Wednesday, January 09, 2008

High Infidelity

The Kiss - Aguste Rodin

Now let's talk about sex. It's interesting, it's funny, everybody wants it, some are lucky enough to get it, others get too much. Most of us get it for free, some have to pay for it, some are happy to sell it. Some of us aren't getting it but still want it. Others aren't getting it where they should so stray to get it somewhere else. Here is the gist of this post. Infidelity. If you've made a commitment to someone whether through the sanctity of marriage or just a general understanding that you're in a monogamous relationship is cheating morally corrupt, sexy and sophisticated or downright dirty?

A recent conversation with fellow a blogger has raised this issue and stirred my creative juices. (C'mon they're the only ones being stirred at the moment!).

My belief is that cheating on your partner is morally wrong. It's hedging your bets and double dipping. Even if the relationship is poor there are two options . . try harder to make it work or simply call it a day and walk away no matter how painful that might be, at least you're being true to yourself. Staying with someone you don't love, don't want to be with or don't want to sleep with is not a relationship, it's a sentence and in the long run, everyone suffers.

Affairs are a pivotal theme in literature, soap operas, movies whether it's Lady Chatterley's Lover or the Young and The Restless, they're all doing it. In fact who's screwing who in today's dramas is difficult to ascertain if you miss an episode! (Except for the Young and The Restless to which you can return after an entire semester at Uni and still follow the plot).

So why do people have affairs? I simplistically suggested that monogamy is not the natural state of the human male. Why produce sperm your entire life if you are not biologically intended to produce progeny for that same amount of time and since women have a definite 'use-by' date which usually concludes in their late 40's or early 50's a younger 'subject' is required to fulfill the prophecy. I believe Charlie Chaplin was in his 80's when he fathered his last child!

Perhaps infidelity begins before a life long commitment in the pre-marital stage where partners have already engaged in sex with others. Maybe it's a result of childbirth, reduced female urge and the distraction of youngsters. Maybe it happens in early middle-age when the pressures of mortgages and work and neglect come into play or in later years where an affair might add some spice to an 'empty' marriage or help people 'redefine' themselves through intimacy. Perhaps it's just overactive glands and too much testosterone. Perhaps it's realising that the person you married is actually very boring in bed and you fancy some acrobatics or a swing from a chandelier as suggested in research recently completed on the 'affairs' of the Northern Irish population. Perhaps it's the risk factor - the thrill of the chase and the possibility of getting caught.

According to The State of Affairs: Explorations in Infidelity and Commitment By Jean Duncombe, one of the few academic studies on infidelity, men are more likely to have affairs which cut across age, class and marital status whereas women have fewer relationships with single younger men and tend to stick to their age group and social status when looking for a bit of hanky panky. This the researchers assume, is probably due to women's social depreciation with age. Sorry Grannymar but the concept of ToyBoys is largely that - a concept and not often a reality. And, whilst most men and women agree that infidelity is inherently wrong, more evidence points to the fact that many men and women have affairs during their first marriages.

Basically society relies on monogamy and fidelity as affairs represent a threat to normal principles of behaviour and cohesion. Generally, we're afraid of changing societal boundaries that have existed for years. Is that it? We're worried about the breakdown of society, the family et al? So we pretend that all these extra marital affairs are not happening?

What about the moral dilemma . . is it right? Personally . . although I've never had an extra marital affair (one bloke was quite enough thank you and I'm such a terrible liar I could never carry it off) I don't think it's morally right. At my age, I know a lot of particularly men, in their late 40's and 50's who have gone down that path and are now desperately unhappy because their marriage has failed, their children won't speak to them and the other person in the affair has cut and run I know a couple of women who have been 'the other woman' but not as many seem to have regretted their decision. Two in fact, married the menwith whom they had the affair. The excuse "It was an unhappy marriage anyway . . " sufficing as reason enough to stray.

If you're unhappy . . . difficult as it may be . . the right thing to do is to work on improving the situation and when all else fails leave the relationship. If you're tempted . . . well "A Cat Can Look At a King" my mother used to tell me - face it - looks can't kill but following through has consequences. My take on it all is that a commitment is a commitment, be true to your word. Don't take that step towards commitment if you're not ready but when you do, it is for life so be prepared to put your pencil in your pocket and work at it. Do not have sexual relations with that woman! And ladies . . . look but don't touch if he belongs to someone else.

And a short post script for those who are teetering on the brink of temptation (not that they read this blog!): I married a good and gentle man. Our relationship went through all the ups and downs that relationships suffer but I always thought I'd spend my entire life with him. I had a 2 year old and a 4 year old, I hadn't yet gone back to work and my life was unfulfilled. Domesticity bored me, his shift work left me alone too long and life was a financial struggle - and all the temptation in the world was put at my feet. At 32 years of age, I found myself a widow.
I often wonder would I have stayed had he lived but that decision was taken out of my hands. So have a think about what life might be like without your partner . . . seriously . . write a list of pros and cons if you must. Unlike life's misfortunes, building a good relationship is something that you can control if you are prepared for open discussion and compromise. Take it from me, it's better than the alternative!


Jefferson Davis said...

Intriguing post, Baino. I'll be honest...Ugh...I do that from time to time. :)

I've never been in the situation, where I was still in a relationship and someone else came along that was.....ehm...too tempting to pass up! If I learned one thing from my pops that was of any worth, it was to NOT mess around on any future wife!!! :)

Personally, I don't think it is worth it, but I've never been in that situation so who knows...

P.S.: Sorry for taking so long to visit. :)

Kate said...

After we'd been dating for about 2 1/2 years, I found out that Willem had been unfaithful from about a week after we got together. I was horrified. We broke up.

Six months later, we got back together, after some very long talks and discussions and go-rounds, and an ultimatum: he had used up his strikes. Any more cheating, of any sort, at any level, under any circumstances, would end the relationship, permanently. I loved him, hated what he'd done, and felt that his cheating was more out of a sense of never having been held responsible for his own behavior in his life, rather than from a compulsion that couldn't be entirely stifled.

We've now been married 7 years, and I trust him implicitly. He holds my heart, and he knows that. And if he somehow screwed up and cheated, online or in person or whatever, I'd take the kids and walk.

And if I were to consider straying, myself, I would take that as a sign that there was something fundamentally wrong with the relationship, and I would either sign us up for counseling or break up first. I'm too damn lazy to lie and hide things like that.

Kate said...

P.S. Think you struck a nerve much? Hah. Especially since I've been down with a screaming migraine and have had more opiates than is probably a good idea today.

Baino said...

JD: Welcome back, I know you've had your hands full. What do you do from time to time? Look and don't touch I hope!

Kate: I know your history, you've spoken about it before and you took the concilliatory path which is a good thing. Sounds like Willem was hedging his bets perhaps . . window shopping maybe. I'm glad you won out and I can tell by your blog that you have a solid relationship because of your willingness to resolve the issue between you. Good for you and I'm sorry about the headaches . . if only they could be banished by ultimatum! Thanks for your honesty. Get better soon.

ian said...


I had thought the church was the last group of people who thought that playing the field wasn't OK - the soaps suggest it's quite normal - and remember being taken aback when an atheist friend lashed out about blokes messing around.

I don't buy into the old excuse about biological programming - we are biologically programmed towards aggression and we don't consider it acceptable, except on the sports field.

I'm fascinated by the younger women who have affairs with ugly, older blokes - is there some fascination with money and power? There were a few British government ministers who were less than handsome and now Sarkozy in France, who is not exactly a pin up, has a model girlfriend

Anonymous said...

Baino, I wholeheartedly agree. My Toyboys are the equivalent to Grandad's Tourists! I banter, tease and flirt with all men in an open noisy way, preferably in a crowd. I call them all Toyboys no matter what age they are.

Like you I have been alone for a long time. I have on occasion met socially with men in that time, but if I have any inkling of a wife or partner then I am gone faster than a whirlwind. I respect myself! If I cannot respect myself how can I respect others?

Baino said...

Ian: It's all your fault! Calling me diffident and provoking research and a post!

Atheists don't believe in God, it doesn't mean they don't have morals. Even parrots and albatross understand the meaning of fidelity and commitment.

Re Biological programming, sure we resist it, as we resist personal aggresson, and cluckiness, but the base emotion is always there. (What, you don't accept aggression on the sportsfield . . you should se our Rugby League players! I'ts a public pasttime)

I think the Irish 'boredom' research is pretty close to the mark. At risk of being pistol whipped, people do get a bit boring in bed after the age of 35! The great Australian foreplay phrase is 'Are you awake love!'

As for young women liking older men . . Research also suggests that women are less concerned about looks than money and power Sarkozy is a case in point.

And I have to tell you, it makes life difficult for thos of us past the 'use-by'date!

Anonymous said...

It's all about the biology really, innit? I'll readily admit I was tempted last year, for the first time in 7 years. There was nothing especially different or good about this bloke, he was decidedly average. He was a lot older than I, was tall, with a deep voice.
In the end I find that it's genetics that tempt a woman, genetics that could possibly be passed on to the next generation, like intelligence, strength, a deep voice! It makes sense for a gal to spread herself around and have many babies for many men, this way her kids have a better chance of survival, which is all it really comes down to.

When you think about it, monogamy doesn't make that much sense! Only a handful of species do it.

Sometimes I wish there WAS another woman around to help with the housework!

nonny said...

Jesus Baino that is terrible, being left a widow so young. Clearly you have done a most excellent job flying solo and rearing your children, inspirational stuff altogether.
I am off the ‘one is enough’ opinion plus I would hate to intentionally hurt anybody so yes tis definitely morally wrong but at the same time I think when various situations present themselves morality, conscious and empathy can go out the window should your form be off. In saying that, if you have younglings and you go off sticking your pencil in other peoples pencil sharpeners than I have no sympathy for you, not only are you being unfaithful to your spouse but your entire family would suffer. This is why societal norms are so important, if we condoned infidelity and accepted it as part of life the biggest losers would no doubt be children. So my messages to the masses, unless you want to find yourself in ten years time getting the shit kicked out of you by young Johnny, a product of an unhappy home who is dishing out payback for YOU ruining his family and his appreciation of trust don’t expect the grass to be greener, you will only get your faced mashed into it.

Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

Really interesting and thought provoking post, Baino. My view, people do stray, the question is why. Too often people commit when they shouldn't. Or they grow apart. My sense is this, if you're in a relationship that's not working and you can't make it work, leave. (I don't believe that relationships should be expected to last "forever" - that's just conditioning.) Having affairs only causes more stress and anxiety and is disrespectful to all involved. I'm not sure that it's necessarily about morality per se, but it's certainly respect and honour. The do unto others has you'd have done unto yourself thing.

Biology does play a role. Men purportedly think about sex every few seconds. Genetic programming to ensure the survival of the species.

But here's the thing, how can any of us judge unless we've been in that situation. We each walk our own paths and sometimes the "mistakes" we make serve as our greatest lessons. I don't think anyone really sets out to intentionally hurt the other, but sometimes we do fail to think through the consequences of our actions.

I'm not saying I condone infidelity but I do accept the shit happens - has always happened - as much today as ever before. Perhaps it's how we deal with it that is also worthy of discussion.

Nick said...

Wow, there's so much I could say -where do I start? Jenny and I have been happily together for 26 years and neither of us have ever had affairs or even been tempted. I like to think I'm steadfastly loyal to J but if serious temptation had come my way can I guarantee I would have resisted it? Not sure that I would, we're none of us perfect. But certainly if you do have an affair, you have to realise the colossal damage it might cause and take full responsibility for that. Too many people follow their impulses while oblivious to the consequences.

Baino said...

I was going to comment individually but I think we're all of the same opinion, it's wrong, it has a devastating effect on families but it happens and for a variety of reasons. I too could research this till the cows come home, relationships interest me greatly, romantic and otherwise but too big a topic for a mere blog.

Thanks to Ian and Nick for raising the subject in their blogs and to all of you for voicing your opinions and being honest with your experiences.

To those of you in happy long term relationships, well done. It's not cruisy living with the same person for 20 odd years although I wouldn't know from direct experience, I would have liked the opportunity. For those in new relationships . . keep up the good work and keep things 'fresh' if you know what I mean.

And for those of us on our own . . well, we can live in hope! Although time's running out so if Mr Perfect's out there . . pull your bloody finger out and get crackin! 'cmon . .I'm waiting!

Emperor Ropi said...

well it depends on what is cheating? a peck? kiss? sex? But whatever is cheating, it is a moral sin and not physical.
Thank God I am out of that business.

Baino said...

Ropi: In my book being unfaithful is more about the 'intent' and can mean any of those things . . in many cases, a kiss is more 'intimate' than sex so none are acceptible if you are in a committed relationship. Now you watch out and make sure those girls on the bus aren't 'taken'!

nonny said...

Right I'm sending my father over, he'll arrive in 8-10 weeks by (paddle) boat. The management (my mother) would just like to advise that this offer is trade only, what you see is what you get. There is no 14-day money back guarantee nor can refunds, repairs or replacements be offered. Please note this does not affect your statutory rights.

Anonymous said...

Everything HAS already been said here! I'm extremely faithful to Bearman (and all those before him)and don't consider reasons as only being in love and from having good morals but also strength of character! It's like a personal challenge to feel good about yourself. ALL my Husbands have been younger which wasn't such a great thing when I was younger HAHA. Boys like to play more. Bearman and I are encouraging our sixteen year old son to do the same and come up with devious plans to help break up his THREE year very SERIOUS relationship! Think the plan is finally working ....

Terence McDanger said...

Bejasus, that raises a few talking points doesn't it?

Meself and Miaow Cow are very serious, very long-term. A few ups and downs and beleive me, lots of temptation and lots of opportunity despite the fact I'm not exactly Adonis - women truly do, most often, go for a personality. Thank God.

I've peered over the edge but never went there. It's just TOO wrong or something, and I know if it was done to me I'd be crushed and incolsolable and I wouldn't like to inflict that kind of hurt on my better half.

Baino said...

Well what a loyal and highly moral bunch of bloggypals you are. I knew you were decent people! Nonny, no need to send Dad . . .I wouldn't understand a word he said anyway.

Anon: Just how many husbands have you gone through? I empathise with the girlfriend thing although DrummerBoy's current sweetie is a keeper.

Terrence: A serious tone for a Moo Dog. Glad to hear you're on the path to commitment and recognise that she is in fact your better half! Glad you're happy as a cow in a field of buttercups!

Ryan said...

Anon: Are you really trying to break up your sons relationship??

Anonymous said...

HAHHAA, who is Ryan? No, we aren't THAT EVIL but certainly voice our opinion about how someone his age should have lots of different girlfriends at least until he finishes school so when he's older he will be able to make a good choice if deciding to settle down. We also point out lovely, nice girls to him in shopping centers, walking down the street, on television, hehheheee.

I haven't had too many husbands Baino ... just enough ;) Bearman is forever!

Baino said...

Ryan: It's a tactic we parents use sometimes when we know the girl you're dating is a skank or we want to to play the field . . . we have our subtle ways Muwaahahahah! I think Anon has covered the reasons . . 3 year serious relationship for a 16 year old is pretty hard core.

Anon: Now you know better than to ask who is Ryan . . Suffice it to say he is a fellow Aussie and one of my technical advisers. Who are you? AHA!

But I understand the 'discouragement' issue. I haven't had to do that to date (wanted to with ClareBear on a couple of occasions but she's old enough to make her own way!) Now if you had girls would you be pointing out 'lovely nice boys' in shopping centres? I think I feel another post coming on . . hang on . .nup, just a wave of warmth!

Anonymous said...

Whooops, in on the end of this one. I think that infidelity is purely a physical thing. Myself and LadyMc's relationship is way more than physical, she's my best friend, my confidant, my buddy. I know that a lot of guys in relationships would love a 'bit of strange', it's just physical and physical desires last only a few seconds (like nicotene). Get over them and, in the now immortal words of Twink (an Irish broadcaster who left a voice mail for her ex-husband after his new girlfriend had his baby, Grandad has the suss and the aforementioned voicemail, zip up your micky! Being a Leo, I would never knowingly betray a friend.

Baino said...

Jack: You're a cack! Bloody Leos, I draw them like FLIES. Jeez I like my bloggy commentators! You're all champs!