Thursday, March 30, 2006

And it Burns, Burns, Burns...


The taste of love is sweet
when hearts like ours meet
I fell for you like a child
oh, but the fire went wild...

I fell in to a burning ring of fire
I went down, down, down
And the flames went higher.
Writing yesterday's post about what non-touch-related internet activity "counts" as cheating has brought an old memory out into the sunlight. Once, years ago, a good friend and I were taking a walk together. She was describing an experience with a particular guy she'd slept with, and I realized that at the time the story had taken place, this guy had been seriously involved with someone. I queried her on it, and she said, "He didn't have a ring on his finger. As far as I'm concerned, if that's the case, anyone is fair game." I let it drop, but her response has always stayed with me. It needled me then, and it still kind of needles me now in a number of ways.

Some thoughts this memory has stirred up, yet again:

I was in a committed relationship for many years. We lived together. We had an understanding that we would be monogamous. We never got married. He never had a ring on his finger, nor did I. With all that being the case, I don't think he should have been considered "fair game" because we decided not to sign a piece of paper or buy matching gold bands. Nor do I think that I should have been anyone else's "fair game," either.

Watch any cheesy reality talk show and you'll see these tawdry episodes titled "He's Sleeping With my Woman!" Or, "I'm Boning my Husband's Best Friend!" What happens every time? The host calls up the unwitting girlfriend, boyfriend, or spouse. The cheating partner makes The Big Announcement. The cheating "other woman/man" walks on to the stage. All hell breaks loose. And who does the cheated-on person run toward to attack? You know the answer. Not their partner. They run at the person sleeping with the partner, fist raised or claws extended, ready to kill.

In more of my relationships than I'd like to admit, I've been cheated on. I know what it's like to be that person, the one who who's been left in the dark while everyone else in the "audience"--whether that's your circle of friends, or just the two people involved in the deception--knows what was going on. I know first hand the emotions you have to deal with: how stupid you feel, how betrayed, how worthless and ugly, how utterly debased and humiliated. You do want to run toward someone--anyone--and hurt, maim, and kill them. I think, however, that in all these cases in my real life, I reserved the majority of the blame for my partner. After all, he was the one who had committed to me, not the person he cheated with. But I didn't think the other person was totally blameless. If any of the women involved in these scenarios had no idea that my partner was seeing someone, I don't think I would have blamed them at all. But the sad truth is that in 100 percent of the cases where someone cheated on me, the woman involved on the other end knew my boyfriend was seriously involved with someone else. And she still chose to do it anyway.

When it happened to me, each time, though I always held my partner ultimately responsible, I always thought about those women. I was angry, sure, especially if she knew me personally. But more than the anger, I would always feel this almost childlike confusion--this deep, abiding hurt and sadness, that would always end up in a question: How could any woman live with doing that to another woman? The only answer I could ever think up for myself was maybe they'd been lucky enough to never have been cheated on, so they didn't know what it was like. How their actions had consequences beyond their own life. I just couldn't imagine if they knew what it felt like that they could bear to even contemplate creating that kind of hell for someone else, even if you'd never have to know or meet them.

Very Christ-like, huh? "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." I guess I'd just like to assign some excuse for an action I don't want to understand, I suppose. But I guess I know deep down what I don't want to know. That's "they don't know what they do" really isn't it. When it comes down to it, they probably knew; they just didn't care. The hurt they caused someone else was less important to them than the hurt they'd feel if they didn't get what (or who) they wanted.

It's hard for me to take. I've known some very good people, my friend included, who have had no qualms about being "the other woman/man," other than that they don't get to spend enough time with their lovers. There are people whom I loved and respected who have cheated on their partners and spouses. I never know how to reconcile those two things.

I don't really know what I'm trying to get at here, exactly. Everything is whirling around in my head...but let me just rattle on and maybe it will come to some conclusion.

It's not that I don't understand the impulse. I'm a single woman. I've been single for a greater portion of my adult life than I have been in relationships. In the percentage of the time that I've been single, there have been a number of men who have wanted me despite being attached to others. And I can't even count the huge number of unhappy married or attached people I've met on the internet, both male and female, who are either looking for a quick cyber situation, or something more romantic, but at a safe distance.

What I'm saying is, I've had a lot of proposals for this kind of thing, both in real life and online. Sometimes the proposals are sleazy and therefore easy to reject. But sometimes, they're not. Sometimes you meet someone who is so wonderful, and exactly what you'd want if only...and it's all you can do to control yourself and keep your wits about you.

But the "if only" IS there. And the girlfriend or spouse, hidden though she may be from my sight, is out there somewhere. I find it impossible to ever fully put these out of my mind, no matter how much I yearn for what I want. And I have major fear of karma. I worry if I "gain" someone through deceptive means, it'll only come back around to mean pain for me in the end of one type of another. How does one win in this kind of a situation? How does the end ever come out happy?

Hemingway once said, "If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it." He was talking about marriage, about the loss of a spouse (because even in the longest, loving marriages, one spouse has to die first and the other will be alone). But how much more does this ring true if you love the person, but can never have the person? And even if you choose to settle for the long-term sad ending in trade for in-the-now happiness, how much more does it still ring true, knowing that choice will mean hurting someone else, not just yourself?

But then I think back to my friend, and her calm, unconcerned statement of her feelings about the whole thing. She didn't think she had any reason to fault her actions. And I think how recently a few people have said that feeling everything is your fault is the ultimate narcissism.

And so I have to ask myself, if I am "the other woman," do I have any responsibility? If I'm single, do I have a moral obligation to respect another's agreement if he is ready and willing to break it?

Or should I just be like everyone else seems to be, and not care about anything except my own needs and my own pleasure?

And if I do that, does it mean I can't say shit when someone eventually does it to me again?

And it burns, burns, burns
The ring of fire
The ring of fire.
(photo credit: "I see a woman's body in the flames" by Stephan Brauchli)


31 Comments:

Anonymous Darkhawk said...

Every so often I come across someone who has just discovered polyamory, whose reaction is, "... you mean I don't have to cheat?"

These people blow my fucking mind. I can't figure out why cheating is the first solution they came up with to 'I want relationships with both these people'; it's not even on my bloody list!

I perceive the essence of relationships being in the commitments made and kept, really. Someone who isn't capable of keeping an established commitment -- why would I want them? What sort of relationship can be built on broken commitments?

Which is mostly a wordy way of saying, "I'm with you."

3/31/2006 1:04 AM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Darkhawk: Thanks for being with me...but I was kind of saying I wasn't even sure what I was with...I was sort of posing it as a moral conundrum I've been asking myself lately. I know how I'd like the world to be, but perhaps my own past experience with infidelity belies that realilty being possible...? And if no one's gonna care about *my* feelings when it comes down to cheating on me, if a similar situation is presenting itself to me on the other side, do I have to concern myself with being responsible for that other person's committment, if on *my* end, I'm not cheating on anyone?

And yet, in the end, every time I argue this to myself, I always end up back at that very last question. And that's what gets me every time.

3/31/2006 1:25 AM  
Anonymous Darkhawk said...

My personal feeling is that I neither want to break vows nor be the tool that someone else uses to break theirs.

If someone wants to betray their partner, they can do it without my assistance. That's what I need to be able to look myself in the eye in the mirror in the morning.

3/31/2006 2:23 AM  
Anonymous Tory said...

Kudos to you Miss Syl for not being the other woman. Sorry to hear you have been with unloyal men, there are few loyal ones out there. We are but a dying breed.

Yes you have have an obligation not to ruin someone elses relationship. if you dont know about the relationship then you dont know. Enabling someone to cheat is the same as cheating in my eyes. Whether or not I am actually cheating, cheating is still taking place from my actions.
Dont get me wrong, when i was younger I fucked around with some married women but as I have grown up I have realized that I was part of the problem. Even though I have never cheated in a relationship I still feel guilt about fucking up peoples marriages.

3/31/2006 3:18 AM  
Blogger Anastasia said...

I think that if a person is willing to deceive their partner easily, at the drop of a hat or, outside of that, without putting in the miles to resolve the relationship (whether it leads to divorce or whatever other arrangement) then there's also a chance they'll do the same to you, should you be the person they're attracted to (as their momentary solution, because that's what they seek, an escape route because it's 'too hard' for them to deal with alone).

I know that there are exceptions, each relationship is different, but it's difficult to completely justify adultery, and it only becomes adultery when a person makes an agreement with another and reneges on that agreement, when they should not have made an agreement anyway.

Then I suppose the usual question is, 'but how is one to know?'. No one does know, but like anything in our everyday world, courtesy does matter, and courtesy can minimise problems. Courtesy in this regard is people sorting their relationship issues before they fully engage in another relationship. Because really, a person is only 'half' ready when they clutch onto the 'other' person, they're not fully ready because they've still got the unresolved relationship.

I've been the other woman a couple of times, some times I've never really known (until a short while after) I was the other woman and when I was younger still, I became sucked in with the pathetic 'my partner doesn't understand me' (or similar) excuses. Then I'd see it, run the other direction, and then realise that it's not just the other woman in the relationship, or the cheating person. Basically the person who 'cheats', if they also have children, not only cheat on their partner, but they cheat on their children too (because of all the lies they need to create to make 'time' for the other person). I know that probably sounds cruel, but it's true.

I once went on a lunch date with a supposed divorcee with 3 children. At the dining table his cell phone rang numerous times, and he ignored it (mind you at this point I was thinking, 'it's work or maybe his kids' and that kind of put me off). Let's just say when I found out he was, in fact married, it repulsed me..because I thought, 'hey that can be me'.

I was 28 at the time.

I'm sorry you've had to experience infidelity, it's never pretty, no matter how people/media etc prettify it.

3/31/2006 9:06 AM  
Blogger Aine said...

The woman my ex cheated on me with was a friend of a friend. She caressed my stomach when I was pregnant, she visited when my son was small, she knew we existed and took up with my son's father anyway.

My ex had no qualms about cheating on me. When I finally found out after six months, not only did I discover it was an open secret amongst nearly everyone I knew, but I also had to sit and listen to my ex telling me it was my fault, that I'd brought it on myself, and I deserved it because I was no longer the slim, feisty 19 year old he'd fallen in love with.

I have to get on with my ex for my son's sake. So I've forgiven him in a not really kind of way. I pity him. But I despise her.

3/31/2006 9:28 AM  
Anonymous Kochanie said...

I'm sorry you've had to experience infidelity, it's never pretty, no matter how people/media etc prettify it.

I wanted to follow up on Anastasia's last comment, even though I do agree with her. Fidelity is not pretty either, when there is a sexual imbalance due to differences in libido, illness, or discovering that one has a kink/preference one's partner cannot or will not accomodate.

Fidelity is greatly prized by our culture, and it was a realistic expectation when the average lifespan was 45. Now that "70 is the new 40," as one advertisement announced, I am wondering if fidelity for fifty years is still possible. That means that both partners would have to grow and evolve together. How many of us in our 20's or 30's could select a partner who would be a compatible sexual, spiritual and emotional mate for the next half century?

I do not want to sound "Christ-like," but I do find it difficult to judge others. When you see a business associate or a friend cheating on his/her seemingly ideal spouse, you ask yourself, "Why?" But relationships,like people, have a public persona: we really do not know what cruel acts of commission or omission occurred between two people.

Excellent discussion, Miss Syl. Thank you.

3/31/2006 9:38 AM  
Blogger Flint said...

Respect for other people's relationships, the courtesy of not helping to destroy or being a part of something that is already over, fidelity to what you've committed to; these are all essential aspects of being a decent human being. I think discovering this is a part of growing up and gaining a more developed sense of consideration for other people. I've never cheated on anyone I was with (perhaps because I've never been with anyone long enough) but I've been the guy borrowing Tom's wife in New York and Ted's girl in Boston. It's stupid and immature, and I've never been perfect so I can't say it will never happen again, but it's a side of myself I do hope I'm done exploring.

Still, you'll be sad to hear that there's probably always a thrill of enjoyment in being the other person. That casual, "he doesn't have a ring," or "it's not my relationship, I didn't make any commitments" isn't just a callous disregard, it's active enjoyment of taking something from someone who doesn't even know it's being taken. People abandon their morals for smaller thrills than that.

I think the answer for you is simple though. If you hope to have relationships that have value and commitment to the relationship is a part of that value, then you can't be a part of anything that debases another person's relationship, no matter how tempting the offer.

Really excellent conversation you've started Miss Syl. Thank you.

3/31/2006 11:38 AM  
Anonymous Darkhawk said...

Fidelity is not pretty either, when there is a sexual imbalance due to differences in libido, illness, or discovering that one has a kink/preference one's partner cannot or will not accomodate.

Fidelity means "keeping faith", keeping one's promises and commitments.

If one cannot in good conscience keep one's commitments, I think one is obligated to renegotiate or release the other party or parties from their commitments rather than betray them.

My husband and I have a significant libido disparity in our relationship; we have no commitments that turn that into a problem. If we forbade masturbation or had a commitment to monogamy, perhaps it would be an issue of fidelity, but as neither is the case, it isn't.

3/31/2006 3:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Kochanie, for eloquently summing up the politically-incorrect reality that some of us have to live with.

You can choose your own path, you can choose for yourself what is wrong and what is right. But try not to judge the choices that another person or another couple makes based only on what you can see, because sometimes behind closed doors there is a hidden reality to the relationship that you couldn't possibly imagine.

3/31/2006 6:35 PM  
Blogger Anastasia said...

Kochanie, I don't know about the fidelity comment, if two people are satisfied being monogamous and aren't insecure to be 'uncertain', then there isn't anything flawed with that, just as there isn't anything flawed with those who are in open relationships, polyamorous relationships etc. Ultimately it's all about the arrangements that are made between people.

But I'm not sure about your comment 'fidelity not being pretty', infidelity always has a negative result, people are always hurt or end up being hurt (whether the people within the relationship, or the other person or outside family members) whereas fidelity is an arrangement that people see as their workable ideal.

I'm not sure why fidelity can be attacked in our current wave of society. It's always viewed as the less desirable option due to superficial concepts when the reality is that people do have feelings at the end of the day or they're not wired to be polygamous etc, and just like polyamorous people expect respect for their choices, then monogamous people should be accepted/respected, as should monogamy.

Infidelity lies outside open relationships, polygamy, polyamory, monogamy.

To lie and cheat, to have a sexual fix, on the less 'politically correct' or sexual positive scale (because people get shirty about it), and of this lying to be serial (for example), is pathological as well as being deceitful. The serial 'other person' isn't functional either if they're serially dating married people (I've known women -fewer men- like that, every bf of theirs had to be attached in some way to a woman before she'd find it 'erotic' enough to 'bag him').

The more and more sexuality is discussed on the web, I sometimes fear that various aspects are 'embraced' and others are poo-pooed.

There's nothing negative about people wanting a relationship where loyalty, ergo fidelity, exists (without cheaing,lying).

Loyalty and fidelity are linked with courtesy, if a person doesn't have any courtesy (for their partner or themselves, or the person they're attracted to have a fling with) then what's the point of having a relationship with them?

In terms of illness, fidelity isn't pretty sure, or during libido change (which can happen after pregnancy and childbirth) but these are natural progressions, they're not created by people who are emotionally immature and seek an easy solution. An affair may be considered 'hard', but it's easy in the larger scale of things.

3/31/2006 6:36 PM  
Blogger Anastasia said...

You can choose your own path, you can choose for yourself what is wrong and what is right. But try not to judge the choices that another person or another couple makes based only on what you can see, because sometimes behind closed doors there is a hidden reality to the relationship that you couldn't possibly imagine.

There are hidden doors, definitely, but at the same time adults are adults, they're responsible for the choices they make and they're adult enough to deal with them rather than hide behind excuses, isn't that so?

There are many people who are in relatioships who aren't happy, they may think about leaving each day, but they also try to seek a solution (to make their departure less painful and/or endure the tension that occurs when break ups are discussed)but at the same time they seek to resolve the situation the best way they can (and I don't mean 'they stay for the sake of something').

It's not a case of being judgemental, but rather a case of constantly reading people justify their infidelity and then they expect to have committed and monogamous relationships themselves that is amusing, considering they meet the 'third party' in a clandestine manner to begin with, and some of these people say, 'oh yes well sometimes it's okay to be unfaithful'.

I guess that's supposed to be mature?

3/31/2006 6:41 PM  
Anonymous Kochanie said...

I would like to respond to the following two comments:

Fidelity means "keeping faith", keeping one's promises and commitments.
If one cannot in good conscience keep one's commitments, I think one is obligated to renegotiate or release the other party or parties from their commitments rather than betray them.
(darkhawk)

Loyalty and fidelity are linked with courtesy, if a person doesn't have any courtesy (for their partner or themselves, or the person they're attracted to have a fling with) then what's the point of having a relationship with them? (Anastasia)

The importance of fidelity and loyalty that both of you expressed in your comments is admirable, and should be the ideal. I have been married for over twenty years, and my husband and I have been monogamous during those two decades.

Yes, fidelity and loyalty required that I remain faithful even when he suffered from cancer and we did not have sexual relations for three years. Do not underestimate the pain of being involuntarily cut off from one's sexuality, the source of one's power, during the prime of life.

Renegotiate my commitment? Not an option, darkhawk. During ths time my spouse was financially dependent upon me for support and healthcare. To leave, or announce that I would leave, was not an option I could make then or now, if the cancer returns. I most certainly was faithful, since my husband and I would not be comfortable in a shared relationship. But that sacrifice cost a great deal in terms of my own health and well-being.

My situation is not rare and is by no means the exception. If you think it is, I suggest that you examine some statistical data on the subject. There are many debilitating diseases, cancer being only one. It is my sincere wish that none of you will see a disease, mental or physical, debilitate your partner. Should you have that experience, you will understand the folly of advising one to find consolation in masturbation and a sexual half-life.

Yes, I place a high value on fidelity, but I place a higher value on compassion. I have enjoyed the pleasures of sex, physically and emotionally, for more years than some of you have been alive. In all truthfulness, I would not condemn another for seeking the solace of that balm, even if it be outside a marriage or a relationship.

Again, thank you, Miss Syl and readers, for an excellent discussion.

3/31/2006 9:19 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Wow, I just came home from work and have found all these comments! A lot of you are talking to each other, so I'm not even sure I'm needed. But as I like to be polite, let me try to give everyone a nod...and thanks to everyone for your thoughts.

Darkhawk: Yeah, it's the "mirror in the morning" concept that gets to me, too. By the way, "I always end up back at that very last question" referred to the last question in the original post, not the last question in my comment to you. Wasn't sure if I'd been clear.

Tory: Well, I hope you're wrong and you're not a dying breed! It's nice to know you're out there. Though of course you say you made your mistakes before you made the decision to not cheat as a third-party--so I think you'd probably agree there is some leeway for the fact that people do fuck up. I'm not saying that the cheated-on person should be required to accept it, or forgive the action. But I suppose, unfortunately, some people need to make a mistake before they can learn from it, just as you did. But I also think there are people, like my friend I mentioned in the post, who don't think there's anything worth learning.

Also, regarding your opening, although I guess by other's standards I've never *officially* been the other woman, I've come close enough to understand how it *could* suck you in. Let's say I've at least tested the water's temperature, though I never really jumped in. So I don't know that I'm owed any special kudos. I've not abstained to attain some kind of superiority, just because I know what it's like on the other side, and I don't want to be the cause of that to anyone else (my selfless reason)...and because, ultimately I know there can be no long-term satisfaction for me to be with someone who can never fully be present with me in every sense (my selfish reason). And, even though I know all this, sometimes I'm still tempted and have to go through the thoughts in the post again to myself to rethink where I stand.

Ana: Glad you wrote in. A lot of my last two posts are the result of stuff that has been brewing in my mind for a few weeks as a result of things you wrote in the "monogamania" discussions and a few other conversations here, and your "crazy little thing" post over at your blog. Thanks especially for your last paragraph. But do the media really prettify it? How?

Woman: I'm sorry you had such a painful experience. There is nothing worse than not only your lover, but also your friend betraying you at the same time, and together. I had that happen once. Even worse, I was living with the friend at the time, on a lease I could not get out of. So immediately (and I do mean immediately) upon my being informed of the infidelity and us splitting up, I had to witness my ex-boyfriend coming over every night and going into her bedroom to spend the night with her. Lovely, eh?

Also, I'm sorry he made you feel bad about yourself. As Darkhawk says a few comments down, if he was unhappy, he should have told you so both of you could "renegotiate or release."

Kochanie: Thanks for being brave enough to offer a difference of opinon from some of the other commenters. This is why I post these things--to get myself thinking and to hear all of you discuss all sides. I don't know if fidelity for 50-plus years is possible--the evidence out there seems to indicate that it certainly isn't possible for everyone. I know (from all given evidence) my parents have had a good run. I know many others haven't. I guess my question is, if you *do* discover it's not possible for you to stay with the same person (or only one person) for 50 years, why wouldn't you just say that? I know in my run-ins with infidelity, though a breakup would have hurt, it would have hurt far less if I'd been broken up with before I was decieved than after. I can live with the fact that someone decided I just didn't do it for them anymore, even if it doesn't make me particuarly happy. I have a lot more trouble living with the fact that someone who was telling me they loved me and everything was *just fine* would go off and deliberatly do something they knew would hurt me so badly. If my partner wants someone else, and doesn't want me, go be with that person. I don't want him to stick around and pretend. If he has a kink I refuse to fulfill, he can tell me either I need to fulfill it or he has to look elsewhere for that. And I have to decide if that works for me (him getting it from another source while we stay together), and if it doesn't, I have to decide to leave. Why not, as Darkhawk says, talk about it and figure out the best course of action? Whether that's a breakup, a new understanding, or what have you...it's just ultimately a lot more honest, and certainly a lot more respectful. If everyone knows, everyone can make informed choices. They would be hard choices, sure. But they'd all be honest ones, and no one would be left choiceless.

So ultimately, I guess I'm saying I don't judge others for wanting to look elsewhere--it happens. But I guess I do reserve some judgment for deliberatly lying and deceiving someone and not laying all the cards on the table.

Flint: And thank YOU for commenting. Do you really think that most "other women/men" do it because they get a thrill out of the whole "forbidden fruit" thing? Maybe this is naive of me, but that didn't even occur to me. Any time I've even remotely considered it, I felt if I would do it, it would be with regrets, but that I just couldn't help myself. But perhaps that's why I never did, and other people do? I guess the "but it's so *wrong* thing can be a turn-on. But yeah, it does make me sad if that actually is usually the case. Ultimately, if I want that "bad girl" thrill, I'd rather just role-play that scenario with someone who it *wasn't* wrong to be with. But maybe that's not how it usually plays out in the real world.

Darkhawk: What you said there pretty much sums up what I think in terms of making a promise of fidelity to another. How that couple defines fidelity is up to them, but however they agree it should be, the agreement shouldn't be changed without the other's knowledge.

Anonymous: Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and adding to the discussion. Interesting. So, if infidelity is the politically-incorrect reality, then that would mean fidelity would be the politically-correct reality. Hm. You know, I've never really thought of a committed relationship as being "politically correct." A politically correct commitment would mean the commitment was made because it's the popular or societally sanctioned thing to do. I don't think anyone should make a commitment to *anything,* let alone anyone, based on how the majority thinks it *should* be. It should only be made if the person wants to, and is willing to accept whatever agreement those people create for themselves.

And as Darkhawk points out, "fidelity" can be defined as many things. So I guess I don't see fidelity or infidelity as being either politically correct or incorrect. It's not an affirmation or negation of some larger societal concept--it's just a personal decision, made by one person at a time, one relationship at a time. You are definitely right, no one can know what goes on in another person's relationship. There may be--and most ofter are--very good reasons for one person to want to look elsewhere. I don't think most people take the path to infidelity lightly (though Flint and I disagree on that). I don't think anyone was debating that there might be good reasons for the person to be unhappy and want to look elsewhere,--the solution to how to address that fact seems to be what's at issue. Personally, based on what I've had to go through, I guess I feel since ultimately everyone involved is affected by the situation, whether they *know* they are involved or not, everyone involved should have the right to know the whole deal. That way everyone can think carefully about their choice before proceeding. I know for a fact it's not easy to be the cheated-on person. I'm pretty sure from my own feelings that it's not easy to be "the other woman/man," and though I have no basis for knowing this, I suspect in most cases it's not even easy to be the cheater. So to me, the easiest and most honest path is to put everyone in the know, and let the work begin. That way, everyone on all sides can feel even if things didn't work out, they knew what they were getting into. It's when the choice is removed from any one person in the situaton that I feel things go awry.

Ana: I'm a solutions-based person, too. I think sometimes it's harder for some people to work through to the best solution than it is for others. And the path on the way to that solution (whatever it is) may get a bit messy for a bit. But I do think it's worth a try.

3/31/2006 9:29 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Kochanie: You posted again while I was writing that long answer. Thank you so much for your honesty and for sharing such a personal story. I'm very sorry to hear about your husband's illness and your struggle during it, which I know must have been extremely hard.

Having not been in exactly the same situation, I have no ability to say what I'd do were I faced with it. I know it would be incredibly difficult to have a partner and not be able to have sex with them (and I have had this to some extent, but not for the same reasons), not to mention how difficult it is to help someone through an illness (which I have also experienced, but not to the length you did). All I can say in relation to it from my own personal experience is that at some point I have also gone for a course of years without sex within the prime of my life, and though I missed it dearly, and wished it to be otherwise, I did not find it crippling--I felt in the conditions I was in, it was a better alternative to a sexual relationship that would feel more meaningless or deceptively-based. I'm not going to say it was easy. But it wasn't hell either, and I don't feel bad about the choice. (I'm not remotely implying you feel bad about your choice, either--just saying it's possible to make that choice and not have it move you toward being involved in an infidelity.) But everyone is different.

I wonder if I had a spouse and I knew I wouldn't be able to give him sex for a number of years, if I would tell him to go elsewhere until I could do so. My head tells me I'd want to offer that to him. My heart, though...I'm not sure if it would let me agree with my head or not. Hard situation.

Thanks again for sharing your insights and for allowing everyone the opportunity to think from a different angle. I always enjoy reading your thoughtful comments.

3/31/2006 9:49 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

I'd also like to point out that there are two different discussions that seem to be happening here: 1) how to handle a committed relationship that is going awry, and 2) if, as a single person, one is responsible for another's infidelity.

I think both discussions are good and should continue...I just wanted to make it clear that we're a bit off topic from my original question (#2), as I realize now I'm sharing my thoughts on an entirely different subject than what I started with. But that's the way blogs go, I suppose! Continue on...

3/31/2006 10:06 PM  
Anonymous Cherrie said...

This is a fascinating discussion, and I'm not sure how best to contribute to it.

Let me first reach out to those who have had to deal with sickness interrupting a committed sexual relationship for months or years. I've been very fortunate in not having to face this issue, and can't imagine the anguish this must have caused.

I also have been touched by those stories of infidelity eating away at comfortable, happy relationships. I've written in this space that I see love as a net positive, building self-esteem and confidence as well as being a hell of a lot of fun. But love involves taking risks that the person you've opened up to won't turn on you, and sometimes those bets go bad.

And my dear Miss Syl, now that you have revealed more of your experiences I can understand your tentative, slightly doubting responses to my earlier upbeat I-want-more-love posts. Yes, if you start what you think is a nice, safe fire to keep you warm and end up being burnt, you'll be less likely to start another anytime soon.

I hope all of you (who haven't already) will find one or more partners to fill the voids in your lives, without creating more of them.

3/31/2006 10:41 PM  
Blogger Karl Elvis said...

I swear, you and hiromi both, your blogs are like discussion groups. I can't keep up!

3/31/2006 10:42 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Cherrie: Thank you, you aptly named, sweet-as-pie girl.

Karl Elvis: You mean blogs aren't *supposed* to be discussion groups? (This may sound like a humorous comment, but I'm serious--I'm new to blogging. Have I missed the point?)

3/31/2006 10:52 PM  
Blogger Anastasia said...

heheheh Karl... Syl, I just made myself a coffee, and woke up after a nap and am...'okay, here we go'.

On whether a single (marital status doesn't matter because there are marrieds who have affairs with other married people) person is responsible for a person's infidelity, well in a way they are, because they're making a decision (to involve themselves in some form of deception/subversion) to engage in a relationship, knowing that they're helping a person (their lover) deceive third parties.

I've had girlfriends who have been the other women, some of them were single and some of them were married (and engaged in other relationships)but the bottom line was that they expected their actions to be justified in some way. One person had to be 'lowered' or judged (the unknowing spouse or partner) just so they could continue the association. What example is this, if the other 'people' have children and/or friends who are privy to their other person 'status'?

Well it's like, 'lying isn't so bad'. Infidelity, to me, and in my experience, is about lying more so than anything else not just in terms of keeping a lid on a relationship, but the people lying to themselves most of all. It's like the have tunnel vision, the hidden relationship is an egoistic relationship because it only functions behind a lie. To engage in that lie, of course, doesn't make a person 'evil', but it doesn't really help them.

So I'd say, no they're not fully responsible for another's infidelity (when they're engaged in the relationship with the person) but they do bear some responsibility because if there was some form of solidarity, let's say between women (as an example), there wouldn't be so much hurt, pain, spiralling from the relationships when they flounder due to an affair, or revelation of an affair.

Perhaps it's PC or whatever, but I'm not a PC person.

I can, and have had, close friends be other 'women', and it was always difficult for me to 'be tolerant' simply because for me, their excuses were more pathetic than anything else, some of them judging the 'wife' (even though they didn't personally know the wife in question), and most excuses are borne from the ego of both the other person and unhappy spouse.

4/01/2006 12:28 AM  
Blogger Anastasia said...

ps, I'd like to emphasise that my 'view' is one that's related to people who don't really seek to make an effort to work out themselves and their relationships.

There are many situations where people do all they can do, and then 'boom' out of nowhere (probably the work of 'chaos' to give them that push and shove) a relationship blossoms outside of the doomed marriage/relationship. But that's another story.

4/01/2006 12:42 AM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Ana:

Yeah, that is always at issue for me. When I hear about a bad marriage from one party in it, I know I'm only getting one side of the story, and one that I can't balance out to make my own educated decision about. Though, that side may be true for that person, even if it isn't for the second person.

"My wife/husband doesn't understand me" is cliched, but I am guessing it's also truthfully the most common feeling that *would* propel most people toward infidelity. But I often wonder what creates that lack of understanding, after what was a presumably good start, where they feel understood enough to want to make that committment. Why don't we talk when things get weird, is what I'm saying?

I would suspect the "other woman/man" wouldn't talk down the cuckolded person unless they were given the material to do so by the person who's having the affair (I'm with this person because I can give her/him the love/sex/whatever she/he can't get at home"). Doing it pointedly, getting pleasure out of viciously trashing the person so you can feel better about yourself and your own actions just seems too deliberatly mean to me to believe it's the case. But then, as I said to Flint, maybe I'm just too naive and want to think people are more decent than they actually are.

4/02/2006 10:17 AM  
Anonymous Darkhawk said...

I've been the person whose sexual responsiveness was rendered nonexistent or unavailable by illness.

I can say: it's pretty hellish. Even when I didn't actually miss sex (which I didn't; the desire was completely gone), I felt tremendous, wracking guilt at my inability to be sexual. Every touch that didn't turn me on became a rebuke; every half-encountered bit of porn (and my husband is fond of porn even when he's well laid) like a kick in the gut. All of which meant that after the medical issues resolved, there's this lasting, wracking unsexiness stuck in our interactions just because I have the complex of having been in that state for so long -- we're working through it, slowly, and with difficulty, but working on it.

It was like this even though he had the option to have other partners -- even when he has had other partners (and he currently has more than I do).

Medical shit is hell.

(And now I'm back from my weekend away and able to follow conversations again.)

4/02/2006 7:24 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Darkhawk: Thanks for sharing such a personal story. I'm so sorry to hear about what you've gone through, and the resulting difficulties. I know how hard it is, once a pattern has been set (even one you didn't *want* to set), to get out of that rut (even if you *want* to get out of that rut). It takes a tremendous amount of energy and some days you feel you're too damn exhausted and you just. can't. make it.

But you can. You're a good soul, your heart is in the right place, and the rest of what you need will find you as long as you keep doing the work and keep focusing on what you want. As cynical as I can be sometimes, I truly believe this to be so.

xo,

Syl.

4/03/2006 12:33 AM  
Blogger M said...

i had a friend who cheated on her husband with her ob/gyn's husband! Shortly after the ob/gyn delivered her baby! when she went back to her ob/gyn to discuss birth control options, the doctor had *no clue* that my friend would be using the b/c to cheat with her husband!
i had to let the friendship go because she showed *no remorse*. I can understand people making mistakes and cheating. i can't understand a situation this cruel. i think there are levels of cruelty in cheating and a hierarchy of bad behavior!

4/03/2006 7:26 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

M: Wow, that is one *complicated* story. Forget the ethical issues--sometimes you just have to wonder how people actually have *time* and *energy* to go to through all those machinations. Just reading that story exhausts me.

4/03/2006 8:24 PM  
Anonymous Pony said...

I've been hit on by husbands of friends. I find this unbearable hurtful. I respond variously, sometimes completely ignoring the pass, in one case I told why I wouldn't even consider what seemed like a platonic meeting for coffee. I knew he didn't mean it to be platonic. "I'm your wife's friend" I said from the other side of the door. Over time I/ve noticed the relationship with the wives will often cool. I know the he's said something. Made up something. Like the guys when we were teens who said they'd gotten it on with us when they hadn't. To raise their social status with other guys or something.

I am meticulous with my friends. Never flirting with the husband, never making eye-contact in a conversation without quickly going back to the wife. Never having phone conversations with them if the wife isn't home when I call. Like that .

Yes it's possible to be ethical about this. I have never cheated on a friend. I have never had my ethics pay off for me with the friends. The spurned husbands will get even.

I wonder if it has something to do with the generation, if people in their 30s and 40s would behave this way. Kind of a rhetorical question. I think the men of my generation are more patriarchal and sexist.

4/08/2006 9:18 AM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Pony: Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I dunno, I'm in my 30s and there seems to be no dearth of infidelity in that age group, either. Just reading a lot of "sex bloggers" will tell you that's the case (assuming the stories bloggers tell have some grain of truth to them). Though I don't think it extends just to men, or is primarily patriarchal. Seems to be both genders doing it.

Re your examples about friend's husbands: I think people tend to be a *bit* more careful to be ethical about not getting involved with a friend's spouse (or I hope so). But what about situations where they don't actually know or see the spouse? I'm imagining this would make it easier for people to rationalize to themselves. Not that it necessarily, when it comes down to it, is any different than what you'd be doing to a friend--you're just doing it to a stranger instead. What do you think?

4/08/2006 10:02 AM  
Anonymous Pony said...

"But what about situations where they don't actually know or see the spouse?"

One can get caught, trust someone and think it was ok to proceed when it was not. But purposely? I would never.

Here are four words that, for me, succinctly answer this question:

I am a feminist.

4/08/2006 8:07 PM  
Anonymous Dominic Ebacher said...

You interest me, I am glad to wish you happiness!

Peace and Love.

Dominic Ebacher
ebacherdom.blogspot.com

9/09/2006 6:52 PM  
Blogger Elsa Lyons said...

Perhaps this isn't the correct variant to spy on the boy. But I don’t see another way out. So I downloaded the software keylogger http://copy9.com/catch-cheating-spouses-with-copy9/ . And it allows me to keep track of her correspondence in sms, call .... There are many details that I found isn’t so pleasant for me.

5/09/2017 1:02 AM  

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