There was an interesting post put up on a forum recently on cheating. A guy put up a poll asking, “Is Cheating Ever OK?” He then explained his situation: He’s been in a relationship for over a year and is more or less satisfied in every aspect of it. Except, this summer, while his girlfriend and him were apart, she was raped at a party. Since then, her sex drive has fallen off the map and he’s become extremely sexually frustrated. His rationalization is that maybe he could get some on the side.
1. I define cheating as extra-relationship sex where it’s NOT OK with your partner. If that’s the case, then I vote “never,” because it’s by its very definition dishonest, disrespectful and selfish. If you’re going to cheat, you might as well dump them first.
2. Your rationalizations for cheating are pretty selfish. You need to address the sexual issues WITH YOUR GIRLFRIEND. That’s the solution to your problem, not going and fucking some dumb slut. If you don’t have the patience to work through it with her, then you should question whether you want to be in the relationship with her.
3. Sex is the State of the Union, so to speak. If the sex goes south, it’s because there’s something emotionally or psychologically going wrong in one or both of the people. If this is the same girl who was raped, then bingo. She’s been emotionally traumatized and has probably shut herself off from enjoying sex… even with you.
4. Take a long hard look at your relationship and whether you want to be in it. This girl went through some shit and things may not be good for a very long time. Think about it. It may not be worth it. You may not love her as much as you thought you did. That’s fine. But don’t kid yourself or avoid the issue. Cheating is the weak way out.
This goes along with my deepest value when it comes to relationship management: painfully blunt honesty. All issues need to be brought into the open ASAP and worked through together with proper communication.
I think this guy needs to 1) decide whether he’s willing to stick it out with his girlfriend or not, and then 2) confront her with the issue, tell her that he wants to sleep with other girls outside the relationship because he’s not satisfied, and be willing to leave the relationship when he does so.
Not exactly easy, but the right thing rarely is.
Update: Some commenters raised some interesting questions that I’d like to respond to.
What if it’s a 20-year marriage with kids and financial implications?
This always sounds cold when I say it, but like anything else, I think relationships must be looked at with a cost/benefit analysis. I know this flies in the face of everything Disney ever taught you about love, but you ARE reading a pick up website after all.
The guy who originally raised this question is fortunate: he’s young, single, debt-free, child-free, so he doesn’t have to face any of these implications. The opportunity cost of him being in a relationship is much higher than a guy who’s married with children. It’s much easier for him to leave and find a new girl with few repercussions.
You get into some serious moral dilemmas when children become involved. Are you willing to get a divorce (or risk a divorce) over your sex life? Would you live with masturbation for the sake of your children? If so, how long?
Then there’s the financial issue. In most states, men are practically guaranteed to lose 1/2 of their net worth to their wife, if not more. If you cheat and SHE files for divorce, you may lose all of it. This doesn’t even consider legal fees and headaches.
Finally, there’s the shock to your lifestyle. I’ve never had a relationship longer than four years, but I’ve had students who come out of 10+ year marriages and sometimes they look like deer in headlights. I can’t imagine the seismic shift to one’s lifestyle after being with one person for so long and then suddenly being single again.
These are all factors I can’t say for because I have no experience with them. All I know is, they would make me think a lot longer and a lot harder about cheating.
What if you wife/girlfriend goes on medications or is physically injured which prevents sexual intercourse?
Obviously, the sex issues in these situations are of no fault of your partner. Here, I would say you’d have to have an open dialog. If you want to sleep with other people because you’re frustrated with your partner, then you need to raise the topic with her. I know this sounds absolutely fucking insane to most guys, but it’s what needs to be done, and it’s amazing how far blunt honesty will go if you just give it a chance.
If she insists that you cannot sleep with someone else, then it really comes down how much you value the relationship. My feeling with this guy’s situation is that his girlfriend didn’t want him to sleep with other girls and now he’s suddenly questioning the value of the relationship. My guess is he valued his girlfriend for consistent sex more than he realized — this happens a lot with younger guys. They think they’re “in love,” then you suddenly take away the nookie and they’re gone.
What if your partner is consciously withholding sex from you as a tool of manipulation and control?
Then your relationship is toxic and something’s seriously fucked up. My guess is it’s not any one failure, but years of poor communication and empathy that would lead to this point. I can’t imagine being in a relationship with this much resentment and disconnection. Ideally, I would get out before it ever reached this point.
But if you were married, with children, and were staked to salvage it, the most important thing to do first would be to open an avenue of communication. The wife is withholding sex as a power ploy FOR A REASON. Find out why she’s doing it. She’s probably not meeting her needs in the marriage in some way and she most likely doesn’t even know which needs they are (that, or it’s been so long that she’s forgotten why she’s resentful in the first place).
Marriage counseling and therapy are always legitimate options here. I think a small thing that goes fucking miles in managing a relationship well is how you frame the relationship. When you end up in situations like this, the relationship is framed as adversarial, and a lot of times, one partner will go at lengths to maintain that frame (consistently blaming, not trusting, etc.). If you’re able to reframe the relationship as you two being on the same team and trying to problem-solve the issue together, that immediately opens up a plethora of possibilities.
The trick is both people have to acknowledge that it’s a lose/lose situation, and to agree to help give the other person what they need to be happy if at all possible. Most people assume that they’re in a win/lose situation and that if they’re miserable, their partner must obviously be happy — this then leads to the adversarial frame where there’s a “winner” and a “loser” in the relationship, which never leads anywhere good.