Cheating Is Bad, Ok?


Dan Savage probably became my hero when he got the president of the United States to tell gay kids that things get better. I mean honestly the whole It Gets Better project was amazing, but that was a whole other kind of amazing. We’re certainly not where we have to be regarding LGBTQ rights, but that was such a powerful thing to happen.

I agree with Dan Savage a lot. Like, a lot.

(Fuck first! GGG!)

But not always.

It took me a little while to understand his position on cheating. I tend to be a bit too black-and-white when it comes to morality, and since lying and deception fall in my ‘bad’ category I’m a little bit unforgiving when it comes to cheating. I think consent is very important in intimate relationships, and having sex with other people without your partner knowing is just so disrespectful. Either let them know you intend to be non-monogamous, allowing them to break up with you if non-monogamy is not for them, or don’t sleep around. I really don’t think lying so you get to keep your relationship is an acceptable thing to do.

But Dan Savage has argued that sometimes, in some situations, cheating might be the lesser of two evils. If you and your partner are financially dependent on each other, or your partner is very┬áill and breaking up with them would mean they lose health insurance or housing, if there are extreme circumstances, sometimes maybe you need to do what you need to do to stay sane. I guess. I can see that sometimes cheating might be the best option in a collection of sucky options, so it’d still suck, but other options would suck more. I suppose. I’ve become a little bit more open-minded about that, sometimes the world is just not fair and there are no right choices.

And I also agree that, as a society, we’ve placed too much importance on sexual monogamy. Given the fact that a very, very large group of people cheat sometime in their life, perhaps we should take a bit more of a pragmatic attitude towards monogamy. It seems we’re not really good at it, generally. Many of us try, because we desire a monogamous relationship, but many of us fail. Dan Savage thinks we should look at monogamy the way we look at sobriety – it’s hard, sometimes you fall off the wagon, you get back on the wagon. If you only fall off once or twice in you life, you’re good at monogamy, not bad at it.

I guess.

unscrewpooch

I need this on my wall. So Much.

I don’t know. I’m not monogamous myself, but if I found out my partner had lied to me about such an intimate, personal aspect of our life, I would be devastated. Not because I care much about who he has sex with, but because honesty and respect are fundamental to our relationship. By violating that he would violate something that our whole relationship is based on, it would violate my trust.

When weighing different options, we should take the harm cheating causes into account. People who have been cheated on often feel traumatised, not because they feel sex is so important, but because their trust has been broken and one of the closest relationships in their life was affected. Our connections to others are so important, our attachments so central to our well-being, harming that harms a person in their core.

Losing a loving relationship hurts too, obviously. Being open about wanting to have sex with other people and finding out your partner does not want to be with you if that’s what you’re going to do, that hurts. But the harm you cause when you cheat and they find out is huge. We should not be too nonchalant about cheating in situations where the other options (not cheating, or being honest about wanting sex with others) are actual possible options.

So in this case? I completely disagree with San Savage. Instead, bring the subject up with your husband. Treat him like an adult you can talk to, an adult you can trust, an adult who has the right to make his own decisions about his life. Tell him “hey remember that fetish I have? I’d like to explore that, how do you feel about that?”. And he’ll tell you if he wants to know about it, if he’s okay with it, you can discuss a Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell agreement, or perhaps he’d like to set some boundaries on sexual acts. And if he simply rejects the whole idea and tells you no, well, then you’ll have to decide if cheating is the best of all options. But I think we owe it to each other to respect the trusting, loving relationships we have, and respect each other as adult human beings who get to decide, given all the facts, if they want to be in a relationship with you. Deceiving others into staying is not okay…

3 thoughts on “Cheating Is Bad, Ok?

  1. kim

    You’re not monogamous, so this is the way you think about cheating and trust. For a lot of monogamous people it’s impossible to think like that. I too try to explain it to them sometimes, but they just can’t get over the ‘but it’s sex’ thing.
    In my opinion it’s wrong to forbid someone to do something so fun for the rest of that person’s life. I think it’s only normal to disobey a wrong rule sometimes, even though you agreed to it.

  2. Marijke Vonk Post author

    Monogamous people don’t forbid their partners anything – they make a commitment to each other not to have sex with other people. We all have implicit and explicit agreements with our partners about the conditions of our relationships, and I think that’s absolutely fine. I don’t believe in unconditional love, healthy relationships thrive on boundaries that come from self-respect. And if you’re wired to be monogamous, monogamous commitments are fine. It’s not a rule, it’s a commitment. And if you don’t want to make that commitment, be up front about it and don’t enter into a monogamous relationship.

  3. kim

    True, I get that. But….
    There’s a lot of pressure to make that commitment. In most cases it’s a make or break deal: If you can’t stay true to me, than you can’t be with me at all. That’s a hard one, especially when you’re in love.
    I also think most people don’t have the intention to break their commitment, they just figure things out over the years. Because it feels wrong to yourself to keep your promise and it feels wrong to your partner to break your promise.

    Personally I think trust is one of the most important things in a relationship and because of that people shouldn’t break their promises. But I also think that if you’re going to give your partner such a hard choice, you should prepare yourself for that person to mess it up. And then the only question that’s left is: do you really really think monogamy is that important?

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