Cheating: 2 Uncomfortable Truths about it that We Need to Hear.

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Cheating is a touchy subject, and most people profess very clear ideas about it. But 95 percent of the time, when we talk about “cheating” in relationships, our use of the word isn’t even appropriate.

If that sounds outrageous, please read on.

“Cheating” means:

  • doing something behind someone else’s back…
  • with the intention of harming them.

On a poker table, the cheating player is trying to damage the other opponents. In business, people cheat to get an advantage over a competitor.

But what about relationships? Is it often the case that someone does something behind our back, with the intention of harming us?

Yes, people may sometimes cheat on their lovers just to make them suffer. But how common is that? This probably only happens about five percent of the time. In most other cases, cheating doesn’t have anything to do with the partner being cheated on — which is a hard truth to digest. Let me illustrate this point.

If I complain that my girlfriend has cheated on me, it really makes it sound like what happened is about me. That she and her other lover are doing whatever they are doing just so they can hurt me.

This puts me both in the role of the victim, and in that of the main character. But most of the time, I’m neither. They’re probably just enjoying themselves, and not thinking about me. I’m not the star.

This is the first uncomfortable truth:

What is happening between my partner and his or her other lover has only got to do with the two of them. It is not about me.

My partner and her lover like each other, and they want to connect intimately. They would do it if I didn’t exist. And they want to do it even though I exist.

Ouch, that hurts. My ego doesn’t like this a single bit.

Now, there is still a narrow passage through which my wounded pride can escape: claiming that my girlfriend should have told me first. That she isn’t being honest with me. That by cheating on me, she has broken an agreement of sexual exclusivity. That we had agreed to be monogamous.

So cheating has to do with breaking an agreement of sexual exclusivity to each other. And yet, most often, we don’t pay much attention to the agreement. We only talk about the people involved.

But what if the problem was with the agreement itself? What if the agreement, and not our partner, was in need of a revision?

The vast majority of agreements on sexual exclusivity fall into one of these two categories (or both of them):

  • Implicit agreement. This means that the two partners have never even talked about the agreement. (Maybe they just made love once, and they expect sexual exclusivity from that moment thereafter.)
  • Eternal, inflexible agreement. The two partners did explicitly agree on sexual exclusivity, but they made this into an eternal vow. (As it happens in most marriage vows, for example.)

Let’s recap: the promise of sexual exclusivity is, virtually always, either unspoken, or eternal, or both.

But every time we bind human beings to implicit or inflexible agreements, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment and drama.

This is because:

  • Unspoken agreements are subject to interpretation, and no one really feels bound to respect them;
  • Eternal agreements can stop reflecting the needs and desires of the people involved, because people change.

In some cultures, a wife was supposed to be sexually available for the husband, all the time. That is a terribly inflexible agreement, and luckily enough, it is slowly disappearing from our lives. But it isn’t all that different from asking our partner to only make love with us, for the rest of his or her life.

In one case, we demand that someone makes love to us even if they don’t want to. In the other case, we demand that someone does not make love to others even if they want to. Either way, we’re trying to impose sexual behaviour on others.

This is why most “cheating” partners secretly feel that they aren’t doing anything wrong.

Then, while one partner feels betrayed and hurt, the other partner feels both guilty and secretly entitled to do what he or she is doing. A painful situation that can give birth to endless arguments. No one really wins.


Here comes the second uncomfortable truth:

Cheating is a sign that an agreement needs to be renegotiated.

Of course, the right thing to do would be to renegotiate the agreement of sexual exclusivity before even considering breaking it. But in most relationships, there isn’t a safe space to talk about the sexual and emotional needs of the lovers, and renegotiate agreements that might have become obsolete.

If that space was provided, and if both partners knew that they talk about any agreement with love and understanding, a lot of unnecessary pain would be avoided.

The problem is that it is scary to offer our partners the possibility of changing the rules of the game whenever he or she needs to. It challenges our sense of security.

So here is some practical advice: in a relationship, always provide a safe space for either of the partners to renegotiate the rules of the game. The relationship will only benefit from that. Cheating will not happen if everyone involved feels safe to talk about their needs, their feelings, and the agreements they go into.

No one can deny that cheating can cause pain to everyone involved (including the “cheating” partner). But much of this pain derives from our incapacity to establish clear and flexible agreements with our partners.

Summing up, unless you’re talking poker or business, I invite you to reconsider the use of the word “cheating.” Instead, think of an agreement that needs some attention. That might completely shift your perception, and open the doors towards a more harmonious love life.



Forgiveness After Cheating: Why we should Let Go.

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Author: Raffaello Manacorda

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Pedro Ribeiro Simões/Flickr

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Raffaello Manacorda

Raffaello Manacorda is an international Tantra teacher and faculty at the International School of Temple Arts (ISTA). Coming from a background of radical political activism, he has been practicing Tantra for more than 15 years and has undergone intensive training in several styles of Yoga.

Raffaello believes that the evolution of sexuality and intimacy is a necessary step to heal the planet and create a culture of peace. He is the author of “Conscious Relationships”, a practical guide to evolved intimacy.

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anonymous Mar 30, 2016 6:08am

Hm. I challenge your argument that you rest on the distinction you make about how in a game or in business, “cheating” is done with the intention of harming the other players. I think often enough, the harm that befalls the others is simply a byproduct of one “player’s” (ha~!) unilateral decision to prioritize his/her/their own “needs” (desire, preference, agenda, etc) over the one s/he shares with her/his/their partner, and not actually intended, as in, just to be mean.

In a game or in business, the “cheater” simply wants what s/he wants, which is to win the game, or get the most money, control, or whatever, and takes natural actions aligned with that, such as withholding information, or misrepresenting a situation in order to “win.” In a relationship, the “cheater” simply wants what s/he wants, which is to explore the new connection, and experience the good feelings, pleasure, endorphins, etc, that spark and flow from it. And of course, takes actions aligned with whatever it takes to experience this, which very often includes withholding information and misrepresenting situations. I also feel that there are hidden agendas at work around control and unwillingness to withstand vulnerability that connect to old familial patterning and the projections of fears and fantasies that we can so easily fall under the influence of in “love.” It is so much easier and “safer” to decide to place another in a more vulnerable position than our own selves, when we are unwilling to be honest. The difficulty with this, and how it comes to be, is that very few of us have grown up within a culture that is very honest with itself, and in which self knowledge, love, and acceptance are easily developed.

Both situations seem pretty similar to me.. In each case, the “cheater” is simply prioritizing his/her/their needs or wants over the partner’s, which is already kind of a bust, given that the so-called “partnership” would be referred to as such because there would be an agreement/assumption, or at least, expectation of both people’s needs and wants being equal. But perhaps in some cases, some people are more equal than others?

I feel you’re correct in that in one sense, the connection between the one partner and another lover doesn’t have anything to do with the first’s partner at all. On the other hand, if the connection is occurring while the one partner is in a committed partnership with another, and their agreement and understanding is one of mutual sexual exclusivity, then hell yeah, it’d be cheating to just go ahead and insert one’s whatever into the other’s thing. Because doing so would be changing the system, or perhaps in a way, highjacking the existing system to create a new one, without one’s partner’s knowledge. Not much of a partnership in that case, I’d say.

I think the whole “cheating” label is simply referring to the dishonesty of changing the system without one’s supposed “partner’s” knowledge or consent. I suppose sexual and emotional fidelity is a pretty high bar to set for partnership, given how we humans tend to be, however. So perhaps the new wave of love cresting now will be about qualifying what we mean by partnership. The cool and ethical thing to do would be to communicate when and if feeling such feels that could potentially move one to swap fluids with someone other than one’s partner prior to doing so, and have those feelings be okay, be safe to talk about and share. I think part of the energy that forces things into the “cheating” zone is that we sadly don’t have much tolerance for honesty and self expression. People feel bad, and guilty about having desire, but it’s such a beautiful, human animal thing. And there are ways to express that and celebrate it that don’t require the swapping of any fluids, and could deepen, strengthen and enrich the “primary” relationship, if both are willing that. And sure, maybe there’s room for that potential fluid exchange, if both can create their shared love as honest and as strong and as generous to include other loves. Generosity and love can be expressed so many ways. All of this I feel depends on how honestly and heartfully all involved are able to live within themselves, and each other. Certainly also, a bar set very high. This is potentially as beautiful as the two who choose only each other. How lovely that such possibilities exists!

anonymous Feb 1, 2016 4:07am

I disagree with the definition that cheating necessarily requires harm, I don't find that in the definition of cheating anywhere else.

"What is happening between my partner and his or her other lover has only got to do with the two of them. It is not about me."

I disagree with this quite strongly. This completely ignores the fact that you get to judge your partners virtues before you enter a committed relationship with them, when you opt into social constructs like relationships you inherent accept the risks involved that go with that such as the risk of being cheated on, as such it's your responsibility to pick partners who are virtuous. I'd argue that this is in fact the most uncomfortable truth about cheating, that most people are disappointed in themselves for entering into a relationship with someone capable of those kinds of betrayals.

End of the day the single best way to ensure you're not cheated on (outside of celibacy) is to pick a partner who is virtuous, things like having a good body, being toned/ripped, being cool, being popular, having lots of money, wearing lots of makeup, be promiscuous, being good in bed, having a nice car…none of these things are virtues yet in a huge number of modern relationships it's exactly these things that are strong attractors.

anonymous Jan 31, 2016 12:00pm

I renegotiated for a divorce. One can singularily change the terms of the relationship by cheating and then expect the other to jump on board. Asking for an open relationship after cheating is akin to driving your car into the lake and then calling it a boat. I could not respect and renogiatite with someone who thought I wasn’t even worth a conversation before putting the health of me and my unborn child’s health at risk.

anonymous Jan 30, 2016 7:25am

{Continued from my previous comment!]

If a partner of mine ever cheated on me, I'd want to know what it was that I had NOT given them that made them seek that elsewhere, whether that is respect, admiration, appreciation, love, enough sexual interest in them etc etc. I think learning about your partner and how they think about/perceive/need from relationships can be beneficial to ensuring lasting happiness. For instance, my only two life partners have both generally seemed to have a preference for respect and admiration as a way of feeling loved. But my current one has also needed more physical affection too, even something simple like my stroking their face when they walk past etc. So if I want a relationship to last, I find out what my partner needs to feel fulfilled and then make sure I give them that (as long as it fits in with my own values and doesn't turn me into something inauthentic), so they have no need to seek it elsewhere. I also honestly express my own needs and preferences and give them the opportunity to choose whether they wish to honour those whilst staying authentic to THEIR selves. If they feel they can't, then I have to decide if this is a non-negotiable for me, and decide if we need to part respectfully (and this is what happened with my marriage, and we are still friends now, because we stayed committed to working on 'renegotiating our relationship' outside of the boundaries of marriage, for the good of our children).

My philosophy is that we don't 'own' people, even those we are married to, and we can't control them and what they do, nor should we. What we CAN do is consciously provide what we can to the relationship, along with the space and safety to discuss honestly if each of us is feeling fulfilled within that relationship without the ego needs getting in the way, and give each party a sense of freedom. Then each day we can both choose to either make a continued commitment to that relationship, or choose to part honourably, knowing that sometimes, despite our best efforts, we may no longer be a good fit for each other, as people DO change over time. The Five Love Languages is a great resource for helping find out what you and your partner needs within the relationship, and finding ways to provide that. But in my experience (as a non-judgemental friend who is often on the receiving end of people's confessions), 'outsourcing sex' is very rarely just about the physical act of having sex with someone else, but about a much more fundamental soul need for recognition, appreciation, admiration etc, that they weren't getting from the relationship.

anonymous Jan 30, 2016 7:24am

{Continued from my previous comment as the site won't let me post a comment that's too long!] Often, secret cheating can be an act of desperation, trying to feel any kind of connection and intimacy with another human being because they're no longer feeling any kind of connection from their partner, whilst also loving their partner too much to hurt them by simply saying "I'm sorry, but this relationship is not working for me". Yes, the idealist in me used to think that they 'should' just leave before the 'outsourcing' happens, but as I've gone through life I've learned that things are rarely black and white in even 'good' relationships, never mind ones with more complex issues. For example, the friend I mentioned above with the partner who threatens suicide also has him cutting himself whenever she tries to discuss challenging issues in their relationship, and then he blames it on her for 'upsetting' him. She has felt that it's better to not cause him any more distress by just settling with that as the pattern of her life, but surely anyone can understand that she still needs some form of fulfilment in her own life. So she feels it's better for BOTH their emotional health if she 'secretly' meets up with someone who gives her attention, appreciation, and admiration for a couple of hours, to fill up her emotional well, to fulfil her for the next hard slog of caring for a partner with mental health issues, than to just tell him she's leaving and pray he doesn't commit suicide… And I've spoken to good, decent men in similar situations too, who have been worried about the mental health of their wives, AND the consequent impact on their children, if he just leaves, and isn't there to care for them all. So they make the decision to stay, putting up with emotional manipulation from their spouses, for the good of their spouses and children, but sometimes THEY crack and they need a little something for themselves too, after all that sacrifice of their sense of self, to enable them to keep going.

It's such a sad situation to be caught up in and I'm so grateful I'VE never felt so lonely and in such desperate need for ANY physical touch or loving attention from another human that I was tempted to look elsewhere whilst I was married and feel burdened by the inevitable guilt too. I've also never been cheated upon, because I work on my own issues, keep things as honest as possible and make it safe for the other person to state their needs to me without my taking anything personally or judging them for what they want, and make sure I don't have unrealistic expectations of my partner and how responsible they should be for MY happiness, and always do my best to treat them with love, kindness, etc, and find out what THEY need in our relationship, and deliver that if it's honourable to my own values.

anonymous Jan 30, 2016 7:23am

I agree with this in many cases, and I also feel there are certain circumstances where even cheating could be forgivable. I believe sometimes that someone goes looking elsewhere because they're not getting something essential from the person they're with, like respect, admiration, appreciation, trust (even if love is still there between them, because sometimes just love ISN'T enough), which I feel we ALL need in our lives. Without those things, a relationship can feel like soul death. But in a long-term relationship, people can also feel a strong sense of obligation and loyalty towards the person they've built their life with, which is why they don't want to hurt them and destroy their life as they know it, and that of any children in the relationship, by just leaving.

It's not just men who 'out-source' that aspect of their relationship; women do it too. People I know who've done it feel horribly torn between a sense of loyalty to their partner who is sometimes treating them appallingly (like people going through domestic violence or being with a partner who has mental health issues) but they have an otherwise deep 'commitment' with, crippling fear of the consequences of ending the relationship (for instance, someone I know has a partner who has repeatedly threatened suicide if she ever leaves him, and she cannot bear the burden of guilt that would fall on her shoulders if he did that), and feeling a very real, understandable need to experience a tiny bit of sunshine in their lives that might make the days brighter and help them through all the dark times, plus strong emotional pressure to keep their promise to stay with the person 'till death do us part'.

anonymous Jan 29, 2016 11:46am

I can speak first hand to this as my husband cheated on me with multiple partners over a one year span, in which I was completely oblivious to his actions. Perhaps your “renegotiating” agreements works if you aren’t married, but most definitely not if you are married. Period. Dr. Keith Witt has some very helpful and enlightening podcasts on this topic. Witt was one among many resources that helped my husband and I repair our marriage; sorry, but renegotiating our agreement would have done nothing to repair our marriage, but instead left us in a divorce.

    anonymous Jan 30, 2016 5:42am

    Thanks for sharing your experience Collette. I honor it, and yet I know first-hand many cases of married couples that have renegotiated their agreements and survived a similar crisis or even opened up their marriage. It's just different ways of approaching the problem, and I believe each couple, whether they're married or not, needs to find their own truth.

anonymous Jan 29, 2016 10:09am

My feelings have been hurt because I loved, trusted and allowed myself to be vulnerable; not because I am ego driven as you suggest. In our twenty years of marriage, there were moments when I was attracted to another, but I did not act on those impulses out of consideration for my husband's feelings. I knew it would hurt him deeply if I shared sexual intimacy with another. When you love someone, you put yourself in their place. Unfortunately, when he was faced with that decision, he did not stop to consider the pain he would be causing me or our children. We are in the process of renegotiating the term of our agreement. It's called divorce.

anonymous Jan 28, 2016 6:15pm

So … what you are basically trying to do here, is changing the definition of the term "cheating" (in a relationship) to make it more flexible and open for more positive solution of a problem that comes from it, other than drama?
I am a kind of an old school about relationships. I'm not into open ones. Is it because i was raised like that, or was it something else, i'm not sure of the reason. But it's how i can function in that area. And of course, on a 100 people you will find a 100 different characters.
But what i feel about cheating, is my own definition of who's to blame for that. So let me set up a quick stage. (Because i'm a man, i'll be talking about my other half.)

We met.
We liked each other.
We went out for a couple of dates.
We hooked up.
We decided to enter an relationship.
We've been in a relationship for a year.
Then the cheating happened. She cheated on me with another man without me knowing.
After some time i find out about it.
I confront her.
(Usually at this moment Will Ferrell jumps out with: Well, that escalated quickly!)

And this is that point when most of the time, the DRAMA is unleashed. Now, i agree.
"Cheating is a sign that an agreement needs to be renegotiated." But it is also a sign that comes too late. Feelings ARE broken, hearts are shattered, and i strongly think it has nothing to do with ego.
From my point of view, and in this case, ego can be hurt if for instance, i was the one who cheated on her without her knowing, and i wanted to keep her at the same time, and after some time, she cheats on me. In that case, if i feel hurt, it is my ego that is in pain. Which makes me the bad guy. So … ego doesn't have anything to do with this subject. That kind of cheating is obvious and it is not redeemable. But anything else can be.

In this story, by my observation there are only two kinds of relationship between lovers:

A relationship
An open relationship

A relationship by it's definition means monogamy, and nothing more broad than that. So if two people decide to enter a relationship, they both should know what they are getting into.

An open relationship is a counter of a regular relationship by it's definition. Polygamy or polyandry. And even there, at the beginning of that kind of relationship, both people must know what set of rules they have chosen. And it is by default.
And in both cases … there is no justifiable/necessary reason for cheating to appear.
At least those are the definitions by my opinion. And yes. You can upgrade those agreements. But not if it means that original/core agreement is being changed.

In my case, where i can only enjoy a regular relationship, before i do anything, i tell that potential partner of mine what kind of relationship i want. If she agrees, then i upgrade it with five rules that i have. And those rules are:

1. If you cheat on me, please make him use a condom because i don't want to get anything if he has anything at all.

2. If you feel the need to cheat on me, please tell me before you do it. We will discuss the issue and try to resolve it. Maybe there is something wrong with me, but if there is, don't be afraid to come clean about it. And if there is, and if we cannot solve it, than at least exit this relationship with me before you enter a new one.(open or regular)

3. You can look, you can comment openly, and you can even flirt with other men. Behind or in front of me if you like. I don't mind. I enjoy it. Because you are not my dog, or property. You are a human being just like me. You have needs just like me. And me being in a relationship with you, among other things, means that i have a respect for you. But know the boundaries. A touch is green. The kiss is red. I drew the border between those two.

4. If you cheat on me, make sure that i never find out about it. Because if i do, you know what that means. You will lose me forever.


5. If you cheat on me, know that i will not blame you. The only person i can blame in that situation, is me. Because it was my choice to enter a relationship with you. And if you do that, then obviously i made a bad one.

And those are my deals for a relationship. You have everything here. A grey space. A healthy way to express yourself to your partner and to other potential ones so that your libido doesn't crumble. I personally don't see any room for a reason to cheat here.

    anonymous Jan 30, 2016 6:00am

    Thanks Damjan for your extensive and personal comment. What can I say? I see that you have a very defined idea about relationships, and if that works for you, I have no reason to question it. Of course, most of the assumptions you make are very personal. For example, that relationship=monogamy. Or that touch is green, kiss is red. Other people play by vastly different rules. But that's all good! If your model of relationship works for you, I"m sure you'll find people along the way that resonate with it.

    In my personal story, I used to have very clear ideas about how a relationship should be, what was allowed and what wasn't, and etcetera. That didn't serve me well. I was constantly frustrated and blaming my partners for not abiding by my rules. The more I flexibilized the rules, the happier and more forgiving I became. So from this personal experience, I invite people to avoid putting too much emphasis on the rules, and focus on love and forgiveness instead. But again, there is no easy fix to the challenges of relationships, so I honor your standpoint. Thanks for sharing!

      anonymous Mar 30, 2016 3:35pm

      I don't think I can forgive my BF for cheating/sleeping with another woman while in an exclusive relationship with me and he continues to have sex with me and I end up with an STD or something from the other girl.

      I"d be furious…..I'm with Damjan. I'm old school, communicate the boundaries of what makes you un/comfortable in the dynamic you have w/ someone. If they disrespect that, they're gone. Life is too short to waste on people who are not on the same page as me and put your health at risk. If they don't have the emotional intelligence to communicate their needs or what is lacking in your relationship, get out of it.

      I am not comfortable with open relationships. It doesn't mean the other person is "my property" or I want some kind of control. I should not be an option depending on the mood you're in.

anonymous Jan 28, 2016 3:45pm

This is the reason I thrive in open relationships… and yet still managed to be hurt by a cheating partner in a relationship that was monogamous because *he* insisted that was what he needed. Instead of telling me he wanted to make it open after all, which he knew I would love, he decided to lie and deceive me everyday and was cheating. Learning about this broke my heart, which could have bee avoided with plain honesty. I still don't understand why he did that, and probably never will.

anonymous Jan 28, 2016 9:48am

Interesting take on the subject. I agree that the intention to hurt another may not be the motivation for “cheating.” When individuals choose to partake in these actions however; they are, intentionally or not, disregarding another’s feelings. This is just plain selfishness. We are not animals free to act solely on our impulses. The foundation of a healthy relationship is trust. Kindness and honesty are key components. I agree that the terms of the agreement, if there is one, need to be re-negotiated. Not taking it personally and moving on is the answer for me.

anonymous Jan 28, 2016 2:30am

This asks for transparancy, but like any objective or goal or quality, when it is pursued one always without exception ends up in the opposite realm. See wikileaks, although transparancy is a perfect virtue, too much transparancy leads to unwanted and dangerous situations. There is always need for some gray area, otherwise we suffocate in the virtue itself. Remember. Think of IS, only love can save these guys.

anonymous Jan 27, 2016 5:44pm

1. What's your basis for your definition of cheating? I just checked several dictionaries and see nothing about deliberate ill intent. It's more about gaining personal advantage.

2. I understand "cheating" in the romantic sense to be an affair kept secret from one's partner, and I do see in that an intent to control one's partner by withholding information. Otherwise it would simply be discussed.

You said:

"On a poker table, the cheating player is trying to damage the other opponents. In business, people cheat to get an advantage over a competitor.

"But what about relationships? Is it often the case that someone does something behind our back, with the intention of harming us?"

Again you're attributing more intent specifically to harm an opponent than is really there. All three cases are the same — the goal is to gain an advantage by secretly breaking a rule one ostensibly agreed to follow. That's what "cheating" means.

For the record I do agree with you about re-negotiating the agreement.

    anonymous Jan 30, 2016 5:52am

    Thanks for your extensive comment Ken.

    1. Regarding the definition of cheating, what I'm trying to say here is that poker or business are a zero-sum game. My advantage automatically implies your disadvantage. But I don't think that in the case of love and sexuality it's the same, and therefore we cannot assume that, if my partner has an affair with someone else, this entails a loss for me. If we interpret cheating as just "gaining personal advantage" (such as in establishing a new connection with someone), then why would anyone have a problem with that?

    2. Again I see your point, but how exactly are we controlling someone by withholding information about our intimate/sexual life from them? If that were the case, we would constantly control everyone around us, friends, family etc, because we don't share the details of our sexual life with them. You could easily turn the issue upside down and say that asking someone to share with us all they do with their body/sexuality is an attempt at controlling them. How can we solve this paradox?

    3. You say "a rule one ostensibly agreed to follow". And the point of my article is exactly that: the problem lies in "ostensibly", which translates as "supposedly, apparently". This is what I call an implicit agreement, an agreement that is supposed to be valid even if the parties involved didn't explicitly make it. So my suggestion is to instead make explicit, flexible agreements. Hope it makes sense.

    Thanks once more for your contribution, I really enjoyed reading it.

      anonymous Jan 30, 2016 12:00pm

      Got it, makes sense. Thanks for clarifying. I really think we agree on most points.

      So to clarify my point about what's not talked about, let's distinguish between not telling your partner, knowing (because you've talked about it) or suspecting (based on what you know about them) that they don't care, vs. knowing or suspecting that they would care.

      My partner has other lovers. We talk about it, mostly out of our interest in each other's lives in general. I don't have a lot of "rules" or stipulations around it. But if she were running drugs for the Mafia and trafficking child labor… I'm not ok with that. And if I were dating someone who I thought, just personality-wise, wouldn't tell me about something like that because (a) it's not impacting our relationship in the least and (b) she knows I'd be, shall we say, a little upset by the news… I would not be ok with that either.

      So let's distinguish this from don't-ask-don't-tell. This is having me live a falsehood against my choice in order to prevent me from doing something she wouldn't like. That's what i mean by secrecy with intent to control someone's behavior.

      (Funny in this context to think of the phrase, "All is fair in love and war…" 😉

anonymous Jan 27, 2016 5:44pm

I like this.

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Amanda Sandeen Sep 17, 2017 5:41pm


Amanda Sandeen Sep 17, 2017 5:39pm

I find nothing radical about this idea, I believe it is common sense and most people simply lack it... however... I take issue with your statement regarding indefinite fidelity and believe it alone creates a more disturbing image than anything of value this article might relay: "In some cultures, a wife was supposed to be sexually available for the husband, all the time. That is a terribly inflexible agreement, and luckily enough, it is slowly disappearing from our lives. But it isn’t all that different from asking our partner to only make love with us, for the rest of his or her life." Yes, actually, those two things are VERY different. In a culture where a woman is expected to always be available sexually to her husband, that man has a free pass to rape her whenever and however he wants. In a culture where a man and woman have agreed to only ever have sex with one another, no one gets raped. You might not be getting sex when or where or how frequently you'd like it, you might not be getting it at all.... but no one gets raped. That is a big fucking difference. But nice try.

Francisca Omon Owase Sep 14, 2017 9:12pm

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April Jordan Sep 13, 2017 1:24am

They didn't intend on harming, because they didn't intend on getting caught. And I would say to protect my feelings but I know it's because they would lose me if they told me. I was clear about not sharing.

Anne Simon Caruso Sep 9, 2017 12:57pm

If two people have agreed to be monogamous, and one person sleeps with someone else KNOWING it is breaking this agreement and will bring pain to the other person, it is absolutely an assault on that other person. Further, the "cheater" should NEVER agree to a monogamous relationship when what he/ she obviously wants is polygamous. Or, if he/ she doesn't realize this until the original pact has been made, the other partner should be notified that the original agreement is null and void. Again, failure to do so is an assault on the partner at worst and shows a complete lack of integrity as well. The reason it happens so often is bc someone KNOWS their partner will leave if they even mention altering the original pact to non- monogamy, and so they attempt to "have their cake and eat it too," hoping the partner doesn't find out. It is a selfish, often narcissistic behavior, and frankly this article smacks of victim - blaming. I call bullshit.

Richard Decater Jul 22, 2017 3:41pm

What we're cheated out of is the intimacy shared in the relationship. A space held only for them. Only to realize what was, never truly existed. Leaving only memories of lies.

Pamela Heilman May 12, 2017 2:10am

I feel like the author is trying to justify cheating with semantics games. However while the one cheating may not be doing it with intent to hurt most know if found out it will hurt. Thus it even meets his definition

Stephanie Flores May 11, 2017 8:05pm

Sounds like someone wants their cake and eat it too. This sounds like one person in the relationship wants polyamory and the other monogamy. It doesn't work like that. Communication from the beginning.

Jeannette Amy May 11, 2017 1:03pm

I love your article and agree with a lot of it! For all these reasons, the last relationship I had was set up just as you describe... with safe space to re-evaluate, which we did many times... unfortunately as Sharon Carvosso points out, sometimes, some people thrive on the secrecy - or have too poor a level of self knowlege to know what they need/can offer - to be as honest as is necessary � So send them love and let them go ���

Mari Pellegrino Feb 15, 2017 5:31pm

I am going throught the shock of finding out my ex bf had 8 affairs in our 2 years together. Its a crippling pain ! my therapist and I both agree it is a sociopathic behaviour.

Jasmine Chapelsky Jan 26, 2017 9:28am

I very disappointed in this authors comparison... forcing a wife to have sex with husband is not even close to the same as forcing your partner to be monogamous! Come on... Do you have any idea how offensive this is to women who are fighting for equality and freedom from oppression? Are we not evolving as human race? How is someone allowed to publish such crap in 2017? � � �

Jasmine Chapelsky Jan 26, 2017 9:04am

For some people a polygamous relationship would be ideal allowing each person the freedom to have another lover when they felt the urge. Just be honest about your preferences and needs from the beginning and then cheating never becomes an issue. If you are in a monogamous relationship then you are both agreeing to exclusively. Decide want you want and no one gets hurt.

Erin Boone Dec 17, 2016 8:49pm

This makes it seem like it's a healthy function to step outside ones relationship and perhaps in some more casual relationships it is. But in a dedicated long-term relationship, the "cheater" has the choice of dealing with a problem or escaping into the fun of a new lover the way others would escape into a substance. They actually *wouldn't* be with that second lover if their partner didn't exist. The second lover isn't a good fit for them, they are simply interesting and available to be exploited. It is destined to fail. Because the cheater doesn't want a new relationship or even just a new sexual experience; that is all peripheral to simply avoiding their real issue(s) with their primary partner. All the cheating I have experienced in my life (or been guilty of) has been this type. Avoidance based.

Sharon Dawson Oct 4, 2016 2:03pm

This article was just plain stupid mansplaining.

Jeye Daye Oct 3, 2016 3:46pm

Thank you for this.

Kimberley Radley Oct 3, 2016 3:14am

Narcissistic/sociopathic/psychopathic people with no empathy see it as their right to cheat because they are self entitled. This article is only opinion based which I fear is totally subjective by the writer to justify his conscience. There is no scientific basis if there were it would acknowledge brain development in childhood and how this affects lack of empathy in adults. Empathy and compassion and respect only comes with being a evolved human being who understands love....

Tracey Maule Sep 21, 2016 8:21am

What a load of shit just to excuse cheating.

Jason Williams Sep 10, 2016 4:18pm

A beta male wrote this. I almost feel sorry for the loser.

Linda Crawford Aug 20, 2016 3:14pm

Psychobabble BS trying to justify CHEATING. No excuses.

Stephen Fraser Jul 18, 2016 5:10pm

...a committed relationship in our society implies exclusivity..the act of infidelity is an egregious breach of that commitment and by its nature harmful to both the other and the relationship...there is nothing "evolved" about not being able to stay faithful to another..

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Sharon Elizabeth Carvosso Jun 1, 2016 11:36pm

Some people just thrive on secrets. And don't care for anyone but themselves.