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.

My response:

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.

Related posts:

  1. Infidelity Statistics
  2. What if I Want a Girlfriend?
  3. Why Ever Commit?
  4. How to Get a Girlfriend
  5. Study Finds… Younger Sex, Oral Sex, More Anal Sex

8 comments to Cheating

  • Harold

    Hm, indeed.

    What would you do?

    It’s one thing if it’s a girlfriend; even an LTR and she’s had this horrific experience.

    What happens if you’re in a 5, 10, or 20 year marriage? If say, you’ve tried everything else and nothing works? What happens when the threat of financial ruination is as real as the spend in your bathtub after another rejection? And if you’ve got children, what then? Is honesty the best policy? Of course even there, if you get caught you’re still in trouble, lol.

    As Dan Savage says: “Sometimes the person cheating is the one who’s been cheated.”

    Know what I mean?


  • Andy

    At first I was going to disagree with you Entropy, but after thinking about it more, you’re probably right in this situation. Him going to her and letting her know that he needs a healthy sex-life in his relationship and that they need to work through it is the best idea. I can empathize with him though because I’ve had similar bad things happen in my relationships and it’s always a mindfuck because on one hand you think to yourself, “I’m not happy in this relationship right now”, but on the other hand you want to be there for her because you legitimately care about her and bailing on her when she needs stability can seem as bad as cheating.

    Harold bring up some good points though. There are some areas where I would be conflicted:

    20-year marriage w/ kids, and your wife goes on a medication which destroys her sex drive. Everything else is great, but you aren’t happy with having absolutely no sex-life, and your wife gets increasingly angry whenever you bring it up. A long-term affair isn’t a good idea, but what about a fling or two whenever you go out of town on a business trip? She never knows and it helps keep harmony in the relationship.

    What if you wife gets into an accident and is paralyzed and unable to have sex? You are still young and have a high sex-drive, but you love your wife very much.

    Maybe both of those situations fall under the maxim “doing the right thing is rarely easy”, and in a perfect world these things could be easily worked through and come to a good resolution, but in real life, they rarely work out.

    On one hand, I’d like to think that I’ll make the right choice in a wife and I’ll never run into any serious sexual issues, but on the other hand, I’d like to think I’m not naive enough to believe it’s not a possibility.

  • Harold

    Andy, thanks for your remarks.

    However, in the two scenarios you presented the woman (or man) is in a situation ostensibly not of their own choosing. That is, getting in a wreck or taking medication for a legitimate health condition (where not doing so could be disastrous) is not something they sought.

    There are instances though, and I didn’t mention them in my first post, where the partner simply folds their arms and says: “You’ve got two hands, do it yourself.” That, or they’re simply uninterested and don’t want to talk about it. We’ve all heard the stories where this goes on for several years, say in a marriage. What is one supposed to do in such a case?


  • Erika


    I am FULLY on board with honesty.

    But because I also feel the pain of the girlfriend, and don’t want to see anyone unnecessarily in pain, I want to recommend this guy get his gf to Emotional Freedom Technique ( as soon as possible. Traumatic experiences like that create blockages in people’s systems that can either create years of suffering or … be cleared quickly with EFT. I want to see an end to this kind of pain and trauma, so please spread the word. This stuff is miraculous.

    - Erika (

  • Harold

    EFT? Energy meridians? You’ve got to be kidding. Anyone seriously thinking about such a thing should read this first:

    It may work on the placebo effect, but c’mon. Get real.

  • Andy


    That is also a case where there are so many variables, that it is hard to really make it a black and white decision.

    Usually sexual problems in a marriage are a two way street. If they guy isn’t putting an effort into his marriage, then he has to take some of the blame. I think cheating has to be a last resort after exploring all avenues and weighing the alternatives.

    Has the guy done everything possible on his end? Has therapy been sought? Is this a relationship that is worth staying in? Are kids a factor? Is money a factor? How would I feel if she was cheating on me?

    There are a lot of variables, but if things are really past the point of repair, divorce may be the best option.

  • Harold

    Thanks for the response. This is a very complicated and important issue.

  • Solace

    Hit the nail on the head with that one. I’d honestly say even though I am a PUA myself if you have kids stick with them.

    Get relationship counseling and do all you can to make it work with your partner, you obviously loved her at one point, find what you love about her and try and improve the relationship.

    Kids are very fragile and unfortunately (not all the time, but most of the time) those that are brought up with only one parent or seeing their parents constantly fight don’t grow up anywhere near as well as those who have 2 sold stable parents to guide them.

    If you don’t have kids, do what you desire :) (within reason of course)

    Cheers, Solace

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