This post is probably going to draw your hate, but it needs to be written.
Is cheating ever okay?
I have thought about this on and off for the past 6 years. When are you cheating and when, if ever, is it all right? Is it ever something less than unforgivable? How do I approach this without seeming like I’m justifying it to myself?
I’ve touched upon this previously but let’s go over it again because confession is good for the soul or something: I have cheated on my husband a few times, some one night stands and some standing relationships, when we did long distance before we got married. For the time we have been married, this last month is the first I have seriously considered the prospect of finding a willing cock elsewhere. Prior to marriage, I have had 2 one night stands and 2 ‘relationships’ that lasted 6 months and 11 months.
I know what you’re thinking. What an awful person I must be. How horrible that my boyfriend was in a different country being all faithful to me (knowing the kind of person he is, he definitely didn’t stray) while I was handing it out around town. How do I have the gall to face him everyday knowing another man has fucked me in more ways than he has?
Guess what – I completely agree with you. I am a terrible person for doing this to him. I am constantly fearful that he will find out someday before I am prepared to own it up to him. But also guess what? I know myself well enough now to understand that I never did these things with a malicious intent, nor do I conceal them with a malicious intent. For all purposes, he is happy that I am his wife and is not affected by my previous infidelity in any manner. If, in an alternate universe, I had never cheated on him, our relationship would be exactly as it is now; as unhappy as it is now because our personalities have grown up to be so different, but not in any way affected by my promiscuity.
So, what exactly is cheating? Being unfaithful can mean very different things to different people. For some, it is about making out / sleeping with another person whether one-off or ongoing. For others, it’s even when they fantasise about another person. For still others, just harmless flirting can be as bad. It’s important that you understand these boundaries in the relationship, not so you can test the limits but so you know where the line is. If you genuinely want to be with your partner, you need to know how not to hurt them, don’t you? It might also be that both of you want to explore these things and therefore settle on a non-monogamous relationship of some sort. Good for you.
Let’s look at a situation where your lover might not like it if you playfully flirt with another person physically or over text/email. I might look at that and think that it is harmless and you totally can be doing it. You might even think that. But clearly your partner doesn’t, so make sure you discuss these things and negotiate a compromise or give over to one of the points of view (theirs is rather unrealistic, if you ask me). If you do end up marrying this person and staying with them, that amounts to 50 years or more of colouring within the lines. So you better be okay with them. On the other hand, if sex with someone on an ongoing basis is the actual limit, it doesn’t mean you’ve got the green light to go do it, but you should most probably be honest if you ended up sleeping with someone once because the honesty is better for your psyche and not too harmful to the relationship.
Note that I didn’t proselytise about “honesty is the best policy” etc. That’s because it isn’t. While theoretically speaking a couple should be entirely open with each other because they are two infatuated unicorns frolicking in a field of dragons, practically speaking no couple is entirely honest with each other. That’s because we are human beings here and we have crazy shit going on in our heads that are not always meant for public airing, or even private sharing. People judge you whether or not they say they are, and this colours their view of you whether or not they admit it, albeit to differing degrees. Things like a fantasy about being raped by a multi-tentacled creature in all your holes (honest, it’s not mine, I made it up) is probably meant for just your therapist, or preferably no one at all. And certainly not the partner that you see everyday and you make decisions with.
Back to the cheating, then – should you be honest about it? Obviously it is up to you to gauge the tone of your relationship. In the vast majority of cases, I believe it would be a bad idea simply because it more than likely will not happen again. For the few that get a rush on getting away with it, they eventually get caught / told on (and they deserve it for being dishonest) or they come clean because they understand the unhappiness driving them to cheat and want things to end as fairly as possible. I don’t know if I’m being too generous here but those are the outcomes I see.
In my case, I know that I will never be forgiven if I am caught or admit to cheating, so strangely enough I am saving it as a trump card for divorce in case my husband doesn’t want to separate from me. The real point is – I have not been unfaithful since we got married, and I have not sought another lover to make up for my dissatisfaction with the uneventful marital bed. We haven’t had sex in 4 months (though I have sucked him off a few times with no reciprocation) and I don’t see it happening any time soon. Despite that, I pleasure him when he wants me to but don’t seek it out anywhere other than in myself. I acknowledge that I was an awful person for having married him without telling him (and also doing it in the first place), but I am an imperfect human being. I have weaknesses, and back then it was my rock-bottom self esteem. I have however thought about this thoroughly and agonise over what I have done, but also feel the slightest bit vindicated that I am not doing it now, when I technically need it the most. It’s like I’m punishing myself by withholding it when I know that others in my situation could justify it.
It also helps if you think about what your reaction would be if you caught your partner at it. In my case, I know that if I had stayed in love with my husband, I would have forgiven him and tried some couples therapy to work out what went wrong. However, as I am not, I would just feel really amused and use it as the easy way out of the relationship (being entirely honest about it, of course, and not manipulating his guilt). It’s kind of sad that he will not be considering my revelations as rationally because he would just hate me, but that’s the person he is; that’s the person I married. I believe he is giving me his fidelity so I suppose it’s not entirely unreasonable.
Other than the ‘adulteress’ judgement you are passing on me, do you have any thoughts on this issue? Are there any circumstances in which you could bring yourself to think, “I guess it’s not so bad because…”? Will cheating ever be okay?