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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

SL Letter of the Day: Peace On The Side

Posted by on Tue, Jan 18, 2011 at 2:27 PM

I'm a 21-year-old female who's been having frequent phone sex with a 35-year old man in another state. He used to be my professor and academic advisor, but we didn't make a habit of getting each other off until I graduated.

This man is married and about to have his first kid. He doesn't seem to be taking enough precautions. He isn't very quiet when he calls me (he's woken his wife before) and he doesn't delete our texts (he says he likes to jerk off to them again later). He's offered to fly me to a rendezvous location where we could play out our fantasies, but when I pointed out the danger of his wife seeing his credit card charges he said, "Well, I'm going to get caught eventually."

How hard should I lecture him about not getting caught? I know the rules for cheating spouses, but what about the people they are involved with? How much does the responsibility of preserving his marriage fall upon me?

Girl On The Side

My response after the jump...


Your ex-prof is a cheating piece of shit, GOTS.

The rules for cheating spouses—the circumstances under which a spouse has a right to cheat (or isn't entirely in the wrong to cheat)—are fairly limited. Cheating is permissible when it amounts to the least worst option, i.e. when someone who made a monogamous commitment isn't getting any at home (sick or disabled or withholding-without-cause spouse) and divorce isn't an option (sick or disabled or withholding-without-cause-spouse-who-can't-be-divorced-for-some-karma-imperilling-reason-or-other) and the sex on the side makes it possible for the cheater to stay married and stay sane. (An exception can be made for a married person with a kink that his or her spouse can't/won't accommodate, so long as the kink can be satisfied safely and discreetly.) Someone who meets the criteria and cheats is merely a cheater (with cause); someone who doesn't and cheats anyway is a cheating piece of shit (CPOS).

Presumably your CPOS ex-prof's pregnant wife isn't sick, disabled, or withholding-without-cause. Your letter is brief and we don't have all the details and blah blah blah qualifier qualifier qualifier. But it sounds like this CPOS wants out of his marriage—perhaps he isn't excited about the idea of having a kid—and doesn't have the courage or decency to end his marriage like a grownup. And having failed to wind his marriage down when it made the most sense—after he realized he wanted out, before his wife got pregnant—this CPOS now seeks to blow his marriage up.

That makes you the bomb, GOTS.

It should go without saying that no decent person—cough, cough—would consent to be used the way this CPOS is using you. I mean, are you a human being, GOTS, and capable of empathy? Or are you two pounds of C-4?

But perhaps I'm to blame: I've never laid out rules for a piece on the side, GOTS, and it's possible that you wouldn't be involved with this CPOS if I had. So file this away for future reference...


If the married person you wanna fuck meets the cheating-is-permissible criteria (least worst option, sick or disabled or withholding-without-cause spouse, the cheating allows the cheater to stay married and stay sane), fuck away. But if the married person you wanna fuck doesn't meet the criteria and you choose to fuck him or her anyway, then (s)he's a cheating piece of shit and so are you.


Comments (154) RSS

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badgirl I’ve given what you wrote last serious thought. I don't know if you are still reading this column, but some thoughts for your consideration. Morality too often has very little to do with whether you believe in some form of higher power or not (e.g. the Catholic church and its historic treatment of victims of pedophile priests) whether you are monogamous or not. As you say, I don’t really know you or your situation. There is no way I can. I just offer you some of my experiences.

I may have misread what you have written, but I think you said that you and your husband engage in extramarital activities together (this wasn’t a factor in my marriage). That he is somewhat aware of your other activities and is strongly opposed to them. If so, do you know what his reasons are for staying in the marriage and if there is some expiration date? You say there are children involved. Is it realistic to expect him to tell you what his long term intentions/plans are? Rhetorical questions, no answers expected. At some point many people just go through the motions and stop really communicating. What’s the point, they have effectively gone their separate ways. All that is left is smoke and mirrors with the people masking their true thoughts and feelings. For me there was an expiration date and my subsequent actions came as a complete surprise to my wife. Nothing violent, I just left. She went away for the weekend and when she returned I was gone along with all my stuff. The divorce papers were on the kitchen table and I started a completely new life. Needless to say she was quite stunned. I wound up doing things and becoming a person I never thought was possible, who knew.

Cheating changes relationships and everyone involved (duh). Things are lost that can never be as they once were (trust, respect, self respect, communication, affection, love, intimacy). Some wounds are just too deep that they never really heal (a general observation not limited to cheating). Since lying and secrets are generally involved (even if it is only suspicions), once he knows/suspects that you have lied to him how can he really believe anything you ever say again if he can’t verify what you say. It was true in my case and I had to wonder if anything my wife had ever said to me was true. Since the trust that should exist between spouses was destroyed, the implicit belief in her truthfulness/honesty/integrity no longer existed. There is nothing more corrosive than the knowledge/belief that you are no longer the most important thing/person (children excluded) in the life of the person you loved and that they have and are lying to you.

None of this is probably relevant to you, but what you think you have at home may not be real.
Posted by a skeptic and a cynic on January 30, 2011 at 1:20 PM · Report this
I hate the phrase "cheating." It makes monogamy seem like a contest of endurance. That just seems like a bad way to think about a relationship.
Posted by LukeJoe on January 24, 2011 at 10:14 AM · Report this
skeptic and a cynic: no worries man, I have considered everything you have said, and obviously you don't have in depth knowledge of me and my situation, nor of me and yours. Surprisingly enough, my lover and I do talk philosophy at great lengths sometimes, including the philosophies of fidelity, and even of faith, which you have alluded to several times. (Atheist, thanks for asking, lol, but not an immoral cheater because of my athiesm, please don't paint all of us like that, I am hugely passionate about Mr. Dawkins' "out" movement! Most athiests are super moral people). We go a lot, LOT deeper then fuck buddies at this point, I guess a certain amount of that is inevitable after so much time.

It definitely sounds like (and I hope I am not assuming too much here), you have been on the recieving end of what we are dealing out. And I am very sorry, I can only imagine how much devistation is has caused, and yes, of course we have considered it. Its why we are so incredibly careful, we truly want no one to get hurt, but so hard to give each other up. So if indeed I am correct in my assumptions, I can understand your cautionary tales. My husband I don't think would be as shocked as his wife; he knows who he married (an insatiable slut, lol), whereas her? She is more of a traditionalist....the shock wave would truly be enormous. So extreme, *extreme* caution is undertaken.

I know this sounds hokey, and when I am looking at it now, yes, of course I know its wrong. Duh, right? But when I am with him, I dunno. Its beyond lust at this point. Sometimes it seems so pure, like how can this be wrong? I know, I sounds like a friggin' Hallmark card, and again with the rationalization! Lol, gag. Its hard to give this euphoria up for the drudgery of the everyday mundane, knowing nothing I have in my "real world" makes me feel quite like this. Some would say "divorce", but how moral would THAT be? Ripping apart two really wonderful famiies because I really love fucking and hanging out with this guy? Plus, just soooo not an option, for so many other assorted reasons...
Posted by badgirl on January 24, 2011 at 9:47 AM · Report this
Azul 160
@145 thanks for your thoughtful responses... I especially agree with your last paragraph.
Posted by Azul on January 23, 2011 at 4:34 PM · Report this
Canuck 159
Erica, geminigirl, anyone else with a male spouse in the 45-55 year old age range: Required reading: The Irritable Male Syndrome by Jed Diamond. Sounds so much like what you're describing. Mid-life hormones change some men in quite stunning ways.
Posted by Canuck on January 22, 2011 at 6:35 PM · Report this
@157, my sister's ex is a good man too, but the disease meant that he was sometimes intolerable to her. It's just the way you described his attitude toward you changing from one day to the next, with walls going up, shutting you out - it sounded like mental illness to me. But I'm glad to hear that the two of you have come to a compromise you can live with.
Posted by EricaP on January 22, 2011 at 12:37 PM · Report this

Erica, no such thing. I mean, my husband had no clue even that he was being emotionally dense. Anything (during that period, I mean) I said to him about my feelings - and I am not a great one for hinting - would be met with 'That's not true.' Which really hurt because what did he mean that the way I felt was not true? When he finally woke up to the distance between us, I was already in love with the other man. Our circumstances were unfortunate in that by the time he was trying to fix things between us, I had withdrawn emotionally.

My husband is a good man. And I care for him immensely. But our relationship will never be the same again. Since we cannot /will not divorce, I try to ensure that we have a civil, even friendly relationship - the best we can under the circumstances. He knows that I love another man. I told him. I have also told him that it is okay with me if he finds some one else. Why would I wish him to be unhappy?
Posted by geminigirl on January 22, 2011 at 12:00 PM · Report this
Badgirl, I'm sorry if my earlier comment seemed pedantic or intrusive. It's just that your comment struck a nerve. To wit, I thought I knew who someone was (for much longer than 8 years) until they said and did certain things that made me realize I didn't know that person at all. They displayed a side of their personality that I had never seen before and was completely out of what I thought their character was. An over generalization perhaps, but a person may say one thing (theoreticlly) and react in a completely opposite manner when they are faced with reality. Many conservatives are really good at pontificating about things when they have had no personal experience with them. In any event, I do hope things work out well for you.
Posted by a skeptic and a cynic on January 22, 2011 at 11:37 AM · Report this
secretagent 155
@153 - perhaps you weren't, but I read your comments as o-b-l-i-g-a-t-i-o-n. Perhaps that wasn't what you intended, but it read that way. Sorry I misunderstood.

However, I'll bet that as soon as "We need to discuss other options" leaves the lips of your spouse, the level of interest in communicating skyrockets. Yeah, many people probably dance around the topic, but how many people say, "I need sex and if you're unwilling to ever sleep with me, I will sleep with someone else." That's the lay-it-on-the-line that I'm talking about, and if you are regularly a person of your word, that shouldn't fall on deaf ears.

I don't think it's a safe bet to assume that a spouse has actually had the balls to state their position clearly. If you do, and your spouse calls your bluff, it's on them.
Posted by secretagent on January 22, 2011 at 10:30 AM · Report this
@152 Geminigirl, do you think it's possible your husband is bipolar? What you're describing sounds a lot like what my sister went through with her ex. If he's emotionally abusive to you (as you describe), isn't it possible that you'd be better off leaving him, for your own sake and to avoid modeling for your children that this is what a normal relationship looks like?
Posted by EricaP on January 22, 2011 at 9:19 AM · Report this
150: You know perfectly well I wasn't referring to being occasionally not up for it. You can stop whacking that straw man. It's dead.

At least in all the stories that get published, by the time the words "No, I'm not interested" leave someone's lips, it's a very, very safe bet that all of the above had already happened. In one of the recent ones published here, those same basic words came out in the counselors office. (google "loyal like a dog")
Posted by avast2006 on January 22, 2011 at 1:04 AM · Report this
@150 - I can actually say that. And it was not about our sex life. My husband withdrew from me one fine day three years ago. The first couple of days, I assumed he had issues that he was working through, and that he would tell me about it soon enough. Keep in mind that we had a great marriage until then. But the days went on, until it became weeks, and then months, and he wouldn't respond to anything I asked. He seemed to have time for every one but me; I tried everything I could - I begged, I pleaded, I cried, I fought to no avail. The only thing that continued during that time? He would reach for me regularly at night, and I would give in, because I hoped against hope that it would bring him out of whatever demons were affecting him and our relationship. During the course of those eighteen horrible months, I began to feel worse than a whore. Even a whore has *some* choice - I didn't. I still held him when he slept, loving him, crying silently until my pillow remained constantly dampened with my tears. Finally, one night, eighteen months after he first withdrew, I sat next to him after putting our younger child to bed. And placed my hand on his as he sat on the sofa, and called his name so I could tell him something. He pulled his hand from under mine and snapped "What?" Something broke inside me that night. I said "Nothing." Then walked upstairs, took off my wedding ring and the chain around my neck that signified our marriage, and something died inside me. So, yes, I can say that I have tried everything I could to save my marriage and nothing worked.

My relationship with my lover happened much later. I have been friends with this man for more than ten years now. We became lovers two years ago. And as I mentioned, we are both seeking emotional solace in each other; the sex is rare, since we live in different states. And neither of us are into phone sex; our phone conversations are that of friends; only much more frequent since we used to speak daily. He has been estranged from his wife for more than ten years; and what I liked about him from the first was that he has never blamed his wife for the failure of their marriage. He speaks of her with respect; and is very upfront about the fact that while he has his reasons for being estranged, if I asked her, she would have her own. They have been to counselling thrice, the third time even going so far as division of assets. Then they decided to stay together for the sake of their children; and her only stipulation was that no one know that their relationship was hollow; that, in the eyes of family and friends, their marriage seems perfect. That is a status quo that he will not change. It was something he made very clear long before we began a physical relationship. I appreciate that about him, and to my mind, that is a lot more honest because he is not promising me anything that he cannot fulfil. He knows that my children are important to me; he knows that I care about my husband, and always will, even though we do not have a relationship to speak of.

Circumstances brought me into a relationship that I had never looked for, and it is very dear to me. He makes me happy; I give him some solace in the emotional wasteland that is his life, and I am grateful that he is there in my life. I will never do anything that will upset his family life, such as it is; neither will he. We support each other through life's vagaries, and we have learnt not to take our happiness for granted.

I do not say this in defence of an extra-marital relationship. I only offer this as my experience - one which I had never foreseen; one about which I had very strong views against, in fact. It is strange the way life throws a googly at you that you never saw coming.

Posted by geminigirl on January 21, 2011 at 9:19 PM · Report this
@150- and this gets back to what you wrote @135, that the person hearing the complaint has to try really really really hard not to get defensive, and just listen to the one who is unhappy. These conversations are hard and painful and scary. I do understand why people want to avoid them. But good stuff, important Relationship and Life stuff, can come from having these hard, painful, scary conversations.
Posted by EricaP on January 21, 2011 at 4:40 PM · Report this
secretagent 150
@147. Trying to have sex with your partner and being turned down does not entitle one to cheat. Sometimes I don't want to have sex. Maybe 5% of the time. Sometimes, my parts are broken down. I'm not going to be all TMI, but really, being the owner of a vagina sucks a lot sometimes. Sometimes I'm sick. Sometimes I'm tired. Sometimes, he's been kind of absent and I'm not feeling very connected to him. I don't want to be a sex provider and not a partner and friend, someone who gets to spend time with him & have fun with him. I'm a human being, not a machine, and I'm not obligated to consent to sex every time the opportunity presents.

I do have a responsibility to communicate my needs, and to keep my partner happy, so if this goes on for some time, we make it work. How many people who are sexually unfulfilled actually sit down and say, "Honey, we haven't been intimate for a while. Is there something bothering you? Is there something I can do to make it better for you?" How many people make a genuine effort to figure it out, rather than assuming? If you've made your best effort at making it work, and it's not, then you say, "Honey, I am *unhappy with our sex life*. I love you, but I've tried to communicate with you about it and it's not working. *We need to discuss other options*." LAY IT OUT THERE! It's probably not going to be one conversation, but several. It's an effort to be fair, and to ethically get what you want. The benefit is that then you're not a CPOS, and if things blow up, you can actually say accurately that you did everything you could think of, and that she didn't.
Posted by secretagent on January 21, 2011 at 4:00 PM · Report this
Azul 149
@147 - why don't you try reading the conversation from a little farther back... the "no not interested" was imagining a theoretical future, in response to a hypothetical question
Posted by Azul on January 21, 2011 at 2:29 PM · Report this
Heavy sigh badgirl. I hope by now it is apparent that I am more concerned about adverse consequences than moral judgments. The latter is between you and whatever deities you believe in, unless me and mine are directly affected. As to being shocked, nothing short of an admission that you were you were a cannibal, pedophile, rapist, and/or serial killer would really shock me. However, I might go eww about certain kinks because of personal esthetics. As long as discretion is used (i.e. I don’t appreciate having anything jammed down my throat, an aphorism or figure of speech, not intended to be taken as any form of criticism for the literal minded out there), if it doesn’t affect me and mine have at it. A truly appropriate use of DADT. Most people, most of the time, and I include myself seldom think about the consequences of their actions (any action) before hand and the affect those actions have on others until well after the fact. Most people aren’t that calculating or manipulative.

A couple of general statements of principle based on observations and conversations. Many, if not most or all, heterosexual male cheaters are hypocrites and committed to the double standard when it comes to cheating. Many, if not most or all, heterosexual male cheaters are engaged in some form of dominance games with other males. The male of every specie is probably hard wired that way (dominant male and all that). Not being female or bi or gay, I really can’t make any kind of informed statement with respect to them, but I suspect everyone plays game (e.g. friends and siblings who try to steal boyfriends or start rumors).

I don’t know if you’ve ever had a philosophical discussion about cheating with your lover. For that matter, I doubt if many participants ever really talk about the subject. Personally, I would find it awkward and uncomfortable to be that introspective while in an affair. Given your reaction to his comments about his friend’s wife, I suspect that he may be displaying his real attitude towards cheating and by inference how he would react if he found out that his wife was cheating like he is. Then again they may have an open relationship. I kind of doubt it given his reaction, but who knows. I don’t/can’t know what he has told you about his marriage over the years or to what degree you’ve tried, could, or been able to determine the truth of what he has said. Given what you’ve written, I doubt that you are really comfortable about what he has said about his friend’s wife. Personally, I would start to wonder what he actually thought/felt about me, but then I don’t really trust a lot of people anymore having been burned more than once (by different people in various personal and business relationships). Sometimes I wonder if there is something about me that attracts certain types of people. I can assure that the typical badboy/badgirl (and I’m not referring to you) has no appeal to me. I perceive you to be a basically decent person in a bad situation. If you weren’t you wouldn’t be experiencing the grief you seem to be. Remember, I am self described as skeptic and a cynic.

A piece of unsolicited advice, maybe you should end things with your lover (at least for awhile) if you can’t stop beating yourself up over your actions. I realize that you have considered it and it would be difficult, but I suspect the physical and emotional toll (based on what you have written) is doing no one (you, your husband and children, your lover, your family and friends, your employer, etc) any favors. If you aren’t already seeing one, I suggest you see a mental health professional if only to talk to an objective person about your situation and feelings. However, (depending where you live) finding a competent, discrete, and nonjudgmental one who doesn’t have their own agenda and biases can be difficult. Explaining why you need one may be difficult/stressful.

Sorry about the novel.
Posted by a skeptic and a cynic on January 21, 2011 at 11:21 AM · Report this
@139: I assumed the "conversation" had already happened and that's where "but I'm saying "no, not interested," had come out. At the point you wash your hands of responsibility towards him, you've lost any claim on permission, too. If that's your attitude, you've also lost the right to play the "but you're my spouse, I deserve better" card. So did he, before you said essentially "you're not my problem."

@140: Fair enough, but the sentence I was responding to didn't say "wanting to have more sex." or "wanting to have different sex." Dan recently printed a letter from somebody who hadn't had sex with his spouse for ten years.
Posted by avast2006 on January 21, 2011 at 11:14 AM · Report this
long-time reader 146
What's all this "least worst" nonsense? That's "least bad", or, simply, "best", to those of us who speak English. Learn to write gooder.
Posted by long-time reader on January 21, 2011 at 10:51 AM · Report this
secretagent 145
@141. Judgment - I disagree. I'm not one of those people who dig in and can't listen once I've made up my mind. I continue to use my brain after I make decisions, and I'm wrong a lot, just like everyone else. I don't consider it bad to be wrong sometimes, just bad not to be willing to see it. I'm aware people are different, and what's acceptable to you may not be acceptable to me. But let's restate: I think people deserve a chance to make important decisions about their relationships, and that partners owe each other communication about these things - especially sex.

Honesty - there's a difference between telling me the truth and gratuitous honesty. Did I ask if he wasn't attracted to me anymore? Tell me. If I didn't, don't - he's not breaking any promises not to tell me something like that. I would expect him to tell me if I'm gaining weight and it turns him off, though I do think it's my responsibility to stay attractive and interesting to him, so I hope he never has to tell me that. But I think sex is an essential component to a relationship - most relationships, and definitely mine - so if I stop wanting to have sex with him, that's a problem. If I've stopped wanting to have sex at all, that's also a problem. Lack of libido is not normal. Maintaining the sexual part of your relationship is just as important as maintaining the emotional part.

But if my partner ever approached me about getting a girlfriend, and we were still getting the majority of our needs met from each other, I'd likely agree. If losing him would be worse than sharing him, then I'd share. If I didn't feel that way, I likely would have left earlier anyway. In my case, I always keep an eye on his level of desire for me, I always make efforts to keep things exciting, and if I noticed a decline, I'd likely have addressed it myself. I'm aware that screwing the same person for decades, or even just years can get boring. Experiments, trips, even a third are all reasonable options to spice things up.

But it's also very possible to be excited to screw your spouse of decades too. I think finding sexual compatibility is just as important as finding someone who is compatible in other ways. If you don't make it a priority in your life, you can't be surprised when it's lost it's luster.

Maybe if people put more effort into knowing themselves and their needs before getting into a serious relationship, and communicated about these needs, we wouldn't have these issues. I'm surprised that a couple can go a month without addressing an issue, let alone years! Problems like these don't sneak up on you - they are present for a long time before something like cheating happens. Ignoring something when you know your spouse isn't happy is wrong. Not advocating for yourself in relationships is wrong. There is blame on both parts - but if you can honestly say you've done the very best you can to communicate your needs clearly, there's not much else you can do. I just doubt sometimes that people *do* give everything they can to communication - it's too hard, feelings might be hurt, whatever crappy reason.
Posted by secretagent on January 21, 2011 at 10:20 AM · Report this
Azul 144
That makes sense.
Posted by Azul on January 21, 2011 at 10:01 AM · Report this
Same goes for women, of course - didn't mean to be so gendered in my answer.
Posted by EricaP on January 21, 2011 at 9:54 AM · Report this
@141, there's no bright line between the guys who are jealous and the guys who can share their wives. It's more of a spectrum:
At one end, you have the total jealous freak who will not "let" his wife have a drink with a male colleague, and he'll get mad if he sees her looking at an attractive guy, let alone fantasizing about one.
At the other end, there are guys who have hot-wife fantasies (I wish my wife would sleep with other men and come tell me about it!)
In between, there's the guy who likes hearing the fantasies but isn't ready for it to be real, the guy who doesn't mind if his wife gets backrubs from other guys at a SciFi convention, the guy who likes seeing his wife get a lapdance from a woman at a strip club, the guy who might be willing to have an MFF, or even an MMF... Not only is there a spectrum, but people can move one way or the other on the spectrum over time...
Posted by EricaP on January 21, 2011 at 9:53 AM · Report this
Azul 141
@135 RE Judgment: You’re right, the consequences of judging online doesn’t (or shouldn’t) cause anyone serious pain… but (and I don’t want to sound cheesy here) once you judge a situation, you’ve finished learning from it. I think sometimes listening and reflecting without judging can be good for us (sometimes)

RE Honesty: Fair enough – you’re right, the situations are different. My question: say you’re 50, you’ve been with the same man for 25 years… you love each other but aren’t having sex (say you just never feel in the mood anymore, and he’s not pursuing you either). And your man has lost any attraction to you. It’s not that you’ve neglected yourself, or have treated him abusively… maybe it’s just that he knows you so well, he feels like your brother, or maybe it’s that he’s not attracted to your aging body. Whatever the case, when he asks you if he can date someone else, would you want him to be honest and say it’s b/c he’s not attracted to you anymore? Or would you want him to offer an excuse to save your feelings? I think for a lot of women, if they know their husbands are no longer attracted to them, any chance at fixing their sex life is gone.

RE Communication: I completely agree – well said.

@140: you’re right, I was simplifying the situation so it would be easier for me to answer your question. But I guess if we’re having sex, but not enough, and my husband wanted a change, yeah, I’d want to know. But I am pretty open-minded about relationships. For so many people – certainly my ex-husband, and probably my current partner too, it’s 100% faithfulness or a break up – some sex on the side with open communication is NOT an option. If I’d needed to get some on the side while with my ex, my choices would have been 1) do it on the DL, or 2) break up. He was a jealous guy (not in a mean way – it was kind of sweet – but he would NEVER have agreed to share me). And honestly, I think there are more guys like him than ones that would agree to share their wives…
Posted by Azul on January 21, 2011 at 12:09 AM · Report this
@133, 138, 139 - for most of these men, they are still having (unprotected) sex with their wives, just not as often as they'd like... Often the sex with their wives is fine, but they still want something different for a change.
Posted by EricaP on January 20, 2011 at 10:23 PM · Report this
secretagent 139
Yeah, avast, if she's your hooker. If she's your wife, she deserves a conversation.
Posted by secretagent on January 20, 2011 at 8:28 PM · Report this
@133: "I'd imagine that if he's wanting to have sex with me, but I'm saying "no, not interested," I'd like him to ask permission to go outside the relationship for sex, and I'd be happy to grant the permission."

Seems to me if he's wanting sex with you and you are saying "no, not interested" then you have forfeited any say in what he does after that. If you aren't interested, then you aren't interested.
Posted by avast2006 on January 20, 2011 at 6:07 PM · Report this
skeptic and a cynic: This is going to sound frightfully awful (well, if what else I haven't said isn't shocking enough, lol!), but my lover right now is helping a friend through a divorce because of....*drumroll please*......infidelity. He tells me all about it (well, I am definitely a friend in addition to a lover) and the true irony is that you should HEAR him go off on what a homewrecking whore his friends' wife is! I say...."uhhh, pot? This is the kettle"...and then he tells me the way our adulterous affair is *different*, lol! I think at times, he has grown so accustomed to me in his life, he forgets I am not supposed to be a part of it.

So yes, I will agree with whomever said there is a lot of rationalization that goes into it. I really think for the most past, the people involved are mostly decent; I mean, many people are unfaithful at some point in thier marriages. But to tell the truth, I am a million, trillion ties more guilty about the emotional side of our relationship that has become established, then some stupid sexual act. That is far worse a betrayal in my eyes then just gettin' nakkid and bumpin' uglies. The only defense I have for that is that I never meant for it to appen, and I know its wrong. But I can't imagine giving him up at this point.

So in a way, I think that makes me even worse then scuzzo prof up there. I could handle if hubby went and fucked some chick....what secrent agent said, I think I will go with option #1...decent person who does bad things. Hence the nick! But piece of shit? Really? I would put "intent to harm" behind those words. I truly want to harm no one, even though I realize my actions are immoral.

Posted by badgirl on January 20, 2011 at 4:59 PM · Report this
@135 "a person also has a responsibility to provide a safe space for dialogue in a relationship. If you blow up, cry, or otherwise respond immaturely every time you hear something you don't like, don't be surprised if you soon get lies instead."

Posted by EricaP on January 20, 2011 at 4:51 PM · Report this
secretagent 135
Azul - The difference between me judging a stranger's experience online, which I definitely can't see into enough to know for sure, and the other woman/man in an affair is that there is no consequence to mistaken judgment here. My idea that someone's actions are wrong - and I'm really not coming down on individuals, just ideas for the purpose of intelligent debate - will not affect their lives. Yes, they may have hurt feelings if they're sensitive, but in the end, I'm a stranger on the internet. Not a woman in bed with their husband.

I agree that complete honesty isn't always the best cause. But we're not talking about a mistake that happens one time. We're talking about an affair. We're talking about ongoing deception, breaking vows, stuff with bigger implications than a one-time screw up. And you may feel like you'd rather a discreet affair but you can't speak for others. And I can't speak for others. I CAN speak for my views on ethics, fairness, and accountability.

My discussion went wonderfully. And I think I'd rather him get a gf than leave me. But I'd rather know, and that's what I told him. People change, needs change, and I'd rather hear a hard truth than a pretty lie.

Something I failed to mention is that I think a person also has a responsibility to provide a safe space for dialogue in a relationship. If you blow up, cry, or otherwise respond immaturely every time you hear something you don't like, don't be surprised if you soon get lies instead. We're not all masochists, and few people will stick to the hard line of the truth if everything turns into a blow-out. If you are inflexible and uncommunicative, you'll reap what you sow. Bottom line: cheat if you want to, but take responsibility for your choices and own those decisions. Don't excuse them cause that helps you sleep. It's not so bad to be a decent person who does bad things. It's bad to be a decent person who lies to themselves about it.
Posted by secretagent on January 20, 2011 at 4:10 PM · Report this
Badgirl as I stated above, those are my personal reasons for not having an affair even though my job has provided me with able opportunity to, over the last 25 years, if I was so inclined. Those reasons are based on hard won knowledge through personal, though, involuntary, experience and witnessing the oft times tragic consequences to friends, relatives, and acquaintances. I know that even similar situations are unique and that what I have experienced and witnessed are not typical. If they were I think there would be far less cheating (I only use that word because an affair can be between two otherwise unattached individuals), but maybe not given the common mindset that bad things can’t happen to me. A mindset that is particularly prevalent in younger people. Some of those consequences/reactions have been truly horrific/extreme and I don’t mean a bitter divorce or custody dispute. I can empathize with you about the emotional toll on you and what it has likely cost you. Personally, no affair regardless how great the sex may be is worth my soul. I know myself well enough to fully grasp what cheating would cost me emotionally and I am not willing to pay that price. Once again, this applies solely to me and my circumstances. As you pointed out I don’t know you or your situation. I am only willing to judge myself and those who have harmed me and my children. I have neither the right nor the wisdom to judge others, which is one of the reasons I stopped participating in any form of organized religion when I turned 16.

P.S. I would think long and hard about putting your employment at risk in this economy. I’ve seen what you are doing used as grounds for summary termination, something you and your lover may be willing to risk. What you describe would be nightmarish for me with two families potentially at risk.
As to tone, think of it as a sadder but wiser man try to pass on his experiences. Sadly most people only really learn by experience. I wish you well and hope you are more fortunate than I have been. Sometimes ignorance truly is bliss (I know a hackneyed cliché).
Posted by a skeptic and a cynic on January 20, 2011 at 3:03 PM · Report this
Azul 133
You know, Erica, that's a hard question... I think it would depend on the details of the theoretical situation... I'd imagine that if he's wanting to have sex with me, but I'm saying "no, not interested," I'd like him to ask permission to go outside the relationship for sex, and I'd be happy to grant the permission. If for whatever reason he is no longer attracted to me (but still loves me - we are family - and he respects me, etc), but he would prefer sex with someone else than to me... I'm not sure I'd want to know that...
Posted by Azul on January 20, 2011 at 12:56 PM · Report this
@131, you'd rather he cheated than left, but would you rather he cheated or told you?

Do you think there are a lot of women who think, "I'd rather he cheated than told me what he was doing, because then I'd have to leave him"? If so, maybe those women should tell their husbands... that could be a grown-up way to renegotiate the situation. ("Don't ever tell me if you need outside sex. I don't want to know." To which he could reply, reassuringly if not truthfully, "no, no, I'll never need anyone but you...")

Posted by EricaP on January 20, 2011 at 12:42 PM · Report this
Azul 131
secretagent, I hope your discussion with your bf went well. And I agree with your beginning argument that judging others is natural... and I also think you're right to acknowledge that relationships are complicated and someone outside of it (aka, the other woman) can't judge one person to be right (her lover) and the other (his wife) to be wrong, because there is just too much to know. But I wish you would apply the same concept - not possibly being able to know the full story makes it unfair to judge – to badgirl and seandr's stories.
And I have to disagree with you that complete and utter honesty is the best thing for all relationships, in all stages... see comment 31, check out Prudie's recent column (link @60), etc. And Prudie is kind of a traditionalist the way you seem to be (still supports gay rights, etc)... if you're not familiar with her column, maybe you'd like it (I like it, and I'm not so traditional).
If my (theoretical) husband of 20 years and father of my children felt about me the way Seandr feels about his wife, I would not want to know that - especially if it were something that could not be fixed. Divorcing someone that you love and share a life and family with can be extremely painful. I suffered from PTSD after a difficult divorce from a man that I loved very, very much (and the divorce was my decision/no cheating involved - also a very complex situation). I pray to god that I never have to go through something like that again. Assuming my partner loves me and respects me, I would rather have him cheat on me discreetly than leave me. Unfortunately no one is perfect and we all have to settle for partners that don't meet 100% of our needs 100% of the time, just as they settle have to settle for us.
Posted by Azul on January 20, 2011 at 12:07 PM · Report this
Wow, a LOT to digest! I need to go back and read these responses more slowly to digest them.

Well, thanks for those of you reading with an open mind, and there seem to be some of you! Azul, you especially, if you are interested in said listserv, you can contact me and introduce yourself :). We keep the group closed for obvious reasons, but I am the moderator, and I can invite people and some fresh blood would be welcome. For anyone else out there that might be lurking and involved and interested: We are NOT all about "Yay, yay, I am cheating, its awesome!", its more like a place where we can come talk about the VAST emotional and yes, moral implications involved. A little support board if your will, since its definitely something I can NOT chat about with the other wives in my neighborhood over coffee at the local Starbucks, ahaha. Trust me, we ALL pay the price for what we do, its an emotional hurricane. Not nearly the quick piece of ass I intended when I started up, but just what it evolved into. (Lol, I know, horrible. But I figured I could remember it. ;) )
Posted by badgirl on January 20, 2011 at 10:57 AM · Report this
secretagent 129
Nothing is black and white, don't judge others, don't label - these are platitudes. What Adam_west said - we all judge. It's my right to disagree with behaviors I think are damaging and self-serving. It's not my right to try and force you to agree. Or to make you fall in line with my ethics. I would never, ever, try to legislate these views, or to punish you for yours. There's a huge difference, and you have to know that. Judgment is society's way of self-preservation - if we did not frown upon behaviors that upset the stability of the group, we never would have gotten so far as a species. All animals & societies shun or discourage anti-social behaviors - lying, stealing, and yes, cheating is most definitely lying, and sleeping with someone else's spouse is definitely a form of stealing.

Hardwired for monogamy - maybe not. But again, don't agree to monogamy if you don't believe in it. Nazi bullshit is just that - bullshit that serves as a reminder of crazy eugenic crap that got way out of control. I don't support someone who is gay getting married to a straight person and lying about it, just as I don't support someone who is non-monogamous lying in their relationships.

I grew up in Orange County - no, sex-positive, open relationships were not the norm, and many people would probably think I'm a freak for suggesting it. But their responses are not up to me, nor are they my concern. My concern is finding a person who is compatible with me, who can communicate openly, and who is willing to fulfill my needs. That's my responsibility as a person who wants to be happy - FINDING the person that fits my needs - not creating them, not settling and then lying, but finding the right person, the first time, before I get all husband kids home and have to start putting others ahead of myself. Yeah, that's right, other people's needs *ahead* of my own. Because that's what you promise to do. And if I choose wrong, that's also on me. Then I make the decisions to fix it, while respecting other people who are different from me. See the common thread here? Personal responsibility. Respect for other people's needs, even if they're different from my own.

In fact, because of this discussion, I brought up non-monogamy with my boyfriend. He is very monogamous and very conservative. I am capable and willing to be monogamous with him, and was upfront about my beliefs when we started dating. I was a little nervous bringing it up - maybe he'd think I'm cheating, maybe he'd tell me something I don't want to hear. Maybe he does want someone else. But I put on my big-girl panties and brought it up. Because I want him to know he can always talk to me about his needs, even if it might hurt my feelings. Because I love him and I want him to be happy, and I acknowledge that people's needs change over time, and he might not always want just me, or even me at all.

If you hook up with someone, yes, you don't always know that they're telling the truth. But just like any relationship, over time you can figure it out. And when you figure out they're lying, they get the boot. I don't think you need to police other people's commitments so much as know that you can't possibly know her side of the story, and you are not in any position to make the judgment that he's right and she's wrong, and thus your affair is justified. I fully support your right to make your own decisions. What I disagree with is inadequate or erroneous attempts at justification, and your complaints about being judged and subject to stigma. Yeah, you screw someone else's husband, of course you are subject to judgment and stigma. Marriage still means something to some people. Knowingly assisting someone in their dishonesty and infidelity does put some of the blame on your shoulders. Yeah, not all marriages are cakewalks, but you have a duty to try try try try try, and, I think, acknowledge to the other person when your trying has ended and that you are now going to seek out others. I bet lots of people wouldn't leave.

The bottom line is that we are all free to make whatever decisions we like. We don't have the right to approval for those decisions, and you live with it. There's lots of stuff I've done that I've been judged for, but I'm a big girl and I take it. And advocate for change, and educate people about the things I think are important, like fair treatment of sex workers, kink, non-monogamy, reproductive rights, etc.
Posted by secretagent on January 20, 2011 at 10:48 AM · Report this
Adam_west 128
That said, I don't think things are so simple as you are a POS or not. Not all cheaters are equally bad. For example, I dont think Badgirl is a POS, she seems like a caring and considerate person, who channels her sexual satisfaction back into her family and takes every step to make sure everyone in her life is happy and satisfied.
That said, I think sercretagent is right- making sure that the other person is aware of how much something matters to you. But at the end of the day, everyone is happy and I dont think she should have to sit around feeling guilty because I, or anyone else, says she is wrong. She has the right to enjoy life. Nothing is black or white.
Posted by Adam_west on January 20, 2011 at 4:11 AM · Report this
Adam_west 127
@Fallen Angel- No one is arguing that being non-mongamous is bad.
Every characteristic is a complex interaction between environment and genes, this whole nature/nurture (gene/culture) debate is so 1960s.

What made made people angry about you earlier comment (and I have read your subsequent ones), is that you compare being gay and cheating. While I agree that being homosexual and being non-monogamous are in some way comparable, just like if you are gay you shouldn't enter into a straight relationship, if you are non-monogamous you should not enter into a monogamous relationship.
No amount of genetic or cultural influences gives us an excuse to lie and cheat, a morale code set out for all of us at a very young age. By saying being gay and cheating are the same, people would take that to mean you have quite a low opinion of gay people...

We all judge people by our own moral code, using the argument that we shouldn't force our own morals on others makes little sense. Some people are phsyco and have no morales (not saying you are!) that does not justify their actions. There is no other way to determine if something is right or wrong, other then our own opinion, and the morale code society dictates. I agree that society is often wrong, and this is why we must think for ourselves.
Posted by Adam_west on January 20, 2011 at 3:36 AM · Report this
Azul 126
hmm, interesting... thanks for sharing, Erica P. I wonder if some day my partner will change...
Posted by Azul on January 20, 2011 at 12:53 AM · Report this
Azul @121, what you describe sounds like an imbalance in sex drive. That comes up in SL comments a lot: the person with the higher sex drive gets really tired of always being the one to initiate, and the one with the lower sex drive feels like, well, if you ever gave me a break (for a week or two), you would find that I could initiate sex too. We've had some commentators move from being the higher sexed person in one relationship, to the lower sexed person in their next relationship (or vice versa), and it's interesting to hear how it's all really relative to the person you're with.

And @124, I think ideally you lay the groundwork with years of talking openly about, oh, these interesting sex columns you've been reading, and don't these bloggers have some interesting ideas about how people can arrange their sex lives. But if you're not a match sexually, as badgirl says, that's hard to fix with communication. In my case, getting over my desire for monogamy was only possible because we are so good a match in every other way. And because he persuaded me that there was nothing wrong with me, or our sex life; he just wanted some "strange."
Posted by EricaP on January 20, 2011 at 12:10 AM · Report this
Azul 124
Badgirl’s situation seems much more complex than a lot of people seem to allow. Ideas like “you should be able to communicate with him and explain what you need to be happy, and what compromises you can make to both get what you need” to me, are so simplistic. I don’t know if you guys just know very different kinds of people than I do, but for those of us that aren’t lucky enough to be part of some sex-positive/sexually deviant community – and I live in a big city with a liberal, well-educated population – open relationships are not a realistic possibility. Suggesting one to my partner would hurt him so much that it would take our relationship a very long time to recover. Suggesting one to my ex-husband would have made him angry and suspicious of my fidelity. He would not have seen a conversation like that as an indication that I am open and honest with him, but as an indication that I want to cheat.
Also, I think it’s funny the way many people reference Dan as though he’s a god… I’m a huge fan of his, and love his sex-positivity, but I have my own opinions on things and don’t agree with 100% of his ideas. Just because he says something doesn’t mean it’s the gospel truth!
Bad girl, you seem to doing the best you can in your situation, and I wish you the best with everything.
Fallen angel, you make so many really good points – I agree with you. I am curious about the listserv Erica P is referring to… I couldn’t find any details here…
Posted by Azul on January 19, 2011 at 11:38 PM · Report this
@116, fallen angel, I don't think you or badgirl or geminigirl are bad people. You're really just bearing the brunt of my frustration that so many of the guys who approach me for sex are cheating. (I also get annoyed that so many cute guys in the dating pool have herpes, but at least I don't take that out on you :-)
Posted by EricaP on January 19, 2011 at 11:14 PM · Report this
@113, Roma, the "odd thing" was that he was the one pushing for outside sex, and I was the one getting it. I wasn't sure I wanted it, even as I was having it. He hadn't set out to get me laid, but in the end, I think he enjoys me getting outside sex more than I do, and perhaps more than he enjoys his own outside sex. That is, for him, me having sex with another man is fun to think about and fun to hear about... but for the person having the outside sex (usually me), there's the reality that the sex is sometimes fun and sometimes not so fun.

Posted by EricaP on January 19, 2011 at 11:06 PM · Report this
Azul 121
Erica P @92 thanks for your suggestions -- I think they are good ones. It's hard, though... where sex is concerned, I'm mostly a suggester... if my suggestions are met with disinterest, then unless I am very very horny, I feel bad or lose interest myself. I wish my guy would push my boundaries, but he's so vanilla (and FYI, I've suggested the porn thing and the strip club thing, but they don't really excite him, so then I'm not excited...)
Posted by Azul on January 19, 2011 at 10:58 PM · Report this
@119: Views like yours were precisely what my responses sought to challenge. Did you even read them, or do you just prefer ad hominem attacks? If you did, perhaps you can explain to me how my actions are cowardly?

The world isn't as a black and white as you seem to think it is. You may find it easier to sort things into "good" and "bad," but it's rather naive for you to think this possible.
Posted by fallen angel on January 19, 2011 at 10:23 PM · Report this
@56: WTF are you talking about? I wasn't making any assumptions about seandr's relationship (assuming he even has one), I was translating his disingenuous bullshit into plain English.

@114: Stuff your self-righteousness. Dishonesty is bullshit. Cowardice is bullshit. You're damn right I'm going to be judgmental of someone who is a lying coward, because I don't want them anywhere near me. It's called self-preservation, and it's smart.
Posted by Chase on January 19, 2011 at 9:45 PM · Report this
Man, what a pair of assholes. Cheating on your unsuspecting wife when she's carrying your child? Sleeping with a guy when you know his wife is pregnant?

Doesn't get much lower than that.
Posted by Beyonce on January 19, 2011 at 8:59 PM · Report this
Like badgirl, I am married and in a long-distance relationship with a married man. One that involves more conversation than actual sex. I find him more honest about his relationship than some of the single men who date my friends. There is something that each of our marriages lacks, and while it is easy to say 'Divorce', we decided to put our families' interests ahead of our own happiness. Yes, we do take our happiness when and where we can get it. Which is perhaps meeting thrice a year. On a day-to-day basis, we make do with emails; banal ones, about our lives and our children, and sometimes even about our spouses - regardless of what you people think, we are not belittling them to each other. I have no intention of breaking up his family.

There are some people who are willing to understand that we are not all home-wreckers; sometimes, that is the way the chips fall. I, for one, certainly didn't set out to have an extra-marital affair. What started as a friendship deepened into a relationship where we began to care for each other, but are bound to the relationships we already have. C'est la vie.

So, badgirl, another hand raised to you.
Posted by geminigirl on January 19, 2011 at 8:55 PM · Report this
@EricaP: Thank you for your respectful response. I recognize that I'm arguing for something that most people have trouble with. I do, too; I wrestle with the issue constantly. I respect your right to your views on the matter, and I think your willingness to do the same for me even though we disagree is admirable. So really, thank you. I'm far more accustomed to responses like secretagent's.

In the listserv you referenced, we discuss the ethics of our behaviors frequently. None of us are bad people; all of us are in less than ideal situations. The listserv has been invaluable for my own emotional well-being precisely because it is a space where I am free from judgment. I don't want to speak for the other members of the group, but I believe they find the space valuable (at least in part) for similar reasons. I'm more than aware of the stigma associated with my choices; being reminded of that isn't helpful to me. The statistics on the emotional well-being and suicide rates of gays and lesbians indicate that stigma, in and of itself, can have damaging effects. The effects used to be mistaken for "evidence" of sickness, thus justifying the inclusion of homosexuality in the DSM until the 1970s. Again, not equating the two; I'm just saying that judgment (especially when backed by social institutions) can take its toll.

I would like to challenge a part of what you said, though. I think that assuming a fundamentally flawed character on the basis of one - or a few - choices, is misguided. I think assuming that because he's doing something that would hurt his wife that he would do something to hurt me is not necessarily warranted. Extraordinary circumstances can drive most to extraordinary actions. This was illustrated perhaps most starkly in some of the classic social psychological experiments (e.g. Asch, Milgram, Zimbardo (the man behind the Stanford Prison Experiment)). I don't think anyone is all good or all bad. I think that the right situation can drive most of us to act in ways that we wouldn't have thought we would.
Posted by fallen angel on January 19, 2011 at 8:52 PM · Report this
@111: I'm not. What I am saying is that just as some people - Dan included - argue that some people are wired for homosexuality, some people - again, Dan included - argue that some people are not wired for monogamy. Is there any evidence to suggest that the hardwiring for homosexuality is somehow stronger than the hardwiring for non-monogamy? And is there a reason we tend to see genetic influences as more immutable than cultural ones? Cultural influences can be every bit as powerful, or more so.

It's also worth noting that the Nazis did not see genetic causes as an argument in favor of homosexuality. They saw it as justification for killing them since they were "genetically defective." I think it's important not to assume that "genetically determined" necessarily means "good." We're at a cultural moment during which we see it that way. That was not the case in Nazi Germany.

I'm also saying that I think that as someone who is not in a committed relationship, it is not my responsibility to police other people's commitments. How many people here think sex outside of a committed relationship is acceptable? I'm guessing most of you. Here's the deal: if you hook up with someone you don't know well, you don't ever know for a fact what their relationship status is. Ironically, someone being honest about the nature of their other relationship can in some cases indicate greater honesty than someone who says they are single but is lying.

Am I saying it's ideal? No. But I think assigning permanent-sounding labels (e.g., "cheater," "piece of shit") on the basis of some of the choices a person has made is misguided. I would think people used to being labeled (anybody whose sexuality deviates from vanilla heterosexual preferences) would be sympathetic to that.
Posted by fallen angel on January 19, 2011 at 8:03 PM · Report this
Roma 113
59: The odd thing is that I have way more opportunity to have outside sex than he does.

Erica, why do you find that odd?
Posted by Roma on January 19, 2011 at 7:34 PM · Report this
Adam_west 112
@secretagent: 107- you are right, well played.
111- well put
Posted by Adam_west on January 19, 2011 at 7:21 PM · Report this
secretagent 111
Fallen Angel - if you're seriously equating someone's right to exercise their innate sexuality, to be who they were born to be, to have relationships, date and fall in love with people who promise one thing and then do another and don't have the courage to admit it, you're clown shoes. Disgusted.
Posted by secretagent on January 19, 2011 at 7:06 PM · Report this
fallen angel @108: This is Dan Savage's space, and he's the one who was saying that (with a few exceptions) cheating is generally a sign of disrespect for your partner, and the community should discourage it. (ie, when you find out someone has been cheating, it means he or she feels it's okay to break big promises, and he or she may treat you that way too.)

You want to say that cheating is fine and dandy, and just as morally upright as not cheating -- okay, but you'll get some pushback probably everywhere except on your own listserv set up for people in the same boat.

Posted by EricaP on January 19, 2011 at 7:02 PM · Report this
badgirl, i think your husband has the right to decide whether he wants to stay in the relationship or not. I understand that you have your needs and the right to fulfill them but if one of his needs is monogamy-- why does he not have the right to decide whether he wants to end the relationship?
Posted by tazzo on January 19, 2011 at 6:44 PM · Report this
It always amazes me the extent to which people have no problem imposing their morals on others. You don't want to sleep with a married guy? Don't. You don't want the guy you've extracted a monogamous commitment from to sleep with someone else? Fair enough.

But to call someone a piece of shit because they don't subscribe to your moral code, or because - let's face it - the realities of life often force us to reevaluate our moral codes, is uncalled for.

There are plenty of people who would say being gay is wrong. How many non-troll Savage Love readers want to jump on the bandwagon? Those people have no trouble saying that because THEY think that homosexuality is wrong that NOBODY should practice homosexuality. Why is this any different? I think the "extra-marital relationships are wrong" kood-aid came from the same batch as the "homosexual relationships are wrong" kool-aid in that it says far more about those doing the judging than those being judged.

Maybe those of you who are in supposedly committed relationships (and I use the word "supposedly" not to deny the possibility of monogamy but to suggest it's not something anyone can know with absolute certainty) lash out others because you feel threatened. If someone else would mess around on the side, maybe your partner would, too. Don't hate those of us in relationships with married men because we make you realize that things you like to take for granted can't be taken for granted.

Badgirl: kisses!
Posted by fallen angel on January 19, 2011 at 6:30 PM · Report this
secretagent 107
I don't think it's unreasonable for someone who got married and promised/was promised monogamy to want to keep that deal. I understand wanting to screw someone more than your partner, but I also understand the partner wanting what he'd been promised. That's kinda why marriage is a big deal - you promise all kinds of shit and then people wanna hold you to it.

That *was* what I was trying to get at Adam_west- communicating into an open relationship, or agreeing to a Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. It sounds like you offered him freedom to fuck around, badgirl, and you would too, but he didn't go for it, and that you negotiated something else. That's not the same as saying you no longer want monogamy or only-together play time, and going from there. You have a right to be happy, but he has a right to the truth. I just know I'd feel like shit if my partner *needed* something and didn't give me the clear & present opportunity to agree to it. Like, if you need something bad enough to cheat and/or leave me, tell me, and I should give it a 2nd, 3rd and 4th look if I want to keep you.

I guess I just see a lot of people tentatively maybe kinda bring it up and then back-pedal furiously when the going isn't as easy as they like. I want us all trained to talk straight about our needs and not just make half-hearted attempts and screw merrily away into CPOS-land. I am a firm believer and sometimes participant in open, honest and non-monogamous relationships. I see it work with bunches of my friends, who are also open and honest. Yeah, it doesn't all go perfectly, and sometimes it's a bunch of inconvenient hand-holding and negotiation. But that's what happens when you marry someone - you pledge to hold their hand and negotiate. For a slutty, kinky, homo-loving, sex worker advocate I'm kind of a traditionalist!
Posted by secretagent on January 19, 2011 at 6:09 PM · Report this
Adam_west 106
He is being unreasonable, you more then qualify within the above criteria. You are not a CPOS, you should not feel guilty.
Posted by Adam_west on January 19, 2011 at 5:37 PM · Report this
Adam_west...I have made him the offer, he has flat out refused (cuz he knows it means turning me loose, lol!!). Oh well, he knows its on the table, should he choose to pursue. Our official "rules": we may play together, but I am not technically allowed to stay without him. So yeah, I am breaking the rules. I did ask though. Repeatedly. And got turned down. I am *definitely NOT* one of those people who gets off on the whole intrigue aspects of it, but I do know they are out there. Ugh, that stuff gives me an ulcer!!!
Posted by badgirl on January 19, 2011 at 5:22 PM · Report this
Adam_west 104
badgirl- very funny response, but I think you misunderstood secretagent. I think their point was that you could communicate your way into an open marriage, which you are already in. If you let him sleep with other people he must be willing to do the same, why not just make it official? Stop the lies? I am sure, on some level, he already realises
Posted by Adam_west on January 19, 2011 at 4:50 PM · Report this
Ugh. I hate it when someone says something sweeping like this:

"I'm guessing that all relationships have a level of "lies" or "omissions"."

You guess wrong. *My* marriage contains no secrets or omissions. We each share details about our inner thoughts that many or even most couples would never dare, and that's just before breakfast! Neither of us is afraid to tell the other when we think someone is hot. 99% of the time nothing comes of it, but sometimes it does, and a threesome or foursome ensues.

And that's just the cool, interesting details about sex, not necessarily the mundane crap of our workaday lives.
Posted by gromm on January 19, 2011 at 4:10 PM · Report this
Adam_West, I agree wholeheartedly. Hubby has 3 rules: wrap it up, no psycho bitches, and no giving of OUR money!!! Lol!! ;) We also play together. So yes, I think I am GGG. :)

secretagent: I am not really trying to justify so much as I am thinking this is kinda a philosophical exercise, correct? Perhaps an exchange of ideas. And yeah you can talk talk talk, but can you REALLY talk your way into sexual attraction? Ho boy, not the smoking hot kind I have with my secret dude...I am telling you, even after 8 years, he about sets my panties on fire just hearing his voice on the phone, I am a cat in *heat*!!! Yeah, can't "communicate" your way into that shit, its just there or its not. Sad to say, never had that with hubby. Again, perhaps should not have married him, but I was young and dumb, but we have actually grown closer as they years have passed and with an active effort and yes "communication". I think as the mere children we were when we got married, we were incompatible, and afraid of being alone, and clung to each other. I am glad we have grown closer through our children instead of the other way- it could have been disastrous. I am just trying to prove not all cheaters are, shall we say "pieces of shit". We are just flawed people, just like everyone else. Perhaps just with different flaws.

Strictly monogamous, thanks for understanding! Especially since I would think its probably not your lifestyle considering your handle ;). You are truly a breath of fresh air!
Posted by badgirl on January 19, 2011 at 3:47 PM · Report this
Adam_west 100
Badgirl- I agree, it doesn't make sense that people with kinks can cheat while otherwise unsatisfied people cant. If it allows you to remain a caring wife and mother when that would otherwise not be possible then I guess that is just how it is. I think it should be judged the same.

I would say one thing though, it seems to me like the very least you could is to extend your husband the same allowances you have given yourself. You don't even have to tell him about your affair, just say you wouldn't mind if he had discrete extra-marital sex. Seems a bit unfair otherwise, also might get rid of some of your guilt...
Posted by Adam_west on January 19, 2011 at 3:08 PM · Report this
To each their own, if you want unattached flings and are honest with people you're supposedly committed to and dating about it, great. But NSA flings don't really do it for me. Its like playing poker without money. What makes dating fun is the emotional risks and what your interaction with someone might lead to. When you know going into it that you're just casually playing around, well that's not what makes sex so great to me. But hey, some people like the actual game for itself, so whatevs.
Posted by Karey on January 19, 2011 at 2:11 PM · Report this
Sorry, seandr, if you know that your partner doesn't want you to have sex with other people, and you do it anyway, then you're a CPOS. Your hypothetical examples are not the same situation as this. Your values are NOT the problem. It's perfectly OK to think that monogamy is not how you want to live. But it's NOT OK to get into a relationship with someone who does want monogamy, and then sleep around because you've decided that their values are lame.
Posted by ML77 on January 19, 2011 at 2:10 PM · Report this
secretagent 97
Badgirl - If you are soooo compatible, then you should be able to communicate with him and explain what you need to be happy, and what compromises you can make to both get what you need. If you don't lay it on the line, and keep making decisions autonomously that actually impact you both, people are gonna judge you. If you're satisfied you've done the best you can and that you're right, you don't need to justify it to a bunch of strangers. Who are we to give you our approval, right?
Posted by secretagent on January 19, 2011 at 2:08 PM · Report this
Hmmmm, I would also like to know why Dan makes exceptions for kinky motherfuckers, but not those of us trapped in marriages whose partners just fail to satisfy us, even if our tastes tend to be fairly vanilla, with just a dash of mild submissive on the side?

So lemme get this straight, you get a get out of jail free pass if you like to be diapers, shat upon, or any other such kinky perversions, if according to him above, you "can do it discreetly and sanely", but if you are like me, and just like to get fucked properly by a big, strong strapping mildy dom guy....I am a CPOS. Nice. Perhaps I need to develop a fetish for getting peed on and I will be golden (pun intended, lol).

And all you holier then thou types...."talk it out, be honest, you shouldn't have gotten married in the first place", blah blah blah:

Marriage is about sooooooooo much more then sex. Who are you to tell me I should end my marriage because my husband and I are sexually incompatible? I tried talking, no go. We are compatible in almost every other way. Yes, I got married too young. Yes, I got married before I started reading Dan and realized how important sexual compatibility is. Did I make a mistake in marrying him? Perhaps. I try to communicate better now, and things have improved (thanks in large part to my f-king hot lover, lol!) but still, its never going to be what we are best at. But we have great kids and a pretty damned good life. I try to make him happy and try to be a good wife, but I don't have it in me to give up my lover who makes me extraodinarily happy. So I do my best to make sure hubby NEVER finds out. I am not destroying our life we built together just because your moralists shake your fingers at me and cry "wrong wrong wrong!", and nor am I tearing up my kiddies happy home.

Yippie Kay Yay you guys have such perfect, awesome relationships, and quite frankly, I am jealous. You are one of the lucky ones.
Posted by badgirl on January 19, 2011 at 1:52 PM · Report this
I would be worried about the reason that he can't/won't just divorce (and I really hope it's not because of the kid; that would make him an even bigger asshole). If and when, going with when, the wife finds out, she can use the affair to make his life a living hell in divorce court, and, in some states and countries, name GOTS as the reason for ending the marriage. I'm pretty sure there have been cases where the wife sued the mistress for emotional damages, or at the very least being dragged into court could make GOTS' life very difficult. Do what you want, but I might look at consequences if the wife who just had his baby decides to get vindictive.
Posted by divine_miss_em on January 19, 2011 at 1:15 PM · Report this
secretagent 94
SEANDR and others: I understand your position, but not your cowardice. If you "love" someone, and you want to be with them, you respect them enough to treat them as an equal participant in the marriage/monogamy. You don't do what you wanna do and then say that they'd never agree, when you never even gave them the opportunity. Maybe you're right, but ethically, their needs/wants are EQUAL to yours. And if they want monogamy, and you don't, you're not capable of meeting their needs. You have a right to your desires and SO DO THEY. One has the right to set the terms, and leave or be left if those terms don't fit their partner's.

Don't marry someone you can't tell the hard truths to. When you realize you can't be honest with your partner cause they're too "irrational, insecure, or controlling" DTMFA! If you don't, because it's easier, or you want to stay with your kids, or you can't afford a lawyer, etc. etc. etc. than that's on you. You deciding to stay in a dishonest, unfair (to you too!) relationship is a decision that has consequences, such as not getting your jollies on the side cause you're not (wo)man enough to lay out the options for your partner. If people are socialized to expect to be able to get hugely fat and stop banging their partner, they might just do so. You need to be clear about your expectations from the beginning, and that includes sexual, emotional, financial. Have the stones to say what your dealbreakers are, identify and address them when they approach, and keep the lines of communication open. I'd be a lot less hurt if my partner said that my messy hair and unbrushed teeth are a turnoff than finding out he's doing someone else. And people, before you let it all hang out, realize that desire can be extinguished permanently. Keep up your appearance. It's your responsibility.

Yeah, it's kinda harsh to say you're not sexually attracted to your partner anymore. But did this happen overnight? Or did she start putting on the pounds and you didn't have the balls to say, "hey honey, we need to start hitting the gym" or "hey honey, I'll watch the kids for an hour a night so you can hit the gym." You are perfectly right to expect your partner to make a good solid effort to stay physically attractive. And to the people who will say, "(s)he should love me no matter what size I am!" you're right. S(he) should love you, but (s)he damn well will stop wanting to fuck you. Sorry, you don't have a right to be desired at any size, shape, stink, grooming, etc.

Or is it just that she's not 25 anymore? In that case, she deserves a divorce so she can find someone that can think the 25 year olds are hot, but that she is beautiful and sexy in her own way too.

These problems are not insurmountable. It just takes the honesty to state your needs, the conviction to stand up for yourself, and the courage to not always be the nice guy/gal. You don't get to keep your mouth shut and then whine that your undisclosed needs aren't being met. Cry me a river.
Posted by secretagent on January 19, 2011 at 1:02 PM · Report this
santababy 93
Nope. I never promised you I wouldn't bang your girlfriend, so if I bang your girlfriend, you got nothing on me. Take it up with her.

@54 - Golden Rule??? I've been cheated on, and I only felt betrayed by my partner, not her piece of ass. I prefer that people want to bang my girlfriends... it means I chose well.
Posted by santababy on January 19, 2011 at 12:58 PM · Report this
@90, does "romantic and traditional" mean no talking in bed? If he's open to fantasy, can you ask him if it's okay if you fantasize about other guys, and have him do the same about other girls? Not sure what to do if even that is upsetting to him... Maybe ask if you can watch while he masturbates to porn -- still no talking, but other men & women are (virtually) there with you. Or see if he'll go to a strip club with you?
Posted by EricaP on January 19, 2011 at 12:35 PM · Report this
Roadflare 91
Everybody: cheating is fucked up. When you make a commitment in front of the person you're supposed to be in love with, and with all the people you love watching, you should take it seriously. Unless they completely deny you sex, or for other reasons Dan has stated, you should have the guts and respect to talk to them about it first. This has been said, but it's the deceit. It's somebody telling you lies everyday, because they are such a cowardly piece of shit, they can't talk to you. I don't know about you guys, but my significant other is my best friend. As my friend and my lover, he should be honest. It just shows a utter lack of self control and respect when you ignore their feelings and fuck somebody. Not everything is about YOU. If you wnat to go through life only thinking of yourself, don't be in a relationship. If you don't think you can be monogamous, don't marry or date someone that wants that. It's that simple.
Posted by Roadflare on January 19, 2011 at 12:22 PM · Report this
Azul 90
@65 (or others) so how can I get my man to make the transition you did? I seem to only end up with men with traditional values -- I've always wanted to be in an open relationship, and the men I date don't. I can't imagine my guy having an interest in a second gf... he's romantic and traditional. Before we dated we discussed open relationships theoretically... I told him I'd always wanted to be in one, and he said he had no interest. This is not a dealbreaker for me... I'm in my 30s and we plan to start a family in a year or so... but it would be so nice to kiss the hot Latin guy I work with and flirt with.... mmm! I don't think I'd ever slip, but I'd sure like to... especially with permission!
Posted by Azul on January 19, 2011 at 12:05 PM · Report this
And 87, if you really were just questioning, and didn't mean to attack, sorry if I came across as defnesive, I am! Its hard to judge tone via electronic media....having an affair was certainly not my first choice. It really asucks, and I don't recommend it to anyone actually. I felt cornered, and realize its not a moral decision, but now I have feelings for both men, so feel rather trapped, and realize how society views "the other woman". I am willing to bet dollars to donuts, many "homewreckers" are actually pretty nice people just caught up in bad situations.
Posted by badgirl on January 19, 2011 at 11:53 AM · Report this
@ 87....Yeah, pretty judgemental for sure. You are making an awful lot of assumptions about some people you know nothing about. After all, as stated above, I have been doing this for 8 years. My family has not been "destroyed by my actions", as you so eloquently claim above.

Au contraire, having my lover has actually enabled my to stay with my husband, by all accounts a good man, who is just unwilling to sexually satisfy me. Well, *was* I should say. He should actually be greatful to my lover, because thanks to him, I now know my body infinitely better, have more cinfidence, and now even my husband can please me. All this would have never have happened without my lover in my life. But yes, for people in your mindset, life is always black and white. Cheaters = awful, horrible people who value nothing. Ironically, having my lover has even enhased my sexual relationship with my husband. I wish I could be open with him about it, but alas, when I tried to talk to him about it, he shut me down.

Of course we are careful. We both value our families. But I am not a martyr. I am not one of those people who stops living once children enter the picture. I sacrife a lot for them; however, I will not stop give up my sexuality. I take every precaution possible (and trust me, they are quite extensive) so that they are protected, but I will not enter a convent simply because I am a mother. Both my lover and I care very very deeply for our families and to imply otherwise is pure ignorance. The key here being both of us being on of the reasons we are so well matched; security and family is our top priority. Pregnancy and STD's are a non-issue in our situation. Our meeting times do not take away from family...they do take away from employers yes, but oh well, lol.
Posted by badgirl on January 19, 2011 at 11:46 AM · Report this
@83 This is probably going to come across as overly judgmental. My primary purpose is rhetorical, stating my personal reasons for not having an affair. The costs are just too high
and benefits too limited. The prospect of seeing the hurt/accusation in the eyes of my children is more than I could bear.

I hope for God’s sake (just an expression) or whatever you believe in or value (your children for instance) that you don’t leave any evidence (written or electronic journals, emails, texts, phone bills, credit card receipts or bills, etc, ad nauseum) that can be stumbled upon or found by your spouse or children (you may be surprised by how inquisitive/devious/intuitive children can be about their parents). Where do you find the time for extramarital activities what with time spent on children, spouse, family, and work. That assumes you have a job, which if you don’t explains where you get the time. Hopefully neither of you have shared your secret with anyone else or are relying on someone to cover for you. Your risk of exposure increases exponentially with each additional person who is aware of your secret. How do you account for time or the inability of your spouse, children, family to get a hold of you. Hopefully you are taking precautions against pregnancy and disease. No matter how discrete you may be, sooner or later someone will see you and start asking questions. I also hope your families don’t socialize, that is just asking for trouble. This is probably unnecessary, but never ever have extramarital sex in your homes or marital beds. People who do that want to be caught and revenge is usually the reason for it. Unless you are a great actress, how do you mask the guilt and depression that result from the lies and deception inherent in your situation? Both of you obviously lie to your spouses, do you also lie to your children?

Bottom line, on some level you already know that you have destroyed your marriage and family by your actions. The lies, deceit, and betrayal, not the sex are what do the damage. You can judge what is truly important to a person by what they are willing to risk/sacrifice for it/them. Harsh though it is, you’ve risked everything you supposedly value and therefore your lover and orgasms are more important to you than your children, family, or spouse. I really do wish people would stop pretending otherwise. At least be honest with yourself if no one else.
Posted by a skeptic and a cynic on January 19, 2011 at 10:57 AM · Report this
Also, just for the record, and because the analogy was made to actual crimes -- I don't think that anyone is arguing that being a CPOS should be illegal, or even cause for liability in a civil suit. We're just saying it's not kind to your partner, it's not following the golden rule, it's not something to be proud of.

I cheated on my college boyfriend. But I saw it as a sign that the relationship was in trouble, not as a mechanism for allowing me to build a lifetime relationship with him.
Posted by EricaP on January 19, 2011 at 9:47 AM · Report this
Sorry I should have said controlling your impulses, not your emotions
Posted by beentheredonethatgotthetshirt on January 19, 2011 at 9:45 AM · Report this
cxg @75, you already know what Dan thinks from his answer to this SLOTD: unless there's a valid reason why the person can't be honest and accept the possibility of divorce, that person is a CPOS... "and so are you."
Posted by EricaP on January 19, 2011 at 9:40 AM · Report this
cxq: Like I said, I am not judging at all! Hell, my boyfriend is married too, but so am I. I think it just makes for better balance, it works best for us. But we have been fucking for so long, we have gotten a mite attached to each other, and if I didn't have my happy homestead to jaunt off into the sunset to, I admit I would be jealous of him heading back to his. But hell, our emotions were accidental and incidental. Risks of the trade I guess.

I do want to defend myself here a little bit. I did argue for opening up my marriage, but my husband would have none of it. I was not being satisfied, my husband wasn't up for the task, and there are children invovled. So I didn't want to break up my family. I certainly didn't go INTO my marriage thinking "Hey, awesome, lets do this, and then I can go fuck around, GREAT!!!". Having been invovled with my lover now for going on 8 years, its one of the most harrowing things I have done. Of course, there are amazing perks as well. The orgasms mentioned are *mindblowing*, but the emotional toll, well....let's just say, I do pay the price for being a CPOS.....and its not like I dreamed of this lifesyle when I was a wee little gal....just beats the two alternatives in my book: divorce or complete sexual dissatisfaction.
Posted by badgirl on January 19, 2011 at 9:28 AM · Report this
Adam_west 82
@78 That logic is non-sensical. Not aiding murder (or other crimes) is an implicit commitment we make in exchange for civil liberties and citizenship. Whereas cheating is bad because you are breaking a commitment you have made to your wife. It is a completely different situation, in no comparable way does anyone have responsibility to aid you in your commitment.
Posted by Adam_west on January 19, 2011 at 9:12 AM · Report this
@ 80: Lots of people, that's who. And why, you ask? Because not everyone wants hot sex from somebody who might be looking for a permanent emotional commitment. Sometimes (shockingly) we just want a really powerful orgasm from someone who knows how to give one. Yeah, I mess around with closeted married guys... I have qualms about it sometimes, but damn... those guys can fuck.
Posted by cxg on January 19, 2011 at 8:58 AM · Report this
Seandr....I am a girl...backing you COMPLETELY, on everything you have had to say. Preach on brother!! Not everyone read Dan while young. Not everyone was so sexually liberated an knowledgable (sadly) while young. People change, and its not always the man who wants variety.

I also wanted to point out, what is in it for the poor thirds? Who the hell wants to be the boyfriend or the girlfriend of the married partner? That is what I will NEVER get!!! Not that I am judging....I just have, that is just a losing position to be in.
Posted by badgirl on January 19, 2011 at 8:38 AM · Report this
One thing that is worth noting is how much a piece of shit it makes him that he's cheating on her while pregnant. Pregnancy is a time when getting an STD can matter a *lot* more - especially herpes, which you may well have and not know it (80% of people who have it don't know it). If you pass it to him, and him to her, *and* it's after whatever time they did the STD panel for her, then the docs are unlikely to catch it in time, making pregnancy possibly very dangerous for the child. Especially since new infections are most dangerous.

So although I agree with Dan's advice that you should get away from this situation, if you decide to fuck him, please wait until after she has given birth.
Posted by thewhiterabbit1 on January 19, 2011 at 8:02 AM · Report this
As I understand it, not being a lawyer, if you participate in an action that results in a murder makes you an accessory to the murder (or chose any crime you like). If you become aware of the crime after the fact and aid or enable that person who committed the murder, you become an accessory after the fact. I know its guilt by association. Limiting myself solely to instances where cheating is not warranted (I don’t use justified because cheaters can always justify their cheating). Anyone who “knowingly” gets involved with a person in a committed, monogamous relationship is as big a CPOS as that person. You don’t have to be a participant, also who needs the sordidness and drama. As to controlling your emotions, people do that all the time it’s called being ethical and civilized. They used to teach that in school, but we live in more “enlightened” (debased) times.
Posted by truth? and its consequences on January 19, 2011 at 7:49 AM · Report this
As I understand it, not being a lawyer, if you participate in an action that results in a murder makes you an accessory to the murder (or chose any crime you like). If you become aware of the crime after the fact and aid or enable that person who committed the murder, you become an accessory after the fact. I know, its guilt by association. Limiting myself solely to instances where cheating is not warranted (I don’t use justified because cheaters can always justify their cheating). Anyone who “knowingly” gets involved with a person in a committed, monogamous relationship is as big a CPOS as that person. You don’t have to be a participant, also who needs the sordidness and drama. As to controlling your emotions, people do that all the time it’s called being ethical and civilized. They used to teach that in school, but we live in more “enlightened” (debased) times.
Posted by truth? and its consequences on January 19, 2011 at 7:41 AM · Report this
So Dan, how do u feel about married and closeted men over the age of 50 who are getting some gay tail on the side?

Currently, I have 3 playmates who are all older married men who can't/won't divorce. I enjoy their company, but I've always wondered about the ethics of such arrangements.
Posted by cxg on January 19, 2011 at 6:46 AM · Report this
I've got to jump on Xina's comment @1. Dan--you seem to have a real hang up about people with disabilities. There is this whole "Leotarded" thing. It's not clear, but I think you think it is clever to take a disparaging term, change it slightly, and then say, you've found a technicality that allows you to ridicule people with intellectual disadilities (yes-that is the preferred term currently, learn to use it). If your racist Uncle started using "shigger," no one would think it was funny or clever, accept for the asses who would think it was a hoot.

People with intellectual disabilities ask that we not use the term "retarded" as a descriptive term because it is dated (like "colored"), and ask that we not use it as a pejorative term like you do. These are real people, not punchlines. And unfortunately not all are particularly good at letting things roll of their backs or understanding that you're the jerk and not them. Needless to say I thought that the Constance McMillen episode would have taught you something about basic human dignity. Recall that the mean-spirited hoax ended up netting the students with special needs as well as McMillen. Frankly, you talk like someone from the jerk part of McMillen's town. You need to apologize and start acting right.
Posted by John11 on January 19, 2011 at 6:42 AM · Report this
Adam_west 73
@70 I would agree that there has been no cheating yet. Cyber-sex and phone sex to me are only slightly different from porn, and don't cross the line of cheating, but only if there is no intention of meeting up. They are surely in a grey zone though, forming an real emotional relationship based on sexual interaction is pretty close to the cheating line, in my opinion
Also, the question implied that cheating was probably going to happen soon, and asked what the morale implications of crossing that line were.
Posted by Adam_west on January 19, 2011 at 6:18 AM · Report this
I tend to agree with EricaP and Canuck above. Before cheating, there is talking. If you are in a relationship that excludes cheating (monogamous or endogamous), and you willingly entered into it, then you have to renegotiate if you want the conditions to change. Either that, or you're being dishonest.

It may well be true that most women don't want relationships with cheating while men crave variety (that's at least the traditional telling of the tale). But if you're a man and you so crave variety, well, keep having lovers one after another and don't commit to one woman! Yes, it's important to change people's minds, so they understand that open relationships are possible; too many people still think that open relationships are synonymous with lack of respect for each other. But frankly: rather than being dishonest just because people still have old beliefs, it's better not to tie the knot with them. Living on one-night stands will be better.
Posted by ankylosaur on January 19, 2011 at 6:03 AM · Report this
samanthaf63 71
It amazes me how many people are blithely hurting others in their one-sided selfishness and then whining about their problems to Dan. I guess that's the true mark of a POS.
Posted by samanthaf63 on January 19, 2011 at 5:59 AM · Report this
Am I the only one who thinks he hasn't cheated yet? They haven't had sex. You can't cheat with someone while they are in a different state. Of course, everyone has their own definition of what is cheating and what isn't.
Posted by LisaPizza on January 19, 2011 at 5:28 AM · Report this
Adam_west 69
@68 While I kind of agree with you, I think there is something to be said about considering what you are facilitating the other person to do.
People go through emotional vulnerable states, such as when they freak out before getting married, or before having a baby. As a result they might be more inclined to cheat then they normally would be, and end up massively regretting their actions or ruining relationships that would have ultimately been happy in.
I think as an emotionally considerate person, you do have a responsibility to stop someone from being self-destructive, or at least not facilitate it, especially when children are involved. But as you say, there are limits to how much you can realistically know about their relationship.
Posted by Adam_west on January 19, 2011 at 5:01 AM · Report this
Wait a minute Dan! She is not the one in a committed relationship and I don't think she needs to check the validity of a potential partners's reasons for cheating. If I know someone is in a relationship and hook up with them anyhow without checking with their partner to ensure that the relationship is truly open it's not my bad and I am not a cheating POS. I'm not in a relationship, my potential partner is and maybe their partner deserves it for refusing sex, maybe they are ggg and don't deserve it but regardless it is not my place to investigate the state of their relationship in order to avoid being a CPOS. Why would I owe it to their partner? I'm not in a relationship with that person?
Maybe his wife is the type who only had sex because she wanted to get pregnant and now isn't interested. Based on the letter we can't tell so why is it her responsibility to figure out his reasoning? Or are you now really saying that in order to avoid being a CPOS a person must investigate their partner's relationship or shoulder the responsibility of breaking up the relationship?
Posted by clarity on January 19, 2011 at 3:38 AM · Report this
Adam_west 67
I think this classification is bad because in my mind it elevates some of the blame from the cheater.
I think there is already a tendency to blame the person on the side, homewrecker, or they seduced the cheater, etc. In my opinion not where the blame lies.
Posted by Adam_west on January 19, 2011 at 2:30 AM · Report this
Adam_west 66
@54 In my opinion you hit the nail on the head.
A good person should follow this rule, or at least consider the implications of what they are partaking in, but ultimately it is the responsibility of the person in the relationship not to cheat.

What Dan says is that the piece on the side is a CPOS too, so falls into the same category as the cheater, just as bad, which I think is way off
Posted by Adam_west on January 19, 2011 at 2:11 AM · Report this
Canuck 65
I really think it has to be a mindset thing, seandr. I think a lot of women are told that cheating is a total deal-breaker (I know I was), whereas I don't think boys are given that message quite as strongly growing up. It's also interesting that men (I think) seem to crave variety, even when they are in a happy, stable relationship, and I don't get the sense that women feel that need in the same way (not to say that we don't stare wistfully at the models on the Hollister shopping bags, though...) I do, absolutely, think it's something that could change over time, just using myself as an example. If I could go from thinking "complete deal breaker" to "yeah, we'd have to talk through that one," I would think anyone could... I can certainly see both sides of it now.
Posted by Canuck on January 18, 2011 at 11:22 PM · Report this
seandr 64
@51: The thing is, I think there are very few women who would agree to the kind of open relationship that Dan advocates, so where does that leave men?

Exactly, Cannuck. It's much easier for gay men to negotiate open relationships with their partners than it is for straight men. Excluding the rare and wonderful exceptions, if a straight guy needs sexual satisfaction outside the relationship, his choices are forget it or lie. I hope extra-marital sex will be less threatening to future generations of hets, just as it is today among gay men.

P.S. I know Dan is sympathetic to the straight man's plight, so the Dr. Phil comment was probably uncalled for.
Posted by seandr on January 18, 2011 at 10:51 PM · Report this
seandr 63
@38: I've read a bunch of the science in this area, but alas, I don't have any stats for you, kesh.

I assume from your comment that you think most cheaters fully intend to fuck other people from the very start of their monogamous relationship? You might be right, and I'm sure such people exist, but of all of my friends, acquaintances, and ex-girlfriends (who cheated on me), I don't know anyone for whom cheating was a part of the original plan.
Posted by seandr on January 18, 2011 at 10:32 PM · Report this
seandr 62
@31: Kim in Portland, you are a gem. You are the best exemplar I know of the social intelligence, diplomacy, tact, and love that keeps a relationship strong after 20, 30, 40, ... years.

And, I'm not surprised to hear your relationship is strong enough to withstand the occasional inconvenient truth.
Posted by seandr on January 18, 2011 at 10:24 PM · Report this
@59 You're correct, Dan doesn't like to give permission in advance for cheating without grounds (though I can imagine situations where he would, e.g., 'Dan, I'm 45, I've been faithful for ten years, and I have the opportunity to sleep with someone whom I will soon be unable to attract without paying for it. I promise to be safe and never see them again after this. Can I cheat, just this once?'). This is another difference between his approach and seandr's: Dan is backward-looking (it's okay to have cheated, so don't keep beating yourself up for it) where seandr is forward-looking (it's okay to cheat, so go for it). People who share seandr's perspective and still agree to monogamous commitments baffle me; I don't know what else to assume than that they have no respect for their partner and want to feel free to fuck whomever they choose while being fairly certain their partner isn't doing the same.

And that is some solid, well-timed advice from Prudie.
Posted by BrooklynM on January 18, 2011 at 10:24 PM · Report this
Oddly, Prudie gave this exact advice today:…
>>having gotten many letters about the fallout of a confession of a one-night stand, I've become somewhat skeptical about the usefulness of this revelation. I'm talking here about the situation in which one partner cheats one time, is consumed by guilt, and realizes this is something he or she never intends to do again. I'll also add the caveat that protection was used so there's minimal chance of passing on an STD to one's spouse.... ultimately, as I've heard, the revelation can cause more pain to the spouse hearing the confession than it's worth. The entire foundation of the marriage ends up being shaken, and for what? An incident that was stupid and won't happen again.
Posted by EricaP on January 18, 2011 at 9:57 PM · Report this
@57, yes, I think Dan usually gives this advice to people who *have* cheated, telling them that if you can keep your mouth shut, and want to stay married... then, yes, bury that secret deep within you where it won't come out during a fight or drunken sob confessional. I'm not sure he ever gives people permission in advance, unless they basically aren't getting sex from their spouse.

@58, knock on wood. Fifteen years of marriage, but only one year under our belt with this new arrangement. The odd thing is that I have way more opportunity to have outside sex than he does. So, I found myself sowing wild oats this year that I didn't know I had in me, and felt at times as if I was sowing my husband's wild oats for him, when I would come home and then have wild sex with him while talking about my adventures. Things have calmed down more recently, as he's crazy busy at work...and we're falling back into maintenance sex, as a result... not sure what the new year will bring.
Posted by EricaP on January 18, 2011 at 9:38 PM · Report this
Canuck 58
@57 Good points. I think you're right, if it becomes something with any predictable frequency, maybe bringing up the open relationship idea is the way to go. From what Erica P has written, she and her husband seem to have managed it.
Posted by Canuck on January 18, 2011 at 9:29 PM · Report this
@51 Dan has said that, especially if it is the context of the cheating partner giving in to temptation on VERY rare occasions and feeling guilty afterwards - if you slip up once or twice, don't contract any STIs, and don't want to make a habit of it, then you can do it and not tell or need to negotiate an open relationship. The difference between that attitude and seandr's (at least the part about seeking hot sex outside your marriage, not the bit about having a get-one-free card) is that seandr seems to be talking about semi-frequent, intentional cheating. Saying an infidelity or two over the course of a relationship isn't a big deal is not the same as saying infidelity is never a big deal.

I'm a woman who isn't into monogamy, but I think if I was then I would feel a difference between being cheated on a handful of times over a few decades and being cheated on a handful of times each month. The former is an example of someone trying hard and failing on rare occasion; the latter is someone who isn't trying at all and doesn't care about the supposed commitment we made.
Posted by BrooklynM on January 18, 2011 at 9:19 PM · Report this
Canuck 56
Ah Chase, if I've learned anything reading this blog and all of the archives, it's that what I thought I knew to be *true* is just my particular viewpoint, and that relationships come in many different incarnations.
Posted by Canuck on January 18, 2011 at 9:14 PM · Report this
seandr is just bitter because Dan hasn't given HIM permission to cheat on his partner (boredom and selfishness are insufficient grounds) and he's too much of a coward to leave his partner or tell them that he's no longer willing to hold up his end of the monogamous agreement he made.

In other words, he's a gutless cheating piece of shit, or will be soon.
Posted by Chase on January 18, 2011 at 9:02 PM · Report this
Roma 54
The Golden Rule applies, as it does in most situations. If you had a partner and wouldn't want someone fucking around with them behind your back (which, I presume, would be the case with most people), then don't fuck around with someone else's partner behind their back.

Posted by Roma on January 18, 2011 at 8:32 PM · Report this
BEG 53
@46 -- the math works out if you assume he was an undergraduate advisor -- some universities have those. Otherwise -- yeah.
Posted by BEG!/browneyedgirl65 on January 18, 2011 at 8:25 PM · Report this
TheLando 52
@50, you are of course completely right, but wouldn't it bother you to be involved with someone who clearly had so little regard for the feelings of others? I think that's the real point here. Even if you wanted to come at it from the point of view of complete self-preservation, it's better not to be involved with such a piece of shit.
Posted by TheLando on January 18, 2011 at 8:19 PM · Report this
Canuck 51
Re: Seandr's comments, didn't Dan write that cheating a few times in a long (mostly) monogamous relationship was to be expected, and that the relationship could still be considered a success in that context? And didn't he also say that if someone has an opportunity to cheat, that they should at least do it in such a way that their spouse never finds out? I don't remember the CPOS label being applied in those situations. I seem to remember reading something in the archives about discreet cheating...? There was a time I would have said cheating was a deal-breaker for me, now, after reading through all the archives, I see it from the other side as well, that 20 or 30 years of complete monogamy just isn't possible for some people. The thing is, I think there are very few women who would agree to the kind of open relationship that Dan advocates, so where does that leave men? (I know these boards are the worst place to generalize about women, as the women on them are probably not representative of most.)
Posted by Canuck on January 18, 2011 at 8:13 PM · Report this
There are no rules for the home wrecker. He took the vows, not you, and you're not obligated to help him preserve his marriage in any way.
Posted by Brandon J. on January 18, 2011 at 7:42 PM · Report this
@ Xina, #1 - I'm an example of the disabilities that Dan is talking about. When my fiance and I because involved, I was still able to do a great deal of sex, but not vaginal penetrative. So we had a good time. And I felt like there was a light at the end of the tunnel as far as finding a treatment would work.

Time has gone on. My condition has gotten worse to the point that any physical contact in the vicinity of my vulvar region is excruciatingly painful. Not only is vaginal penetration off the list, but so is pretty much everything. And knowing stuff will hurt has started making my brain pre-emptive strike by killing my libido. Although I've recently found a new doctor who's taking a whole new approach to this and seems to have seen it before, there's no telling how long I'll be with this.

Our solution has been to open up the relationship (although he's still looking for a girlfriend), especially for his side, in order for him to get some of those needs met. But if I was one of those crazy-bitch girlfriends some guys saddle themselves with, they definitely would put their foot down with "me or nothing", even if "me" was only every 3-4 months (which I feel awful about, but can't do much for). In that kind of case, the guy would totally be justified to go cheat.
Posted by curious_emma on January 18, 2011 at 7:38 PM · Report this
treacle 48
I vote with @6....
Posted by treacle on January 18, 2011 at 6:04 PM · Report this
Adam_west 47
I agree with Dan, and with almost everyone else, about the CPOS position.
I strongly disagree that if you are the bit on the side you are a POS if they are not fulfilling the criteria for cheating. They made the monogamous commitment, it is up to them to uphold it. I mean how could you even check? They could be a CPOS and a lying POS, I think those go together.

I agree that GOTS should not waste her time on this douche, and I think continuing would be slightly unethical on her part, but not very.
Posted by Adam_west on January 18, 2011 at 5:47 PM · Report this
The opening to this makes little sense: 21 years old, didn't start the phone sex til she graduated and moved away (guessing that she moved, she states he's in a different state) was she 16 when she started college, can she not add, or is she just full of shit?

Who's to say that the wife doesn't know about his fun and games, and just doesn't care? It's not like she can't look at the cell phone usage and see who he's texting, or look at the long distance charges and see who he's calling.

Is phone sex and sexting really cheating? I don't buy into the whole emotional affair business, and maintain that if there isn't any actual penetrative or other physical contact (which there seems not to be here) then no one involved is a cheating piece of shit. Since when are fantasies (even shared fantasies) cheating?
Posted by catballou on January 18, 2011 at 5:45 PM · Report this
Whoops, Bonefish got there before me.
Posted by EricaP on January 18, 2011 at 5:41 PM · Report this
venomlash 44
Sounds to me like the married man is getting off on the thrill of not covering his tracks. But yeah, CPOS.
Posted by venomlash on January 18, 2011 at 5:39 PM · Report this
seandr @35, the fourth option is for the one who wants outside sex to renegotiate the terms of the marriage, openly. It sounds like you're sure (@22) that the "insecure, manipulative, or controlling" partner will "not react productively" -- I guess that means getting a divorce. (If you mean that telling the truth will lead to violence, then please seek out help before it's too late.)

Why isn't that the upset partner's right, if he/she doesn't like the idea of non-monogamy? And why would it be so terrible to be divorced from someone you think is insecure, manipulative, or controlling?
Posted by EricaP on January 18, 2011 at 5:38 PM · Report this
Dear GOTS, run away from this situation as fast as you can. This dude is being not only a cheater but an idiot. You know it's wrong to enable him the way you are. Cut off contact and be glad you didn't get any further entangled with him, cause he's a married, stupid flake!
Posted by planned barrenhood on January 18, 2011 at 5:27 PM · Report this
Bonefish 41
whoops; meant "break the commitment IN secret" instead of "secret."

Posted by Bonefish on January 18, 2011 at 5:27 PM · Report this
Bonefish 40
35: That's when you discuss non-monogamy. Again, not saying that cheating is always terrible or never an option, but it shouldn't be a first resort. Relationships do change, but that's all the more reason that people should make attempts to work out (and re-work) honest arrangements rather than sneak around because it might be too awkward to bring it up. I didn't mean to imply that you get one shot at deciding "monogamy or not" early on in a relationship. But I think that, if minds change, it's better to revisit this decision honestly before unilaterally deciding to break the commitment secret.

If something changes throughout your 20-year relationship and you discuss the issue and bring up ideas, and things are still irreconcilable, that's when you make the choice of cheating, breaking up, or just living with it. And then, sure, cheating really isn't always the worst option, depending on circumstances. But two things:

1) This only becomes your sole set of choices after bringing up the idea and getting it shot down. Cheating before discussing is usually not the best choice (even if it isn't always the worst, which I didn't say it was).

2) There really isn't an excuse for this specific case. If you're at the point where you have this guy's level of contempt for your wife, and you're figuring that you're "going to get caught eventually," then maintaining the relationship is clearly not a priority. And when that's the case, cheating is a way worse option than just ending it honestly.

Especially since the wife is currently pregnant. Better for the parents to get a (relatively) low-drama divorce while the kid is still a fetus than for them to have an explosive divorce when the kid is 8 years old because that's when the dad is "eventually caught."
Posted by Bonefish on January 18, 2011 at 5:24 PM · Report this
@16--I hope the first damn thing you do after graduation is to destroy this POS. You could also send some anonymous letters--to his wife, to the university's admin., etc., now, and at least make him answer some difficult questions.
Posted by FLgirl on January 18, 2011 at 5:23 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 38
Most people who end up cheating are happy with a monogamous commitment early on in the relationship when the sex is great.

Care to offer any evidence, or are you content to blow claims out of your ass?
Posted by keshmeshi on January 18, 2011 at 5:10 PM · Report this
nocutename 37
Bonefish: I love that phrase: "a less complicated source of cock." Mind if I borrow it?
Posted by nocutename on January 18, 2011 at 4:58 PM · Report this
Bonefish 36
And ethics aside, is it honestly worth the drama of being the means to a dramatic end to a marriage? What a fucking hassle. Set aside an entire five minutes and find a less complicated source of cock.
Posted by Bonefish on January 18, 2011 at 4:48 PM · Report this
seandr 35
@27: Date people who don't expect monogamous commitments.

Most people who end up cheating are happy with a monogamous commitment early on in the relationship when the sex is great. Then 20 years later, something happens that they couldn't have predicted - maybe a partner's libido drops or their perspective on sexuality and relationships change - and monogamy stops working for whatever reason.

That leaves you with the option of cheating, divorcing or living out your days in resentment. In my opinion, a no-strings-attached secret fling is hardly the worst outcome here, especially if it reduces marital conflict.
Posted by seandr on January 18, 2011 at 4:45 PM · Report this
nocutename 34
GOTS, what could you possibly be getting from this relationship/situation that impels you to continue in it? The man is scum: a user, (of you) and a cheater (on his pregnant, ignorant wife), who seems to be on some sort of suicidal mission to end his marriage and use you as the weapon. A woman is going to suffer, and suffer big-time; do you really want to be a party to that? An innocent child is going to have to live with these two as parents; do you want to be any part of the drama this kid is going to grow up with? He's begging to get caught, and when this blows up, do you want to hear from the devastated woman who blames you for her husband's assholery? He keeps your texts, so she'll have your phone number, remember?

I can't imagine that at 21you don't have other, better, hotter, and more ethical options. Please exercise them and sleep better at night.
Posted by nocutename on January 18, 2011 at 4:42 PM · Report this
onthequest4peace 33
Bravo, Dan. So relieved to hear your position which I agree with completely.
Posted by onthequest4peace on January 18, 2011 at 4:38 PM · Report this
lewlew 32
The best idea on this page is... flowchart!
Posted by lewlew on January 18, 2011 at 4:36 PM · Report this
kim in portland 31
I'm prone to think that one can be a "cheater" without being a "CPOS", and while one could propose general guidelines there must still be allowances for individual situations.

In this instance the LW seems concerned, and that suggests that she, at minimum, has become uncomfortable with the situation and Dan's advice could be right on target.

I'm guessing that all relationships have a level of "lies" or "omissions". I just happen to be crappy at being dishonest, so I focus on saying things with kindness. And, that includes acknowledging that I found one of my friends attractive once, and could see myself going on a date in an alternate unmarried life. So, I shared. No biggie for us. But, I don't make a point of asking "how is it" with regard to my cooking or baking, as observation is far kinder way to determine if a recipe is worth repeating. I don't ask if I'm attractive, I honestly don't want to know the answer, I know that I'm no longer the 18 year-old he first met and we've built a life that includes two children. Plus, I don't want to awaken the vain 20 year-old that lurks within. Nor is he still the 19 year-old basketball star. I'm aware that time and gravity gets us all, so we must be willing to allow attraction to evolve and choose to celebrate its changing face. Besides, it seems far kinder to not put loved ones on the spot, in my opinion. Just my $0.02, though.
Posted by kim in portland on January 18, 2011 at 4:26 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 28
@ seandr,

It's not the cheating that makes someone a POS, nor is it lying to spare a partner's feelings, it's when someone intentionally hurts their partner when they could have easily avoided hurting them.

If you're with someone who you know would be hurt if you cheated, then if you cheat, yes, you are a POS. It doesn't matter if you don't think they should feel upset about it. You know they don't want you to do it and you do it anyway.

It's not that "if everyone made less of a big deal of extra marital sex, it would be less of a problem" it's that if people honestly communicated with each other and respected each others wishes (or respectfully left the relationship if those wishes were too harsh), THEN it would be less of a problem.

Simply hoping that everyone should come around to the idea that extra-marital sex is no big deal is unrealistic.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on January 18, 2011 at 4:06 PM · Report this
Bonefish 27
seandr, you're listing reasons NOT TO ENTER monogamous relationships, not reasons to break them and lie about it.

If monogamy is difficult, don't make monogamous commitments. Date people who don't expect monogamous commitments. Have all the non-monogamous relationships you want; they're fantastic!

Making a monogamous commitment that you know you'll break because you don't want to be upfront from the get-go is not "human nature." The kind of human nature you're talking about doesn't involve monogamous commitments at all, broken or otherwise, so that excuse doesn't work for dishonest cheating.

And don't get me wrong; I don't think that cheating is absolutely unforgivably horrible either. How shitty it is varies a ton, but it's usually at least kinda shitty to do to someone and the human nature excuse doesn't work for cheating like it does for good ol' fashioned non-monogamy.

And whether or not the cheating itself is okay, the kind of open disregard (almost hostility) that this guy is showing towards his wife's feelings goes above and beyond giving in to a bit of innocent lust for a piece on the side.
Posted by Bonefish on January 18, 2011 at 4:05 PM · Report this
BEG 26
@24 worse than that... on question #1, I'd say she likely knows the answer. (Not so sure on #2.)
Posted by BEG!/browneyedgirl65 on January 18, 2011 at 3:54 PM · Report this
Dan, this week's podcast seems to have technical problems. I can hear your pre-taped stuff and the callers, but not your responses.
Posted by knitpicker on January 18, 2011 at 3:49 PM · Report this
seandr 24
@21: Ok, then, here are some other hypothetical examples for you:

1) My wife asks me if I'm still attracted to her. The truth is, childbirth and aging have taken their toll, and I'm not physically attracted to her anymore, although I do still love her and want to be with her. So, do I tell her she has hit the wall, or do I lie and say I'm attracted to her?

2) My wife spends all day in the kitchen making me a fancy dinner for my birthday. I take a bite and the food is barely edible. She asks me "how is it?" Do I tell her it tastes like dog food, or do I lie and say it's great?

(Solution: if you told the truth in either 1 or 2, you are a piece of shit who doesn't deserve to be in a relationship.)
Posted by seandr on January 18, 2011 at 3:37 PM · Report this
balderdash 23
Jesus, some people will get butthurt at the slightest excuse.
Posted by balderdash on January 18, 2011 at 3:32 PM · Report this
seandr 22
@20: I agree that total honesty and truth in a relationship is a worthy goal to strive for, but it requires that both parties be mature and secure enough to handle the truth.

If one party is too insecure, manipulative, or controlling to react productively to facts that they don't like, then the other partner can either try and maintain the relationship with tactical lies and omissions, or they can end it. Often, the lies are a better option.

Anyway, I have yet to meet a single couple who's relationship wasn't maintained with at least small lies and omissions. For example, a married woman I know has a crush that she hasn't told her hubby about to spare his feelings. Is she a piece of shit for keeping info from him that would hurt him? Quite the opposite, I think.

Posted by seandr on January 18, 2011 at 3:27 PM · Report this
Noadi 21
@19 That example isn't quite equivalent. If you didn't like your partner talking to other men and she AGREED not to do it, did anyway, and lied about it. That would make her a dishonest piece of shit. Whether or not you would be a piece of shit for requiring that of a partner is irrelevant (it does, BTW) to her being a piece of shit for doing what she made a commitment not to do.
Posted by Noadi on January 18, 2011 at 3:21 PM · Report this
Noadi 20
@9 Anytime you deliberately lie to keep information from your partner which would hurt them if they knew, you are a piece of shit. I don't care if it that you cheated, or that you racked up $10k in credit card debt, or anything else it makes you a dishonest piece of shit. Violating your partner's trust is the single best way to ruin a relationship.
Posted by Noadi on January 18, 2011 at 3:14 PM · Report this
seandr 19
@14: If you know for a fact that your partner would be extremely hurt by your cheating, but you go ahead and do it anyway, that's definitely being a piece of shit.

That all depends on whether you think it's reasonable for your partner to feel extremely hurt in this situation. What if I felt extremely hurt when my wife talks to other men, but she does it anyway? Everyone would agree I'm the piece of shit in that situation, despite my hurt feelings.

Personally, I think we make way too big a deal of extra-marital sex. If we made less of a big deal of it, there'd be less "cheating" and less hurt feelings all around.
Posted by seandr on January 18, 2011 at 3:13 PM · Report this
Vince 18
I think a better rule is stay the fuck away from people in relationships. It will save you a lot of head aches and bad karma. They all have excuses. Some "good" and some "bad" but in my book none are worth it.
Posted by Vince on January 18, 2011 at 3:07 PM · Report this
Gobo 17
@1 I think Dan means "disabled" meaning some disability (whatever the form, mental or physical) that makes it impossible for the person not disabled to have a healthy sexual relationship with the person who is disabled. I don't think he means "disabled" as in, lost a leg in a motorcycle accident. People with one leg, I'm guessing, can still fuck just fine.
Posted by Gobo on January 18, 2011 at 3:06 PM · Report this
Oh man.

This CPOS sounds EXACTLY like my adviser. He has a tendency to get it on with any female student in sight. Which sucked for me, because I naively thought the attention was academic... until he leaned in and his sour breath made me realize he was totally making a move for it.

"It's okay" he said. "My wife and I have a don't ask, don't tell relationship."

Really? A relationship founded on the basic principles that some people are more equal than others just to appease squeamish Christians??

In the 2 years since that awful night, I have watched him seduce my friends and my students, all voluntarily -- no one seems to feel taken advantage of -- while his wife is back-to-back pregnant. Serious, yo. He drinks 7 nights a week in seedy bars picking up strangers and telling his wife he is "working late." He takes weekend trips to rendezvous with women who have graduated and moved to Chicago, Vegas, or San Diego.

His wife (also a grad student) complains to mutual friends about how busy he is. How he never can make it home before midnight. This is no open relationship. He's a CPOS. And I would call him on it, but he's got power over me so's I gotsa stay quiet until graduation.

@ Xina, obviously disabled means comatose or hit by a grenade while working in Iraq or undergoing cancer treatment that destroys sex drive. Dan is no POS when it comes to individual rights, sex, and desire. And his archives show whole columns dedicated to differently abled individuals' sex lives. Chill.
Posted by Extuno on January 18, 2011 at 3:04 PM · Report this
seandr 15
@1: Dan published a letter from a woman who was sexually dissatisfied because her partners had a disability or illness that severely limited his sexuality (e.g., paralyzed from the waste down). She asked whether she should leave her disabled partner or secretly get her sexual needs met elsewhere, and Dan recommended the latter, which I think makes sense.
Posted by seandr on January 18, 2011 at 2:59 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 14
Dan almost always advises that people actually, you know, talk to each other before gaining/assuming "permission" to cheat.

If your partner is disabled, I don't think Dan would suggest sneaking off at every opportunity to cheat on the sly, but rather talking to each other and figuring out what each others expectations are before acting.

Also, @9,
Just because people are hardly better than primitives doesn't mean they should behave like primitives with total disregard for their partner's feelings.

If you know for a fact that your partner would be extremely hurt by your cheating, but you go ahead and do it anyway, that's definitely being a piece of shit.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on January 18, 2011 at 2:58 PM · Report this
@1 Xina, Dan did not say "disabled" was, BY ITSELF, a criterion for which cheating might be okay. He said in a case where the cheater "who made a monogamous commitment isn't getting any at home (sick or disabled or withholding-without-cause spouse)".

What he is saying is that if a couple makes a monogamous commitment, and then one becomes disabled in such a fashion that she (or he) is unable to have sex, the other person is not a complete piece of shit if he seeks sex (not love, not commitment) somewhere else. There are other rules (be discreet, for instance), but the general point is, human beings have sexual needs, and if the choices are (a) divorce the disabled spouse who can't have sex, so you can get a new spouse who can, or (b) honor your commitment to your disabled spouse, but quietly get occasional sexual release on the side, (b) seems like the least bad option. It's what I would want if I became disabled and my partner needed release.

Of course, there are some people who believe that the only option is (c) stay married and forego sex because the disabled person can't have it either, so it's your job to suffer right along with her because of course if she's not happy, nobody deserves to be happy. I (and Dan) happen to think that's worse than (b). Your mileage may vary. Tax, title and license extra. Offer not valid in all states. See rules for details.

In this case, there's no sign that the wife isn't withholding sex (for good or bad reasons), nor is there even a claim that she is. So the writer doesn't get this exemption. If she keeps it up, she is a CPOS, as Dan noted.
Posted by cowboyinbrla on January 18, 2011 at 2:57 PM · Report this
Amen, Dan.

To the woman involved, look, what part of fooling around with a married man do you think supports/preserves his marriage? Zero. Don't give yourself pats on the back because you remind him that he could get caught.

And, he's going to be a father. So it's a hard time for his wife being pregnant for the first time.

All I can say to you is someday you might be married, pregnant and hoping your husband isn't cheating on you. How would that feel?

Get a real boyfriend and not this pathetic excuse.
Posted by westello on January 18, 2011 at 2:50 PM · Report this
seandr 9
What happened, did Dr. Phil win Dan's column in the Strangercrombie auction?

1) Drop the "CPOS" acronym already. Seeking hot and passionate sex outside of a monogamous relationship doesn't make you a "piece of shit", even if your spouse wouldn't like it if they knew.

2) Romance, passion, attraction, and seduction aren't concerned with your silly rules.

3) The cultural norms around this subject should be that everyone in a monogamous relationship gets one "get-out-of-jail-free" card that allows them a single fling without losing their parter.
Posted by seandr on January 18, 2011 at 2:50 PM · Report this
Wouldn't a person who wants to have an affair be willing to like through his/her teeth about his/her reasons for doing so, in order to make a convincing case?

GOTS, your consciences is nagging at you for a reason. Dump this chump--pronto. Tell him if he wants out of his marriage, you're not going to help the process along, and tell him if he contacts you again, you'll be placing a call to his wife.
Posted by My Name Here on January 18, 2011 at 2:46 PM · Report this
@xina : I imagine that would depend on the disability. For example, if a person is married to a spouse in a coma, what's better -- cheating or necrophilia? What about if the spouse is violently insane and confined to an institution? On the other hand, a spouse with ADD probably wouldn't be sufficient reason to cheat.
Posted by Steve H on January 18, 2011 at 2:45 PM · Report this
Umm, xina, I assume (because I am able to think) he is talking about a disability that does not allow the person to have sex. Not poor eyesight, or lack of imagination, which seems to be your disable-ment. You are the true ass, and obviously want some attention. Grow up.
Posted by bear on January 18, 2011 at 2:44 PM · Report this
seatackled 3
So they got each other off before she graduated, just not habitually?
Posted by seatackled on January 18, 2011 at 2:39 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 2
Does this go for Gay folk too? So if NO commitment to Monogamy was made, there is no cheating. Why are Heteros making this odd commitment?
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on January 18, 2011 at 2:37 PM · Report this
and why is it ok to cheat on a disabled spouse? please elaborate as i (as a disabled woman) and all disabled people out here in cyber space really want to hear your justification on this one dan. or do you have a list of SPECIFIC disabilities that meet the criteria? you are an ass.
Posted by xina on January 18, 2011 at 2:36 PM · Report this

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