Cheat and tell?

Recently I had quite an interesting conversation with a girlfriend of mine. She was stuck somewhat between a rock and a hard place because she was wondering if it was always necessary to confess that one had cheated. If you cheated, did you always have to tell? Is it alright to wriggle out of an affair without confessing to your partner what had been done?

Having counselled with a number of individuals/couples on this very volatile issue of infidelity, I knew off-hand that it can be complicated. People cheat for a variety of reasons. Some do it out of retaliation because their own partner has cheated, others are motivated by a need for sexual variety and excitement, others long for the unconditional emotional support which a lover often brings, or for some, cheating is a response to a bothersome mid-life crisis or to feelings of low self-esteem. Whatever the reason, cheating seems to be a fairly prevalent practice in all types of relationships. It is found among the married, the engaged, among those who live together and even among those who try to practice serial monogamy.

But how do we generally respond to the reality of cheating? Instinctively, we know, for the most part, that our committed relationships should be defined by sexual exclusivity. Even the players know this. Why else would they seek to sharpen their “gaming” skills? Why else would some seek to make an episode of cheating a secret? When we have vowed “to have and to hold from this day forward” we know that that basically comes down to placing and keeping all of our sexual eggs in one basket as it were, with no sharing allowed!

Even before marriage enters the picture, we don’t expect that our partner will have sex with someone else. Cheating is a big issue because sex is a big issue; just ask any of the individuals plagued today by HIV or some other sexually transmitted disease. You can’t get much bigger than your very life being threatened. If this were not the case, we could easily come back from a night out with the girls or boys to say to our partner “You would never guess, but I just had the most amazing sex with someone I met at a bar/your best friend/my ex”. Sounds fairly ridiculous doesn’t it? Of course it does. We would never, ever venture to do this, because we know that stepping out sexually is a major, relationship-breaking issue.

Is it therefore ever okay to keep a sexual slip-up a secret? Can we cheat and forget all about it in our primary relationship? Some argue that it depends on the nature of the affair. In other words they believe that the necessity of confession is hinged upon whether or not the cheating was long-term (as in repeat offences), whether it was emotional and sexual, or on whether it was relationship-based as opposed to a one night stand. Some relationship gurus will suggest that each individual or couple has to know what is right for them and that there are no simplistic, cart-blanche answers when it comes to the confession of sexual impropriety.

With respect to my girl-friend, she admitted to knowing of several relationships where the cheating was kept a secret, the external relationship brought to an end and the primary relationship continued as if nothing had happened. From the outside this looked like a win-win situation to her. In other words the offending partner did what was needed; she ended the affair but kept the incriminating information away from her partner in an attempt to shield him from the hurtful truth. I was not convinced.

I believe that marriage and the sexuality which forms the bedrock of such a relationship, must start out with a philosophy which will guide the state of that union. In other words, if you have vowed to commit and to be sexually exclusive you can’t very well have your cake and eat it too. Something has got to give. The ‘philosophy” or guiding principles, or values of the union (whatever you choose to call it) sets certain parameters in place. It allows us to set boundaries that should, on a good day, guard or protect the union from harm.

Now although I do believe in the sanctity of marriage and the seriousness of the vows made, the mindset of faithfulness and exclusivity must be embedded long before an individual says “I do”; that is why these principles apply to couples who are also not married whether or not sex is involved.

If you can’t live within a mindset of faithfulness before marriage occurs, chances are you will not adopt such an approach after marriage. As much as I believe in great sex and tout its importance to a good marriage, the relationship must be pursued for the sake of the person, not for the sake of the sex. This mindset allows us to put our partner’s needs before our own. We operate for the “greater good” of the relationship and this ensures that our actions are guided by integrity and not selfishness or a need for personal aggrandizement at any cost.

When we “prefer” our partner’s needs before our own, then we are acting out of selflessness which is a true hallmark of love and commitment. And of course this sounds pretty lofty and idealistic and outside the reach of normal mortals who often can’t reconcile their own ambivalence about their sexuality. How do we ‘prefer” our partner’s needs when the language of today’s sexual revolution focuses on me, myself and I. Let’s face it, sex today is all about my pleasure, my orgasm, my vibrator, my fantasy, my lover, my libido, my kinky tricks, my sexual style or profile and precious little is dedicated to any idea of selflessness. Actually selflessness as applied to a sexual relationship sounds about as boring as rye bread with unsalted butter!

But we’ve done a complete circumlocution and come right back to the beginning of our discussion; should we kiss and tell? If you’ve been listening keenly to what I have been saying, then you will know that if we are guided by principles of integrity (respecting our partner’s needs first and the greater good of the relationship), then we will know that it is wrong to stay quiet about as serious an issue as infidelity. If we have slipped up sexually, or down for that matter, then we must have the courage to confess.

By its very nature, infidelity interrupts the flow of intimacy and the feelings of goodwill that should characterize a special relationship. If I were foolish enough to venture into a store and take something that was not mine, I would be guilty of committing a crime or a felon. Whether or not I was discovered by the store Manager or the Police, I still stand guilty of a crime because basically, I did it. The same stands true in relationships. Once you’ve cheated, you have committed a crime against that relationship and whether or not your partner discovers the ugly truth, you are guilty of undermining the integrity of the union. And what we know from history and experience, is that what we fail to deal with or unearth, very often comes back to haunt us in the future.

A lie or deception between a couple will continue to erect barriers which will impede on the couple’s intimacy. One partner may sense a distancing in the relationship without being able to identify the source. This often occurs when there is divided loyalty as occurs in an active affair or if an affair was never confessed.

If we truly want to be free to love and to enjoy the toe-curling sex that is born out of openness and honesty, then we must be bold enough to set the sexual record straight and ask forgiveness. Although there are no guarantees that the relationship will survive, hopefully we will find eventual peace in knowing that we have done the right thing. And by the way, my girlfriend discovered this too.

So What If “Great Sex” Is Not Enough

After flying the flag fastidiously about the benefits of a great sex life, some of you may wonder if I’ve finally awakened from my slumber to smell the strong coffee. Actually, I never lost sight (or rather smell) of it and the entire story about relationships must always be told. “Great Sex”, “Greater Orgasms”, “Find Your G Spot”, “Drive Him/Her Wild In Bed” and the like, are some of the headlines that scream at us relentlessly from the pages of fashion magazines and tabloid newspapers. These articles make great promises of the things we can and should do to spice up our love lives and are filled with so called “guarantees” (that is follow the instructions and you’re guaranteed sexual bliss). Then there are those blogs about sex like this one, which some find amusing, mildly offensive or highly informative. Whatever the case, many of us find ourselves enthusiastically imbibing the latest info on sex because we hope to make our love lives and relationships so much better; never mind that some of us will deny this motive.

But what happens when the orgasms have been coming with increasing regularity, yet when they all die down something still seems to be missing? What exactly is up when sex that is mind-blowing, toe-curling and as hot as ever, still leaves a gaping hole in the pit of your stomach? If this is the state in which you find yourself, it is more than likely that you have been using sex as a be-all and end-all in your relationship. In other words, you expect that the pleasure which sex brings, will be the plaster or bandage for your many relationship “sores” or sore-points. You believe that the hotter the sex, the more successful it will be in melting all your troubles away, especially when those problems are smack dab at the centre of your intimate relationship.

If you’ve ever been privileged to watch “Disappearing Acts” starring Saana Lathan and Wesley Snipes, you would have enjoyed an intricately woven drama with some of the steamiest lovemaking scenes ever. What is memorable about this movie, however, is the fact that the couple in question, in spite of their overpowering sexual chemistry and great lovemaking episodes, had some significant issues to surmount before what they had could even be deemed a success.

The same is true of several of our relationships out there, including marriages. Very often we connect with someone out of an initial physical attraction. The headiness of that alone could make someone think that they’ve found relationship bliss or utopia. This can then turn into a full-fledged sexual relationship where the sex (premature though it might be) can be great, even though the personal conflicts between the couple often remain untouched. Why ever else would women have sex with men who are still connected to other women? Because they believe (or are at least hoping) that the sex the man is having with them will obliterate the memory of the other woman. This “two-women” or “two-men”  issue for that matter, is a significant conflict that for sure, does not stop sex from occurring in relationships. These relationships are in fact fired by sex but remain problem ridden.

On the other hand, many people believe that once sex is taking place within the context of marriage, then everything else will automatically fall into place. This  is however not as automatic as it may seem. Many marriages are challenged by issues of communication or some other significant problem. Instead of confronting the challenges, however, great “make-up sex” is used to maintain the safety of the relationship.That is, instead of uncovering challenges and exposing weakness, sex is used as a band-aid to recover and keep the lid on explosive issues tightly sealed. This is sort of like, if I pretend the problem’s not there, then surely it will go away.

Some purists may wonder how could this possibly be. If sex is a deep, spiritual-emotional act, how can two people have a great enjoyable “roll in the hay” even with deep, unsolved issues between them? While I may understand the position of the purists, I actually believe that such sex though “great” is not the greatest (and who’s out there measuring anyway?). Be that as it may, people often can’t see beyond their expectations. If all I expect from sex is ten seconds of a climax, then as far as I’m concerned, once I’ve had that, I have had great sex. If, however, what I want, is a relationship that is built on both sexual, emotional and spiritual exposure and honesty, then the climax alone will never suffice. Especially if my spouse and I will roll over and not connect or touch again until same time, same place, next week!

If sex is to move from great to greater to greatest, then relational honesty must be paramount. This is especially true when in a marriage context people have vowed to have and to hold come what may. Being honest in a relationship however comes out of an individual’s personal values (that is, what is important to him/her). If your understanding of relationships have you locked into a place where all that is important to you is the physical aspect of that relationship, then you will continue to operate at the level of your understanding and expectations. This will only change when through personal reflection or knowledge/education you come to an understanding that you should demand more for yourself. If you know for sure, however, that what you want is more than a romp across the sheets, then do not allow fear of confrontation to prohibit you from making your expectations known. While confronting difficult issues often causes initial discomfort, your partner will likely respect you for taking a stand. Even if he/she doesn’t, you will most certainly still respect yourself in the morning.

When a Woman is the Vulture and Your Man the Prey

We’ve all met this kind of woman I’m sure. We can sense her a mile away. She is a bird of prey and most likely, she’s preying on your man. Lest I be misunderstood, this article is not an attempt to absolve men of any of the guilt or responsibility which they must acknowledge when it comes to cheating. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Men are not babies. They know what they are doing when they decide to take that plunge and sleep with another woman. Be that as it may, it is critical to note that when men fail sexually in their relationships, they don’t do it alone. Their weakness is cheerfully egged on and facilitated by the women they make themselves vulnerable to.

This comes as no surprise because as long as there have been Sampsons, there have been Delilahs. For those not familiar with that story, Delilah was a woman (in Biblical times) who got the better of the man she targeted by playing the oldest trump-card in the world; sex. Even though she had somewhat of a Political agenda, basically she was a spy for the Philistine nation, she understood how to “work it” to get what she wanted. Centuries have passed and not much has changed. There are women who are experts at plotting and planning for men just to get what they want whether that be money, status, bling, more money or plain old sex.

Vultures have a particular way with men. It’s not just that they may be physically appealing (and very often they are) but they have an intimate knowledge of men. They understand what makes a man tick and are very good at breaking down a man’s defenses to their own advantage. Usually this intimate knowledge of men comes about as a result of their wide and varied experiences with several men. Make no bones about it, these women have been to the school of life and have studied men like an out-of-print textbook. What makes a woman a vulture therefore is not her innate sexiness, charisma, nor her ability to befriend, empathise with or “counsel” although these are all vulture strategies. Women are categorized as vultures because of their selfish agenda. Primarily Vultures care about numero uno. You see this woman is never what she appears to be at face value simply because she doesn’t have a genuine bone in her body. She wants what she wants, when she wants it and to hell with you if you try to get in her way!

If you live on this planet earth, chances are you will meet a vulture in your lifetime. She may be your husband’s or guy’s work colleague. She could be a neighbor, an old cherished friend of his or the girl he meets at a game or at the Gas Station. She might even be one of your girlfriends. The point is, if she fancies sinking her teeth (and other parts of her anatomy) into some fresh prey, then she could very well pose a problem.

Vultures are good at inventing excuses as to why a guy needs to spend time with them. It could seem as innocent as a request to have a tyre changed, the need to have something heavy lifted, or the need to have a shoulder to cry on. Whatever the case, Vultures know how to make a guy feel needed and wanted and they really don’t care if he’s married or in a committed relationship. In fact that seems to make him even more attractive to Vultures! That being said, don’t make the mistake of believing that every Vulture is a desperate single-woman, some are married but live their “other-woman” existence underground.

The woman who is categorized as a Vulture, like her name-sake, watches her victim from a distance. She studies him carefully, assesses his wants and weaknesses and then moves in for the kill. As a Vulture tries new ways to get close to your man, she is really gathering the information needed to guarantee his downfall with her. If he’s a man on the look out for some extra sex, then her job is made even easier.There is really no rocket-science to her having her wicked way with this guy. However, if her prey is a family man, a husband who loves his wife but maybe a bit bored or needy in some way, she understands that her tactics have to be a lot more studied and sly.

The Vulture will therefore seek to undermine a marriage by pointing out very underhandedly, all the ways a man’s wife has not been meeting his needs. If she’s smart she might not actually bring up the wife’s name but will find ways and means of presenting herself as a viable and better option. So a Vulture, unlike most wives, will always make herself sexually accessible. She never says no. She might even do those things that some wives would never, ever dream of doing in and out of bed. She is a connoisseur at being the “better other woman” and knows how to play her cards well.

The truth be told, some Vultures are hardly interested in marriage to the guy. Being tied to any one man may actually cramp her style since she may like to leave all of her options open to new and potentially more promising experiences. So why go after any man in the first place you might ask? It’s important that you understand that a Vulture thrives on power and on exercising it. (And contrary to what you might think, not every woman out there wants the husband and the white picket fence). She just wants to know that she can steal your man from right under your nose; so beware of the “best-friend” who ogles your husband when she thinks you’re not looking. It boosts her sexual ego to know that she is able to “get” your husband or guy literally from right under you because a Vulture really believes she is in some unspoken competition with every other woman out there.

 

If a woman is to guard her marriage against the permanent threat of the Vulture, then there are a few things she must take to heart:

  • be weary of late-night telephone or cell phone calls to your husband from other women, especially those he keeps hidden
  • be suspicious of women who want to befriend your man but are not interested in being a friend of the couple or family
  • if your partner spends an inordinate amount of time on social networking sites like Facebook, observe whether this “habit” is open to you or if you are free to peruse his page at any time
  • as a couple, set parameters and boundaries in your relationship where other members of the opposite sex are concerned
  • have a common philosophy about the “best-friend” issue; (there is no way my husband should have another woman as his “best-friend” I don’t care how much of a childhood friend she is)!
  • be honest in your relationship about expectations, needs and disappointments; relationships become vulnerable to adultery when they are built on dishonesty and a lack of communication
  • strengthen the levels of intimacy in the relationship by spending quality time together
  • keep your man sexually happy and fulfilled without being his slave (a delicate balancing act I admit)
  • preserve a sense of sexual-mystery in the marriage relationship by keeping things fresh as much as possible (in spite of the pressures of the “rat-race” which we face as couples)
  • demand respect from your partner by not tolerating emotional or sexual infidelity in any form or fashion
  • listen to and trust your intuition; most of the time (if not all) that you are suspicious of another woman’s motives where your man is concerned, YOU ARE RIGHT!
  • act on your intuition; if your partner displays suspicious behaviour and there is any reason to doubt him, CONFRONT him
  • don’t be the naive woman because you want to be liked by all; know that Vultures don’t play; don’t befriend one, she is the ENEMY
  • if you decide to keep your husband even if he has fallen prey to a Vulture, make sure that he accepts responsibility for his actions and seeks help independently of you, through counselling, therapy or mentorship by a man who has his head screwed on right
  • if your relationship is to survive the attack of a Vulture, then you must learn to forgive; this is a process, not an event and should not be rushed; take time to examine the relationship, access its weaknesses, vulnerabilities and strengths and together plot a path to progress so that it never falls prey again to the wiles of the “other woman”

When the Woman in His Head Isn’t the Woman in His Bed

When a guy that I know posed this idea some time back to a group of us (woman in head differing from woman in bed) , I thought it particularly uncanny. As a man and a husband, he actually admitted that this was a specific problem for several men. It broached a little discussion about one of the anomalies of relationships. Very often we develop an ideal about the person we want to spend the rest of our lives with and very often our real-life partner never even begins to make the grade. We girls often have this fairy-tale expectations of the tall, dashing Prince who will sweep us off our feet, support our independence, hand over the money (never mind we earn our own) be a tiger in the bedroom, meet all of our emotional needs, be a great kisser, listener, gourmet Chef and several other things all rolled into one.

By the same token, a guy wants the girl who is low maintenance but sexy to the nines, educated, confident, nurturing (as in great Mother material) , uninhibited in bed but wholesome enough to meet his Mother, not needy or clingy or a nag and don’t forget with loads of fragrant hair ( many of the females I know actually will not significantly shorten their hair because of this perception that guys love long hair, hmmm). That being said, the truth is that this conflict between reality and the ideal, is a problem for both sexes.

We often have an idealistic expectation of our future partner which may have its genesis somewhere in our childhood. Maybe if we had a good relationship with our Mom or Dad, we expect our partner to be just like them. The opposite is also true; a horrible Father will make many a girl long for a guy who is the exact opposite. It could very well also be linked to “first-love-syndrome”: a condition where we compare every relationship to our first. But this article will not focus on us girls this time around. What happens when our guy has a woman fixed in his head who bears little resemblance to who we really are? Can a guy be cured of this problem and can a relationship survive? More importantly what happens when the woman in head versus woman in bed problem hits home in the bedroom?

If I had to ask all the men I know if they were really sexually happy or fulfilled with their current relationships I don’t know how many of them would be honest. Even if they were candid enough to admit being unhappy I am not sure that they would connect this unhappiness to their own unrealistic expectations.  The truth is that continuing to live with an “ideal” in the head, can lead to all sorts of complications in the figurative and literal bed of  a relationship.When this idea of the ideal partner is extended to the sex life then it begins to take on a whole new dynamic.

Let’s face it girls, where guys are concerned, sex is right up there with breathing and oxygen. Somehow their testosterone has not only convinced them that they can’t live without sex but they usually believe that they need lots of it and in great variety! What happens then to a guy’s sexual psyche when he makes a decision to keep all of his sexual eggs in one basket as it were. I’ll tell you what. He develops a long list of expectations which he believes must be fulfilled in order that he might be truly sexually happy. After all, as far as he is concerned, since he’s giving up his philandering ways (or at least purporting to) he might as well benefit in the process. While his personality or the nature of his relationship  may preclude him sharing some of these expectations with his partner, they are likely to remain deeply embedded in his heart because he sees them as an essential part of his sexual entitlement.

Some of the primary expectations of males include:

  • an on-par sex drive or at least a willingness to provide sex on demand
  • sexual confidence and freedom from inhibition
  • a willingness to initiate sex and try new things
  • an ability to forgive and forget his sexual indiscretions (as in his cheating if he does)
  • a willingness to “praise the penis” or in other words, assure him of his sexual prowess
  • a sexy body capable of basic gymnastic contortions
  • fearlessness when it comes to talking sexy

These are not exhaustive by any means and may vary depending on the personality, religious persuasion, experience or socialization of the male. At any rate, I think we can safely say that many men have a wonderful sex ideal somewhat like this in their heads. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to please one’s partner sexually, a relationship is about growth and development in all areas, including the bedroom. It can also become a little sticky when one member of the couple -mainly the male- is setting all the rules.

It is however not only important for a couple to grow together sexually but there must be a delicate balance between compromising to please and being allowed to be one’s self. No man should force us to swing from the chandeliers in some Tarzan suit if we’re afraid of heights, simply because he likes jungle themes. At the same time as women, we can learn to preserve an element of surprise in the relationship by initiating something out of the ordinary. Preserving our sense of sexual mystery even when we have been married for several years is also an important part of keeping the relationship fresh. That means not always doing what is expected in the way it is expected. It also means switching things up a bit, flipping the sexual script (for example abandoning the missionary position for a month), planning a sexy surprise and learning how to be totally unpredictable. This can keep a man so much on his toes that he doesn’t have the time to pine over his sexual ideal. In fact we can become the new ideal and every previous lover or present fantasy, can pale in comparison.

To be fair in this discussion however the responsibility for the balance of which I speak, should not lie solely with us women. Men must be made aware that unlike the days of yore, sex no longer revolves around them. This satellite mentality is outdated and harmful to relationships. It highlights how sexually selfish men can be in expecting to have their every whim and fancy catered to at all times, regardless. As I’ve said in a previous article, fantasizing can be lethal to a relationship. By the same token, an unrealistic sexual ideal by which a man measures his partner can also spell death to his woman’s sexual confidence; especially after she’s gained a few pounds from the baby or comes home chronically tired from work. A harsh and critical response to his partner which screams rejection, can really seal the deal in deepening the levels of sexual dissatisfaction in the relationship. In plain language, a woman can’t get her sexy on if she believes she is no longer sexy.

Men must learn simply to appreciate the woman they’ve got. Taking on specific domestic chores -not as a favour- but deliberately assuming responsibility for them so their wives can be more energized for sex, can go a long way in balancing the equation. Affirming and validating their partners through genuine compliments, the provision of emotional support through listening, spending quality time together and the strengthening of intimacy through open dialogue, can significantly contribute to a woman’s sense of well being. Once those essential relationship needs are met, any woman would willingly unleash her sexual tiger to make both her man and herself, deliriously happy.

The Art and Science of Cheating

The more I have witnessed and become acquainted with the stories of couples, both married and unmarried, the more I am convinced that cheating is both an art and a science. Let me explain. Popular culture has done a great job at magnifying the notions of a great passion and the pursuit of the forbidden. As a matter of fact, many of the familiar stories of great passion tend to be intricately dove-tailed with some aspect of the forbidden. From the old tale of star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet, to Cinderella, to the very real story of King Edward VII who abdicated the British throne for love, the common thread seems to be that great love and passion are just outside the reach of the common man. In other words if we want to experience that great passion that seduces us, then we’ve got to be willing to surmount any bridge or barrier to get there.

If we just listen to any number of the love songs of today’s popular culture, then we could easily become convinced that our very reason for being is love, passion and don’t forget sex. These things represent the honey which we humans follow like bees. The barriers to our romantic and sexual happiness however, if we follow the trend of thought of Shakespeare, Hollywood, et al, could be anything from a long-standing family feud, to class differences, to even a wedding ring. Which brings me to the subject of cheating as an art.

I am sure that if I were to carry out a poll, all of us would admit that the idea of us being cheated on in a marriage or romantic relationship, rubs us the wrong way. We just don’t like the idea of being taken for a ride. No matter what the casual sex proponents say, those of us in serious relationships want to believe in the promise of sexual exclusivity. Yes, the idea that my man only gets it on with me, as in ONLY gets it on with me. However, there is a whole other view which is being espoused today. It holds that passion must be pursued at all costs. The chase and capture theme of love-stories (boy running after girl, girl swooning and capitulating even against her better judgement) is a common enough theme for us to get the idea that its quite alright to go after what you want; regardless. Affairs in popular culture have therefore become artsy, romantic, melancholy,wistful and bittersweet. These are qualities that many a woman who is hooked on the romance novel or romantic comedy, is unable to resist.

So being armed with such a philosophy, why should anyone think that something as simple as a wedding ring, or marriage vows, or a serious commitment, or a promise, or pledge or just plain decency, would keep individuals out of each other’s hearts or underpants for that matter? The romanticized ideal about passion and hot, forbidden sex, has somehow grabbed hold of the psyche of many people out there searching for relationship utopia. Remember that song “Me and Mrs. Jones”, (we’ve got a thing going on)” or better yet Whitney Houston’s “I’m Saving All My love For You”? These songs, among many others, did and continue to do a very good job at romanticizing infidelity. Their underlying suggestion is that the love or passion being shared is so special, that the individuals would do anything to keep this special something “going on”. I believe that the individual who cheats either has a particular relationship philosophy or is seduced into seeing relationships in a particular light. I do agree that there is diversity among cheaters. People do not cheat for the same reasons but all who cheat do begin from a point of similarity. Basically, they lack relationship integrity. It is nonetheless interesting to perhaps examine some of the thinking behind this behaviour called cheating.

Tit-for-Tatters

These cheat because they have been cheated on. (I guess this is where the laws of science come in, something like A+B=C?) They have been hard done by and they intend to go for the jugular. It is likely that such an individual has been hurt so much that they have not even processed their pain. All they know is that they want revenge and perhaps want to enjoy it too. The down side of playing tit for tat, is that the underlying issues are never dealt with. The brief satisfaction felt in having that “eye for an eye” is ultimately lost when it is realised that returning hurt for hurt does not eradicate pain.

Grass Grazers

There are those who just believe that the grass on the other side is greener, healthier, free from chemicals and organic to the bone, I mean blade. They just are into taste-testing and make no apologies for it. At the heart of this Columbus syndrome is not only a deep dissatisfaction with the spouse or partner but a deeper dissatisfaction with the self. A man doesn’t just pursue another skirt because he wants to test a new vagina. He wants to test himself in a new scenario. He wants to prove that he can chase, woo and conquer (just in case he forgot). He wants to know that he hasn’t lost his skill; especially if his wife treats their sex-life like the last thing on earth that she’d want to participate in. (And I’m not giving the guy an excuse to cheat lest I be misread). Women too can be motivated by a need to re-prove their sexiness and failure to pay attention to the old car in the garage just makes the new car in the show-window seem even more attractive than it actually might be.The affair becomes then an easy cop-out in a relationship where the garden has not been carefully tended.

Sex Addicts

Why those who are addicted to sex bother to tie themselves to any one person I will never completely understand. Could it be that marriage or being involved in a long-term relationship offers them the ruse of respectability while they really explore the deeper, darker side of their personality? The Tiger Woods of this world have an insatiable desire for sexual variety that is in no way connected to traditional relationships. It does not mean that a sex addict is not able to appreciate having a spouse and a central point of reference from which from which he or she can navigate. The central point is just not enough when it comes to the sense of sexual fulfillment because addicts need constant sexual variety to feed their habit. For them the high of sex is used for medicative purposes or sex becomes a form of escapism. It is used to cover other personality deficits. Such an individual is therefore unable to be faithful unless these underlying issues are addressed.

Emotional Exposers

Many affairs begin because individuals fail to erect emotional boundaries in their relationships. They are either emotionally needy and their current relationship does not cater to this or even if it does, they make the error of dropping their emotional guard with someone else. Although not exclusive to women, this phenomenon is perhaps more common among them than men. In the same way that we have a driving sexual centre which cries out for fulfillment, we also have an emotional centre which must be addressed in our relationships. This centre cries out for affirmation and validation. When this need to be affirmed is ignored because our spouse fails to listen to us, we can often inadvertently look to others to fill this void. If we are a woman and this person is a man, then the emotional bond with another has the potential to create a sexual attraction which if not brought under control, can lead to a full-fledged affair. The same holds true for the guy who gets loads of attention from a specific woman in the office. If there is a missing emotional connection with his wife or significant other, then he becomes vulnerable to creating an emotional tie which can lead to sex.

The thing is that emotional fidelity is quite lethal on its own even when sex is not involved. Some believe that as long as they’re not having sex then there is nothing wrong with pursuing a close emotional bond with another. While the potential for such a relationship to evolve into a sexual one is always on the horizon, even if it never does, such ties rob the primary relationship of the type of emotional energy that is needed to cement and distinguish it as being “set apart” from all other relationships. If this issue is not addressed, what will develop is a case of divided loyalties which will undermine the primary relationship. This spells disaster with a capital D.

These affair profiles are not exhaustive by any means. The truth is that some will cheat just because they can do it and get away with it. It’s called human selfishness. Some will do it just for the fun of it. Of course they are the “Relationship Imposters” who are really immature and selfish and really not emotionally ready for any serious commitment. The good news is that fidelity is not outside the ambit of human behaviour. Many new studies point to the benefits of monogamy. If the energy and creativity that are needed to make an affair work and preserve its secrecy, were perhaps applied to our primary relationships, then probably the effort alone would bring us a sense of hope and renewal.