(Read between the lines: those that have never thought about something, ie., infidelity, have no right to speak about it)
"For though a woman is timid in everything else, and weak, and terrified at the sight of a sword; still, when things go wrong in this thing of love, no heart is so fearless as a woman's; no heart is so filled with the thought of blood."
- Euripides' play "Medea"
Absence is to love what wind is to fire; it extinguishes the small, it enkindles the great. - Comte DeBussy-Rabutin
________________________Ok, you've all been waiting for me to sit down and pound out a screed of my feelings about fidelity, and therefore I have let rip with the following stream of soul-bearing consciousness; something that Deb propounds that I keep to myself, and in all honesty is correct in stating that "still waters run deep".
What follows is that which I have given careful consideration to over the latter course of my life, that which I have learned through trials, tribulation and not without a few bruised toes of my ego.
To me, sexual fidelity is an art, but one which need not be mutually associated with the mainstream concept of the marriage covenant.
Sexual desire is powerfully and intricately interwoven with the deepest levels of human identity and with the most difficult questions we have about who we are or what it means to be human. Sexual desire can be repressed, it can be heedlessly indulged, or it can become a calculated part of a marketplace exchange.
Body and heart or soul are one. Any attempt to dissociate them is both doomed and dangerous, and that is how casual sex injures even free and willing participants. It severs vital connections within the self, thereby silencing or at least muting one of the most powerful and literally vital foundations of our richest and most creative relationships with other people. Casual sex easily devastates the capacity for serious sex.
Those woods are lovely, dark and deep; let me but steal a twig and then keep going.
I said at the beginning that sexual fidelity is an art, and like all arts it is dependent upon disciplines and practices learned and sustained over time.
Let me take that idea one step further. These disciplines and practices—and especially the most embodied or material and "technical" of them—provide the crucial foundation for symbolic perception and expression.
The glorious coherence, lucidity and passion of a fine musical performance are not possible except through years of excruciating discipline, both in the exact actions of fingers or other parts of the body and in the detailed material and technical aspects of music and musical composition.
Literature too involves an array of word choices and technical strategies that critics spend lifetimes trying to understand and to appreciate.
The art that is sexual fidelity also depends upon a deeply complex, not fully conscious array of spiritual and material practices and disciplines. Casual sex then, even between good friends, threatens to inhibit or unduly complicate the practice of faithful sex just as, in any artistic practice, it is difficult to overcome "careless" techniques learned early in one's career.
As recent reports about the brain document, we are all the creatures of past experience, more powerfully so in the less conscious and more highly embodied aspects of our lives.
Erotic responsiveness is extraordinarily complex and subtle, so we are wise indeed to approach its depths with great care for what we understand to be its ultimate significance in our lives.
To the extent that sexual fidelity is understood to be a central virtue, casual sex of any kind is, at the very least, an unwise risk. Plenty of folks come through apparently unscathed, I realize. But I still think it is a significant risk, particularly for people who might be sexually active for ten or fifteen years prior to a committed relationship. As an example of my previous point on art, for a vocalist or a violinist that much "bad practice" would be devastating.
With human sensuality as well, our careless sexual habits from the past must be observed and the chains of divisiveness between our inner selves broken in order to form a bond that transcends that of the simple animalistic couplings of our past.
That all said, we come to a salient question of the modern computer age: are chat rooms, pictures and "cybering" just an acceptable way to fantasize or only a lesser form of adultery ?
Again, it all has to do with what your vows are with each other. In my mind now, there is no "lesser form" of adultery in committing the physical act.
It either is or it isn't.
You can't be a "little" pregnant.
Simply put, if you touch someone other than your partner, you are guilty.
If, as I said earlier, your vow is for the fidelity of actual physicality (sex only with your husband or wife) then to engage in cyber-sex is adultery in some minds.
In order to have cyber-sex, you DO need another person, however there is no connection with what I refer to as the Divine Soul that each of us possess, therefore as long as no inner connection is involved, it is simply fantasy.
"Fantasy" is in your head and involves no real live, thinking reacting human being even at the other end of the key board. Fantasy is not a sin in my way of thinking, nor is masturbation that includes fantasy.
Jerking off to a picture, typing on the keyboard, or talking on the phone can never replace the intimate closeness and connection that is felt when two persons in a committed relationship, not necessarily based on marriage papers, can achieve.
Thus to me, the physical act of making love to Deb is part of what I feel are spiritual bonds that we have carefully cultivated, and not something to be taken lightly.
As to myself and how I relate to Deb, I simply made a deep, conscious decision based upon the previous pondering of sex and my experiences therewith to remain physically committed to one person and one person only.
The mental, nea, "spiritual" connection that we share was not simply foisted upon us by any piece of paper or religious ceremony, but was instead a semi-unspoken oath that we would not recreate circumstances as in the past that would hinder our relationship.
Simply put, I believe that we humans are much greater than we give ourselves credit for, and therein contains a grain of truth: if we are so, then what is our connection with each other and the greater aspects of the Divine?
My fidelity is thus predicated not only on the knowledge that my partner would simply "know" if I had been unfaithful, but also on my respect for that spark of God Goddess All That Is that Deb and I have carefully cultivated between our souls.
To summarize: in my mind, fidelity is a joint decision about the actual "act" of sex between two partners; that which is acted upon. Everything else - masturbation, fantasy or chatting is fantasy and does not (in our case) break the idea of fidelity.I hope this answers some of your questions.