“And I don’t mean to be hogging the conversation here. I hope some of your other readers will join the conversation,” said Mrs. Fever.
I responded with, “I don’t know how many of our (yours and mine) know about this conversation. Perhaps make it a blog post might help get the conversation moving.”
Which is why we are here. As part of Kinky Fuckery: Intellectual Intercourse there was a question about cheating and Mrs. Fever wanted to discuss this with me further. As the conversation unfolded the need for other view points became obvious and now you see why we are here.
First the original question with my answer:
Cheating: What does it mean to you?
Outside of cheating at a game or on a test, cheating to me is an act taken by a person in a relationship with another person outside of the relationship without the knowledge of the first person. Ohhhh that sounded all legalese. Cheating used to mean the instant, do go past Go, end of a relationship, but I have learned that there is more to the story or usually more to the story. Thus, get the story first and then make decisions.
And here is the conversation up to today:
Mrs. Fever: Cheating: Is it only an *act* taken without *knowledge*? What about emotional cheating? As in, there are feelings, but not necessarily actions. And is there a difference ~ to your way of thinking ~ between just knowing about it (which, from what I know of you, would be a communication issue) and *agreeing* to it?
Me: Emotional cheating is an act of emotion and thus an act. I’m not sure I understand the difference between just knowing and agreeing to it.
Mrs. Fever: Cheating: I really want to delve into this concept with you further, but first we need to sync our definitions, I think. For now, I’ll give you a Smotch & Feve example, and we’ll see where we go from there:
Within our marriage, we have definite rules about what we will and will not do as a couple. As individuals, what we want does not always mesh with what our partner wants. For the Smotch, he could care less if I fucked a flock of flyboys. It would concern him greatly, however, if I was to have/develop a deep emotional attachment to any of those pilots. The sex (an *act*) would not be an issue, provided he *knows* I’m doing it and that we agree upon the terms of engagement, so to speak. If I became emotionally attached to one of my aerial partners, regardless of whether or not it was intentionally sought out, he might take issue with it. In his eyes, the *act* would be acceptable, but the *emotion*, not so much. Whereas, *I*, on the other hand, have different feelings (pun intended) about how/when emotional connection (beyond general friendly feelings) plays a role in the physical dynamic. Like I said before: We’re not precisely poly, and we’re not specifically swingers. And his definition of ‘cheating’ is a little different than mine, so it’s a fine line we walk.
Clear as mud?
Me: Okay onto cheating. I want to make sure that I am understanding what you were saying: Smotch does not care if you have sex with a other men as long as you do not form an emotional attachment to any of them. Correct?
According to what you wrote he wouldn’t care as long as he knew, which means he gave consent which in my book is not cheating.
Mrs. Fever: I think we’re going to have to have the cheating convo in a different format.
It helps to know that you equate knowledge with consent. They are two different concepts for me.
It’s a communication thing. Semantics can be a bitch.
Did you know that in Hebrew, the phrase “I hear you” connotes obedience. I hear = I will obey. Again, those are two different concepts for me.
Woo-hoo! Sociology and Linguistics all in one! Lol.
Me: I think what would help is if you did give your definition of cheating.
Just so you understand I don’t equate knowledge with consent. I was asking for a confirmation of what you wrote about Smotch’s definition of cheating which seemed to indicate that as he knew about the people you were sleeping with and you did not form an attachment to them he would be okay with what you had done. However, you did not indicate what your definition was or what Smotch would do if he did not know about someone that you slept with (coitus) and later found out regardless of whether you formed and emotional attachment too or not.
Mrs. Fever: So, from my blog:
Cheating: *intentional* emotional or physical violation of trust, including (but not limited to) omission of information and/or expecting/applying different standards to one or more parties within a relationship dynamic
This is an evolving definition, but one I can get behind. And for me, the key is *intention*.
Smotch defines things differently, and for him to consider something ‘cheating’, it involves ‘emotional upheaval’ and ‘perceived level of threat’.
The physical act may or may not be considered by him to be cheating, depending on how his self-esteem is impacted. Ditto the emotional attachment.
I’d like to explain it better, but first he has to be able to explain it himself.
I only used the flyboy example because to us (Us = Feve & Smotch), there is a difference between *action* and *emotion*. And, I think, there is a difference between *acting on emotion* and *developing emotions because of actions*.
But, if I’m not mistaken, you see emotion as an act…? Right?
And in your definition of cheating, there was not a ‘violation of trust’ clause. So I was just digging deeper.
Me: Intention is a huge part of what determines the outcome of cheating to me. I agree that there is some difference between action and emotion. Both are acts to me, however action seems to be easier to do without much thought or investment (i.e. we fucked it didn’t mean anything to me), whereas emotion takes an investment of some sort by someone (i.e. we spent some time together. I don’t buy fell head over heels that is lust and lust passes). Violation of trust is a tricky one for me. That seems to be more of a “why did you cheat” than a “You cheated,” unless I caught you cheating. If you cheated and come forth the violation of trust is put on hold, but if you cheated and I found out or caught then you have violated my trust.
Funny story cheating came up as a topic in the Human Sexuality class last night. An instant firestorm when one man near me said, “Hide the affair. Admit to nothing.” This is very fascinating subject that does require a lot of thought because knee-jerk reactions are easy.
Mrs. Fever: It also depends upon the parameters of the relationship. What is and is not considered acceptable behavior in MY relationship will be different that what someone else considers acceptable behavior in THEIR relationship.
As for the “hide the affair” thing…
If the affair is over, and you and your spouse are happy, is it necessary to confess to having had an affair? Especially if the admission will damage and/or end the relationship?
And where extramarital affairs are concerned: They can be physical, they can be emotional, or they can be both. They can happen with or without spousal knowledge. They can damage a relationship, but they can also strengthen one. (The ‘strengthening it’ thing happens most often with poly people, I’d say.)
And I can say, from watching the women in my family, that just because a wife *knows* what her husband is doing does not mean she’s going to confront the issue. (I don’t have a male perspective on this; all the extramarital affairs in my family have been of the husband-cheats-on-wife/man-has-mistress variety.)
Me: This is where individual reactions come in. Most people are not going to react well to an affair. Finding about an affair later, which happens a lot, is just as damaging as finding out about the affair while it is ongoing. I don’t really see a good result as an overall statement. On an individual level like you said depends on the couple. Some are going to split because of the affair and some are going to use the affair to forge a stronger relationship. Personally I think the “why” of the affair/cheating is more important than the act, regardless of type, of an affair.
And here we are today. I hope after reading everything that you notice some good stuff happens in the comments, and you didn’t even get to read the stuff I didn’t cut and paste like the Pure Romance Sex Toy mini-convo. Both of us hope that after reading all of this that some of you have more to add to the conversation. Just jump right in.