Thursday, October 7, 2010
Option Three: Cheat
If you accept yourself as bisexual or gay and you're committed to a woman, how do you handle your attraction to men and the commitment to your woman?
Believe it or not, you only have four choices.
I have written about two of the choices in recent posts and now I continue with the third option, cheating.
Before I begin I should disclose that I have a lot of personal experience with cheating. I have been cheated on, both by a 'Friend with Benefits' and by my wife. I know what it feels like to be cheated on and it doesn't feel good.
I have also been the cheater. I cheated on my then-girlfriend-now-wife within our first month together. I cheated when we were dating. I cheated when we were engaged. I cheated on the eve of our wedding. I cheated within the first two years of being married. And, I cheated steadily thereafter for about ten years. Without question, I have been a dirty scum-bag cheater.
And yet, it has now been more than seven years since I last cheated. The long break from cheating is probably permanent and as such it's given me some additional perspective that I did not have ten or twenty years ago. Below are my thoughts on the subject of cheating.
If you're married, and you've taken the vows to honor and cherish your wife, how could cheating EVER be considered an option when dealing with your same sex attractions? Obviously only morally bankrupt, future hell-dwellers would consider cheating an option. For everyone else, it's not.
I agree that in an ideal world we should all take the high ground and live honestly, morally and with utmost respect for the woman we made a life-long commitment to honor. Cheating, in my book, should never be the first option you consider when you're coming to terms with your same sex attractions. Nevertheless, it remains an option, an important option that cannot be ignored.
At it's heart, cheating is a selfish act. Cheaters decide that the rules of society and the personal commitment they've made to their wives are secondary to their own sexual and/or emotional needs. If you're going to justify your infidelity, you must first realize that you are making a selfish decision. If you cannot accept that you are being selfish then you should not be cheating---you're too delusional to make sound decisions.
When is cheating a good option and when it is not? Wow! That's quite a question.
By 'good' I mean justified. Justification is a process of honest self-assessment followed by a thorough review of the options available to you.
The self-assessment begins when you accept your attractions and start to think about what to do about them. The two options I've already written about, to never act on your desires or to be honest with your wife, should each be seriously considered before making the decision to cheat.
When it comes to that first option, it's easy to understand why many bisexual and gay married guys would find it impossible to forever avoid sex with men. It's not celibacy because they're married, but even so...no sex with a man? Ever? Some can do that, many cannot.
The second option of being honest with your wife has multiple objectives. It's about being honest and it's about sharing a crucial part of yourself with your life partner. But it's also self-serving because why torment your wife with the truth if you never intend to act on it? One of the biggest reasons to be honest is to obtain permission to fool around.
There are quite a few reasons why married guys feel they cannot be honest. Those include: their attraction to men is too ambiguous; they are certain that their wife cannot handle the truth; they are afraid of how their wife might react; they feel that their desire for men is entirely independent from their desire for their wife, therefore it is not her concern; they know their wife will not consent to an open marriage.
These are all reasons to cheat, although several aren't so much reasons as they are excuses. The excuses represent catch-22 situations wherein you ask yourself, "Is it better to risk it all by being honest, or, hope it all works out and lie and cheat?"
The final step of the justification process is to realize that if you're going to be a good cheater the decision to do so cannot be ALL about you. For example, if you think that cheating is going to end your depression or fulfill you in a way that will allow you to be a better partner to your wife, those are reasonable counterbalances to the selfishness of cheating. The thing is, good cheating means that you check back with yourself about those expected benefits. If you're still depressed after a healthy dose of cheating, more cheating is probably not going to solve the problem. Instead you should consider other solutions.
If you accept the above standards as criteria for justified cheating and ask whether most cheating is justified or not, I think the answer is, it's not. Most cheating is simply desire run amok. We know better, but we just can't help ourselves. That's bad cheating.
My theory is that bad cheating is a purely selfish act, and as such, it has a tendency to catch up with you. Selfishness makes us sloppy. We don't truly care about others or repercussions so we're not careful. The lack of caution causes us to get caught, and wham, all hell breaks loose.
Good cheating is still selfish and that can still make us sloppy. But generally, I think good cheaters are careful cheaters. It all comes down to consideration of others. Sure, we don't want to get HIV (or genital herpes or hepatitis, or...) but we REALLY don't want our wives to be infected or our kids. Therefore we ALWAYS use condoms. We always erase our texts, clear our browser history, and plan our rendezvous so that they don't impinge on time with our wife and family.
Good cheating can easily devolve into bad cheating. Falling in love with a man when you're married to a woman can certainly be disastrous. More likely than that is that you stop doing the honesty checks with yourself. Is my lover really secondary to my wife if I feel distant from her and close to him? Do I make excuses not to spend time with her because I'd rather be with a guy?
A good cheater is someone who checks back with himself often to make sure selfishness hasn't taken over.
As you can see, I believe that the morally repulsive act of cheating can be committed with a high degree of ethical compassion for others. That doesn't mean it's an ideal solution, but it can nevertheless allow a married man who is attracted to other men to navigate a rocky moral road with some impunity. That said, the road is littered with potholes and it is SO very easy to fall into one, or many.
An 'ideal' good cheating situation might look something like this: you trade work hours for sex hours but your income and job performance are not materially affected; you always practice safe sex and are extremely discreet about all contact with your lover(s); when timing conflicts occur between family and your lover, your family always comes first; your liaisons cause you to seek better relationships with your wife and family, including more and better sex with your wife; if bad things happen between you and your lover, you are able to shield your family from any negative emotional impact you might be feeling. In short, whenever your cheating world and your married world intersect, the married world is either improved or not affected.
Good cheating is a fucking brutal standard to maintain. It's a lot of work for the cheater - as it should be, given the betrayal. Sometimes you realize that the work exceeds the benefits. If that happens, it's time to question whether cheating is worth the effort. It took me 17 years of on-and-off cheating to reach that point. I'm still gay. I'd still prefer a dick in my mouth or up my ass than any other kind of sex, but the man attached to the dick would now need to be pretty fucking awesome to tempt me.
I view short-term, isolated cheating differently than continuous or habitual cheating. A brief, discreet affair is not likely to make an impact on you or you marriage. I don't see such affairs as being particularly eventful IF the cheater is cautious and safe and IF a brief episode of cheating does not devolve into a regular parade of men.
Actually, short-term, experimental cheating can be extremely important. How can any man who has only fantasized about sex with another man truly know if he likes it unless and until he does it?
There aren't a lot of them out there, but there are guys who give gay sex a try and discover they don't like it. They might still find the idea to be hot, so they'll watch gay porn or do web cams, but they won't actually have sex with other guys. If they're happy looking but not touching, and if they can maintain a positive relationship with their wife, the initial bit of cheating could be a small concession that results in a happier married life for both partners.
Ultimately, what I think long-term cheaters need to realize is that, unless they can maintain a near-perfect balance between their cheating world and the rest of their lives, cheating is a path to a new equilibrium, not a destination.
Eventually, most cheaters will stop and be content with their wife, or, they'll exercise the final option and end their marriage.
And here's some food for thought: who do you think is more likely to have their marriage end, the guy who cheats or the guy who doesn't? If cheating is a path, where do you think it most frequently leads?
I will be writing about that fourth and final option, ending your marriage, next.
As always, I love to hear alternative opinions so feel free to add your comments below.