The questions I began this post with quickly gave rise to more questions – too many to tackle at once in a single post. I’ve decided to break it down a bit at a time. This is the first of a half-dozen or so short posts I’ll be writing on the subject.
If there are any reliable statistics on infidelity, this discussion is not based on them. I have read about affairs online – personal accounts of affairs and various articles where therapists and counselors discuss the issue. Other than that, everything I know about infidelity comes from being the “other man” or from friends who have talked to me about their infidelity.
Some of you have experienced infidelity from different angles than I have – perhaps you’ve been married and cheated, or been cheated on, or maybe you’ve thought about it but chose to remain faithful? So, in sharing a few thoughts and experience about infidelity, I’m as much asking some questions and inviting you to share your thoughts and help fill in the discussion with your unique perspectives.
Are people more comfortable with cheating on their spouse than they used to be? If so, is this a good change or bad? Are women more comfortable with cheating than they used to be, or does it just seem so because of some change in my attitude? Are there any universal changes in attitude happening? If so, what impact might that have on society or the nature of the relationships and marriages that we have?
Let’s break it down a bit, one question at a time.
Is cheating less immoral, or immoral at all, if one or both participants don’t view cheating as wrong?
I think participating in marital infidelity is wrong, yet I have have had intimate contact with a number of married women. So, essentially, I have participated in activity that I knew was wrong: I knew things were happening without the knowledge or consent of the husbands, but I participated anyway. Is that not worse, morally, than if I had done so believing that there was nothing wrong with such behavior? Whatever the morality of it, I definitely feel guilt when I’m with a married woman. I’m sure I’d not feel as much guilt if I felt there was nothing wrong with it. And then there is her attitude. In a few cases, a married woman has had no reservations about what she was doing – as far as I could tell she didn’t feel an ounce of guilt about cheating on her husband, at least at the time the shenanigans were happening. Should I have had less to feel guilty about if she thought there was nothing to feel guilty about? Was it less wrong of me to participate? Moral or not, the complexity of questions and issue that surround infidelity make it fascinating – more stimulating even, some might argue. Okay, I don’t know about others, but it’s a turn on for me.
Let’s look at a real world example to see if the answers become more clear. In the not-so-distant past (and by that I mean about three weeks ago) I met some high school teachers at a cool lounge bar not far from my house. There were three of them having a sort of a girls night out. All three were married, and were drinking enough to be Ubering. I was sitting next to them at the bar and was there by myself – an easy target for group amusement (see teasing and flirtatious harassment.). In short, they ended up coming to my house to make a fire – I have a large stone fireplace outside. One of the teachers stayed at my houses after the other two left. Amie was not terribly conflicted about the decision to stay over and mess around with me. I watched her text her husband and tell him she was crashing at her friend’s house. I didn’t pry too deeply into her emotions, but enough to learn that it was her first time cheating. She was the quietest of the three, and while I wouldn’t describe her as aggressive, she was pretty much leading our way into sin, shall we say. If she had been crying or hyperventilating, and all wrapped up with inner conflict about what she was doing, would it have been more reprehensible for me to participate? Would It have been more moral if we just had sex one time and limited it to one position? How about if she enjoyed herself less, would it have not been as bad?
Now, compare that situation with what happened with Jenny, another one of the three friends from that night. Jenny was the best looking of the three and had been the most flirtatious, but had made it clear even before we left the bar that first night, that there’d be no action coming from her direction, ever. Well a couple weeks later some girls in the group went out again. The one I had hooked up with, Amie, joined them for a while and then had to be home for some family function. The other two stayed stayed out later, along with another friend who hadn’t been with them the night of the fire. So, long story short, Jenny, who teaches English, agreed to read Dare – the story I am about to publish. Unlike Amie, Jen was certain that she’d not be unfaithful, and even made me swear never to tell Amie or any of her friends about what happened. So, this brings up more questions.
Was it worse what happened with Jenny – because she felt it was something she shouldn’t do? Does it change anything that once she got to doing what she did, she was much worse (read naughtier) than Amie? It was more exciting for me – was this because it was more forbidden, or more of a challenge, or was it just because of her huge breasts? And, is it just me, or is it more often those who are most reluctant that are the least prudent once they get to it? Could it be that those who think what they are doing is wrong, try harder to make the guilt worth their while? Or, were they more reluctant in the first place, because they know how far they’ll go if they go at all?
Cheating: Issues, Questions & Implications of shifting attitudes towards marital infidelity.