Cheating is Rational

Really, it is! What, you’ve never heard of two people in a monogamous relationship who also have an open sexual relationship? Sure, you have – I casually mentioned this exact type of situation in a previous “Cheating Series” post – I wrote that we should be open and honest about our sexual desires, wants, and needs in a relationship/marriage. And, here comes E r i c A n d e r s o n, sociologist and author of, “The Monogamy Gap: Men, Love, and the Reality of Cheating” – backing up my theory how being open and transparent in a relationship is important. I have been wanting to write about this for some time now, but admit I wasn’t sure where *I* stood on this, so I couldn’t discuss it – I have no problem debating controversial issues, but this one was a biggie, especially the things Mr. A n d e r s o n discusses at length in his book.

Allow me to explain.

A couple should reserve emotional fidelity while structuring in rules for recreational sex.

Why? Here are a few reasons, based on his research:

1. Long term sex with just one partner leads to less sexual desire for that partner, regardless of the strength of the emotional relationship, resulting in sexual incarceration.
2. Staying with your partner, despite wanting sex with others, suggests that you do love your partner; you simply want sex with someone else to fulfill your sexual desires.
3. Cheating exists as the only rational choice to have one’s emotional and sexual desires met in a culture that stigmatizes open relationships.

The reason why people don’t do this more often is because they are lead to believe that monogamy will give them a lifetime of sexual fulfillment and that monogamy is normal and natural – I definitely don’t think monogamy is natural, but I do believe that if we truly want to be monogamous, we can choose to live that way. Mr. A n d e r s o n writes that instead of focusing on the issues with cheating, we should be focusing on the many issues with monogamy. Honest forms of loving are condemned in our society so we just CAN’T ask our spouses/partners for an open relationship because it would cause a break-up or increased “surveillance”. As a result of this, we cheat.

The way out of the monogamy gap? We need to place as much value on open sexual relationships as we do on monogamous ones. Get rid of the stigma associated with recreational sex and then people will begin to be more honest with their partners about what they want sexually. Mr. A n d e r s o n says, “Only once sexually open relationships become a viable cultural choice — free of stigma or hierarchy — will we be able to talk honestly about what form of relationship would serve us best.”

Interestingly, even women agree with him that some men need more of a sexual outlet than women do…the women just need to be reassured….IF they find out about the other woman…they need to know that you didn’t “fall in love” with her and that it’s really and truly….

…just sex.

I’ll end with a comment about relationship transparency by a divorced woman (her husband cheated on her many times) that I couldn’t agree with more:
I know now that you have to put everything on the table. If you don’t, that’s not fair to the other person because you have to at least give them the chance to love all those ‘off’ things about you. And if you can fall in love being completely who you are, that sounds like the best thing ever. If I end up being alone, so be it. But I don’t want to fake anything ever, ever, ever again.

I’ll add that you should be able to do this without fear of retribution (that’s for you ladies out there – give him props when he’s honest!).

I’d love to know what you guys think about this. In the meantime, I will be back in a few hours to discuss “Are you cheating if you’re emotionally connected to someone other than your mate?” Also, I’ll discuss triangular loving. (smile)


3 Responses to “Cheating is Rational”

  1. It’s really the same as any of the other prescriptive, proscriptive, stigmatizing sanctions we put each other in our culture. We have to admit there is a difference between sex, drugs, gambling, risky behavior, and wanting to kill or steal or enslave– or lie. Somewhere we got in our minds that activities that over-activate the dopamine system, the reward system, the motivational system, the root of desire– if we were free to release our desire, people would run amok. But if we didn’t have desire, people wouldn’t run at all. There has to be a middle ground (which humans seem to be reaching at a glacial pace), where desires are not stuffed, sublimated to the point of wanting to kill or steal or rape, where we are self-regulated enough to help each other to fulfill our positive desires. And the key to that, as you say, is honesty…and openness and vulnerability. The lock— the imposed strictures— is fear.

    • The issue is that there can’t be a middle ground due to either people being too closed minded or selfish. Many of us are taught to stand by what is tradition or we feel a sense of entitlement to a human being simply because we might have a “title”. It’s far too complicated a topic for me to reply in this little box, so perhaps I will write my thoughts in another post. We’ll see. Thanks for your comment. 🙂

      • And what is that “title”? A legal right, a solemn vow, a contract, an agreement…? Maybe all of these things, and they may change throughout the relationship as people change across the lifespan. We are mutable cauldrons of values, mores, instincts, ethics…and then to bond with another human with their own variations of all these characteristics… Put this all under the umbrella of social strictures maintained by the greater society…it’s a wonder anyone gets together! That’s where honesty and authentic communication come in. When we are honest, authentic, and consequently vulnerable– our mutual experience is open, rich and compassionate. We feel safety to grow through the experience regardless of what happens. Profound openness helps people thrive in a relationship. Jealousy and possessiveness stifles them

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