The advantages of unfaithfulness (don't try this at home!)

Ideally, if you’re a married man strongly attracted to a woman other than your wife, before acting on that impulse, you should extricate yourself from your marriage. Among the reasons, obvious and un:

  • To keep from inflicting a grievous emotional wound on your wife.
  • Out of respect for the person to whom you’re attracted. Otherwise, she might feel insulted by your presumption that she’d be complicit in cheating.

In the real world, though. . .

  • Lust and the ego-stroking of another woman finding you attractive are too hard to resist.
  • Even more powerful is the conviction that you’ve met your “soul mate,” as in: “It was meant to be.”
  • The window of attraction doesn’t stay open long. If you wait until you’re separated from your wife before responding to another woman’s interest, the latter may have moved on by then.

All things considered, there’s an inevitability to unfaithfulness. Even if you don’t act on your attraction for another woman, your marriage is diminished because your heart’s not in it (at least for the time being). What’s harder to keep from your wife than that faraway stare when you’re thinking of another woman?

More surprising, unfaithfulness may actually be an effective mechanism for transitioning from one relationship to another. After all, most people are reluctant to relinquish one vine until they’ve got firm hold of another. Before leaving their marriage for another, a man or a woman needs to become intimate with his or her prospective lover to determine whether they’re compatible.

There may even be yet one more benefit to cheating. Usually the lure of another woman is viewed as placing a man’s love for his wife — as well as of his will power, maturity, and ethics — on trial. As for the marriage, unfaithfulness is usually considered indicative of its weakness. In fact, it’s a test of its tensile strength.

In other words, if unfaithfulness doesn’t serve its first purpose — to sunder a bad marriage — it may serve a higher purpose: making clear to a married couple that while their marriage may be stale, it hasn’t yet passed the expiration date. Weld it back together and who knows? The bond may be stronger than ever.

5 replies »

  1. I’ve never had a problem with monogamy. In fact, i’m not at all sure why anyone would want to juggle more than one relationship…or maybe i’m just lazy. But i do know that monogamy is a pretty recent invention, as is the idea of romantic love. And from what i overhear when Robin listens to The Savage Lovecast, it sounds like open relationships are gaining popularity.

    On the other hand, i’m probably not qualified to participate in this discussion since i don’t believe in marriage and am currently trying to convince Robin that we should form a limited liability partnership rather than get married.

    All that being said, i think you’ve nailed it down, Russ. It is about testing and being tested. It’s plainly unrealistic to think that two people will be so madly in love with each other that they’ll never notice another person over the course of 50 years together. Those moments, if the attracted decides not to chase the shiny thing over there, can strengthen the bond and be used to reinvigorate the relationship.

    Thinking back to Wendy’s post about women leaving marriages i have to wonder how many of these situations passed before the women decided that letting them pass just wasn’t worth it if her partner wasn’t going to pay attention anyhow.

  2. I am a fan of open-minded relationships and honesty. I am a fan of polyamory. I am a fan of open relationships. I am a fan of participating in the richness of life with as many people that cross your path as makes sense to both yourself and your partner.

    That said, I cannot endorse unfaithfulness for a couple of reasons. One is one’s own peace of mind. If it’s to serve as an indicator that something is wrong with your relationship or marriage then the same end result can be served by feeling such a burning desire to have an affair that you can’t ignore it. The other reason is trust. Let’s say you meet someone fantastic and perfect for you while you are being unfaithful… What an auspicious way to start something new? You’d be starting a new relationship with someone who ALREADY KNOWS you are prone to unfaithfulness.

    I have quite an essay on this topic, we can talk about a multi-part article if S&R is interested….

  3. You’d be starting a new relationship with someone who ALREADY KNOWS you are prone to unfaithfulness.

    Yes, good, Mental Switch. Exactly one of my points.

    Lex, that limited liability partnership just cracks me up. It makes a pre-nuptial agreement sounds romantic in comparison.