Sometimes I feel that I have arrived on a different planet. Planet Adultery.
A place where most people commit adultery and where we are led to believe that monogamy is unnatural and adultery an acceptable response to this belief. What is happening? Why is an expectancy of fidelity in a relationship now being considered unreasonable? Why is the bitter truth of the emotional carnage of adultery kept secret? Why is the sexual act of adultery flavoured with erotic undertones whilst the distasteful and often sleazy aspects of illicit sex and betrayal are ignored?
Before I discovered my husband’s adultery I knew nothing about the wasteland that people entered (by choice or by default), when an eternal triangle was created. A sexual or emotional relationship involving a couple – man and woman – and another man or woman. I think I thought adultery was committed when someone wanted to leave an unhappy marriage or wanted a bit of harmless fun. To be honest, I never really examined what I thought. Why would I? I wasn’t aware that it was everywhere I looked. I had no idea that the odds were stacked so high against the likelihood of me having a faithful husband. I was so sure that my husband would be faithful and that if he wasn’t he should know that I would leave him. There you have it – wrong on both counts!
I am constantly troubled by the enormous scale of adultery. I know we can’t ever be sure about the numbers, but from those that have been garnered the picture is grim. However, just because there are a lot of people engaging in the behaviour does not make it acceptable. My biggest worry is that adultery is beginning to be viewed as ‘normal’ and this will make it even more difficult for the voices of the betrayed partners and families to be heard. As Jane Fonda said in her book My Life So Far; “It’s hardest to see what’s wrong about what seems normal”
I have recently read a book entitled Cheat: A man’s guide to infidelity. It is written by three American male comedians who admit to having cheated: Bill Burr, Joe DeRosa and Robert Kelly. I have no idea who these men are but I got to hear about the book and was curious to see if their perspective could throw any light on the phenomenon that troubles me so much. Overall it presents, not surprisingly, a misogynistic perspective but wives and girlfriends are hardly mentioned. This book is about having your cake, eating it AND not getting caught. Equally, they recognise that shame and guilt looms large in the game of cheating and they hope to wipe them out. I’m not sure that they do. The sexual objectification of women is solely reserved for the Other Woman, the female that is referred to as the ‘mark’ aka “Choosing a Mark: Who to Fuck, Who to Flee”. My recommendation would not be for betrayed spouses to read this book because we know what a cheater gets up to and how much of a dirt bag they’re prepared to be. Instead I would recommend this book to any woman in or thinking about a relationship with a married man. It would burst their fantasy bubble more effectively than I ever could.
Early in the book they make a distinction between two different types of sex. “To most guys, sex means something only if they are in love with the woman they’re having sex with. Other than that, it doesn’t mean shit. But the rest of society begs to differ.” I do wonder if this is the case for many men. I also wonder if some women don’t echo these sentiments. It’s possible that they do but if they do, these authors view it less than attractive. They suggest that although it might sound awesome “she probably isn’t the most stable individual, and therefore, when she gets upset she’s capable of doing any crazy shit under the sun”. The film Fatal Attraction would be a narrative depicting just this type of scenario.
Men who cheat do not come out of this book with glowing colours or an endorsement for their proclivities and that is rather surprising. Their guide to cheating is peppered with warnings of dire consequences. “Think about it: you’re on the verge of doing something that could destroy not only your life, but also the lives of those around you”.
The authors don’t throw much light on the why a man might want to cheat in the first place. They say that only the cheater knows but suggest it is because of one of the following: they want the rush, they want the romance, they want some extra passion, they’re a piece of shit. They suggest the cheater asks himself the following question, “Why am I cheating? Why do I want to bang this other woman? Why is the desire to have some strange lady touch my prick overtaking my life?” I must say, this sounds like a reasonable question to me. The important thing is timing. This question needs to be asked before the cheating. We all know how rationalisation after the event is a crock of shit.
Initial advice to the cheating man is to be aware of any woman who has immediate expectations of them. Expectations are not something that is desirable. However, from their experience they state that even if these expectations don’t exist at the beginning of the affair there’s a high probability that they will develop in time. As soon as she gets strong desires to know your friends, spend holidays with you or swing by your workplace to say ‘hi’, this is the point at which the cheater must dump her. “In the nicest possible way of course”.
Interestingly, cheats can do a little quiz in the book to identify just what type of ‘scumbag’ (their word not mine) they might be. I was interested in the nine categories and share them here with you.
- Accidental Tourist – Cheats under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Likely to get caught because his guilt will be overwhelming.
- Rookie – Stiff, straitlaced, obsessively organised. High odds on getting caught as not relaxed enough.
- Addict – Lack of family structure and proper upbringing. Cheats on everywoman. Will bang anything. Odds on getting caught are high because of sloppy preparation and execution.
- Undercover Cop – Very private. Tries to appear faithful and mostly succeeds. His friends know but he will die before admitting it. Low odds on getting caught as he could be water boarded for days and never talk.
- Defensive Offensive – Sheer panic caused by insecurity thinking wife doesn’t love him and she’s cheating. Will definitely get caught. Over reaction. No strategy.
- Artist – Joins an art class or some such course to explore his creative side as a ruse to bang women. Won’t get caught if he’s happy to talk about the art class to wife.
- Co-dependent – Loves to fuck around but has no concept of independence or self-reliance. Ashamed of his infidelity he drags pals into his predicament to be comforted. Not only will he be caught but he will bring everyone else down as well.
- Serial killer – Demon with a million dollar smile. Senior position in the clergy or politics. High profile family man. Cons everyone into his wholesomeness. Unlikely to get caught as no one suspects him.
- Rock star – Good looking, powerful, unstoppable with women. High sex drive, few ethics and zero remorse. Charms in and out of any situation. Impossible to get caught. All blinded by his charm. Teflon man.
I’ve pegged my husband as #7 the co-dependent.
There is sage advice when choosing who to fuck and who to flee. This is where their views of women who agree to be the cheating Other start to become clear and how the risk of entanglement with the wrong type can spell disaster. “As a man in a relationship, you must acknowledge the immense power that you hand your OW the second you bang her. Her ability to completely fuck over your life does not exist until you fuck her” I wonder how many men have realised this aspect of adultery far too late. I wonder how many women have manipulated their married man so that this power is gained. After sex, men have to be cautious not to be overly cool or callous as it is likely to make her feel cheap and she will want to exact some form of revenge. (Don’t I know?)
“The reality is that the same way that there are a bunch of fucked up men out there, there are also a bunch of fucked up women”. Men are advised to avoid married women and to focus on divorcees. I can only imagine that this is connected to the fact that a married woman has a husband in the background who may threaten physical violence but this is not stated.
Apparently it starts to get problematic if the OW thinks her married man cares about her but this is a fine line to tread because if they think he doesn’t care they will feel cheap. So this needs to be acknowledged. “It can be risky to pretend you care about your cheat. When you pretend to care, like it or not, you’ve begun a relationship. And a side relationship is a landmine waiting to be stepped on”. The advice is to provide some initial honesty such as ‘I’m in a relationship’. This will make the gal feel special. “This guy is in love with another woman, but he likes me so much he can’t help himself”. Following this he is advised to lie, to play down his relationship along the lines of it being in ‘dire straits’ or ‘damaged’. This is to allow the mark just enough information to draw out her own fantasy about where the affair is headed. She’ll have anywhere from a glimmer to a wellspring of hope that things will eventually work out in her favour. “This guy is stuck with another woman, but he likes me so much he’ll probably leave her” Ouch! Close to the knuckle for OW’s all over the world I suspect!
The OW is presented as just as wretched as the cheating husband. “She’s no angel. All that shit she says to you “You’re in a relationship; We shouldn’t be doing this; I want to but I can’t”, isn’t really meant for you. She’s arguing morally with herself out loud. Because in the end she’s just like you: a dirt ball. It’s just that sometimes a girl needs an excuse to be dirty. You have to give it to her.”
Then, after this manipulation, it’s time to weave “I like being with you” “Talking to you is so easy” “I haven’t felt this way in a long time.” Translation: “I want to put my penis in your mouth and then fuck you in the backseat of my Chevy and then go home to the woman I love”. Could Chump Lady’s UBT have translated any better!!!
I am left with the same feelings after reading the book as when I started. Cheating is a sorry wasteland. Everybody is diminished by the act.
They end the book with a mention about women and cheating. This is a disturbing truth that I have trouble with. It is clearly not a male problem. So I have to work out why it feels like one to me? “Women fuck around. The genius of women and their cheating is the prevalent belief that women rarely cheat. That their main concern is not physical pleasure. That they are more into financial security. In reality, women are just like men: most want to have their cake and eat it too.”
Tell me; is this the legacy of the sexual revolution of the 60s? Is this what liberated female sexuality is like? Has sexual fidelity been removed from being a key aspect of an intimate and long lasting relationship for men and for women? Am I the remains of an ancient species heading for extinction?
The book ends with the following:
“A good man is hard to find? A good woman is even harder to find. A woman that is 100 percent faithful is even harder to find. A harsh fact.”