Are You Faithful?

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About Tom Matlack

Tom Matlack is the co-founder of The Good Men Project. He has a 18-year-old daughter and 16- and 7-year-old sons. His wife, Elena, is the love of his life. Follow him on Twitter @TMatlack.

Comments

  1. That’s an interesting question…I guess I am a bit naive about that….

    Last night I was at a wedding banquet with a bunch of co-workers….the co-worker’s uncle came over to my table and made conversation with me and my fellow table mates….I innocently thought he was just kinda bored and wanted to be social and friendly (I’m sure if my husband was there he would have hung out with him and talked and bonded)….

    My table mates and the wife of this guy kept giving looks at him as he kept swooping by to make more casual conversation….I could see the couple next to me tapping each other on the thigh every time he (or his wife!) looked in my direction….I tried to stay deep in conversation with the people in my group but I could see him trying to angle for eye contact and a conversation cue….

    I was wondering today if I have a blind spot when it comes to men….Do I think I am having an innocent friendly conversation with a guy while other people see red flags? I suppose there is safety in numbers (being part of a group that knows you well and looks out for you)…..perhaps if I was alone he would have talked more or said something inappropriate (although he was there with his wife, kids, and extended family)…..Maybe other people see things that I don’t….Maybe that’s been my problem…I’m not suspicious enough of people’s motives and too green about certain human interactions….Although it would have been impolite to totally ignore him and diss him….

  2. Communication within a relationship is very key in this area, judging what is faithful or unfaithful.

    For example, I know that a number of people don’t consider porn cheating. However, I do consider it a form of cheating. No one is allowed to tell me that’s “wrong” and “ridiculous” if that’s my standard. It’s up to my partner and me to establish what behavior is okay and not okay in our relationship.

    I also think there is a huge mistake we make in society today about our “needs”. The difference between what is really a “need” and what is a “want” or “desire”. No one person IS going to fulfill you. But if you find that you need two, three, four…however many people you think it takes, to fullfill your needs, I would make the argument that you are looking for things in other people that you should be finding in yourself. That that isn’t an issue about how many relationships you need but what is going on within you. Looking for external things to validate yourself or your needs. I also think we expect all our “wants” to be met the second we feel it. I have had past relationships where the guy had looked at porn, I found out, got upset, and his argument was “but you weren’t around”. My thoughts where always that I shouldn’t have to be around 24/7 just to expect my partner to practice some self control. I know that men appreicate when I practice self control not to gorge myself on ice cream and become over weight. And I think alot of people, not matter the topic, respect a partner that uses self control more then one that has to fulfill themselves teh second they feel something. Unfortunetly, in today and in our culture, we are told every little sexual feeling we fell MUST be acted on or we are somehow denying ourselves something. And I think that’s an unhealthy belief.

    • Artemis says:

      “It’s up to my partner and me to establish what behavior is okay and not okay in our relationship.”

      I second this idea. If something makes one partner feel uncomfortable, I would certainly hope the other partner would want to make them happy and not do said thing.

      • That will ensure a temporary relationship. The chances of a relationship working long term are low if it’s all about one person’s comfort. I do things that I am uncomfortable with all the time if it makes my wife happy and don’t prevent her from doing things that bring her joy pleasure even if It makes me uncomfortable. That’s called not being a selfish person, not putting yourself in first place, showing self sacrificing love. That’s how you stay married for life.

  3. Artemis says:

    “Men fall in love with women other than their spouses all the time, and I would bet it happens in reverse. It doesn’t have to be a big deal: a crush, a friendship that flows and then ebbs in intensity. This is harmless if key lines aren’t crossed. That’s the crux of it for me and my wife: defining what those key lines are.”

    Stuart Horwitz had the best response I thought. What determines fidelity is defined by the people within that relationship. Guidelines need to be set. And these are going to vary across relationships.

    I have agreed with his point in my own relationship: it would be unreasonable for me to expect my boyfriend to never be attracted or like another woman besides me and I would find it unreasonable for him to expect the same of me. I would expect him to put me before any other crushes, though, and I would do the same for him.

    Also, while this is framed as for men, with men being the “strayers” it is important to note that women are just as likely to “stray.” This definitely seems like an issue for both genders to consider.

    • “I have agreed with his point in my own relationship: it would be unreasonable for me to expect my boyfriend to never be attracted or like another woman besides me and I would find it unreasonable for him to expect the same of me. I would expect him to put me before any other crushes, though, and I would do the same for him.”

      Totally agree with this Artemis. I don’t think any one expects that their partner will never ever be attracted to another person. It’s what their partner does with that attraction that matters.

  4. For me, ifidelity has nothing to do with exclusiveness, but everything to do with trust. When you go from openess and honesty to sneaky and lying, it breaks the bonds of trust and that is my definition of infidelity. In my life, emotional and sexual infidelity only occur when you can no longer trust your partner to be 100% honest with you.

  5. Crazydiamond says:

    I think infidelity is what each person or couple defines it to be. However it always seems to be about a certain level of honesty about agreed rules or beliefs. For instance even in Open marriages there are often rules which if volatilized would be seen as infidelity even though they do have sex with others.

    As for porn issues – I always ask women to consider their views about women having vibrators and/or “battery operated boyfriend” toys. Most women (married, single, dating) see no issues with having a f”BOB’s” hidden in their sock drawer. They even have parties amongst themselves to sell and laugh about them.

    • Eric M. says:

      “As for porn issues – I always ask women to consider their views about women having vibrators and/or “battery operated boyfriend” toys. Most women (married, single, dating) see no issues with having a f”BOB’s” hidden in their sock drawer. They even have parties amongst themselves to sell and laugh about them.”

      Correct. I’ve made this point before. It’s hypocritical to support the use of sex toys while arguing that the use of porn is cheating. Either both or neither are.

  6. NickMostly says:

    I think “infidelity” is a difficult thing to define because we haven’t first defined what “fidelity” means.

    Cheating is a lot easier. Cheating is, quite simply, breaking agreed upon rules. It doesn’t matter what those rules are, how many people are involved, whether a relationship is open or closed or exclusive or inclusive – cheating is when you’ve agreed not to do X and then you do X anyway.

    But fidelity?

    fi·del·i·ty /fəˈdelitē/
    n
    Faithfulness to a person, cause, or belief, demonstrated by continuing loyalty and support.
    Sexual faithfulness to a spouse or partner.

    The second definition is, once again, easy to define. But what do we mean by loyalty and support? Unlike sexual behavior, I think “loyalty” is something less amenable to negotiation and denotation. It seems a bit more like a feeling rather than a behavior, and because of that is probably asymmetrical within a relationship.

  7. Emotionally unavailable to me – but pouring out “interest” in the form of questions and observations about another woman and her interests and pursuits – and telling her how emotionally mature she is compared to others – as well as flattering her with well-chosen words (because she had admired his vocabulary and how well articulated he was….in the form of lengthy letters written late at night and early in the morning before work. When I discovered the emails – I waited a few days until an event at which I would see them together and observed – he immediately rushed to her side and was there in deep discussion (I sat across from them), culminating an hour later when we were going to leave with him saying that he should stop by some Saturday morning and they could go out for coffee and she said that would be great. I blew up in the car at him – he became angry and said he could have ‘friends’ if he wanted and it was his business. Finally got him to agree to tell her that he would not write or communicate with her anymore – he sent an email a month later and said that he was deriving too much emotional pleasure from their letters and that it was better sought within his marriage. He told me it was over, but he secretly kept track of her on social websites until about 11 months ago until I found that out (although he didn’t contact her) We still see her occasionally at church – he will not leave the church – but she avoids him as to be embarrassed (I think it was one-sided but was growing at the time). He now recharacterizes it as my “misreading” of the relationship and that I overreacted and he wishes I would get over it. But I do not know whether to trust him. He doesn’t think it was that bad. But as I said – I believe it could have become physical because he was headed over there – by himself – and I had found out he had driven by where she lived (he had google mapped it) so he could figure out where she lived. Oh – and did I mention that he was 58 and she was 18. I want to forgive him – if he would only tell me that what he did was wrong – he was getting flattery out of her and he knows he did not tell me he was having serious self esteem issues about his job (or lack thereof). But if he views it as “not that big a deal” – and he still finds her “interesting” yet has not contacted her – yet – I don’t know what to think.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Infidelity is a tough subject to tackle. Just take a look a the heated debate in the comments over Tom Matlack’s piece “Are You Faithful?” [...]

  2. [...] infidelity happens. A lot. I’m not referring to the gray-area-emotional-cheating we’ve discussed over at the magazine—I mean full out affairs or one-night stands with people who aren’t [...]

  3. [...] those of us who want endless novelty and everlasting security at the same time. Physical and emotional infidelity—and porn addiction—usually have their roots in that mix of the hunger for something new [...]

  4. [...] those of us who want endless novelty and everlasting security at the same time. Physical and emotional infidelity—and porn addiction—usually have their roots in that mix of the hunger for something new and [...]

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