That either comes from the cheater directly, or from the rubbernecking bystanders in your life theorizing on why you Weren’t Enough to Keep Them.
It’s the most well-worn excuse in the cheater handbook — “I was in a sexless marriage.” Which often comes as a total surprise to the chumps (and the affair partners), because — oh hey! — you’d been having regular sex with them.
Sexless marriage does exist, of course. But it’s not a pretext for cheating. It’s a good reason for an honest conversation, a sex therapist, or a divorce lawyer, but it doesn’t give one carte blanche to spend the 401K on prostitutes.
(I’m sorry guys, I don’t really know how to write today’s column without being TMI or encouraging comments that are TMI. So if you’ve got delicate sensibilities, skip today.)
I wanted to write about this because every time I read an interview with Dan Savage, or someone railing against the “unnaturalness” of monogamy I find myself feeling very defensive. “HEY! I’m a chump and I LIKE SEX! I LIKE KINK!” And just because someone is monogamous doesn’t mean they are vanilla, do it missionary style, while clenching their teeth and thinking of England.
No, if I were to hazard a guess, I’d say chumps are probably every bit as giving in the bedroom as they are elsewhere in their life and the cheaters are the same ol’ selfish bastards.
But somehow we’ve got a public relations problem, chumps, that we’re vanilla frozen popsicles. Withholding. Never indulging their kinks or meeting their needs. (I did fail to meet the needs of my serial cheating ex because I can’t be a smorgasbord of novel pussy. My bad.)
So how do you respond to this message put forth by the Esther Perels and the Dan Savages that it’s okay to step out on your partner for sexual novelty without sounding like you’re a total prude? Or on the defensive about your sexual practices? Yes I did it in a box! Yes, I’d do it with a fox! Yes I like green eggs and ham! Since when did committing yourself to one partner make you vanilla?
Dan Savage was interviewed last week in Playboy. God, he disappoints me. There is so much I truly LIKE about Dan Savage. His anti-bullying campaign, renaming Rick Santorum (a grateful nation thanks you), coining the acronym DTMFA (dump the motherfucker already)… and yet he’s absolutely tone deaf on the subject of infidelity. He talks out of both sides of his mouth.
On the one hand, he thinks people should have honest conversations about their sexual compatibility. On the other hand, he’s completely okay with having affairs and lying about it. Because affairs, of course, “save marriages.”
PLAYBOY: Bottom line, do you advocate cheating for men and women who are bored?
SAVAGE: Sometimes. Better to do what you need to do to stay married and stay sane. If your partner won’t fuck you, one person doesn’t have the right to unilaterally declare another person’s sex life over.
PLAYBOY: But you said a partner’s refusal to have the sex one of them wants could be a deal breaker, that that’s when you realize you’re in the wrong relationship.
SAVAGE: Sometimes, but there are situations when the least worst option is cheating. We’re not natural monogamists. People argue that we are. Then why in so many cultures—Judeo-Christian, Islamic—is adultery a death penalty offense? What species has to be threatened with death to do that which comes naturally?
PLAYBOY: Okay. So you cheat to save your marriage. Should you lie about it?
SAVAGE: Absolutely. I don’t want my husband to tell me the truth about everything all the time. What relationship could survive that kind of a scalding, deposition-style nightmare?
PLAYBOY: Isn’t lying another betrayal?
SAVAGE: I want to be lied to. He wants me to lie to him. There are things you don’t say because they can’t be unsaid and would be shattering, so you protect each other. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do in the wake of an affair is lie.
PLAYBOY: Aren’t you giving men a free pass to cheat all they want and then lie about it? No wonder a lot of heterosexual men like your advice.
SAVAGE: I’m not giving a pass to serial adulterers or people who are vicious and manipulative.
If your partner won’t fuck you, one person doesn’t have the right to unilaterally declare another person’s sex life over.
One person does NOT have the RIGHT to unilaterally risk another person’s health and welfare with STDs either, you motherfucker! And the costs are much higher for chumps! Dan, you just finished your spiel about how powerful and destructive sex can be, and how women have to be more careful because of pregnancy risk and STDs, so how can you FOLLOW THAT UP WITH YOUR BLESSING FOR CHEATING?
Ever had to check the paternity of your children? Lose a pregnancy to an STD? Find your savings decimated for a hooker habit?
This whole “we have to save the marriage” is such a thin soup bullshit excuse. No, just admit you value sexual novelty above most things, including the health of your partner. Because that is the truth. Quit dressing it up and shitting on monogamy. If you don’t want to do monogamy, FINE. Swing openly and honestly. Why would you defend lying to your partners for some strange?
And for the record, Dan, polyamory doesn’t confer immunity from cheaters. Any arrangement with boundaries is vulnerable to abuse from people with shitty character.
I’m not giving a pass to serial adulterers or people who are vicious and manipulative.
Yes you are.
Saying you cheated doesn’t make it “shattering” — DOING it makes it shattering. Lying isn’t protecting someone, it’s just disrespecting them further.