Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Topic of the Day – Infidelity

This is a long entry, but please stick with me.

Because of the New York’s Spitzer/Patterson sex mess the topic of infidelity has hit the media like an avalanche. I hear about it more through the papers, television news, the Internet, and the water cooler than ever before.

I actually heard on NBC’s Today Show this morning about how men can’t help but ‘stray’. Of course, the gender of the person presenting this theory was male. He described other cultures that allowed men to have more than one wife or partner at a time. He spoke as though we were the only culture that enforced monogamy that existed. I didn’t understand that if all this infidelity was all right, why was it only acceptable among men? Why was it always described as something that men couldn’t help? From ancient times to the present, yes the 21st century there are plenty of cultures that kill women for being unfaithful.

The subject of faithfulness and fidelity is a pet peeve of mine, so bear with me, I’m about to climb onto my soapbox and I may be a while.

To avoid any confusions, first definitions:
Fi-del-i-ty (noun)
1. Loyality
Loyalty to an allegiance, promise, or vow
2. Sexual faithfulness
Faithfulness to a sexual partner, especially a husband or wife
3. Factual accuracy
Accuracy in reporting facts or details

Faith-ful (adjective)
1. Consistently loyal
Consistently trustworthy and loyal, especially to a person, promise, or duty
2. Not adulterous or promiscuous
Not having sexual relations with somebody other than a spouse or partner
3. Conscientious
Displaying or resulting from a sense of responsibility or devotion to duty

First, let’s be clear about choices. In my little rant here I’m not talking about regular swinging or polyamourous couples. These people have made a certain lifestyle choice. They are living that lifestyle with a mutual understanding. I personally don’t think I could do that, but that isn’t relevant now.
Second, I’m not a member of any church, not Christian, not Jewish, not Muslim, none. I am a pagan spiritualist and a humanist, so the subject has nothing to do with mores and morals that were preached at me.
It does have to do with ethics.

As many of my long time readers know I have a degree in Psychology and studied human sexuality. I currently work in the mental health field. People and animals are not the same and it seems that people that want to rationalize their behavior often make that comparison. That the species needs to be propagated and that man planting as much seed among as many different women as possible most effectively does this. Perhaps true tens of thousands of years ago, but considering we can’t feed, house, educate, or get medicine for a large part of the people in the world now, we really shouldn’t be worrying about propagating the species through sexual reproduction, but rather through proper maintenance.

I have often heard men blame their actions on the women rather than taking responsibility for their actions. If you thought what you were doing was right or at the very least inconsequential then why blame boredom, age, physical fitness or attractiveness, or any other attributes of your female partner as the reason you fucked someone else? Moreover, if it’s done because the relationship has soured or can’t be fixed, then end it.

I am using the man as the cheater here because that’s in the news now, but I know women cheat too. The thing is that the culture of the female cheater is something very different. If I went on about that it would extend my tirade beyond the scope I wanted to stick with here.

Another thing that my long time readers know is my bond with CJ. The saga of how we returned to each other after 17 years of divorce has been told a couple of times throughout this blog. That I was reminded and reconnected with the spiritual loving part of a very special man I connect with. My belief that CJ is my soul mate has been described on more than one occasion here.
And here’s my struggle, every day I have to work at trusting CJ. His infidelity is difficult for me to grasp and understand. That lack of understanding isn’t dependent on whether I was 25 at the time or 47. Age doesn’t bring wisdom in this area for me.
Since the day I was first with CJ (it’ll be 29 years at the end of next month), I never cheated on him. I was with other men when we were separated/divorced and one time I was with his best friend by mutual agreement and he was there.

At times I wonder if I don’t border on nymphomania or at least sexual addiction. I would enjoy a lot more sex; but right now, that’s not meant to be. I would not cheat on CJ for the sake of more orgasms. The idea to me is absurd and ridiculous. I do have cybersex as my form of masturbation. I have told CJ about it, there are no secrets and he’s OK with it, at least that’s what he tells me. If it weren’t I wouldn’t do it.

I have had between 25 and 30 lovers in my lifetime. Of those, there was only one lover I cheated on. That happened when I got back together with CJ. I had been seeing someone I’ll call ‘Jack’ for about two years. I couldn’t stand myself afterwards. I could only keep it to myself for about a month. Then I confessed, gave the key to his apartment back, broke up with him, mercy fucked him, and drove away. I saw him one more time after that so we could talk some things through and that was it. I never saw him again. How do people keep it from their partners for years? Do they even really believe they are hiding it? I think more partners actually know what’s going on than they lead their partners to believe.

The respect I afford CJ the man and CJ the other half of me has not been reciprocated and some people may wonder why I got back together at all with him. I ask myself that question every so often, it may be why I’m so ready to write about the subject here, and the answer is difficult and been wrestled with, believe me. I don’t think I could describe it to my best friend, let alone here. Components of the answer include the divinity of forgiveness, the standards that I hold myself to, a love that is working at being unconditional (my love and understanding of CJ would be another 1400 word essay), the fact that CJ is not my entire life, that certain decisions aren’t mine, and much, much more.

As evidenced by current events I am certainly not the only woman who is still with a man that has cheated on her. There is a loyalty involved, a commitment that I’ve made to both him and myself that means something and that’s why in the present I stand by CJ.
Since none of this has to do with my self-esteem, I can also confidently say that if our relationship or I is blatantly disrespected again I will not “work it out”. I will leave. I will leave knowing I have to maintain my self-respect, self-worth, and sanity. I will leave knowing that I had given it another try and that this just wasn’t the time or place. I will leave happy for the attempt and sad at the failure, again. All of these things are uniquely and specifically human and I haven’t even brought in the emotion of love per se yet.

So when it comes to cheating, don’t feed me animal behavior bullshit. Don’t make yourself the victim, rather than me. Don’t believe everything will be the same again, it can’t be. What does need to be done is that if you can’t be honest with the other person at least be honest with yourself. Know thyself. I think many men settle for being a dog. I think that’s a cop out. It’s tough to be good, to be true, to have character and there’s a reason for it.

We are not animals, so don’t act like one.


Anonymous said...

Very well said. I admire your ability to stay faithful while having the desire to do otherwise. That discipline has to be one of the more important parts of a successful relationship and it's a pretty easy one to fail on (I'm talking to myself). Guess I've been a dog for a long time now.

Dan said...

Beautifully written and painfully honest. Thank you very much for sharing so much of yourself with us. I would love to hear the parts of the story you decided not to include, and CJ's thoughts on all of it. I wish you the deepest of satisfaction and fulfillment, for the rest of your life.

Alfie said...

It's great to hear the case put so strongly. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Given what he and his wife have said, it's probably complicated for Patterson. A lot of people have been where they were although they perhaps made different decisions.

For Spitzer, it was all about power and control. It wasn't really about the sex. It had to be someone other than his wife because people don't usually control their spouses. Marriages are general much deeper than sex on demand. In his mind he wasn't being "unfaithful" because he didn't even see the girl as a woman. She was just something he bought much as you or I would buy a new suit.

MikeCindynJoe said...

Wow... both an intimate and compelling read, obviously heartfelt and direct. Thank you for sharing that with us.

I also strongly agree with you and NO ONE can argue with the #1 definitions you provided; "loyal, trustworthy, allegiance and promise". Never mind the sex-related definitions, those are secondary applications or examples, and not a true definiition anyway.

Despite our lifestyle and our many past and present lovers, we are NOT unfaithful as these trysts do not violate our basic oaths of loyalty and allegiance.

I could compress and summarize what you said into a moral of the story: "There are no excuses in life, so don't try to make any, OR invent a lame reason to do so."

Very personal, very honest and very well written.

Thank you,


Anonymous said...

Well written piece Deb. I always enjoy your writing and this one struck a cord. I walk the line every day but have yet to step over. Like yours sometimes my marriage is sexless and I feel incomplete. My mind tells me in a perfect world a person could have a friend with benefits however most logical folks say that will never work. They are probably right however I am interested in a lady other than my wife because of whats between her ears rather than her legs. This infatuation I am finding much harder to fight. Can you speak to that?

Love to see you soon on IM,