Saturday, July 12, 2008

Alternet blogger on cheating

A blogger I read regularly has discovered a good way to gain readers, in fact that's how I found him: he comments regularly on Alternet articles and blogs, and sometimes leaves a link back to his own blog.

I used to read Alternet regularly, but don't have the time. Now sometimes I drop in when a blog or a google alert sends me there, usually about polyamory or non-monogamy. Yesterday, Libertine's post pointed me to this blog article on cheating. The author takes a look at sexless marriages, mentioning the advice Dan Savage gives. She then comes up with a solution I think is still coming from a monogamous mindset, that it might be ok to cheat. In my experience, cheaters do still think of themselves as monogamous...they're just failing at it. In a sexless marriage, they see no other recourse but to seek secret affairs. For a brief time, I would log into Yahoo IM, and I would get such potential cheaters contacting me. Some were astounded there could be another way, but didn't think they could risk it. What the Alternet author missed about Dan's advice, was that the potential cheaters in a sexless relationship should be up front about it. Cheaters don't like to take that risk.

I thought what everyone missed was acknowledgment that people change, thus I commented:

As others have commented, I too feel the default of monogamy needs to be questioned, but that the lack of communication and dishonesty that comes with cheating are not acceptable responses to the lack of a sex life.

I love the practical no-nonsense way Dan Savage approaches this issue.

I think what's missing here, but is included in Savage's advice, is the understanding that people change. People can change in drastic ways. People who get into relationships in their teens and twenties are still growing up. Physiologically and emotionally they are still unfinished. It is wishful thinking to suppose that contracts, agreements, understandings that are created in those years will still apply to the 30 or 40 something. Add to the mix the unexpected life experiences that change perspectives, and that person 20 years later is even more so a different person.

Understandings in relationships need always to be revisited, renegotiated, and recommitted to. To assume a default is asking for failure.

It has been my experience that allowing for this uncertainty, expecting it, makes the present ever more precious, and commitment even more certain.

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