Tag Archives: cheating

Edwards: The Politics of Infidelity

I’ve never been a John Edwards fan. Any guy who claims he’s a leftist for poverty activism but spends $400 a month on an unremarkable haircut just strikes me as being strangely out of touch with the very people he claims to be fighting for.

But, then again, I pay $15 for my haircut, so what do I know?

Haircuts aside, the guy’s in hot water and I feel for him and his wife. It’s come out now that he fucked up and had an affair in ’06. Is it the only one? No way to know for certain. Does it matter? Not sure it does. Is it really a scandal of this proportion? Really?

I mean, there are sex scandals and there are sex scandals. The Walter Mosley “Nazi” BDSM video, that’s a scandal. Governor Spitzer blowing thousands and thousands of dollars on hookers while married and in office, that’s a scandal.

A guy cheats on his wife? Scandalous, but not a scandal. It’s not worth much ink, as they say. Infidelity sucks, but it happens.

I don’t really see who gains from this story coming out, or how it should reflect on his ability to govern, or why we need to know or care.

As far as I’m concerned, there are three kinds of cheaters.

  • There’s the Accidental Cheater: The kind of partner who’s really invested in the relationship and has always been faithful, but who had a weak moment at a weak time where the chemistry and intensity was pretty insurmountable, and instead of being perfect, had the misfortune of being human and fucking up, in more ways than one.
  • There’s the Situational Cheater: The partner who had every intention of staying faithful and being “there” in the partnership, but with a lack of sex and poor communication and isolation developing and maintaining within the relationship, decides to seek companionship elsewhere to get what they “need” emotionally and physically.
  • There’s the Compulsive Cheater: The Compulsive would cheat no matter how good a relationship is and smacks of the sex-addicted type. This is kind of person who wants to sleep around but isn’t honest enough about it to be in a polyamorous situation, sometimes because they think they deserve sexual variety but don’t want their lover to have it.

Then there are the people who don’t believe in cheating. And I’m one.

I think it’s a shitty fucking thing to do to someone. When I found out I’d been used as an “other woman” once many years ago, when the guy lied about not being in a relationship with an old friend of mine just to get me in bed with him, I actually told my friend about his infidelity. I’m just that way. Honest and old-fashioned, that’s me.

Still, I don’t know if I could get through 30 years of marriage without ever having an Accidental Cheating occur. You get that perfect storm of chemistry and sexiness and opportunity and timing and mood, and sex can be a pretty hard thing to turn down. Whew, can it.

Edwards slept with a woman making a documentary film about his campaign. You think she wasn’t fawning over him a little? There’s nothing sexier than someone who worships you a little but has brains and a life of their own. When someone smart, accomplished, and hot adores you a little but in a liberated and articulate way, it’s really a turn-on. Anyone who’s been on the receiving end of that knows what it’s like. Wild. Or maybe she was just empathetic on a tough day. Who knows?

I’m not laying blame on her, though. It takes two. I’m just saying it’s understandable that something might happen in some scenarios, that hormones are a challenge to overcome at times.

But it sure as hell beats getting a blowjob from an intern half your age in the Oval Office and lying under oath about it.

I mean, if the guy came clean long, long before it ever hit the press, and the family knew of it in entirety, and his wife says she was told very soon after it all… is it really our business?

Doesn’t it say more about the guy that he could have the affair, tell his wife, and then work with her to get past it? Doesn’t he get some credit for honesty? How long do you have to be married before you’re allowed to make a mistake you not only own up to, but repent to?

No relationship is without its flaws, and no person is without errors. We all make mistakes in a life that’s dictated by in-the-moment impulse decisions.

I may be very much opposed to cheating in all its forms, but that doesn’t mean I could never forgive a man for making that mistake. And it doesn’t mean I think I’ll never be above being human and making that kind of mistake, either. I’m a passionate person. I’m moral, honest, and loyal, but I’m also passionate and impulsive. I fear the latter two qualities might one day overwhelm my virtue, and I too could fall guilty of such a mistake.

If, however, I ever do fuck up like Edwards did, I would hope my lover could see more than just the mistake, and instead of just latching onto their anger and the sense of betrayal, they could take me at my word for my regret and self-disdain. I would hope for a chance at redemption. I would hope for the chance to prove my remorse and reestablish trust.

Edwards was lucky and got just that. Who are we to judge him more harshly than his lover and partner of 30 years? It’s their relationship. If they’ve made their peace and they’re working together to overcome it, then who the fuck is the media to second-guess it, and why do we care?

You asked? Some thoughts on "cuckolding"

I was asked a while back what my take on cuckolding is.

I didn’t ask what the reader’s interpretation of the word is, but there’s a historical definition of it meaning that the male in a relationship is faithful while the woman can do whatever or whomever she likes. It’s, I guess, a sample of “reverse” sexual dominance played out in a social manner.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m old-fashioned. I’m a one-guy/one-gal kind of chick and I don’t foresee that changing. Relationships are hard enough for me without throwing potential mind-fucks into the equation.

That being said, whatever the hell gets your rocks off, man. If you’re in a relationship and you’ve set ground rules that state Sunday nights you have mashed potatoes, Mondays are for football, and, oh, yeah, you can fuck whoever you want as long as it doesn’t interfere with your plans as a couple, then so be it.

I don’t really see where my opinion matters one damned bit. I’m sure there are people who make lifestyle choices and then feel awkward for living outside the norm and that they’d like someone like me to come along and say “Hurrah for individuality!” but the fact is, you got to find your approval from within, and what I think, or anyone else for that matter, shouldn’t impact you in the least. So don’t take offense but I think it’s all bullshit, myself.

I will never buy into polyamory as a lifestyle. I don’t think I could ever forgive a man for cheating on me. I have never cheated on a man – not even a kiss or a flirtatious email has passed from me when I’m dedicated to a lover. I will do everything in my power to ensure I remain faithful in any relationship I’m in. I believe in monogamy, and I think monogamy fucking rocks.

That being said, relationships are hard. There are times when they cause nothing but heartbreak, and times when being with that person can take you lower than you’d have thought possible, but that’s just more of what life really is. It’s adversity that’s occasionally peppered with greatness.

I think swinging, polyamory, and all that shit are ways people have conceived of to take the sting out of the difficulty that comes with monogamy. I believe they probably truly do love the primary person in their relationship, but that the hard times overwhelm them, so incorporating others into the relationship is their way of minimizing the emotional intensity. I think some people have issues with monogamy. I think some people simply have what society deems as loose morals. I think some people are just scared to be with one person, ‘cos if that person ups and walks, then what would they be left with? And naturally, some people are just scared of being alone.

Am I oversimplifying things? Oh, probably. But that’s what those of us who’ll never, ever understand it do. Am I judging them? I suppose you could make the argument that I am, but I’m not. I simply don’t understand those lifestyle choices and never will. I don’t think I need to apologize for my lack of comprehension, and I certainly won’t pretend to understand it when I can’t.

I’m no idealist. I don’t believe there’s only one person who’s right for me. I’m sure that with a little compromise and a lot of understanding that there are a lot of men I could make a life with. There is no one kind of man I fall for, and there’s not just one fit for me. I’ve fallen hard for more than one man in my life, but that doesn’t mean I can’t commit to just one.

I think monogamy’s a pretty sexy journey – getting to know the little things that make someone tick can be a fun and interesting trip to take. And I’ve had my heart broken. Some days I feel like my heart’s been broken so often that I’m simply broke, and other days I feel like I’ve somehow Krazy-Glued it back together enough that it’s got some bounce in it. And yet I’m still willing to put all my eggs in one basket. I’ll take that chance.

I’ll tell you one thing, though. It bothers me there’s a term for a relationship in which a woman is the one who sleeps around and not the man. I was talking about the duplicity of women’s sexuality the other night with a chick and we reached consensus about just how much we both despised the word “cougar,” for example.

If you’ve been locked in a closet these many years, a Cougar is said to be a woman who seeks out younger men. I think it’s bullshit. Men are seldom ever called “dirty old men” unless they more than double the woman’s age. Otherwise it’s accepted practice that an older man sees a younger woman.

When I was aggressively playing the dating game last summer, fall, and winter, I definitely hooked up with some younger guys. (The funniest account is here.) I’m 32 for a few more weeks, and I got it on with a couple guys in their mid-20s, and I was labeled a cougar. What the fuck? A five-year age spread and I’m somehow some amoral woman with little regard for age?

Fuck you and your urban dictionary, buddy boy. I’m sick of sexual terms that distinguish women as being somehow amoral for engaging in the same acts that men have been committing for centuries.

Equality’s come a hell of a long way, but some things still need to change. This is the first and last time you’ve heard the words cuckolding and cougar on this site, people. Women are sexual creatures and it’s time we stopped apologizing for it.

Broken: Hearts, Minds, Vows, and Man

One of the things that’s simultaneously good and bad about this gig is that people tell me things from time to time they wouldn’t even tell their shrink.

Just the other day one such letter arrived in my in-box. As is sometimes my habit, I entered into a knee-jerk response and was about to tear the woman apart. Something made me stop and think, and instead of writing something savage, I sent her an email back. Her last question in her initial email was, “Am I a white trash whore?”

My response then was, in so many words, no, but you’re a liar and a cheat. I do stand by that, but with a massive, monumental, intergalactic caveat.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Due to the fact that there’s so incredibly much riding on her admission to me, I’m taking great liberties to change a good deal of the particulars that could identify who this poor goddamned woman is, because her life is filled with enough shit right now and I’ve no business adding to the pile by doing anything that could in any way come back to haunt her.

Here’s the gist of what you need to know.

  • She’s a mother.
  • She’s been married a decade-plus.
  • She’s in her mid-30s.
  • She’s been madly in love with her husband for all the years of their marriage, and still loves him, but things have changed.
  • He suffered a life-changing stroke of great severity that has rendered him child-like and frail. His mental capacity is nothing of its former self and his personality has been completely reformatted. Physically, he needs constant help. Sexually, he functions, but there’s no attraction left for her.
  • She’s been having an affair with a close friend of the family, in which the sex is incredible. Unfortunately, both she and he are married, and neither have the intention of abandoning said spouses.

That’s it, in a nutshell, that’s what a volley of eight emails has yielded to me.

Like most women under great strain, she’s perceived by others to be an incredible trouper. Strong, coping, able, yada, fucking yada.

The truth is, she’s coming apart at the seams. She hates herself for her betrayal of the husband she loved with all her heart, the husband she stayed with even though she learned he had cheated on her. She despises herself for loving sex with this other man. She’s angry about the loss of her love and best friend and the passion that came with. She doesn’t feel she’s able to speak to anyone about it. My guess is, she’s drowning in this life of woe she’s found herself enveloped by.

And my heart goes out to her.

Yes, she’s lying to her husband. Yes, she’s a cheating ho. But ask yourself: What would you do?

I know a lot of people would judge her for cheating on a guy who’s been sent into this horrible new reality by this unfortunate eruption of blood in his brain, but what about her? She’s still among the living. All of a sudden, she’s expected to give up everything that defines her life to provide 24/7 care for a man who can’t care for himself. She’s young, in her sexual peak, and what’s more, she needs an outlet for all the things gone wrong.

When my mother died seven years ago this week, I turned to books on grieving. I went through all the topics on mourning, everything from poetry to prose to essays, and I distilled from it a great deal of information on what to do to get through it all. The thing was, they said “mourning” and “grieving” are misunderstood. They’re not just necessary in times of death; they’re necessary in times of great change and loss of any kind.

For all intents and purposes, this woman’s husband died. When those blood vessels ruptured and filled his head with pools of blood, the soul of him just faded away. He’s but a shell these days, though he lives and breathes and walks and fills the space of their home with a friendly face and eyes that once mirrored the love she showed him.

With every moment in every day, she’s confronted by the struggle of caring for him, of helping him, of getting him through to the next day. Then there are the kids. And the doctors and medical procedures. Then there are the quiet moments. The moments in which she should be able to have the time to think of herself and her needs and the things she ought to do with her life… but that she can’t. Because every waking moment is spent caring for others and forgetting herself in the process, and when she’s not caring for them or coping, she’s formulating plans for keeping that circle rolling. In a life like that, there is no “down time.”

I believe one of the most important things for women (in particular) to do is to remember the them they’re forgetting, and to consciously make themselves more important in their scheme of things. But how does she do this? How is it possible?

I lived with my mother when she was dying of cancer. Any time I thought there was something important for me to do for myself, I consciously remembered that she came first. I couldn’t do that for myself; what about Mom? But then I was let off the hook. She died. My heart shattered to a million pieces, and one day I began to Krazy Glue myself back together. It took time, it took work, it took a conscious remembering that it was her that died, and not me.

This reader has none of that time, none of those options, and as far as I can tell, no Krazy Glue.

What’s the point of all this, of her letter, of this posting? I’m not really sure there is one. There’s no easy answer, no pat solution. It’s broken heart upon broken heart, and no matter what she decides, she’s in for a constant world of hurt because that’s her new reality. She can continue being sexually satiated by her lover, and lie to the man she loved but whose lights are no longer shining, or she can do the moral thing and give up the sexual release in order to do “the right” thing and continue caring for that shell of a man.

Either way, she’s in for a hard life.

So I say, whatever gets you by, sister.

The thing she needs to watch out for, sadly, is the fucking obtuse people out there who think morality trumps reality; those who just don’t get that some kinds of adversity just aren’t the kinds you can put your chin down to and barrel on through. Some kinds stop you up inside and make you hurt six ways to Sunday with no relief in sight, and this is that kind.

She could walk on him. Leave him hanging, and therefore no longer be unfaithful, but then what happens to him? Broken brain, broken body, plus broken heart?

Or she stays with him and gets her pipes cleaned by her new plumber man from time to time, and enjoys the illusion of affection and love, such as she once had with her husband?

I really don’t know. It’s quite possibly the original lesser-of-evils dilemma, and I’ve had some sad moments thinking of what her existence must be like.

I feel badly that she feels so alone, as I know I refuse to be the voice in the night that listens at all hours and says everything’s gonna be all right, baby, ‘cos I don’t even have a voice like that for me right now, so how do I provide it for others?

She’s not alone, though. She sees a therapist, but she’s too afraid of feeling like a failure and a liar in confessing her recent moral choices to him. I say she must. If there’s any one thing I do know, it’s that. She absolutely must confess to him, because he’s not a fucking idiot. He’ll understand, and he might even provide her with the closest form of absolution she’ll ever receive.

This is hard, baby. Harder than hard. It’s diamond-hard. Confess. Take a load off. Print off these emails we’ve exchanged, and this posting, and drop them off at your shrink’s a few days ahead of the appointment with a note saying, “These are a conversation I’ve had with a complete stranger. We need to talk. We really need to talk.” At least it’ll let you know the issue’s finally getting confronted, but it’ll let you sit back while he plays the ball that’s now in his court.

I wish I had a magical Band-aid for you, but all I’ve got is empathy. You do what you got to in order to get through. You may feel like shit and you may feel like a liar and a cheat and trash, but you’ve got my admiration. You’re doing what’s got to get done, and if it so happens that you’re a little human along the way, well… that’s just the way it goes.

But what do you think, readers?

You Asked: What Do I Consider Cheating?

There’s an old saying, “A man never introduces his wife to his mistress,” or vice versa. Last night’s episode of Boston Legal made for good breakfast fare this morning, and the closing line was that.

It reminded me of an email from a reader, to whom I’ve yet to respond (sorry about that, you), inquiring as to my opinion on what “cheating” means today. That email is excerpted here:

At what point do you consider someone to be cheating on another?

I’ve been poking a few friends with this one and been getting back some interesting answers, but outside of my older brother’s girlfriend, I’m getting generally 20-something’s answers. So I figure I should get an older woman’s view too :)

In case you’re curious this whole thing got started because a female friend (that’s an oxymoron when you’re a guy isn’t it?) was doing one of those Myspace surveys and the question, “Have you ever cheated on someone?” came up. And I just saw her freeze up for a second and give it some serious thought. So now I’m just randomly poking people for their opinions :)

Well, apart from the ass-kickin’ I wanna lay on this boy for calling me an “older woman” at the sweet age of 32, I found it an interesting question.

When this question came in nearly two weeks ago, I didn’t hesitate to bring it up with the Guy. It’s a great conversation for every couple to have, and soon. What is YOUR perception of cheating?

Does it matter only if it includes Bill Clinton’s definition of “sexual relations” or is it something more intrinsic, maybe even innocuous, than that?

Fidelity is a complicated web. Some women feel betrayed if their guy eyes an ass wiggling down the street. Some men feel betrayed if their girlfriend only watches sports and drinks beers with her best guy friend and never him. Who’s to say where the line is?

Every couple needs to set parameters. I’m in an interesting situation here, since I write this sex blog and about sexuality in general. That puts my man in a very interesting situation since he is constantly learning new things about my perspectives on relationships, sex, and everything else under the sun. It also means we’re often in the situation where we’re talking about things other new couples might be deliberately not discussing for a while, since there’s the chance of making it all seem more serious than things really are.

There’s that whole theory of push/pull when it comes to relationships. One partner becomes needier and pulls the other in closer than they should, sooner than they should, and the needed partner then becomes spooked and pulls back. Like rocking a boat, regaining balance (and FAST) is a major challenge, and if not met, the relationship will then be doomed. I did my “pulling” on this blog, and the Guy patiently let me.

In that time, we’ve talked about a great deal of “serious” issues, and nothing’s really spooked either of us, since we’ve confronted it. Cheating is just one of the many topics we’ve broached, but out of all of them, finding his stance on this topic was the thing that made me feel most comfortable about where we stood.

His response was that anything that smacked of intimacy (ie: beyond flirting) could be construed as “cheating,” with the stipulation being that you’ve declared “exclusivity” with your partner. I brought up the point that I occasionally receive sexual emails and I have been known to do semi-extreme flirting in one or two cases with correspondents, and I said that my role in those emails stopped as soon as I began seeing him, since I started to feel as though I would be betraying a trust.

I know my views on “cheating” are fairly old-fashioned; it’s anything that makes me feel like I should be saying or doing that with my Guy, not that other person. I have high standards for what I expect of friends, for what I expect of lovers, and even what I expect of myself. This time, we’re on the same page.

In this day and age of cyber worlds and information highways, “cheating” can take on a million different looks. You can engage in cybersex, have a long-distance literary love affair while still involved with a lover, you can ignore your sexual obligations in a relationship and spend all your time digesting porn and masturbating instead, or you can simply do the old-fashioned stalk-and-hunt of an extramarital lover via internet dating. It doesn’t matter. To me, if you’re in a relationship where you’ve vowed to be exclusive, there are things you unequivocally should not do – such as kissing someone else, exchanging love notes, or an afternoon rendezvous in a $49.99 motel. And you must, without a doubt, seek to have a strong and passionate sex life with your partner. It’s not called “roommates,” people.

But there are fine lines to what may or may not be construed as cheating, and the only way you’ll ever know what your lover would feel is a betrayal is if you ask.

Oh, and if you need to stop and deliberate as to whether the action could be construed as cheating? It’s cheating. I mean, use your fucking brain. Really. If you have to ask how much, you can’t afford it, baby.

But enough about me.
What do YOU think constitutes “cheating”?