Tag Archives: sleeping around

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”?

A Reader Asks: What is Promiscuity?

I like sex, a lot. A lot more than I have it, tragically, and that’s not for lack of opportunity, but, rather, because I have moral preconceptions and perhaps even fears that I just can’t get past (IE: STDs, my Catholic youth, etc.).
I’ve said before that anyone can get laid if they set their standards low enough. I still believe that, and doubt that will change anytime soon. But I went and made a comment in response to one of my readers’ comments a couple days ago and have since received an email asking me my definition of promiscuous. That alone would have given me pause for thought, since definitions are generally arbitrary, but the moral semantics of it, that’s a different beast altogether. But then the reader went on at length and that then left me utterly flummoxed. This is the hefty tome I received:

What makes one promiscuous? It seems that promiscuity has a negative connotation; Is this because of a description based on religious, cultural, moral or philosophical matters? IE: Experiencing sexual desire is limited to procreation only; monogamy; one man with one woman… And if this doesn’t fit the scheme, are we sinning or acting amoral? Is it gender related? If a woman sleeps around, more than likely she will be considered a slut. Say a man has the same amount of sexual partners… “well, boys will be boys and need to be experienced.” I don’t think a man would be “accused” of sleeping with too many partners — oh, maybe in the gay community. Okay, so what is it – the quantity? How many times with different partners – 3, 10, 25 – what is the cut-off number? Or is it a matter of timing/frequency – a different partner every month? I know some people can’t even remember the names of their lovers! And are you promiscuous if you (even just once) sleep with someone for other reasons than “just” making love? I am thinking about a “sugar daddy”, IE: financial gain other than prostitution. Or is it then a matter of feelings and emotions; consequently, the lack of emotions and/or just a fulfillment of desires and needs? Would a married family man be considered promiscuous if he (once) had sex in a swinger club — kissed the wife good-bye in the morning, and in for a quickie with another woman the same night?

What, are you trying to make me work for a living? Hardy-har-har.
Here’s what the dictionary wants us to believe, for starters:
1. Having casual sexual relations frequently with different partners; indiscriminate in the choice of sexual partners.
2. Lacking standards of selection; indiscriminate.
3. Casual; random.

First things first: I’m not here to judge anyone, for anything. That said, I think the point of the definition above is that anything outside of a regular relationship, as soon as casualness or randomness enters the picture, is promiscuity. However, the tone that the word takes on depends on the perspective of the speaker. Are you judging the behaviour? If so, then the word is a negative one. Are you simply stating fact? Then it’s merely a pragmatic, honest descriptor.
Fact is, I’m actually a pretty old-fashioned girl, in some ways. I want one guy to shower with affection, and nothing more. (Although I don’t wish to be married, but that’s another posting for another time.) I don’t want to experience a rainbow of lovers, I have no interest in that. I feel a sexual relationship gets better the longer you’re in it, provided you maintain open communication and a willingness to experiment. If a guy cheated on me, I’d probably walk. That’s just me.
Have I slept with a guy on the first date? Yeah, absolutely, and that was promiscuity. Have I had sex outside of a relationship? Yeah, I have, and that was promiscuous. Would I have sex with someone other than a lover I was presently involved with? No, I doubt it. Would I consent to being the other woman? In the past, no, I haven’t (and I’ve actually busted a dude who lied and said he was single, when I knew his girlfriend). In the future, I really don’t know, but I’d find it hard to justify being the “other woman.”
I don’t think you can argue the literal definition of what promiscuity is. I think the nature of the sex you have (with emotions, without, with a commitment, without) defines whether it’s a promiscuous act or not, and that’s not really a matter of semantics, but rather, simple fact. The question then is, is that amoral? And what’s the answer? Then, dear reader, you’re absolutely entering into a philosophical debate, and a difficult one, at that.
Is morality subjective? That is, does the morality of an act depend on the situation and the beliefs of those involved? The majority of the world will tell you no, that morality is not open for discussion, because X religion deems that virtue as being Y. It’s one of the oldest arguments known to mankind, except in polygamous/polyamorous societies, and one that there’ll never be a proper answer to, and certainly nothing definitive will ever tumble from the fingers of this lowly writer.
A lot of people will comment that it’s not the act itself that indicates morality or the lack thereof, but rather, the underlying intention. Yada, yada, fucking yada.
Ultimately, I think what it all boils down to in life is, can you sleep at night? When you wake up in the morning, do you feel a little more whole, or a little less so? Are you satisfied with who you are, with what you do or have done? Can you own up to your actions on your own terms? (Owning up to things in a social, public forum is not necessarily an indicator, because there are a lot of judgmental assholes out in the world, whether it’s Pat Robertson or the dude down the street.) Granted, sociopaths have their own little club where they feel none of these questions apply, and then you indeed have to look at what a moral median might be for society at large, which is how we get laws in the first place.
I know what gets me to sleep, I know what keeps me up nights. I know what leaves me tinged with disgust, I know what leaves me with warm fuzzies day in, day out. I have few illusions of the moral high-ground I’ve set for myself, and while those standards are ones I strive to hold true to, I wouldn’t judge another for failing to meet them – unless they were involved with me, because then it should become an understanding, something to strive for together, something to embrace. Ah, proof: A romantic at heart, I is.
Promiscuity simply is what it is, sex acts committed in a random, casual manner; a hedonistic enjoyment of the flesh. And that’s not all bad, particularly if both parties are on the same page. When people get hurt, when disease gets spread, when irresponsibility transpires, then it’s something I frown on, that I judge. The rest of the time, well, we’re all adults, and if there’s agreement, then that’s all that matters. It’s the interpretation of those acts that get us into these arguments of semantics. The definition is clear, but it’s the moral interpretation of what “random” and “casual” mean that have you asking your question. Semantics, my friend, are indeed a bitch.
But what do you think of promiscuity? What do you think of my two cents?

1. (I’ve been asked in the past what I think of polyamory, and perhaps the above gives those askers a little perspective on my response, but I will likely do an entire posting on that at some point as well, because it’s an interesting topic, and one that I feel is largely misunderstood, though not quite my cup of tea.)
2. (And in regards to the posting below, yes, I’m still broke, yes, I’m still scared a little since my financial safety net has disappeared, and yes, I could still use help. Feel free to pitch in, at any amount. Thanks!)
3. (How come I never saw that episode of Warner Bros.’ Saturday morning cartoons, hmm? I guess that was before TiVo.)