Apparently there is still some confusion out there that your extracurricular shenanigans are wrong. In the interest of members of the unsuspecting public that may hook up, marry, or have children with you, the following PSA is offered.
1. You aren’t “edgy.” You think we lack the sophistication and intellect to understand your complicated love rhombus. On the contrary. You lack the intellect to keep both your security clearance and your pants on. Cheating on your spouse doesn’t make you special, misunderstood, or star crossed. It makes you rather embarrassing.
2. Quit with your Darwinian theories already. We didn’t evolve to be monogamous? Well, we didn’t evolve to do a lot of things. Farm. Use indoor plumbing. Buy sequined crap on QVC. And yet we manage. Why is it that you blame your primal self for infidelity, yet are quite adept at technologies such as placing personal ads on Craigslist? Why point to the reptilian part of your brain as an excuse for boinking whomever you want to? When the spouse of that person comes after you with a shotgun, neither you nor the court of law will be much impressed with the argument that the reptilian part of his brain would like to splatter your guts on the sidewalk.
3. Admit that you like the deceit. Come on, it’s a high. Playing hooky is a lot more fun than getting a day off from school. Everyone there in the classroom, playing by the rules, listening to a boring lecture on the continental Congress, while you smoke dope behind the bleachers. Renegade! The secrecy and lies are what gives the frisson of danger to your affair and make it so delicious. Otherwise you would have an open marriage, same rules for everyone. But no, the power imbalance is what you’re after. You enjoy a position of advantage over your trusting partner. They’re at home, devoting their energies to you and your home life, faithful to the wonderfulness that is you. Sweet gig you got there — and you know it.
4. Stop minimizing. Cheating is no big deal? Quit getting those puritanical knickers in a twist? It’s just a quick naughty with the boots on. Nothing to get so huffy about. Geez.
Tell that to the man who had to paternity test his children. Or the spouse who gets an STD thanks to you. Or the stay at home mother who made herself financially vulnerable to your cheating ass. Or the children who lost their intact family and get shuttled around next holiday season, having to play nice with your latest flame.
When your family reminds you of your selfish choices that led to these outcomes, you’ll be tempted to tell them they are bitter and should stop playing at “victimhood.” They are not pretending to be victims — they are victims. How they navigate away from that pain is up to them. You’ve got no business telling them to suck it up. When the urge strikes — distract yourself, perhaps with a sparkly object like a mirror, taking some exercise, or slapping yourself.
5. Swingers, open marriage aficionados, the polyamorous — no one is judging you. Have at it. It’s not cheating if everyone is consenting and on board. This public service announcement does not apply to you.
6. No one is forcing you to stay married. If you don’t want to be monogamous, don’t be. Find another person like yourself and quit feigning monogamy. If your marriage is truly awful and sexless and your love language is seething passive aggression — find your guts and just end it honestly. But your spouse and children couldn’t function without you? They need you too much? Let them be the judge of that. You may find that they get on quite well without you. Your partner is a person deserving of respect and honesty, not a consolation prize. It’s condescending to act like life with them is a huge sacrifice. Lay your “burden” down already.
7. This is not your best self. It is understandable that you want to think of yourself as a good person. Our character, however, is made up of our actions. Not how we wish to perceive ourselves. People who don’t care who they are hurting, who lack empathy synapses and introspection? We call those people sociopaths. Don’t be like that. (And if you are truly like that, no public service announcement in the world can save you.) You’re better than this. Please go live an authentic life.
This column ran previously. Feel free to comment!