Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cheaters

Have you ever seen this show, Cheaters? It would be impossible for me to hate a show anymore than I hate that show, and yet I am drawn to it like mosquito to a citronella candle (does that happen to anyone else? Weird analogy?). I often find myself watching it when I have a hotel room all to myself and it's some ungodly hour of the morning. The purpose of this show seems to be to embarrass, shame, ridicule and pass judgment on those who cheat, which actually seems to be America's favorite pastime lately. It's as though those who cheat are actual demons. Evil, selfish, cruel incubi/ sucubi sent from hell by Satan himself to torment poor, innocent Robert Pattinson. Oh yes, I'm sure someone as good looking and young as him has never even thought about cheating on his one true love.

The polyamory community, as I have experienced it, seems to have a pretty similar stance to cheating as the monogamous community. However, while the monogamy community tends to focus on the betrayal of sharing intimacy with another just as much as the betrayal of the lies, the poly community is very much focused on the lying. This is because polyamorous people like to think of themselves as being super honest and communicative people, and polyamorous people are- unfortunately- just as capable of throwing stones. Add this to the list of reasons why I am not always comfortable identifying as poly; it gives people the impression that I feel I have some sort of moral high-ground over them just because I conduct my sexual and romantic affairs honestly.

Would you like to know why I conduct my sexual and romantic affairs honestly? It's because I'm a terrible liar. But I have been known to tell a little white lie here or there, or not tell people the full story. I am human, as we all are.

If you are like me and you assume that monogamy is impossible and that it is natural to lie to those you love (though perhaps not preferable), then cheating becomes the natural conclusion. I am just so tired of hearing this bullshit little story everyone tells themselves about fidelity and how they would never cheat and how people who do cheat are bad, no good people. You never know what you will do until you are presented with any particular situation. And you can't judge someone for making the choices they made unless you have experienced that situation as they have experienced it.

Sure, there are a lot of shitty, even evil, selfish and cruel reasons for someone to cheat. But those are probably the reasons you will get when you hear the story from the perspective of the person who has been cheated on. Ask the cheater their reasoning, and the story often changes. I don't want to blame people who can't or won't have the type of sex their partner wants to have for their partner cheating on them... but the cheating partner should never take all of the blame, either.

I believe cheating is an unfortunate side effect of a massively sexually repressed culture. In fact, I believe that due to the repression we all experience surrounding sex, many people cheat just because lying about sex is such a goddamn turn-on. There are also people who just don't know any better because they were never told they can ask a partner's permission for sex outside the relationship, and the partner may say yes. And there are people who are told that if they were to say yes to a partner's request for sex outside the relationship, they will be ridiculed or questioned for being OK with it. To go back to our friend R. Pattz, for example, think of all the public ridicule and questioning he must now endure for having taken his cheating whore of a girlfriend back. There are very few scripts in our society for anything but cheating, but at least the cheating script is familiar to all of us.

Well, I'm breaking out of character on this one at least. I won't say that I necessarily support a cheater in every situation, but you know what I do support? Sexual freedom and autonomy. Everyone gets to make up their own mind about how they seek pleasure, and not a one of us is in a good position to pass judgment on that.

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