is aware of this and does it behind my back ( euphemistically called discreet) then he’s a cheating piece of shit. Being discreet requires dishonestly. It’s a fancy word for sneaky.

    There’s nothing loving or supportive about it.

  13. Rhoanna
    August 2, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Miriam: The problem with those scenarios is what happens if the non-cheating partner finds out? Does that prohibitively undesirable divorce then happen, in an even less amicable fashion? While it might seem like the lesser of two evils, would it still be so if the other partner found out? (Obviously, sometimes it still would be. But it’s something to keep in mind beyond just having one’s needs met.)

  14. olympia
    August 2, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    miga: I think in your shoes I’d tell the friends I disagree with their behavior and ask not to be told about it. Of course, it’s easy for me to say this, having never been in your shoes! I do think that some people get off on the drama -and the attention they get when they talk about it – of being in an illicit relationship. Not giving them attention may dampen their enthusiasm a bit.

  15. Miriam
    August 2, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Jill: You’re totally right that CPOSs totally always try to rationalize their CPOS behavior (Dan’s column is full of ’em, and he usually calls them out). It’s just worth acknowledging that it’s not always black and white, even though it usually is. I think we’re in agreement :)

    Rhoanna: Yep. That’s why discretion is super important in those situations. But IMO potential decades of sexual unfulfillment and lack of intimacy make an even worse crack-up sometimes a risk worth taking.

  16. Drahill
    August 2, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Being discreet requires dishonestly. It’s a fancy word for sneaky.

    Eh, I can cut that part a break. Even if one’s spouse knew and was okay with it, having relationships with more than one partner is absolutely not societally approved of (in most cases). Even the few poly friends I have talk a lot about discretion and can’t be openly poly. Its not an accepted lifestyle.

  17. Miriam
    August 2, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    If I consider X as cheating, and my spouse is aware of this and does it behind my back ( euphemistically called discreet) then he’s a cheating piece of shit.

    Pheenobarbidoll, from the cheated-on partner’s perspective, absolutely. But how would you advise a person to, taking the first example, stay sane while caring for one’s partner who is totally incapable of/uninterested in sexual activity but also completely devastated by the idea of one’s partner getting needs met elsewhere? Would you tell that person to never have sexual contact ever again? Sex is a very important need to many people, and to my mind unilaterally ending another person’s sex life with no sense of hope or potential is an unfair and unrealistic expectation.

    It seems crueler to me for the caregiving partner to 1) leave that person in order to have sex “honorably,” or 2) be honest and tell that person that they need to get their needs met elsewhere to stay sane and therefore wound the sick partner further. I’ll concede that there will be a lot of disagreement on this point (my fiance disagrees with me actually), but sometimes the truth hurts more than is necessary. I get that the “cheating” partner is also making a unilateral decision – to “protect” their sick partner from the truth, and therefore taking away their right to make their own decisions when faced with it – but I also think that this is not always the wrong choice to make.

    • x
      August 26, 2012 at 3:23 pm

      the problem is that assumes a “caregiving” partner. Prior to my husband having his affair, the caregiving was decidely lacking in favor of computer games and porn. He’d then drop in bed with an “I’m here! Whoo Hoo! (Service me!)” attitude and wonder why it was such a big turn off?!?? I daresay he didn’t get his “sexual needs” met.

      As to TOW, she was OPENLY advocating for him to get a divorce. Yes, she’s a POS, too. And, as far as I can tell, got her hooks into another husband now that mine got his head out of his a**.

      BOTH should be held responsible. In any other scenario (think contract law, people!), she’d be an accessory to the crime.

  18. zuzu
    August 2, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    miga: I think in your shoes I’d tell the friends I disagree with their behavior and ask not to be told about it.

    That doesn’t always work. /bitter voice of experience.

    Actually, in my case, the friend was the cheater. And she was just SO EXCITED about her affair that she wouldn’t shut the fuck up about it, even though her husband (who was a great guy) was sitting 10 feet away when she was telling me this. I finally had to give up a group of friends because I couldn’t live with this information, and I wound up looking like a flake because I couldn’t tell anyone why I wasn’t around anymore.

  19. August 2, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    I don’t think the letter writer is necessarily a bad person, because she could be a good person in other aspects of her like, but she is a huge fucking asshole. For the record, all the men that cheated with her are even bigger fucking assholes. Cheating is wrong (and let’s not play semantics games, here; Cheating means cheating. If the relationship is open and parties are aware and consenting, it’s not cheating. This obviously is). She should feel like absolute shit, and trying to act like “Well I’M not in a monogamous relationship, it’s not MY responsibility to keep these men from cheating” reads like a child trying to make excuses for shitty behavior. You are not responsible for anyone else’s choices, but you are sure as shit responsible for your own.

  20. Kristen J.
    August 2, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Hmmm….

    1) Action A causes harm to a third party.
    2) She knows Action A causes such harm.
    3) She has no excuse or justification for Action A.

    So she knowingly causing harm to someone without excuse or justification. Repeatedly. Not okay.

  21. delurking
    August 2, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Oh god I hate people like this. Yes, if you are having affairs you are a shitty person! An ex friend of mine was cheating on his wife because she had gained weight and he wasn’t attracted to her anymore. The wife was a perfectly lovely women who did not diserve to get cheated on. The OW or OM is nothing but an enabler and most of them seem to think there behavior is just so cute.

    YEah, i have pretty harsh opionions on people like this

    BTW to the person who said oh but what if the betrayed spouse is really sick and can’t meet the spouses sexual needs..
    masterbate then…if your sexual needs are more important then hurting your partner, that really says something about you.

  22. delurking
    August 2, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Oh god I hate people like this. Yes, if you are having affairs you are a shitty person! An ex friend of mine was cheating on his wife because she had gained weight and he wasn’t attracted to her anymore. The wife was a perfectly lovely women who did not diserve to get cheated on. The OW or OM is nothing but an enabler and most of them seem to think there behavior is just so cute.

    YEah, i have pretty harsh opionions on people like this

    BTW to the person who said oh but what if the betrayed spouse is really sick and can’t meet the spouses sexual needs..
    masterbate then…if your sexual needs are more important then hurting your partner, that really says something about you.

  23. August 2, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Uh, I never pointed out that subjective judgments are wrong. I pointed out that subjective judgments vary. You came here and said “She IS a bad person.” You stated it as a matter of FACT, not of opinion. However, it is very much your opinion.

    I mean… wasn’t it obvious that she was expressing her opinion? Of course “X is bad” is subjective. You’ve never said “That was a good meal”? “That was a terrible movie”? “You look great”? “That smells nice”? It’s a little hard to believe–to me–that you’re so careful to always indicate subjective statements with “To me” or “I think” or “I am of the opinion that.”

    I am of the opinion that it’s a little silly to expect that every single opinion statement will be indicated that way. I think that it was obvious she was expressing her opinion.

  24. August 2, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    I define cheating pretty simply: deceiving your partner about your sexual behavior with other people. If you do that, for any reason, you are a CPOS and if you are knowingly involved with a CPOS then you are a CPOSA (cheating piece of shit’s accomplice). There are times when being a CPOS is the lesser of two evils but those are exceedingly rare.

    BTW, it’s quite possible to be a CPOS in an open or poly relationship (i.e. violating agreed upon rules with your partner).

  25. zuzu
    August 2, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    But how would you advise a person to, taking the first example, stay sane while caring for one’s partner who is totally incapable of/uninterested in sexual activity but also completely devastated by the idea of one’s partner getting needs met elsewhere? Would you tell that person to never have sexual contact ever again? Sex is a very important need to many people, and to my mind unilaterally ending another person’s sex life with no sense of hope or potential is an unfair and unrealistic expectation.

    It seems crueler to me for the caregiving partner to 1) leave that person in order to have sex “honorably,” or 2) be honest and tell that person that they need to get their needs met elsewhere to stay sane and therefore wound the sick partner further.

    Being sick doesn’t give you license to manipulate or guilt your partner into a sex-free existence bound to you. It’s cruel to expect your partner to stay with you and care for your needs while not allowing their sexual needs to be filled. If the cared-for partner isn’t generous enough to give their blessing to the caregiver’s sexual needs, why should the caregiver be generous enough to stay?

    I mean, you’re advocating that the caregiver resign him/herself to a sexless existence of caring for a sick person who doesn’t care for his/her needs. Kind of Victorian.

    • x
      August 26, 2012 at 3:28 pm

      Agreed. The issue then isn’t the sex, but the CHEATING (which is a trust issue). When it’s going on behind someone’s back, it’s CHEATING. When there’s LYING about it, it’s cheating.

      If I was terminally ill, I’d give my spouse a pass for that. The sex was NEVER the biggest offense of the affair. The betrayal of trust (to me, and our children and our families) was.

  26. stop and think
    August 2, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    ” Know who defines cheating in a relationship? The person being cheated on.”

    Yup as long as that person’s definition references something sexual, otherwise it’s in the category of dishonesty.

  27. August 2, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    I don’t know… sexual contact is typically what we think of as cheating, but I can think of people who’ve been emotionally cheating on their partners. They might not be sleeping with anyone else, but I would still consider their behavior cheating.

  28. Drahill
    August 2, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Roymac, of course I have. But the distinction is that saying any of what you cited is that those are not value-based judgments. Saying “that is a good meal” is based upon my palate, which is mine alone. And my opinion of that particular meal will not have any far-reaching implications about, well, anything. “Bad person” is among the strongest of value judgments that deeply impacts how one treats others, interacts with them and deigns how they should be treated. It is also deeply, profoundly tied to one’s own values. So yes, I think (see what I did there!) that such a loaded judgment should be entered into with the utmost caution – just like other serious value judgments. You really compared apples and oranges. Not all subjective standards are created equal.

  29. stop and think
    August 2, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    “I don’t think the letter writer is necessarily a bad person, because she could be a good person in other aspects of her life”

    You know bad people are capable of good actions right? Still doesn’t make them not bad. Read her letter again. She’s a bad person.
    Never felt guilt. Refusal to accept agency (“I never was the initiator”) Lack of empathy for the wives.

    Multiple affairs over a long period of time. This is not a phase. This was not once. Adultery is her lifestyle.

  30. August 2, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    @Stop and think, we actually pretty much agree, so I don’t think I have an issue with you. I take cheating very seriously, and my first response is usually “You fucking suck you shitty asshole.” I said that because being the other woman five times is incredibly horrible and my first thought is that that person probably is a bad person, but that someone who does not isn’t necessarily all bad. That’s it. I’m actually not giving this person a pass or condoning her actions or anything at all like that. Ok.

  31. Drahill
    August 2, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    You know bad people are capable of good actions right?

    So..hold up. She is bad person who engaged (potentially) in good acts. So, correct if I’m wrong, but what precludes somebody from being a Good Person who does Bad Acts? If your suggestion is true, than why can the opposite not be as true? And what precluded her from being a Good Person who does Bad Acts?

    (I am not trying to derail this thread at all. Just trying to hash out the logic in this statement).

  32. stop and think
    August 2, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    I don’t know… sexual contact is typically what we think of as cheating, but I can think of people who’ve been emotionally cheating on their partners. They might not be sleeping with anyone else, but I would still consider their behavior cheating.

    You added something that wasn’t there. “contact”! I never said “contact” And if those emotional relationships you describe don’t include sexual desire… it ain’t cheating.

  33. bleh
    August 2, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Is it cheating if it “don’t include sexual desire” but it takes a partner’s time and energy and emotional intimacy away from the partner and into another arena? What if it is done discreetly (sneakily) despite said lack of sexual desire? I wonder where most people draw their lines.

  34. stop and think
    August 2, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    So..hold up. She is bad person who engaged (potentially) in good acts. So, correct if I’m wrong, but what precludes somebody from being a Good Person who does Bad Acts? If your suggestion is true, than why can the opposite not be as true? And what precluded her from being a Good Person who does Bad Acts?

    (I am not trying to derail this thread at all. Just trying to hash out the logic in this statement).

    Drahill,

    I’m not interested in explaining to you. We have very little common understanding. You can’t even accept the designation of “mistress” given it’s 2012 and the writer supplied so much context.

  35. stop and think
    August 2, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Is it cheating if it “don’t include sexual desire” but it takes a partner’s time and energy and emotional intimacy away from the partner and into another arena?

    Lol. That describes perfectly the careers of two former girlfriends. It wasn’t cheating, though.
    And behind one’s back is “dishonest” not cheating. Dishonest breaks trust too, but it’s not cheating.

  36. pheenobarbidoll
    August 2, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Pheenobarbidoll, from the cheated-on partner’s perspective, absolutely. But how would you advise a person to, taking the first example, stay sane while caring for one’s partner who is totally incapable of/uninterested in sexual activity but also completely devastated by the idea of one’s partner getting needs met elsewhere? Would you tell that person to never have sexual contact ever again? Sex is a very important need to many people, and to my mind unilaterally ending another person’s sex life with no sense of hope or potential is an unfair and unrealistic expectation.

    Have they never heard of masturbation?

    I must have missed the part in marital vows when one promises to love and honor their partner….except when they can’t get laid. That in sickness and in health didn’t have an asterisk beside it saying
    *unless that sickness means you don’t get to fuck.

    You made a promise. You took vows. You made a commitment. It’s not unfair or unrealistic to be held to that.

    Someone being sick isn’t purposely ending your sex life and it’s pretty damn selfish to spin it that way. Not to mention immature as hell.

    to “protect” their sick partner from the truth,

    This is called lying.

  37. August 2, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    You added something that wasn’t there. “contact”! I never said “contact” And if those emotional relationships you describe don’t include sexual desire… it ain’t cheating.

    That’s fair. Sorry about that; I didn’t mean to misattribute.

  38. olympia
    August 2, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    zuzu- that sucks. Your (former?) friend sounds like a jerk. Maybe just being/acting completely disinterested in tales of cheating exploits might be effective? I don’t know, just brainstorming.

  39. zuzu
    August 2, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Maybe just being/acting completely disinterested in tales of cheating exploits might be effective? I don’t know, just brainstorming.

    Oh, believe me, I tried. I got up and walked away from her; she followed me. I went and sat near her husband; she ambushed me in the bathroom. I threatened to tell her husband; she knew I wouldn’t, because I didn’t want to hurt him. And I couldn’t tell the friend/coworker I’d met them through, either. So, I had to leave.

    Have they never heard of masturbation?

    I must have missed the part in marital vows when one promises to love and honor their partner….except when they can’t get laid. That in sickness and in health didn’t have an asterisk beside it saying
    *unless that sickness means you don’t get to fuck.

    You made a promise. You took vows. You made a commitment. It’s not unfair or unrealistic to be held to that.

    You don’t have to stay in a marriage that’s not working for you. Even if you took a vow.

    And it’s pretty damn selfish for a sick person to demand so much self-sacrifice from someone they’re already asking to care for them. Masturbation isn’t enough.

  40. Lolagirl
    August 2, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    You don’t have to stay in a marriage that’s not working for you. Even if you took a vow.

    And it’s pretty damn selfish for a sick person to demand so much self-sacrifice from someone they’re already asking to care for them. Masturbation isn’t enough.

    If my spouse was so ill that he wasn’t able to partake in teh sex I would be so out of my mind with worry that it would never occur to me to get butthurt about the (hopefully) temporary loss of our marital congress. Seriously, how does this conversation even go in a way that isn’t terribly one-sided? Honey, about that chemotherapy and radiation business. Now that you can’t keep me happy in the sex department I’m either going to need a divorce or we have to open things up so that I can get some on the side?

    Personal anecdote time. I got put on sexless bedrest last year for 6 weeks because of preterm labor (because sex can often times bring on and hasten labor.) I certainly didn’t begrudge my husband taking care of business by taking matters into his own hands. Is anyone here really suggesting it would have been perfectly acceptable for my husband to insist he should either be entitled to an extracurricular or two, or a divorce even because of my no-fly zone? Does the fact that it was only temporary change the equation, or does it not matter?

    Or am I just completely out of my depth with this conversation?

  41. stop and think
    August 2, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    @Lolagirl

    It was 6 weeks. Only 6 weeks. Keep in mind that I’m not supporting the cheaters, but 6 weeks versus 2 years (or however long) is not a fair comparison.

  42. pheenobarbidoll
    August 2, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    You don’t have to stay in a marriage that’s not working for you. Even if you took a vow.

    No, you don’t.

    And it’s pretty damn selfish for a sick person to demand so much self-sacrifice from someone they’re already asking to care for them. Masturbation isn’t enough.

    No, it’s not selfish for the person you CHOSE to marry to expect you to hold to those vows if you want to remain married.

    Not hurting your spouse via infidelity isn’t self sacrifice.

    You have a choice. Cheating isn’t the noble choice unless you somehow think destroying someone’s trust (among other things) is noble. And if you have to LIE in order to save their feelings, then you damn well know it’s wrong.

  43. pheenobarbidoll
    August 2, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Seriously, how does this conversation even go in a way that isn’t terribly one-sided? Honey, about that chemotherapy and radiation business. Now that you can’t keep me happy in the sex department I’m either going to need a divorce or we have to open things up so that I can get some on the side?

    Seriously.

    And if my husband said that crap to me I’d honestly wonder if he married me because of his dick. Because last I checked, sex was only 1 part of a relationship. And if his dick is more important than I am, than the relationship we’ve built together, the trust and intimacy that exists….he can go fuck himself.

    He can also go fuck whoever else wants a shitheel like that in their bed, but he won’t be married to me while he’s doing it.

  44. zuzu
    August 2, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    There you go moving the goalposts again, pheenobarbidoll. Now you’re saying you don’t have to stay married to someone if it’s not working for you, but earlier, you said:

    It seems crueler to me for the caregiving partner to 1) leave that person in order to have sex “honorably,” or 2) be honest and tell that person that they need to get their needs met elsewhere to stay sane and therefore wound the sick partner further.

    You’re not leaving the caregiver many options here, other than masturbation.

    I agree with you that cheating is cheating. But it’s better to leave than cheat. But it’s also unrealistic to expect a caregiving spouse to ignore their own needs long-term AND stay in the marriage out of loyalty or vows.

  45. pheenobarbidoll
    August 2, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    There you go moving the goalposts again, pheenobarbidoll. Now you’re saying you don’t have to stay married to someone if it’s not working for you, but earlier, you said:

    Oh bullshit zuzu. Anyone can leave a marriage. Divorce isn’t illegal and no one is a slave. That someone unhappy in their marriage is free to divorce is common knowledge and I wasn’t aware had to be specified.

  46. pheenobarbidoll
    August 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    By the way, *I* did not say

    It seems crueler to me for the caregiving partner to 1) leave that person in order to have sex “honorably,” or 2) be honest and tell that person that they need to get their needs met elsewhere to stay sane and therefore wound the sick partner further.

    Miriam did.

  47. stop and think
    August 2, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    pheenobarbidoll,

    Not into cheating, but If I was a 20 year old soldier back from Iraq who had lost sexual function for forever. I think I could find it in my heart to suggest my wife seek outside companionship with a gigolo rather than masturbate for the next 60 years.

    The most important vow is love.

  48. August 2, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    So…I guess I’m the only one here so far who has both the non-monogamous and disabled boxes checked? Okay.

    My two cents: Both my partner and I live with chronic diseases that, at any point, could render us incapable of having sex for weeks at a shot. We’ve also both been non-monogamous since the beginning of our relationship, largely because of dovetailing kinks. Now, I hope to fucking god that neither of us ever gets THAT sick, but if we get so sick that it’s months or years of not being able to have sex, the other partner would definitely be free to find release elsewhere. Fuck, we negotiated non-monogamy explicitly because we had these concerns in mind, in addition to kink stuff. Bam, instant lack of anxiety over a real possibility of severe marital discord. I understand that others with chronic diseases, or ones struck down by sudden ones, may not be as amenable to this as I am, but for me, the idea that my getting sick=my wife never getting any ever again until I’m better would put a whole lot of stress on me mentally and physically to recover and be “good enough” (a major stressor for me given I have anxiety-induced insomnia which leads to fibromyalgia flare-ups and that’s a cycle of fucking doom, that is). It’s worth considering from that angle, I think, though, as I said, others will probably disagree/agree/conditionally agree. PWD aren’t a monolith.

  49. Li
    August 2, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    So…I guess I’m the only one here so far who has both the non-monogamous and disabled boxes checked? Okay.

    Well, I do, but I’m lurking on this one so far.

  50. pheenobarbidoll
    August 2, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    I think I could find it in my heart to suggest my wife seek outside companionship with a gigolo rather than masturbate for the next 60 years.

    The most important vow is love.

    What’s wrong with masturbation? What’s wrong with helping her with it if sexual function is the only obstacle? Your mouth stop working too? Fingers? Tongue?

    Being in the same room, watching and enjoying while participating verbally?

    Really people. There are other ways to have a sexual relationship with a disabled/ill spouse beyond p in v.

    They get the genital stimulation, you both get the intimacy.

  51. Lolagirl
    August 2, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    I agree with you that cheating is cheating. But it’s better to leave than cheat. But it’s also unrealistic to expect a caregiving spouse to ignore their own needs long-term AND stay in the marriage out of loyalty or vows.

    Part of the reason that I’m uncomfortable with this is similar to the sort of nonsense in that Braly article Jill posted about last week. Specifically, that women are supposed to be the sexual receptacles for men and that men, who of course can not under any circumstances be expected to control their baser sexual instincts, are entitled to expect and demand sex and boobies from their wives without any input from her and whenever they want.

    I’m having a really hard time with the idea that my husband wouldn’t put aside his own personal wants and even his sex drive while I was undergoing a medical crisis that put me out of sexual commission. Because I can’t envision anything more demoralizing than say facing a life threatening illness like cancer and then having to either give my husband a divorce or put up with him getting some on the side.

    Because I would totally put my stuff on hold in a half a heartbeat if he were to face a medical crisis that put sex off limits.

    And I agree with Pheno about the for better or worse thing with our marriage vows. We promised each other to be partners through everything and everything, not just the fun stuff but the crap stuff too. It’s not just words that we said so that we could wear pretty outfits and have a fun party, that stuff was said because we believed it.

    That said, what others decide to do for themselves I’m not going to second guess or judge. As long as both partners openly and freely agree to opening things up I have no judgment. I just take some serious issue with being told that of course I should give my husband and out if he couldn’t get sex from me long term and that I’m a heel for feeling otherwise.

  52. Li
    August 2, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Pheeno:

    Maybe I’ve fucked my back and I’m in constant pain. Maybe I’m on meds or treatment that make me feel like I’m going to vomit all the time. Maybe I’m having a depressive episode that means I have no sex drive or an anxiety episode that means the idea of someone touching me sexually or me touching them freaks me out. And those are just the ones I’ve experienced personally. There are lots of reasons why disability or illness might rule out sex entirely.

  53. pheenobarbidoll
    August 2, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    There are lots of reasons why disability or illness might rule out sex entirely.

    Sure, but there are also a lot that don’t. Mentioning masturbation is met with how unfair that is, which, IMO is just about the most pitiful excuse for a reason to cheat that I’ve ever heard.

    Sorry, but if sex is something you (universal use) would be willing to destroy someone’s trust over, then you’ve got bigger issues than not getting laid. And if you need to “protect” them from the truth, you know it’s not right. If you have to lie to do it, you shouldn’t be doing it.

  54. pheenobarbidoll
    August 2, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    Because I can’t envision anything more demoralizing than say facing a life threatening illness like cancer and then having to either give my husband a divorce or put up with him getting some on the side.

    Nothing like hearing you’ve just been a piece of ass for someone you trusted. Add to it implication that you’re a fucking burden who can’t even put out…yeah. Fun times.

  55. Tracey
    August 2, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    I think it is sad that some people don’t consider questions like the ones raised in the thread before making promises of monogamy. I know that I do not want a monogamous relationship, but if I did I hope I would have the foresight to either consider the possibility of decreased libido/inability to have sex, or be willing to talk honestly with my partner if such a situation ever came up. I also think that the generic wedding vows are entered into too lightly out of tradition rather than discussion about what people actually want from a relationship.
    And the narrative around cheating on someone “for their own good” seems to serve as a mask for selfishness and moral cowardice. The partner can decide for themselves if they are willing to accept the arrangement, if they would want to stay legally married for health care benefits but consider the relationship over, or if they want a divorce. If the partner is capable of making decisions, there is no excuse to cheat on them. A lot of the Savage-rhetoric revolves around it being okay as long as you don’t get caught – that is still deceiving your partner and betraying their trust. It is also taking the ability to make decisions about the relationship away from them.

    As for the OP, I agree. It upsets me to no end when women are called home-wreckers or considered as much responsible for a relationship as the man doing the cheating. No one outside of that relationship is responsible for it, nor has the other person broken promises of fidelity. They are still however acting like total asses by doing something they know might hurt another person, even if they themselves made that person no promises.

  56. Tracey
    August 2, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    To clarify, I think cheating is often an act of moral cowardice because it often boils down to this:
    – Person is afraid of facing the consequences of their actions
    – Person is trying to make themselves out to be in the right when they
    know they are hurting their partner
    – Person is trying to reinforce their own self-righteousness by
    arguing they are lying to protect their partner.

    If you have no problem betraying your partner’s trust because you aren’t willing to accept they might leave you, then you really don’t have a lot of ground to argue about how you care about protecting their feelings.

  57. August 2, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Well, I do, but I’m lurking on this one so far.

    *offers high-five*

    What’s wrong with masturbation? What’s wrong with helping her with it if sexual function is the only obstacle? Your mouth stop working too? Fingers? Tongue? Really people. There are other ways to have a sexual relationship with a disabled/ill spouse beyond p in v.

    Pheeno, you know what, when I’m having a flare-up, you’re damn right my hands feel like they’re trapped in a vise made entirely of molten lava…and my jaw, and my shoulders, and my hips… so yeah, name a sex act that can bring someone even close to orgasm and I’m probably too fucked up to manage it with any success.

    And frankly, I find this idea you have that disabled people or their partners just don’t think hard enough to get around their disabilities somewhat insulting, considering how hard we have to think and how creative/accommodating we have to be just to have a decent amount of sex while I’m well.

  58. Lolagirl
    August 2, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    I also think that the generic wedding vows are entered into too lightly out of tradition rather than discussion about what people actually want from a relationship.

    Please, don’t speak for others on this when you can’t know such a thing with certainty. I explicity stated in my earlier comment that my husband and I were very deliberate with the vows said at our wedding, and Pheno has indicated similarly. Sure, mileage may vary and all that, but there making such a broad, sweeping generalization like that without facts to back them up is pretty faulty logic.

  59. pheenobarbidoll
    August 2, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Pheeno, you know what, when I’m having a flare-up, you’re damn right my hands feel like they’re trapped in a vise made entirely of molten lava…and my jaw, and my shoulders, and my hips… so yeah, name a sex act that can bring someone even close to orgasm and I’m probably too fucked up to manage it with any success.

    And you have a pre agreed upon arrangement.

    So it’s not cheating. BOTH of you agreed.

    And frankly, I find this idea you have that disabled people or their partners just don’t think hard enough to get around their disabilities somewhat insulting, considering how hard we have to think and how creative/accommodating we have to be just to have a decent amount of sex while I’m well.

    I’m responding to people throwing out what if scenarios, so you’re damn fucking right I’m going to throw out what if answers.

    Don’t like that? Tough shit.

  60. pheenobarbidoll
    August 2, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    so ye

    ah, name a sex act that can bring someone even close to orgasm and I’m probably too fucked up to manage it with any success.

    Also- last I checked, one doesn’t actually require 2 people in the room for masturbation. There are ways that involve 2 people and ways that don’t. It’s not rocket science. Finding someone outside the relationship isn’t the only option either but it’s been presented as the only option.

    So I’m giving what if generic answers to what if generic questions. Feel free to tell people to be more specific if you want more specific responses.

    Or, continue to focus on me and ignore that the conversation has been framed (NOT by me either) as

    Fucking someone else

    or

    No sex life AT ALL EVAAAAAA!!!

  61. Tracey
    August 2, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Please, don’t speak for others on this when you can’t know such a thing with certainty. I explicity stated in my earlier comment that my husband and I were very deliberate with the vows said at our wedding, and Pheno has indicated similarly. Sure, mileage may vary and all that, but there making such a broad, sweeping generalization like that without facts to back them up is pretty faulty logic.

    I realize a lot of people are explicit with them, but not everyone is. And I’d argue that people who reach a point where their partner is unable to or does not want to have sex with them in a certain matter/at all, and use that as an excuse to cheat may (and who took those particular vows) not have had a candid discussion around them or if those were even the vows they wanted. I also think that there is a culture in the U.S. that shames certain types of sexuality and relationships to the point where people are afraid to bring them up for fear of rejection, and in some cases may later try to get those desires met outside the marriage, despite having made promises of complete monogamy.
    When I say people, I realize it doesn’t apply to all people and a lot of relationship members do put a lot of thought into what the vows and promises they make to each other mean and if they can really follow through on them. But not everyone does, and in the U.S. there are a certain set of vows that are seen as “default” unless specifically augmented or the parties write their own.

  62. August 2, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Also- last I checked, one doesn’t actually require 2 people in the room for masturbation. There are ways that involve 2 people and ways that don’t. It’s not rocket science. Finding someone outside the relationship isn’t the only option either but it’s been presented as the only option.

    Fair enough, which, as I said in my first comment, is exactly why I opened up my relationship gladly. I still would have if I were perfectly abled, see: kinks, but I think it adds a layer of reassurance for me.

    However, if sex, as an act of connection/intimacy/collaborative effort doesn’t appeal to you enough that masturbation seems a perfectly adequate alternative, I don’t think sex as a whole appeals to you enough to be invested in this conversation….?

    (Personally, my take on a closed relationship with a severely disabled partner who refuses to open it, from the caregiver’s POV, would be to leave them, or propose a caregiving arrangement after a divorce which invalidates the monogamy clause in the wedding vows. Caregiving accomplished, sex life accessible. From the disabled person’s POV, I’d rather they left me than cheated on me.

    But that might be my intense hatred of cheating speaking, again, just my personal view.)

  63. August 2, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    To nitpick, though: masturbation is a sex act, but masturbation does not a sex life constitute, or else I was one slutty-ass 11yo despite the fact that I was 22 when I so much as kissed with tongue.

  64. Tracey
    August 2, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    However, I also realize that by not being more specific I may have cast people who do use those vows as being all in a league of people who do not think seriously enough about their vows. It would not have been too much of me to qualify that statement, and to also note that some people are dead serious about the vows going in, but find that they honestly can not adhere to them despite having every intention of doing so, and striving to do so for most of the relationship.

  65. Drahill
    August 2, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    We have very little common understanding. You can’t even accept the designation of “mistress” given it’s 2012 and the writer supplied so much context.

    Uh, you do know that mistress has no solid definition other than a woman whose with a married man? And you do know that it largely still means what it did before? In many European languages, that is still what it means. But please, don’t let me stop you. You’re on your roll. Even with your superior grasp of logic, like what you said above. And failed to answer.

  66. August 2, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    (to append to my comment above: I self-identify as a slut, mostly because it’s a giant uplifted middle finger to my culture of origin and the sex-shaming bullshit it fed me that fucked my brain up for a long time. I used it reflexively, I didn’t intend to slut-shame others. Sorry.)

  67. pheenobarbidoll
    August 2, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Fair enough, which, as I said in my first comment, is exactly why I opened up my relationship gladly. I still would have if I were perfectly abled, see: kinks, but I think it adds a layer of reassurance for me.

    Which kinda takes you and your relationship out of the subject. You don’t consider it cheating, neither does your wife.

    2 people consenting to open sex lives based on a previously held discussion about it isn’t the problem.

    Cheating IS. And regardless of what has happened or is going on with a spouse, cheating is still cheating if they view it as such. Even if they’re sick or disabled in some way that prevents any and all sexual situations/contact.

    However, if sex, as an act of connection/intimacy/collaborative effort doesn’t appeal to you enough that masturbation seems a perfectly adequate alternative,

    This is kinda the point. Sex is often an act of connection (that you promised to your spouse alone in a monogamous marriage) an act of intimacy (that you promised your spouse in a monogamous marriage) collaborative effort (again- that you promised your spouse in a monogamous marriage).

    Those promises don’t magically disappear just because 1 person can no longer (through no fault of their own especially) engage in sex.

    Personally, my take on a closed relationship with a severely disabled partner who refuses to open it, from the caregiver’s POV, would be to leave them, or propose a caregiving arrangement after a divorce which invalidates the monogamy clause in the wedding vows. Caregiving accomplished, sex life accessible. From the disabled person’s POV, I’d rather they left me than cheated on me.

    This is my take too. If you’re unhappy, leave. Don’t fuck with someone else’s trust/self esteem/perception of worth just because you’re horny.

    Cheating doesn’t simply hurt a person. It can change them in really harmful ways and make them question themselves, their judgement, their ability to trust, their self worth etc.

    So far, the only option presented is Cheat but Be Discreet. As if cheating is justified and being discreet makes it somehow noble.

    Sure your spouse may never find out that you’re sneaking around and lying, but that’s not exactly a badge of honor. It just means they trust you and you don’t deserve that trust.

  68. pheenobarbidoll
    August 2, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    And again, just because I think it bears repeating-

    I can only address generic examples with generic responses.

    And it annoys me to no end to see illness and disability framed in a way that completely erases the fact that these people still have feelings and SAY in their marriages/relationships. And if they feel X is cheating, then it’s fucking cheating. Being disabled doesn’t change that. Being ill doesn’t change that. It’s not selfish to expect your spouse to uphold their vows if they want to remain married. If you want to BE married, ACT married.

    If acting married previously meant you don’t get naked with a 3rd party, then it remains so until you are no longer married or another agreement is made. Period.

    And if your spouse thinks you’re the biggest scum sucking jackass ever born for asking? Well that’s a risk you take. And their right to feel that way. You don’t get to dictate their feelings on it.

    You can think they’re mean and selfish and unrealistic all you want, but you’re not the one who’s just been made to feel like a no longer needed piece of ass.

  69. Kristen J.
    August 2, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    This is what happens when people who are not actually monogamous agree to monogamous relationships.

  70. August 2, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    You can think they’re mean and selfish and unrealistic all you want, but you’re not the one who’s just been made to feel like a no longer needed piece of ass.

    Uh, ftr, what I think a disabled person there would be is a no longer available piece of ass (or any other body part). I thought the whole point was that the spouse would still like that connection with them, ideally, but wants that connection with someone else if they can’t have it with them?

    (Also this is why I think companionate marriages are underrated.)

    This is what happens when people who are not actually monogamous agree to monogamous relationships.

    Ooh, perfect!

    Now if we could only dismantle societal narratives that guilt them into doing that…

  71. pheenobarbidoll
    August 2, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    Completely off topic, but I just had a very irate homeless man throw a snickers at me at Kent Kwik.

    I walked in, walked down the aisle to get a drink and BAM! Snickers in the face.

    I’m going to go to bed now.

  72. August 2, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Completely off topic, but I just had a very irate homeless man throw a snickers at me at Kent Kwik.

    I walked in, walked down the aisle to get a drink and BAM! Snickers in the face.

    What the fuck? That is so uncool. D: I hope you feel better in the morning.

  73. J
    August 2, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Okay, to everyone saying that our hypothetical caregiving partner is being unfairly expected to do what s/he swore to do? Why is this all about the sex life? There is a lot more to a relationship, and honestly, if you’re at the point where you and your partner just screw, and that’s the only important thing, Maybe you have other problems.

  74. DouglasG
    August 2, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    How safe is it really to presume vows of monogamy, and that such vows when uttered are sincere? Half the opposite-sex married couples I know my own age or younger wrote their own vows and generally left monogamy out (likely assuming it as given; I’m not going to speculate). Curiously, the majority of same-sex couples I’ve known who have legally married included it, in at least three cases as a deceptive sop to straight attendees who wouldn’t have thought it counted without Forsaking All Others.

    I don’t attend enough weddings to claim any sort of authority, and don’t especially care beyond having a vague idea that knowledge or presumption of monogamy is likely to play out in a heterosexist way, regardless of the neutrality of the theory. It just seemed mildly surprising that so many people assumed sufficient universality of such vows, although perhaps in the experience of most people it is universal.

  75. Diz
    August 2, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    My husband’s fibromyalgia is so bad that I’m lucky to get it once a month. Being a highly sexual person, I masturbate in between. As of right now if I slept with someone else, which through discussion is something he is not quite ready to handle, it would be cheating. I would be an asshole who is lying to my husband. It’s not that hard of a concept.

    If hot dickings were so important that I can’t wait until he gives me the go ahead, I would leave the marriage because it’s the kinder thing to do. He doesn’t need a lying sack of shit betraying him when he’s at his worst.

  76. White Rabbit
    August 2, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    I appreciate having Jill’s take on this. This Prudie question jumped out at me earlier today, and it’s been festering in the back of my mind ever since.

    While I sincerely hope that Prudie is on to something with her assessment, I found the LW’s complete lack of guilt – which signals a complete lack of empathy for the wives – utterly repugnant. I cannot square her opening line about always trying to be kind to others with the multiple affairs and zero guilt that she describes. I suppose it’s possible she has a massive emotional blind spot, but I’d steer clear of this person in real life, as this is far too many serious red flags for me.

    It’s one thing to have an affair and feel bad about it. It’s another to feel completely okay with it and go so far as to contemptuously speculate as to whether others find this behavior in poor taste merely because they have “limited emotional imaginations.”

    Also, I didn’t care for Prudie’s final comments. I interpreted those as a warning that the LW should hurry up and partner up before she’s so old that no man will want her anymore. Ugh.

  77. stop and think
    August 3, 2012 at 8:31 am

    “What’s wrong with masturbation? What’s wrong with helping her with it if sexual function is the only obstacle? Your mouth stop working too? Fingers? Tongue?
    Being in the same room, watching and enjoying while participating verbally?
    Really people. There are other ways to have a sexual relationship with a disabled/ill spouse beyond p in v.
    They get the genital stimulation, you both get the intimacy.”

    It’s kind of controlling to insinuate to other folks what type of marital activities they MUST enjoy, find fulfilling, see as sexy or view as good enough. We’re all adults here and as such are more than aware of the myriad of erotic possibilities… one of which is obviously blasphemy to you.

    Here’s your attitude reflected right back at you.

    What’s wrong with sex? What’s wrong with a soldier loving a wife enough so they don’t need to go 60 years without seeing erection or ejaculation up close? Your heart stop working? Your empathy center?

    Really people. There are other ways to have a loving relationship with a disabled/ill spouse beyond rigid monogamy via assisted masturbation.

    See how that works?

    Once again this wasn’t about cheating. This was about love.
    Just sayin’

  78. stop and think
    August 3, 2012 at 8:40 am

    “Part of the reason that I’m uncomfortable with this is similar to the sort of nonsense in that Braly article Jill posted about last week. Specifically, that women are supposed to be the sexual receptacles for men and that men, who of course can not under any circumstances be expected to control their baser sexual instincts, are entitled to expect and demand sex and boobies from their wives without any input from her and whenever they want.
    I’m having a really hard time with the idea that my husband wouldn’t put aside his own personal wants and even his sex drive while I was undergoing a medical crisis that put me out of sexual commission. Because I can’t envision anything more demoralizing than say facing a life threatening illness like cancer and then having to either give my husband a divorce or put up with him getting some on the side.”

    Hmmm.

    Part of the reason that I’m uncomfortable with this is similar to the sort of nonsense in that article Jill DIDN’T post bout last week. Specifically, that men are supposed to be the emotional receptacles (“Yes Dear and all that”) for women and that women who of course can not under any circumstances be expected to limit their baser emotional wants, are entitled to expect and demand no sex and no intimacy from their husband without any input from him and whenever they want.

    I’m having a really hard time with the idea that a wife would expect a husband to put aside his every personal need and even his sex drive while she was undergoing a terminal medical crisis that put her out of sexual commission. Because I can’t envision anything more demoralizing than to give damn near everything of myself to someone facing a life altering illness like cancer and then having to either give my wife a divorce or commit to a life of sexual unfullfilment.

    FTFY

  79. August 3, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Part of the reason that I’m uncomfortable with this is similar to the sort of nonsense in that article Jill DIDN’T post bout last week. Specifically, that men are supposed to be the emotional receptacles (“Yes Dear and all that”) for women and that women who of course can not under any circumstances be expected to limit their baser emotional wants, are entitled to expect and demand no sex and no intimacy from their husband without any input from him and whenever they want.

    Who said that, though? Where has anyone said that?
    If you’re getting involved in a monogamous relationship, you can act like an adult and have a conversation with your partner. Is it possible that your partner will say “You know, I’m going through some really hard shit right now, and we took vows to each other and said that we would foresake all others and etc. So, you know… no. I don’t want you sleeping with someone else.”? Of course. And then it’s on you if you decide to cheat or not. But that’s not a “man vs. woman” thing. It’s just as possible that it could be a man who is unable or unwilling to have sex for a prolonged period of time. It could be that the partnership is between two women or two men. Don’t turn this into a battle of the sexes thing, because it’s not.

    And, yes, either partner in a partnership has the right to say “No. I’m not having sex with you.” And the other partner has every right to say “That’s not going to work for me, and I want out if that’s the way it’s going to be.” And other people have a right to think that, depending on the circumstances, it makes one or the other look like a jerk.

    I’m having a really hard time with the idea that a wife would expect a husband to put aside his every personal need and even his sex drive while she was undergoing a terminal medical crisis that put her out of sexual commission.

    Well, frankly, that’s your problem. If the person I was in love with enough to want to spend the rest of my life with–in happiness and sorrow, etc–was so sick that they couldn’t or didn’t want to have sex for a prolonged period, I’d like to think that I wouldn’t view it as some kind of unfair burden on myself, but would exhibit empathy for the shit my partner was going through. If it started to become a problem and masturbation wasn’t cutting it, I like to think that I would try, you know, talking to my partner about it.

    Because I can’t envision anything more demoralizing than to give damn near everything of myself to someone facing a life altering illness like cancer and then having to either give my wife a divorce or commit to a life of sexual unfullfilment.

    I don’t know… what about if you were facing a life altering illness that left you unable to have sex, and your partner started whinging that they weren’t getting any? I would imagine that would be pretty demoralizing, too.

  80. petpluto
    August 3, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Here’s your attitude reflected right back at you.

    What’s wrong with sex? What’s wrong with a soldier loving a wife enough so they don’t need to go 60 years without seeing erection or ejaculation up close? Your heart stop working? Your empathy center?

    Really people. There are other ways to have a loving relationship with a disabled/ill spouse beyond rigid monogamy via assisted masturbation.

    See how that works?

    Once again this wasn’t about cheating. This was about love.

    I think everyone can agree that if both spouses, for whatever reason, agree that a nonmonogamous set up works best (or even well) for them, whatever the reason (kink, performance problems, a need for variety, etc.), then that is fine. Wonderful. Awesome, even. Not for everyone, but if the rules are set up within the relationship that Party 1 can fulfill hir needs outside of the marriage with Party 2’s blessing, then there is no harm. If there is, then the rules can be revised.

    But if Party 1 is cheating – if Party 2 has said, “Nonmonogamy doesn’t work for me, it is a dealbreaker, and I need you to respect that by remaining faithful or leaving”, and Party 1 decides to not be faithful but be discreet, then that’s not love. That’s cheating. Party 2 may love Party 1, but seeking sexual gratification outside the boundaries set is not an act of love.

  81. stop and think
    August 3, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Who said that, though? Where has anyone said that?

    We can’t have a discussion then.

    If you have never seen that sentiment. If you have never heard of that meme. If you can’t recognize that in some of the comments. Then there is nothing to talk about.

    I don’t know… what about if you were facing a life altering illness that left you unable to have sex, and your partner started whinging that they weren’t getting any? I would imagine that would be pretty demoralizing, too.

    Please read my other comments. In particular the soldier hypothetical…

  82. Lolagirl
    August 3, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Part of the reason that I’m uncomfortable with this is similar to the sort of nonsense in that article Jill DIDN’T post bout last week. Specifically, that men are supposed to be the emotional receptacles (“Yes Dear and all that”) for women and that women who of course can not under any circumstances be expected to limit their baser emotional wants, are entitled to expect and demand no sex and no intimacy from their husband without any input from him and whenever they want.

    I’m having a really hard time with the idea that a wife would expect a husband to put aside his every personal need and even his sex drive while she was undergoing a terminal medical crisis that put her out of sexual commission. Because I can’t envision anything more demoralizing than to give damn near everything of myself to someone facing a life altering illness like cancer and then having to either give my wife a divorce or commit to a life of sexual unfullfilment.

    FTFY

    WTF?

    So you attempt to deflect by throwing down ridiculously sexist stereotypes of women as complaining, selfish, harpy shrews who only begrudgingly put up with sex from their husbands. And that’s the best you’ve got?

    Heaven forbid your boner take a hiatus because your spouse is is facing life-altering disability or possible death. Do whatever works for you, but don’t expect me to agree that your pov is one that should universally apply to everyone or else they are a selfish person dooming their significant other to a life of sexless drudgery.

  83. stop and think
    August 3, 2012 at 9:40 am

    I think everyone can agree that if both spouses, for whatever reason, agree that a nonmonogamous set up works best (or even well) for them, whatever the reason (kink, performance problems, a need for variety, etc.), then that is fine. Wonderful. Awesome, even.

    Most of us are against rationalizing cheating. I think the current discussion was more about sexual boundaries should some horrible event interrupt marital relations for a long time or permanently. The sticking point is whether approving of/asking for sex with a 3rd person fits in with the definition of love.

  84. Laurie
    August 3, 2012 at 9:46 am

    Wow. This is an awesome discussion that resonates deeply with my own personal situation. I am in the non-monogamous/married-to-a-man-with-a-disability camp. When I married 15 years ago, I believed myself to be giving up p-i-v sex forever. I did go into my marriage willingly and with my eyes open. I believed the sexual sacrifice was worth it in order to have a lifelong partnership with the man I loved. However, in a way, it wasn’t a full choice because I believed my options to be (a) a vow of strict monogamy, or (b) no lifelong partnership with the man I loved. It would never have occurred to us to even consider or broach the idea of an open relationship. In our culture (meaning mainstream American culture), that’s just not an option that seems to be on the table.

    I have sympathy with both sides of the argument in this thread. I do think that when you make a promise of lifelong sexual fidelity to another person, in sickness and in health, you should stick to it. That person has tied his or her life to you in reliance on that promise. No one held a gun to your head and forced you to make that promise.

    On the other hand, I also have sympathy with the fact that a lot of us made such a promise because other options (such as open marriage) were unknown to us or seemed to be so beyond the pale that they are beyond consideration. Our culture is fairly black-and-white still on this issue. While open marriage is technically an option, it is still pretty fringey, or at least perceived as such. Thus, for most people the only real options are either commitment-with-sexual-fidelity OR no commitment. A middle course that may suit a lot of people better is not on the table.

    I am basically in pheenobarbidoll’s camp in the belief that cheating is wrong, even when it appears that monogamy will consign you to a sexless existence for the rest of your life. I have been in that position, especially when my husband’s interest in all sexual activity ceased a couple years ago just as my libido started going in full tilt. I really that I would be consigned to lifelong celibacy at a still relatively young age, and it was a really scary prospect. But at the same time, I made a vow that my husband relied on when he invested his life in mine and mine in his.

    But I have some sympathy with the cheaters in such situations. It’s hard on everyone. It’s awful and unfair for a person who rightfully expects sexual fidelity to be cheated on just because he or she is sick. But at the same time, a lot of the cheaters are in an incredibly painful situation they would not have chosen in the first place if other cultural options were available.

    Our situation resolved itself when I learned that my husband wanted to experiment with other partners, and we agreed to an open marriage. I really wish we had discussed this years earlier. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a middle course that can work for a lot of people.

  85. Lolagirl
    August 3, 2012 at 9:53 am

    The sticking point is whether approving of/asking for sex with a 3rd person fits in with your personal definition of love.

    FTFY

  86. stop and think
    August 3, 2012 at 9:54 am

    WTF?

    So you attempt to deflect by throwing down ridiculously sexist stereotypes of women as complaining, selfish, harpy shrews who only begrudgingly put up with sex from their husbands. And that’s the best you’ve got?

    Was your original quote a ridiculously sexist stereotype that men think with their dicks? Cause that’s the one I modified for illustration.

    Why don’t you stop deflecting with baseless and over the top accusations.

  87. stop and think
    August 3, 2012 at 10:00 am

    @Lolagirl
    Saying love is personal is redundant. See comment #24.

  88. J9
    August 3, 2012 at 10:09 am

    I’m not defending ‘The Other’ in any way, shape or form because affairs are her way of not being accountable in a relationship. But I have had 2 affairs in my life. One when I was in my 20’s (I wasn’t married) and one when I was in my 40’s, I was married.

    The first, I was wooed by an older man. Reality hit when he greeted me at my front door, picked me up and kissed me senseless. The first thing that went through my head was, ‘I want to do this with MY husband.’ I ended it within a few days.

    The second one was a conscious act on my part, my 13 year marriage was crumbling; I had tried to fix it for many years with no help from my partner. The affair was short, a few weeks, but it made me realize that I couldn’t stay in a loveless marriage anymore.

    Would I recommend my actions to others, no, but I learned from my actions and I’m a better person because of what I experienced. I would not have another affair but I don’t regret the ones I’ve had because I’ve learned from them.

    I don’t think ‘Other’ wants to learn, affairs are a ‘lifestyle choice’ for her.

  89. Lolagirl
    August 3, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Saying love is personal is redundant.

    It is until you project your definition of love onto others.

    Was your original quote a ridiculously sexist stereotype that men think with their dicks? Cause that’s the one I modified for illustration.

    Apparently you missed the part where Feministe is a Feminist website committed in no small part to discussing and taking down sexism and misogyny used against women. Any variation of oh, noes, what about the poor menz and their boners business is not going to get you taken seriously around here. See also, any insistence on misandry being a real thing or any other version of men being discriminated against.

  90. August 3, 2012 at 10:47 am

    If you have never seen that sentiment. If you have never heard of that meme. If you can’t recognize that in some of the comments. Then there is nothing to talk about.

    Oh, I’ve seen it. I just haven’t seen it here. I’m familiar with the stereotype of women as emotionally needy gatekeepers of sex, and men as horny and emotionally distant. I haven’t seen that being suggested here by anyone. Well, by anyone but you. Which kind of makes it look like you’re arguing against a point that nobody was making.

    What I’ve seen is a lot of posts that basically say “Act like a fucking adult. If you made a commitment to be exclusive with someone in good times and bad, but decide that you don’t like that commitment anymore, be and adult and talk to your partner about it. If you can’t figure out a way to fix the situation and can’t come to a mutually agreeable compromise, then maybe it’s time to dissolve the commitment.”

    You’re the one who seems to be gendering the emotional and sexual needs of the people involved. Everyone has different emotional and sexual needs, and those needs don’t, in my experience, seem to be connected in any way to the gender or sex of the people involved. Some men are very emotionally needy, others have very low sex drives. Some women are emotionally distant, and others have very high sex drives. And everything in between.

  91. pheenobarbidoll
    August 3, 2012 at 10:47 am

    What’s wrong with sex? What’s wrong with a soldier loving a wife enough so they don’t need to go 60 years without seeing erection or ejaculation up close? Your heart stop working? Your empathy center?

    Nothing is wrong with sex, and nothing is wrong with the injured/ill party deciding they wish for their partner to find someone outside the marriage.

    THAT is called an open marriage. Not cheating.

    Which is not what we’re discussing.

  92. stop and think
    August 3, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Apparently you missed the part where Feministe is a Feminist website committed in no small part to discussing and taking down sexism and misogyny used against women. Any variation of oh, noes, what about the poor menz and their boners business is not going to get you taken seriously around here. See also, any insistence on misandry being a real thing or any other version of men being discriminated against.

    Why are you ranting?

  93. pheenobarbidoll
    August 3, 2012 at 10:55 am

    There’s also a power differential that can rear it’s head in these situations.

    If you’re dependent on someone being your caretaker, and now they’ve decided they want to have sex with someone else, will you feel coerced into agreement? What if you want to say no but are afraid you’ll be left with no care? What happens if you feel like it’s the price of them caring for you? If the person being cared for agrees out of guilt or fear is that genuine and something to be taken advantage of?

    What happens if no one WANTS to have sex with a person that has a sick spouse at home? Gonna lie to them to?

    What happens if you simply can never find anyone willing to have sex with you? Has your life ended? Your spouse giving you a green light doesn’t actually guarantee you’ll resume having a sex life. So what’s left? Paying someone? Really? You’re so entitled to sex that it’s ok to pay to use a human being like a fuck toy?

  94. stop and think
    August 3, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Didn’t you write this?

    And if my husband said that crap to me I’d honestly wonder if he married me because of his dick. Because last I checked, sex was only 1 part of a relationship. And if his dick is more important than I am, than the relationship we’ve built together, the trust and intimacy that exists….he can go fuck himself.

    He can also go fuck whoever else wants a shitheel like that in their bed, but he won’t be married to me while he’s doing it.

    The discussion was about open marriage, not cheating.

  95. stop and think
    August 3, 2012 at 11:01 am

    @pheenobarbidoll

    Are you writing to me? And we are talking about open marriage right?

  96. August 3, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Nothing is wrong with sex, and nothing is wrong with the injured/ill party deciding they wish for their partner to find someone outside the marriage.

    THAT is called an open marriage. Not cheating.

    Yes. Thank you.

  97. anna
    August 3, 2012 at 11:20 am

    I don’t agree with cheating but I don’t necessarily think someone’s heartless if they decide to leave. Loving someone doesn’t necessarily mean you are or should be capable of spending the rest of your life without sex. The fact that someone cares about sex and isn’t willing to spend literally the rest of their life (or years and years) without it doesn’t mean they don’t care about their partner.

    And there can be pressure the other way too. “Shut up about your needs. You don’t need sex to survive, so just go without and shut up, and if you even look at another man (or woman) you’re a cheating asshole and I’ll leave you. And if you leave me you’re a heartless pig who only cares about getting laid.”

    I mean, suppose a husband of a straight woman came out as gay, and said, “I still love you, but I’m not willing to have sex with you. If you really love me and aren’t a heartless pig who only cares about getting laid, you’ll stay in a sexless marriage forever and never cheat or leave me.”

  98. stop and think
    August 3, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Anna you rock!

  99. Hina
    August 3, 2012 at 11:52 am

    I have a very different perspective on this. The only time I would accuse the other woman of any wrong is if her intention is to break up a relationship and start a new one with the man or to have an emotional as well as sexual affair with a man who’s suppose to be committed to someone else.

    If the woman is just “hooking up” with the man and has no intention starting a relationship with him that’s deeper than just hookup buddies or friends then she hasn’t done anything wrong as long as the man was the one who approached her.

    It’s the intention that counts more than the physical act of cheating. If my boyfriend tried to pursue another woman then that is where the harm is done, whether he succeeds at getting her number/hooking up with her doesn’t matter. If he does succeed then yea I wouldn’t want to be best friends with that woman but that is due to jealousy. She didn’t break up or hurt my relationship, that happened the second my boyfriend pursued another woman. Whatever happens after is irrelevant. Him wanting to and being willing to cheat on me is what makes the situation bad and hurtful, whether or not he can find a willing partner doesn’t change the type of person he is.

  100. EG
    August 3, 2012 at 11:54 am

    I disagree. Real actions are far more important to me than the best of intentions.

  101. Hina
    August 3, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    But he did take the action to pursue another woman. Whether he succeeds or not doesn’t matter after that point,

  102. EG
    August 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    It does to me. Because unless he has the opportunity to actually go through with it, you don’t know if would.

  103. Past my expiration date
    August 3, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    The only time I would accuse the other woman of any wrong is if her intention is to break up a relationship and start a new one with the man or to have an emotional as well as sexual affair with a man who’s suppose to be committed to someone else.

    Because if she didn’t mean to do any wrong, then she didn’t do any wrong?

    If I didn’t mean to drop that big rock on your toe, then I didn’t hurt your toe?

  104. Lolagirl
    August 3, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Why are you ranting?

    So, so transparent.

    Why are you getting so hysterical, woman, I’m just expressing my opinion over here. Now stop being so irrational and agree with me already. And how dare you continue to not feel pity for me and the horrible potential for me to not get any from my non-exisent spouse!

    I hereby nominate Stop and Think for this week’s Slow Clap Award.

  105. stop and think
    August 3, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Hina,

    What’s the big deal if your boyfriend pursues another woman? As they say… “It’s just sex” . And you aren’t married so there are no broken vows. Rrrright?

    All sarcasm aside. We use the phrase sex partner for a reason. All partners have agency, responsibility, and blame if it comes to that.

  106. brill
    August 3, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    I’m compelled to delurk to say that it seems really twisted to declare – as some seem to above – that divorcing a terminally ill person if you can’t handle celibacy is the upright and honorable thing to do, while respectfully asking to get some satisfaction on the side while caring for them through the most difficult time of their lives is treating them like they’re “a no longer needed piece of ass”. Yes, some things are more important in life than sex. That’s the point. That’s why it shouldn’t be a big deal to ask.

    Really, I just don’t get that attitude. At all. Seriously: if that’s what my wife needs to stay sane if and when my time comes, she can have it.

  107. pheenobarbidoll
    August 3, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    The discussion was about open marriage, not cheating.

    No, the discussion was about cheating vs entitlement to sex outside marriage because illness/disability.

    What you popped in with was an example of a soldier willingly initiating an open relationship. Which wasn’t the topic, was no where near the topic and had fuck all to do with cheating or or demanding an ill spouse prioritize your orgasm.

    And, your example was shit to begin with because it was so damn generalized that the option of masturbation was completely within the realm of realistic alternatives to penis in vagina sex.

  108. pheenobarbidoll
    August 3, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Oh and yes, if MY husband came to me and said ” I need sex, and you can’t give it to me because of your illness/disability/whatever”

    I would, in fact, kick his ass down the street. Because we DO have a monogamous marriage and I damn well expect him to keep those commitments. If he can’t, then he can get the fuck out. And I, personally, will think he’s a scum sucking sorry ass piece of shit for it. I’m the one being left over SEX, and it’s my right to feel however the hell I want to about that.

    But it’s better than finding out he’s a sorry ass scum sucking CHEATING piece of shit who snuck around behind my back, lied and cheated on me. Because getting sick sure doesn’t mean I deserve betrayal. Neither does holding him to his damn word. He can’t fuck me so now I have to wonder what other lies were told? I have to wonder every time he gets a text message or leaves the house? I have to question my judgment in people and if I can’t trust my own spouse who the hell CAN I trust?

    I get all that shit because of his dick? No.

  109. pheenobarbidoll
    August 3, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    And there can be pressure the other way too. “Shut up about your needs. You don’t need sex to survive, so just go without and shut up, and if you even look at another man (or woman) you’re a cheating asshole and I’ll leave you. And if you leave me you’re a heartless pig who only cares about getting laid.”

    So the person has to think it’s fantastic that their partner wants to share themselves with another person?

    No. You can’t always have it both ways.

    You can leave if it means that much to you and it’s a deal breaker, but you cannot force or expect the person you’re leaving to think you’re a fine human being for leaving them when they are at their most vulnerable. Being thought of as an asshole is a risk you’re going to take. They may understand, they may not..but you can’t control the consequences of your actions in order to get your way.

    I mean, suppose a husband of a straight woman came out as gay, and said, “I still love you, but I’m not willing to have sex with you. If you really love me and aren’t a heartless pig who only cares about getting laid, you’ll stay in a sexless marriage forever and never cheat or leave me.”

    She’s still free to leave. She can’t force him to be happy about it or not be hurt over it. And he doesn’t deserve the contempt and betrayal that cheating shows.

    I’m sorry, but cheating because you don’t want them to think you’re a heartless pig simply means you care more about what they think of you (and the consequences you might face) than you do about seriously wounding that person. In other words, you’re just trying to cover your own ass and get what you want regardless of who it hurts.

  110. stop and think
    August 3, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Why are you getting so hysterical, woman, I’m just expressing my opinion over here. Now stop being so irrational and agree with me already. And how dare you continue to not feel pity for me and the horrible potential for me to not get any from my non-exisent spouse!
    I hereby nominate Stop and Think for this week’s Slow Clap Award.

    What’s transparent is that you were ranting and rather than own up to it you want to deflect with a baseless accusation of sexism…because of course you never rant. Amanda Marcotte was ranting about parents and kids yesterday and you were ranting today.

    Lemme guess. Your poop doesn’t stink either does it?

  111. stop and think
    August 3, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    What you popped in with was an example of a soldier willingly initiating an open relationship. Which wasn’t the topic, was no where near the topic and had fuck all to do with cheating or or demanding an ill spouse prioritize your orgasm.

    Kinda became the topic when you responded to it eh? That’s how conversations and comments work.

  112. stop and think
    August 3, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    “I would, in fact, kick his ass down the street.”

    What a lucky man!

  113. pheenobarbidoll
    August 3, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Kinda became the topic when you responded to it eh? That’s how conversations and comments work.

    Not really. I didn’t expect you to answer and oh look, you didn’t.

  114. pheenobarbidoll
    August 3, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    What a lucky man!

    Yes, he is. He’s married to someone who understand the concept of loyalty and honesty.

    When I said in sickness and in health, I meant it. And he knows it.

  115. stop and think
    August 3, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    “Yes, he is. He’s married to someone who understand the concept of loyalty and honesty.”

    More like suffering and control.

  116. stop and think
    August 3, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Not really. I didn’t expect you to answer and oh look, you didn’t.

    Oh I answered alright and that’s why you are up in arms with gems like this.

    “If he can’t, then he can get the fuck out. And I, personally, will think he’s a scum sucking sorry ass piece of shit for it. “

  117. August 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    “Yes, he is. He’s married to someone who understand the concept of loyalty and honesty.”

    More like suffering and control.

    So, your problem is that they’re in a monogamous marriage? That they’re married at all? What? Why are you ranting?

    Pheeno, full of awesomeness as always!

  118. August 3, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    I don’t understand what it is that you’re looking for, stop and think.

    If A & B are in a relationship where they’ve agreed not to sleep with other people, they’ve made a commitment.

    If B sleeps with someone else, that violates the terms fo the relationship with A.

    If A, for whatever reason isn’t meeting B’s needs–sexually, emotionally, intellectually, etc–then B ought to talk to A about it.

    If A still isn’t or can’t or won’t meet B’s needs, then B has to make a decision. B can stick with the commitment that was made, and try to find other ways of getting those needs met or try to find some workable compromise. B can go outside of the terms of the relationship and find someone else who will meet those needs. In the case of sex, that’s cheating. B can decide that the needs not being met are more important than maintaining the relationship, and can break up/divorce/leave A.

    If your partner isn’t meeting your sexual needs, you can absolutely ask to have an open relationship. You can absolutely leave your partner.

    You can’t expect or demand your partner be thrilled with either of those solutions.

  119. stop and think
    August 3, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Pheeno, full of awesomeness as always!

    Oh look someone with nothing to add but a back slap.

  120. August 3, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    @ stop and think:

    Who are you and why should I give a damn?

  121. August 3, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Cheating on your partner sounds like a fundamentally shitty thing to do if you ask me. I don’t understand how it could possibly be justified even if the intention behind it somehow isn’t reprehensible.

  122. Bagelsan
    August 3, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Being sick doesn’t give you license to manipulate or guilt your partner into a sex-free existence bound to you. It’s cruel to expect your partner to stay with you and care for your needs while not allowing their sexual needs to be filled. If the cared-for partner isn’t generous enough to give their blessing to the caregiver’s sexual needs, why should the caregiver be generous enough to stay?

    How tragic that both the caregiver’s hands were apparently cut off! But hey, if a sick woman’s gotta fuck a man to keep him, little lady better lay back and think of England!

    And what’s manipulative about it? Pretty sure the marriage vows include something like “in sickness” as part of the contract. That’s informed consent that sometimes your partner might get sick. :p

  123. Bagelsan
    August 3, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Also, I’d want to know if the sack of cheating crap was at risk of giving me any diseases while he’s “discreetly” fucking around behind my back!

  124. stop and think
    August 3, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    “And what’s manipulative about it? Pretty sure the marriage vows include something like “in sickness” as part of the contract. That’s informed consent that sometimes your partner might get sick. :p”

    Monogamy is an often undiscussed expectation and still should be honored, but lets not pretend that standard vows explicitly mention monogamy.

    More like assumed consent, than informed consent.

  125. Lolagirl
    August 3, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    @ stop and think:

    Who are you and why should I give a damn?

    I’m picturing him as Newt Gingrich trolling the Feminist blogosphere now that he has so much time on his hands post primary season.

  126. EG
    August 3, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    More like assumed consent, than informed consent.

    Seriously? I’m the only person, every serious relationship I’ve ever been in, a few weeks to a few months after we start dating, we have the “let’s be exclusive” talk?

  127. Diz
    August 3, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Gee, I never knew that honouring my disabled husband’s request to not have sex outside of our monogamous marriage was SUCH A TERRIBLE THING.

    The condescending. It burns.

  128. pheenobarbidoll
    August 3, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Monogamy is an often undiscussed expectation and still should be honored, but lets not pretend that standard vows explicitly mention monogamy.

    Uh yeah they do.

    Standard wedding vows mention forsaking all others (or other words to that point)

  129. pheenobarbidoll
    August 3, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Seriously? I’m the only person, every serious relationship I’ve ever been in, a few weeks to a few months after we start dating, we have the “let’s be exclusive” talk?

    Nope. You’re not.

    What you’re witnessing is a version of the childish ” but you only said come home at 6, you didn’t say come all the way into the HOUSE” excuse to weasle out of something that is understood.

  130. pheenobarbidoll
    August 3, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Oh I answered alright and that’s why you are up in arms with gems like this.

    No you didn’t. You just pulled the tired old ” but look how this is misandry if you switch pronouns”.

    More like suffering and control.

    Oh yes. He suffers soooooo much.

    So, your problem is that they’re in a monogamous marriage? That they’re married at all? What? Why are you ranting?

    He’s mad because I’m married to a man who actually keeps his word and has integrity. That makes men like him look less desirable and less likely to get laid. Which is just a tragedy.

  131. Lolagirl
    August 3, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    I’m the only person, every serious relationship I’ve ever been in, a few weeks to a few months after we start dating, we have the “let’s be exclusive” talk?

    Definitely not the only one, ’cause I’ve had the same conversation in every dating relationship I’ve had after a month or so. (Granted, I haven’t dated since the Bush Administration, but still I don’t think times have changed that much since then.)

    Standard wedding vows mention forsaking all others (or other words to that point)

    Ours were “forsaking all others, and keep myself only onto you.” They were very much intended as fancy speak for monogomy without exceptions.

  132. stop and think
    August 3, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Uh yeah they do.

    Standard wedding vows mention forsaking all others (or other words to that point)

    Um, not they don’t. How old are you?

    Of the weddings I attended in the last 5 years, 4 had no mention of monogamy in any form to include “forsaking all others”.
    2 catholic. 1 methodist. 1 via officiant.

  133. Diz
    August 3, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    OMG GUYS! 4 WEDDINGS!! Can you believe that 4 WEDDINGS had NO mention of monogomy?? That’s a buttload of weddings!

  134. Diz
    August 3, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    OMG GUYS! 4 WEDDINGS!! Can you believe that 4 WEDDINGS had NO mention of monogamy?? That’s a buttload of weddings!

  135. stop and think
    August 3, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Seriously? I’m the only person, every serious relationship I’ve ever been in, a few weeks to a few months after we start dating, we have the “let’s be exclusive” talk?

    So like did you discuss who gets the dog and the flatscreen too? Let’s focus on what is included explicitly in marriage vows. OK

  136. Diz
    August 3, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Or we can focus on the fact that this is about cheating. Not open marriages. Or that people are allowed to feel how they feel about what would be cheating in their respective relationships.

  137. Lolagirl
    August 3, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Um, not they don’t. How old are you?

    Nuh-uh, how old are you?

    I demand to see the transcripts from these alleged weddings you allegedly attended. Your claims of intently listening in for promises of monogamy in the alleged vows at these alleged weddings is highly suspect.

  138. Bagelsan
    August 3, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Nuh-uh, how old are you?

    I’m a billion years old, and since the dawn of time tiny microorganisms have sworn to exchange genetic material only with certain other microorganisms. They were together in sickness and health, and I mean really together. Like, attached. Some of those microorganisms even became the mitochondria in our cells; now that‘s commitment!

    In short, if my mitochondria are more faithful than my man he’s getting the boot.

  139. EG
    August 3, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    So like did you discuss who gets the dog and the flatscreen too? Let’s focus on what is included explicitly in marriage vows. OK

    Talking exolicitly about what one wants in a relationship is like planning for divorce? Do you even hear yourself? You make no sense.

    And no, I won’t talk only about marriage vows so you can pretend people get tricked into monogamy. Taking wedding vows does not release you from already-standing agreements with your partner.

  140. J
    August 3, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Act like a fucking adult. If you made a commitment to be exclusive with someone in good times and bad, but decide that you don’t like that commitment anymore, be and adult and talk to your partner about it. If you can’t figure out a way to fix the situation and can’t come to a mutually agreeable compromise, then maybe it’s time to dissolve the commitment.

    Basically this.
    And also, to the example of a gay man and a straight woman: Hello, there, completely different subject. Seriously, those aren’t at all comparable.

  141. August 3, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Monogamy is an often undiscussed expectation and still should be honored, but lets not pretend that standard vows explicitly mention monogamy.

    No. By the time most people get married, they’ve discussed whether they’re exclusive or not. As EG pointed out, that doesn’t suddenly change just because you get married.

    Besides, standard vows often do mention monogamy of some sort.

    (First Person), will you have this woman/man as your lawful wedded partner, to live together in the estate of matrimony? Will you love him/her, honor him/her, comfort him/her, and keep him/her in sickness and in health; forsaking all others, be true to him/her as long as you both shall live? (I will).

    from the ICCR site.

    “I, [speaker’s name], take you, [partner’s name], as my wedded [wife/husband], and I promise to love, honor, and respect; to be faithful to you; and not to forsake you until death do us part. So help me God, one in the Holy Trinity, and all the Saints.”

    Eastern Orthodox vow.

    “[Partner’s name], I now take you to be my wedded [wife/husband], to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy relationship of marriage. I promise to love and comfort you, honor and keep you, and forsaking all others, I will be yours alone as long as we both shall live.

    Ecumenical vow.

    I pledge, in honesty and sincerity, to be for you a faithful and helpful husband.

    Muslim vow (groom).

    Those are from “Bridal Guide”. There are dozens more there that indicate spouses being “faithful” to one another, or to “forsake all others”, etc.

    Not every single marriage mentions monogamy, but a lot do.

  142. Kristen J.
    August 3, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    So like did you discuss who gets the dog and the flatscreen too? Let’s focus on what is included explicitly in marriage vows. OK

    Umm….yes? Because planning is important…and coordinating two lives takes…I dunno…conversations about coordinating your lives.

  143. pheenobarbidoll
    August 3, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    Um, not they don’t. How old are you?

    Of the weddings I attended in the last 5 years, 4 had no mention of monogamy in any form to include “forsaking all others”.
    2 catholic. 1 methodist. 1 via officiant.

    lol 39, you?

    And I can tell you that the Catholic weddings had traditional marriage vows AND Biblical marriage concepts– ie adultery is a no no. Having sex outside a marriage, no no.

    Same with the Methodist.

    Or have you just missed all the Christian hullabaloo over the definition of marriage being 1 man and 1 woman? (not 1 man and 1 woman, plus others on the side)

    What did your wedding vows say? Oh wait, let me guess! You’re not married!

  144. Tracey
    August 3, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    What did your wedding vows say? Oh wait, let me guess! You’re not married!

    Isn’t this attitude part of the problem? Someone got upset that I pointed out that there is a problem in presuming monogamy and there not being another option that is as openly advocated as strict monogamy, yet comments like this one abound in the thread.

    I agree, cheating is wrong and it is almost always selfish (and not wanting to face your partner out of a supposed concern “for their best interests” is selfish garbage). But why this insistence on everyone taking standard wedding vows? Why the assumption that having a discussion on exclusivity means a whole lot when no viable alternative is promoted in our society?

    I agree that feeling like there is no alternative does not excuse one from adhering to their promises or being upfront about their inability/unwillingness to keep them, but is it necessary to continue to promote monogamy as the golden standard even when there is realization that the normalization of a certain type of relationship and standard vows is presenting people with a either/or relationship dichotomy and erases discussion about other types of marriages?

    Again, feeling there is not an alternative doesn’t excuse making promises you have doubts about your willingness/desire/ability to keep, but at the least I would hope commentators, especially those who supposedly espouse taking great care in choosing wedding vows and not just using standard one-sized fits all vows, would not promote monogamy as the end -all be-all and would recognize that in a culture that pretty much erases all other relationship models, it is possible that exclusivity is entered into as a default because it is synonymous with “serious.” Some of the rhetoric seen here holds exclusivity as being the default in a serious relationship ( i.e. “Are we exclusive” is meant as “are we serious” as oppose to “This is getting pretty serious, and I want my serious relationships to be totally monogamous. How do you feel about that?”)

  145. anna
    August 3, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    “How tragic that both the caregiver’s hands were apparently cut off! But hey, if a sick woman’s gotta fuck a man to keep him, little lady better lay back and think of England!”

    So would you be willing to never have sex again for the rest of your life? If somebody isn’t willing to live like that, if it makes them horribly unhappy, and they leave, does that mean they’re a heartless evil bastard who doesn’t really love their partner? And as long as we’re talking gender stereotypes, a lot of people will tell you that sex shouldn’t matter for a woman, that women don’t really have sexual needs, and if Hubby decides you’ll have to suffer miserable celibacy for the rest of your life, then a good little wife should smile and agree, and stay in the marriage to make him happy.

  146. Lolagirl
    August 3, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    But why this insistence on everyone taking standard wedding vows? Why the assumption that having a discussion on exclusivity means a whole lot when no viable alternative is promoted in our society?

    You’re completely and utterly missing the point.

    Nobody is insisting that anybody “take standard wedding vows.” This whole conversation devolved when the insistence was pushed that a spouse who refuses to want to open their marriage because of their inability to give the other sex because of illness/injury/whatever is a big selfish meany. Others of us disagreed and and felt strongly that non-monogamy was a big deal breaker in our marriages, see the vows we took for a reason. Then this whole silly blablabla about marriage vows not actually having language about monogamy went on and on.

    If you want to deconstruct our U.S. culture’s paradigm of marital monogamy, go ahead. But that’s really not been the point of this debate thus far. And your desire to eschew that paradigm doesn’t necessarily lead to the inexorable conclusion that all the rest of us have to follow your lead down the path to non-monogamy.

  147. pheenobarbidoll
    August 3, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    So would you be willing to never have sex again for the rest of your life? If somebody isn’t willing to live like that, if it makes them horribly unhappy, and they leave, does that mean they’re a heartless evil bastard who doesn’t really love their partner?

    Actually, yes. I would be willing to never have sex again because I LOVE my husband and one day, both of us aren’t going to be able to have sex. One probably before the other.

    If you really love someone, and don’t want to spend your life without them, you can find a way. You don’t actually need physical intercourse with someone else to be sexually satisfied.

  148. pheenobarbidoll
    August 3, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Isn’t this attitude part of the problem?

    The attitude that someone asking HOW OLD I AM as some sort of criteria to know what I’m talking about?

    I’m sorry, is that supposed to be met with any kind of real consideration?

  149. pheenobarbidoll
    August 3, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    But why this insistence on everyone taking standard wedding vows?

    No one has insisted that everyone does or must take standard wedding vows. What was claimed is that monogamy isn’t generally found in standard wedding vows. And then he gave 4 examples, 3 of which would have had religious traditional vows and beliefs behind them, and those tend to include things like monogamy as pretty damn important.

    but is it necessary to continue to promote monogamy as the golden standard even when there is realization that the normalization of a certain type of relationship and standard vows is presenting people with a either/or relationship dichotomy and erases discussion about other types of marriages?

    When the entire subject is about cheating and “the other woman” monogamy is the default. Otherwise, it’s an open relationship where having sex outside the marriage is consideredperfectly fine. As in, not cheating.

    And what’s been said is that if at the wedding, monogamy wasn’t specifically discussed, then how on earth would anyone know their spouse wanted monogamy?

    As if no one could possibly figure that out beforehand. How was I to KNOW??? It wasn’t said in the VOWS!!

    Ridiculous.

  150. Tracey
    August 3, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    And your desire to eschew that paradigm doesn’t necessarily lead to the inexorable conclusion that all the rest of us have to follow your lead down the path to non-monogamy.

    Where did I suggest that? Or is it possible that I have been saying that monogamy doesn’t work for everyone and not that everyone should be willing to consider non-monogamy for themselves? And your phrasing of it as being led down a path suggests that non-monogamy is some fad I am trying to pressure everyone else into adopting when that is explicitly not the case. Monogamy is what a lot of people want, but that doesn’t mean it should be assumed.
    I agree that if you agree to monogamy, your partner not having a certain kind of sex with you for any reason is not an excuse to cheat and does not make you a victim, but some of the responses have tended toward establishing monogamy as the standard and suggesting that exclusive means serious.

  151. pheenobarbidoll
    August 3, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    If you really love someone, and don’t want to spend your life without them, you can find a way. You don’t actually need physical intercourse with someone else to be sexually satisfied.

    *adds to this

    The ” don’t want to spend your life without them” part is the focal point here.

    People have a choice. Leaving is an option, always. But if you do NOT want to leave and you do NOT want to cause them pain (and realistically, if they don’t want you having sex with someone else, having sex with someone else WILL cause them pain) then you can find a way. Sex toys have come a long way. Intimacy does not require sex. So you can find physical gratification and the intimacy of a relationship without causing someone pain. It’s not impossible.

    It does all hinge on what YOUR decision will be. What pros and cons there are, if sex is your deal breaker or not etc.

  152. Lolagirl
    August 3, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    Where did I suggest that?

    I don’t know what else you could have meant by this, but that you were personally eschewing monogamy:

    but is it necessary to continue to promote monogamy as the golden standard

    I never said anything or otherwise suggested that non-monogamy was a fad either, that’s you projecting and putting words into my mouth. And again, there is no setting of monogamy as the golden standard (as you put it) just the pointing out that whatever works for you works for you, just don’t paint so broadly with that brush of yours so that monogamy is some unfair standard we are inflicting upon our spouses. When we and those spouses of ours already explicitly agreed to monogamy within our own marriages both parties are absolutely reasonable in assuming that the agreement will stand unless and until renegotiation or divorce occurs.

  153. Tracey
    August 3, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    I don’t know what else you could have meant by this, but that you were personally eschewing monogamy:

    but is it necessary to continue to promote monogamy as the golden standard

    What I mean by that is that I do not think monogamy or the desire of it should be assumed as the default. Monogamy should not be synonymous with marriage or serious relationship. And in almost every single comment I have made comments such as:

    And the narrative around cheating on someone “for their own good” seems to serve as a mask for selfishness and moral cowardice. The partner can decide for themselves if they are willing to accept the arrangement, if they would want to stay legally married for health care benefits but consider the relationship over, or if they want a divorce. A lot of the Savage-rhetoric revolves around it being okay as long as you don’t get caught – that is still deceiving your partner and betraying their trust. It is also taking the ability to make decisions about the relationship away from them.

    or

    However, I also realize that by not being more specific I may have cast people who do use those vows as being all in a league of people who do not think seriously enough about their vows. It would not have been too much of me to qualify that statement, and to also note that some people are dead serious about the vows going in, but find that they honestly can not adhere to them despite having every intention of doing so, and striving to do so for most of the relationship.

    or

    Again, feeling there is not an alternative doesn’t excuse making promises you have doubts about your willingness/desire/ability to keep

    So I think I have made it very clear my position is this:
    – If you make a promise to your partner you have a responsibility to keep it or be honest when it becomes clear you can/will not
    – While society is not responsible for a relationship, the people within the relationship are, I think it would be helpful to try and make it more acceptable for people to be open about not wanting to be completely monogamous if they feel it is something they can not or do not want to do
    – I think the assumption that serious relationships are monogamous and that marriage equals monogamy does a lot to stifle discussion on non-monogamous serious relationships on a societal level
    – But, if someone makes a promise of monogamy, nothing excuses them for having made a vow when they had doubts about their ability to see it through the worst of times

  154. Alison
    August 3, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    I agree with almost everything you wrote, Jill. I’m not proud of myself for being in a now several-year-old “relationship” (though we haven’t had sex) that involves an insane chemistry, touching and intimacy that is not acceptable for two married people. I’ve been married for years, the guy has been married a little over a year after having been with his now wife for 11 or 12 years. He’s a kind, good person — everyone thinks so — who has been doing a less-than-kind thing to his wife, for which he does have guilt. I have no doubt he loves his wife, and I love my husband, though I’ve been doing a bad thing and hurting him. I don’t know how I allowed myself to fall for him and to let our chemistry take over. And I have no doubt that the guy (“Mr. Perfect”), who has been in an almost-12 year, since-college monogamous relationship, would not have thought himself capable of doing more than just flirting with me.

    But my continued view is that I owe nothing to his wife, nor does the guy owe anything to my husband. Our obligations are to our own spouses. Thus, my concern need not be about how my behavior hurts his wife, nor should the guy’s concern be about how his behavior is hurting my husband. My remorse is about how i’ve treated my husband. And I would expect that the guy’s remorse is about how he’s treated his wife of barely more than a year, not my husband of many years.

    I think it’s a slippery slope to think that because everything anyone does might have an effect on someone else — many of whom we don’t even know — we should thus feel remorse for the possible hurt our actions could be causing to others.

  155. Really?
    August 3, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    So when you marry a person with disabilities… do you become incredibly self-righteous and judgmental overnight? Or is it something that takes a long time to develop?

    I’d rather be a happy asshole in a sexually satisfied marriage than bitter angry and sexless with the moral high ground. If love is about wallowing in the shared misery of a cold bed, you can shove it.

  156. cherrybomb
    August 4, 2012 at 1:25 am

    I can’t really be non-judgmental when it comes to cheating. I’m too jaded from getting cheated on a fuckton. But here’s my two cents:

    As someone who got cheated on tons by my partner before, during, and after the birth of our child, I just thank God that he didn’t give me any STDs while I was pregnant. When someone cheats, they are not just doing something immoral/wrong/shitty (pick your word choice), they are also risking their non-cheating partner’s health and undermining their consent. I consented to condom-less sex while pregnant in my (supposedly) monogamous relationship. I wasn’t consenting to condom-less sex with someone who was having unprotected sex with six other women.

    My mother had to have a c-section because my father had given her CHLAMYDIA shortly before my sibling was due (you can’t deliver vaginally with an active case of chlamydia). Cheating has real consequences.

    The only valid, non-shitty excuses I can think of involve either a)tripping and landing face/hands/crotch first into someone else’s naked genitals– and accidentally having an orgasm whilst climbing off, or b)hubby/wifey was stranded on gilligan’s island and presumed dead, and after exhaustive search efforts for the missing hubby/wifey, remaining spouse found someone new to have sex with (since they thought they’d been widowed.)

    (and the term cheating doesn’t apply to non-monogamous couples who are acting within their agreed upon limits, which I hope is a given at this point)

  157. khw
    August 4, 2012 at 7:34 am

    In terms of cheating and the “other woman” there are other issues. I’m coming out of a situation in which a friend’s daughter stayed with us for a couple of months due to a problematic situation in her own home and ended up sleeping with my husband. I blame them both. Him slightly more. But she was staying in my home and at the very least owed me for the hospitality. I’d have been much less hurt if she had been some random woman that he’d picked up elsewhere who owed me squat.

  158. Tracey
    August 4, 2012 at 8:37 am

    I have made it very clear my position is this:
    – If you make a promise to your partner you have a responsibility to keep it or be honest when it becomes clear you can/will not
    – While society is not responsible for a relationship, the people within the relationship are, I think it would be helpful to try and make it more acceptable for people to be open about not wanting to be completely monogamous if they feel it is something they can not or do not want to do
    – I think the assumption that serious relationships are monogamous and that marriage equals monogamy does a lot to stifle discussion on non-monogamous serious relationships on a societal level
    – But, if someone makes a promise of monogamy, nothing excuses them for having made a vow when they had doubts about their ability to see it through the worst of times

    As a matter of fact, I have mentioned in every single comment that there is not an excuse for cheating, even if you felt pressured into a monogamous relationship by social discourse and assumptions.

    I don’t know what else you could have meant by this, but that you were personally eschewing monogamy:

    I mean, and have mentioned in just about every comment, that I think it is a bad thing that society as a whole in the U.S. assumes monogamy for every serious relationship to the exclusion of other forms. Does not excuse people making vows they have doubts about keeping, but may make it harder for some people to be open about those doubts for fear of being perceived as “not serious.”

  159. Bagelsan
    August 4, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    So would you be willing to never have sex again for the rest of your life? If somebody isn’t willing to live like that, if it makes them horribly unhappy, and they leave, does that mean they’re a heartless evil bastard who doesn’t really love their partner?

    I’m pretty sure that leaving is always an option. No one’s talking about the other person not being allowed to leave. But cheating, not so much.

  160. Datdamwuf
    August 4, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    The posts here about a spouse who cannot have sex touched a nerve for me. My marriage was sexless for nearly 5 years because husband could could have sex but he wouldn’t because he could not orgasm and so he would not have sex with me. Tried every thing until he told me he just couldn’t do sex. I spent a lot of time deciding if I could live with this situation, if my love for him would allow it or if I needed to leave. I decided it would, I stayed.

    5 years later I find he is cheating on me. We saw a counselor and one of his rationales for cheating was that we had not had sex in years…people who cheat and the women who are available for it rationalize their choices so they can feel good about themselves. That’s all the Prudie LW did, simple really.

  161. August 10, 2012 at 8:35 am

    So much for Feministe supporting sex workers. I mean, everyone here does realize that the majority of clients are married men, right?

    The woman stated she was a “mistress” which traditionally means she received financial support, otherwise she’d just be a lover or girlfriend. I’d guess that the reason she had affairs with five married men was because it was lucrative while being emotionally ideal for her (likely) commitment-phobic self. (Also, she didn’t have to have kids with them or pick up their dirty clothes. It makes for a much better relationship all around not to live with your partner.)

  162. August 10, 2012 at 9:58 am

    So much for Feministe supporting sex workers. I mean, everyone here does realize that the majority of clients are married men, right?

    I’m not sure I understand… does supporting sex workers’ rights mean that we have to think it’s okay for people who’ve vowed to be faithful to their wives to cheat?

  163. August 10, 2012 at 10:29 am

    So much for Feministe supporting sex workers. I mean, everyone here does realize that the majority of clients are married men, right?

    Sorry, a serial cheater isn’t a sex worker, and I’ll thank you not to conflate the two – I don’t think sex workers in general would be very happy in being classified alongside this emotionally stunted professional drama queen. I don’t think sex work is relevant to the discussion, if she’s actively seeking/wanting the attentions of married men as a primary goal, as opposed to seeking/wanting financial return for sexual activity. The emotional thrill is clearly the driving force here.

  164. Name-Under-Construction
    August 10, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Cheating doesn’t simply hurt a person. It can change them in really harmful ways and make them question themselves, their judgement, their ability to trust, their self worth etc.

    Thank you. So much. This is my battle right now.

    My husband is great on so many fronts. It sounds cliche, but I thought we had really reached a new milestone of synching up, communicating, and being open to each other. Then, one morning, on my way to wake him up, his phone alarm went off and I tapped the screen to turn it off, to find myself looking at a text string with someone he was calling “babe.”

    As I blinked at it in confusion, he woke up, saw me looking down at his phone, and freaked out. I stood frozen in complete shock as he grabbed the phone, angrily told me to stop checking on him, and then deleted every text his phone. I remember trying to speak and literally wasn’t able to form a single word. I got dressed, left for work, was so numb I likely didn’t have a pulse. He text me all day, in complete panic, but I had no words. I was so disassociated, I remember only flashes of that day.

    Fast forward through the next several days, with him breaking down and revealing not one, but two relationships he was engaged in. Not physically sexual, but intensely intimate. Women he was texting during the night after I was asleep. Women he was meeting for lunch. Women he was emailing with all day. When I paid our phone bill, and actually thought to check, the record of the interchanges with just one of the women was 4x the amount he had had with me.

    Every cliche played through: he’d told them we were separated, made up an alternative life history, etc. I know this because in an attempt to prove that he was committed to our marriage, he switched phones with me for a day and in trying to call him, these women talked to me. He had in a very real sense, removed me from his personal narrative, I realized, in talking with them.

    Once the women and I spoke, they stopped contacting him. They were NICE. They had been misled as much as I had been. In cases where the “other woman” honestly didn’t know, of course they aren’t to blame.

    This isn’t the first “bad thing” I’ve seen in my life, but wow, oh wow, has it shredded me in ways I’m still discovering. Four months later, four months of more pain, more confusion, and infinite questioning of everything I thought I was confident in, I can say I’m safely clarified in my views on any kind of deceit in a partnered situation.

    Be honest in why you’re prioritizing what you are. If sex/attention/illicit thrill/whatever-issues-that-are-all-consuming mean more to you than your partner/relationship, then don’t be partnered. It really is that simple.

    The woman in the article KNEW. She chose that lifestyle. The men referenced in that article KNEW. They chose it. Yes, being sex positive, yes, extenuating circumstances, etc, but lying is lying and that’s just never okay.

  165. Esti
    August 10, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Being a sex worker doesn’t exempt you from criticism when you deliberately do shitty things. There is a world of difference between being a sex worker, the majority of whose clients happen to be married, and being someone who seeks out married men for sex and also happens to get some financial benefits from it.

    Not to mention, we have absolutely no reason to think that money has anything to do with this — mistress may have a specific meaning in the sex-work context, but it’s also a really commonly used term for a woman who has an ongoing relationship with a married man.

  166. August 11, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Being a sex worker doesn’t exempt you from criticism when you deliberately do shitty things. There is a world of difference between being a sex worker, the majority of whose clients happen to be married, and being someone who seeks out married men for sex and also happens to get some financial benefits from it.

    Yeah. And maybe this makes me not 100% “sex-work positive,” but yes I do think it’s morally wrong to sleep with a married man. Even if you’re getting paid for it.

  167. DonnaL
    August 11, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    I think most sex workers catering to straight men would have to go out of business in order to follow that particular moral imperative. If you don’t believe that sex work per se is “immoral” (assuming for the sake of argument that the sex worker actually chose that occupation, however you may interpret that word), I don’t see how the fact that the client is marrried renders it immoral.

  168. EG
    August 11, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    I don’t think it’s that having married men as clients makes sex work immoral; I think it’s more that if you think that helping married people cheat is immoral (and I do), being a sex worker doesn’t make it moral.

  169. DonnaL
    August 12, 2012 at 12:21 am

    Looked at from that direction, I can see your and Jill’s point. But don’t forget: I have heard more than one married man espouse the belief that if you pay for it, it isn’t cheating.

  170. August 12, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Sure. And the married men who espouse that are cheating dirtbags.

    I just don’t see why we would all agree that cheating on your spouse or being a person who knowingly sleeps with a married person is immoral, BUT we for some reason think that it’s not as bad if the person sleeping with the married person is a sex worker? I don’t think sex work is immoral in and of itself. But like EG says, being a sex worker doesn’t magically change cheater-abetting into moral (or at least, not-immoral) behavior.

  171. Chiara
    August 12, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    well I suppose the difference is kinda like between a murderer and a hitman. the hitman is not really immoral, and it’s the person who pays the hitman that’s really responsible for the murder, you know?

  172. August 12, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    I can’t blame a sex worker for what is essentially a business transaction. They’re not the ones breaking the marriage vows; they’re the ones who need to make some cash in order to put some food on the table.

  173. August 12, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    I don’t think anybody “blames” the sex worker. I think we put the same amount of blame on any person who sleeps with a married man, whether they get paid or not. Why does getting paid make it less bad than getting other indirect financial benefits, or emotional benefits?

    Again, what EG said: It’s not that sex work makes it immoral. It’s that sleeping with a person you know is married is immoral, and being a sex worker doesn’t make it not-immoral just because there’s a financial transaction involved.

    well I suppose the difference is kinda like between a murderer and a hitman. the hitman is not really immoral, and it’s the person who pays the hitman that’s really responsible for the murder, you know?

    …are you serious here or was this sarcastic? Because yes hitman are still doing something really really really immoral, even if they’re getting paid for it.

  174. August 12, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Why does getting paid make it less bad than getting other indirect financial benefits, or emotional benefits?

    Because having sex with someone is how that person earns a living and supports his/herself. When bills are due, sometimes you can’t pick and choose where that next check is coming from.

    Again, what EG said: It’s not that sex work makes it immoral. It’s that sleeping with a person you know is married is immoral, and being a sex worker doesn’t make it not-immoral just because there’s a financial transaction involved.

    Denying service because of moral conflicts…

    Like pharmacists who deny contraceptives?

  175. Li
    August 12, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Many professions have specific ethics that are contextual. Confidentiality, for instance, isn’t necessarily a morally appropriate response outside of the contexts of counseling, nor are a number of other professional ethics outside the contexts of their professions. For many sex workers, not judging clients and their reasons for seeing a worker is an important part of professional ethics. That’s what makes the difference. Not whether or not you are being paid but the fact that as a sex worker you have competing ethical concerns that apply because of the professional nature of what you are doing.

  176. August 12, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    I think Li really hit on the head. With regards to a business-person choosing whether or not to deny service, the issue is more of ethics than of morals. Is it morally right for a sex worker to deny service to a married person? Probably. Ethically, not so much.

  177. August 12, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    I don’t think it’s the sex worker’s obligation to not sleep with married men. I mean… what’s next in the abnegation of personal responsibility? Expecting liquor store employees to ensure they’re not selling to alcoholics? Expecting grocery stores to monitor blood sugar levels before selling someone candy? How about taxi drivers checking every person with a kid just in case they’re kidnapping it in a custody battle? For fuck’s sake.

  178. Li
    August 12, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    I’d like to state that I think sex workers have the right to have any dealbreakers they want to and that it’s absolutely ethically ok for sex workers to deny people service. If a sex worker doesn’t want to see a client that’s entirely their prerogative.

  179. August 12, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    If a sex worker doesn’t want to see a client that’s entirely their prerogative.

    Well, exactly. They’re not denying some product, they’re asserting their right to consent, which is why I was careful to state that it wasn’t their job to police married men and their vow-breaking, not that it was wrong for them to. (I know you’re not addressing me specifically, I felt the need to clarify.)

  180. Azalea
    August 12, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    You don’t actually need physical intercourse with someone else to be sexually satisfied.

    You can only speak for yourself on that one. There are certain things most people cant do to themselves like oral sex that kinda requires a second party so ..yeah, its a person-by-person basis on that theory.

    Although I agree with you in general I disagree in principle. I agree to monogamy meaning I will only have sex with you, I don’t agree to celibacy. That was nowhere in my marriage vows that I’d be celibate the rest of my sexual life or masturbate forever. A heteroSEXUAL relationship – in my definition includes sex. Sex isn’t everything but sexual intimacy and romance is what differentiates my heterosexual relationship with my husband and my close relationship with my same sex best friend. I confide in her, I support her as she supports me and she’s one of my absolute favorite people in the whole wide world. This is the case for many many people. Sex isn’t everything but it is a defining factor.

  181. Kristen J.
    August 12, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Seriously comparing sex workers to pharmacists? You know I’m very committed to the idea that sex is an important part of a person’s emotional and physical well-being…but sex = medical care. Pharmacists denying people medication is immoral because medical care is a human right. Extra marital sex is not a human right.

  182. Kristen J.
    August 12, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Crap…that should have been:

    Sex=/=medical care

  183. EG
    August 12, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    I never said anything suggesting that sex workers have an obligation to refuse to provide services to married men; what I have said is that helping men cheat is, as far as I’m concerned, morally bad, and that getting paid for it does not alter that judgment. If the sex worker in question decides that other concerns are more important–putting a roof over her head, for instance–that’s her call to make. But choosing a less bad option doesn’t make that option not bad; it just makes it less bad than the other option. Similarly, bartenders serve alcohol to alcoholics. That doesn’t mean that giving an alcoholic a shot of whiskey isn’t morally lousy; it just means that bartenders do their jobs because they have to in order to earn money. Sex workers may indeed have a professional code of not judging their clients or those clients’ situations. That doesn’t mean I have to follow suit.

    And no, sex workers are not pharmacists, and sex is not medication. Further, I am all for people enacting their moral convictions; I just find the moral conviction that punishes women for having sex to be misogynist and disgusting. Similarly, I find cheating to be morally crappy, and helping cheaters cheat to be (less) crappy (but still not a good thing to do). That doesn’t mean that sex workers have to deny services. Lots of people do crappy things as part of their jobs–in fact, most of us do. But that doesn’t make those crappy things not crappy.

  184. pheenobarbidoll
    August 12, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    Sex isn’t everything but sexual intimacy and romance is what differentiates my heterosexual relationship with my husband and my close relationship with my same sex best friend.

    Sexual intimacy doesn’t require intercourse, though. It isn’t that restricted.

  185. August 12, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Sexual intimacy doesn’t require intercourse, though. It isn’t that restricted.

    Pheeno, many PWD have issues doing anything sexual because of their disabilities. Just saying.

  186. August 12, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    The reason that I brought up those pharmacists is because even though *we* think they’re morally wrong, they do so because *they* feel it’s morally right. In the context of *this* argument, it’s irrelevant how little or how much we agree with their moral judgement. Rather, how far should a person go to satisfy their personal morality at the expense of denying service to someone else?

    That’s why I agree with Li that the issue isn’t really morals, but ethics. In the case of the pharmacists or the sex workers, it is unethical to judge the client for whatever reason they have for needing their services and to deny them based on that judgement. Whether or not it is “moral” is a whole other matter.

  187. August 12, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    I’d like to state that I think sex workers have the right to have any dealbreakers they want to and that it’s absolutely ethically ok for sex workers to deny people service. If a sex worker doesn’t want to see a client that’s entirely their prerogative.

    Yes, absolutely. The point I was making was strictly in regards to the question of whether sex workers have an obligation to say no to someone who’s married.

  188. EG
    August 12, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    The reason that I brought up those pharmacists is because even though *we* think they’re morally wrong, they do so because *they* feel it’s morally right. In the context of *this* argument, it’s irrelevant how little or how much we agree with their moral judgement. Rather, how far should a person go to satisfy their personal morality at the expense of denying service to someone else?

    Yes, I understand that they think it’s morally right. And I disagree. That matters, as far as I’m concerned.

    Further, if these pharmacists decided that they could not morally fulfill the obligations of their jobs, so they resigned, I would have no problem with their actions. The problem is that they want the job, and they want to not do the job. That is trying to have their cake and eat it too, not a principled moral protest.

    Finally, again, pharmacists are dispensing health care, so, yes, I hold them to a higher standard than, well, most people. If a book seller decides that dealing in murder mysteries is immoral, well, I think that’s absurd, but that’s up to him/her. Nobody’s health or life is at stake, even if he/she is the only book dealer in town. Because I love books, but I’m never going to have to endure pregnancy against my will because of not being able to get a hold of the latest Steven Saylor Roma Sub Rosa.

  189. Li
    August 12, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    Lots of people do crappy things as part of their jobs–in fact, most of us do. But that doesn’t make those crappy things not crappy.

    It certainly doesn’t. All I’m saying is that it can alter which out of set of options is the one to pick. It’s easy, for instance, for me to pick an option out of “sleep with married man” and “do not sleep with married man”. The morally correct choice is clear for me there (although I’m kinda lax about actually checking the relationship status of casual partners).

    The context of sex work makes the best decision out of those two options much less obvious, because of aforementioned competing ethical concerns. That’s not “you can’t criticise sex workers”, it’s “any criticism of sex workers should take into account their professional context”.

  190. August 12, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    Is it morally right for a sex worker to deny service to a married person? Probably. Ethically, not so much.

    It is 100% morally and ethically right for a sex worker to refuse have sex with ANYONE for ANY reason. Anyone who questions that is morally and ethically suspect.

  191. August 12, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Fat Steve: See my comment at 188.

  192. EG
    August 12, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    “any criticism of sex workers should take into account their professional context”.

    But…nobody’s been criticizing sex workers. All Jill and I have been saying is that being a sex worker does not make sleeping with a married man a moral act.

  193. August 12, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    But…nobody’s been criticizing sex workers. All Jill and I have been saying is that being a sex worker does not make sleeping with a married man a moral act.

    How is that not criticizing them, though, when you say that sleeping with a married man – even in a professional context – is immoral?

  194. August 12, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    How is that not criticizing them, though, when you say that sleeping with a married man – even in a professional context – is immoral?

    It’s not criticizing police to say that shooting an unarmed citizen- even in a professional contexi- is immoral.

  195. EG
    August 12, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    The part where noting that sex workers, like many people, do things I consider immoral as part of their job, isn’t about their worth and doesn’t have anything to do with them as people?

  196. EG
    August 12, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    I mean, hey, many sex workers have done what I consider to be a shitty thing. If it’s part of their jobs, that sucks, and I can see why they’d do it, but it doesn’t make the thing less shitty.

    Is noting that I think that supporting factory farming is shitty an attack on myself, because I eat meat from factory farms anyway? What about saying that I think that encouraging unrealistic and damaging beauty standards is shitty and immoral? Is that an attack on models as a group?

  197. EG
    August 12, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    I mean, is the person who’s hurt by the cheating married man less hurt if it’s a sex worker with whom he’s cheating? I think I’d be even more pissed: you lied to me and hurt me and you weren’t even in the grip of some grand passion? Fuck you, you asshole.

  198. Q Grrl
    August 12, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    How is that not criticizing them, though, when you say that sleeping with a married man – even in a professional context – is immoral?

    May I point out that by calling it a “professional context,” you are implicitly saying that certain other acts (non-professional) are indeed immoral.

  199. EG
    August 12, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    People do shitty and immoral things all the time. Why would sex workers be an exception?

  200. Li
    August 12, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    EG, I was riffing off your comment here:

    Being a sex worker doesn’t exempt you from criticism when you deliberately do shitty things.

  201. EG
    August 12, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    Sure. That’s fair. Let me rephrase: being a sex worker does not make something immoral into something moral, and even when a shitty thing is your best option, it’s still a shitty thing.

  202. August 12, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    I mean, is the person who’s hurt by the cheating married man less hurt if it’s a sex worker with whom he’s cheating?

    But what does that have to do with the sex worker? If the choice was between “make sure wifey’s feelings aren’t hurt” and “make sure I go to bed on a full stomach” the choice should be obvious. Client’s personal problems are personal.

    And there’s a difference, at least to me, in something that what someone does is shitty and what someone does is *immoral*. A food service worker at a restaurant tossing a bag of food at a customer is shitty. Spitting on the food beforehand would, to me, be immoral.

    May I point out that by calling it a “professional context,” you are implicitly saying that certain other acts (non-professional) are indeed immoral.

    Go right ahead. No one’s stopping you.

  203. August 12, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    EG, since you’re last comment posted at the exact same time as I mine, I didn’t see it before I wrote it. But I basically agree with you there.

  204. EG
    August 12, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    But what does that have to do with the sex worker? If the choice was between “make sure wifey’s feelings aren’t hurt” and “make sure I go to bed on a full stomach” the choice should be obvious.

    The point is, the reason that helping a married man cheat is immoral, as far as I’m concerned, is that it hurts someone else–hurts them drastically, no matter how you may wish to dismiss that hurt rhetorically. Since the status–sex-worker or non-sex-worker–of the person helping the cheater cheat has no ameliorating effect on that injury, it is irrelevant, in my opinion, when deciding whether or not helping someone cheat is shitty/immoral.

    Client’s personal problems are personal.

    Couldn’t I say the same thing about sex workers? Their personal problems are personal and not my problem, so why would they figure into whether or not I consider their actions moral?

    I’m not splitting those hairs between shitty and immoral. Immoral things are shitty, and it’s hard for me to think of a shitty thing that isn’t immoral. Anyway, I’m now reading your second comment, and I’m glad the rephrasing worked better to convey what I mean.

  205. August 12, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    The point is, the reason that helping a married man cheat is immoral, as far as I’m concerned, is that it hurts someone else–hurts them drastically, no matter how you may wish to dismiss that hurt rhetorically. Since the status–sex-worker or non-sex-worker–of the person helping the cheater cheat has no ameliorating effect on that injury, it is irrelevant

    Except that it’s not a sex worker’s obligation to police the lives of her clients. It’s just not. If dude was concerned about his wife’s feelings he wouldn’t be at the sex worker’s place anyway, would he? The ameliorating effect isn’t on the person of the sex worker (if she was helping someone cheat on personal time, I’d still hold her to be somewhat immoral), it’s on the role.

    Returning to my earlier point about liquor store employees: alcoholism is an aggravating factor in domestic violence. Suppose I worked at a liquor store, would I be right in refusing straight cis men service on the basis that, statistically, they’re most likely to be physically abusive to their intimate partners? What about refusing to serve married women at a bar because they might be in the early stages of pregnancy and not know it?

  206. EG
    August 12, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Except that it’s not a sex worker’s obligation to police the lives of her clients. It’s just not. If dude was concerned about his wife’s feelings he wouldn’t be at the sex worker’s place anyway, would he? The ameliorating effect isn’t on the person of the sex worker (if she was helping someone cheat on personal time, I’d still hold her to be somewhat immoral), it’s on the role.

    It may not be a sex worker’s job. That doesn’t make the action moral. It may not be my job to make sure a student won’t lose her health insurance if I drop her from my class because she hasn’t been able to attend due to an illness. But that wouldn’t make fucking up her health insurance a moral act on my part.

    The ameliorating effect I was talking about would be on the person who was cheated on–if cheating with a sex worker hurt the person who was cheated on less than cheating with a non-sex-worker, then I would consider a sex worker who assists with cheating to be doing something less immoral than a non-sex-worker. Since it doesn’t, or at best, the effect on the person being cheated on is uncertain, the sex-worker-status of the person assisting in the cheating is irrelevant to my assessment of whether or not helping somebody cheat is immoral.

  207. Azalea
    August 14, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Okay, to everyone saying that our hypothetical caregiving partner is being unfairly expected to do what s/he swore to do? Why is this all about the sex life? There is a lot more to a relationship, and honestly, if you’re at the point where you and your partner just screw, and that’s the only important thing, Maybe you have other problems.

    I can be your caregiver without being celibate the rest of my sexual life, depriving myself of what is- for me a basic need. If you no longer need or want to have sex why is it so important that I suffer without it?

    Who swears to celibacy in their marriage vows? Who says ” If you get sick neither of us will ever ever have sex again”. The sick person can think the first is a scum sucking ass and the caretaker can think the same. Being forced to be celibate can be just as damaging as being cheated on. How healthy is it to hear ” why isnt masturbation good enough for you? Giving up your social life and every free waking moment to take care of me isn’t enough you horny piece of shit, I want you to NEVER have another orgasm that hasn’t been preapproved by ME and if you dont like it you’re an evil evil slutty person!!!”

  208. August 17, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Define cheating for me. The exact definition is probably as convoluted as Bill Clinton’s protestations over whether he actually had, “…sex with that woman, Monica Lewinski.”

    According to some, inadvertently watching a sleazy porn video–even though neither of your two hands ever stray into your lap–is the same as cheating on your mate. To others, merely glancing out the train window and having a five second erotic fantasy about the blonde in the red convertible whose hair flows back like steamed spaghetti– is also considered cheating.

    Sort of makes the conventional, bang-the-shit-out-of-each-other-in-the-copy-room-at-work affair seem a tad blase.

    I read somewhere that a man thinks about sex every 15 seconds or so. If that’s the case, I’ve cheated some forty million times already– and that’s just this week.

    I’m not here to judge the parties to an affair. That’ll be done by a higher power—either their respective spouses or the STD doctor—whichever discovers the illicit liaison first.

    I’ll tell you something else: None of us are immune from sliding off our underwear with someone other than the person we signed the till-death-do-us part contract with. Oh, sure, sitting here now, calmly perusing a computer screen, our undercarriage neither hot nor bothered—it’s easy to say, who? Me? Never!

    Trust me, if the right penis/vagina comes jitterbugging down the avenue your twenty year relationship with Barney/Becky will be as secure as a Hollywood freeway during the next big one.

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