Are You Faithful?

photo: douyoulove.info

What constitutes infidelity? Looking at porn? Chatting with an old flame on Facebook? Guys weigh in.

With the list of famous philanderers on the front pages of the most reputable newspapers continuing to grow with the likes of Arnold, Ashton, Seal, Tiki Barber, Tiger, Jesse, Elliot, the question of what constitutes infidelity is on our minds. And, surprise surprise, men and women don’t always agree. Does having a special friend of the opposite sex at work count as cheating? How about looking at porn? Striking up conversations with an old flame on Facebook?

According to an ongoing infidelity poll of over 8,000 women conducted by WomanSavers, 69 percent of women believe that viewing porn is emotional cheating. In a similar WomanSavers poll, 92 percent of all women felt that online affairs constituted infidelity. (Granted, the readers at WomanSavers—a site where you can do a background check on a guy before going on a date—might not reflect women everywhere.)

But suffice it to say, there are many views on emotional fidelity. We would love to hear yours. As a guy, what do you think is important for a fulfilling relationship? What’s OK and what’s not? Do you have the urge to stray emotionally or physically? How do you deal with those urges?

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This is an interesting gray area, since most men probably can’t even define the term “emotional fidelity,” and would be unlikely to engage in it unless they were being physically unfaithful at the same time. From the male perspective, it seems like a package deal, so I’m not sure how useful it is to try and make a distinction between the two types of cheating.

Tom Perrotta, author of The Abstinence Teacher and Little Children

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Our biology has its own imperatives and we can recognize and respect that without believing that those feelings represent our true self. It’s similar to the way we behave when drunk; the old phrase is “in vino veritas,” but we know today that the uninhibited self isn’t the “true” self, but only another facet of our personality. The problem is when we think that that’s who we really are, and either beat ourselves up over it or use it as an excuse to choose to behave badly. Desires are a product of our bodies, just like indigestion, and these momentary urges don’t have to mean anything more than indigestion does—unless we make them more important through our thoughts or actions.

Dylan Wittkower, ethicist

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One point of view that often gets dropped out this conversation is that of the growing number of Americans who are polyamorists. These people have solved the paradox of wanting both long-term committed relationships and multiple partners by being honest about it. Fidelity for polyamorists means being honest about their feelings for others, instead of trying not to have them. I have been in polyamorous relationships since 1967. I have been with the woman I am married to since 1961, and I have several other relationships that have lasted for decades.

“Silenus”

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If women want men to be cool and in control of ourselves, to tamp down on and corral the intensity of our desires, that costs something: a measure of warmth and openness that we bring to any relationship; it also potentially stokes a toxic brew of resentment.

Donald Unger, lecturer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of Men Can: The Changing Image & Reality of Fatherhood in America.

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I hear about this every night on my radio show. Emotional fidelity is something men can do but his needs must be met—just like a woman. When a man is not getting what he needs, he may start looking elsewhere for someone to take care of his desires. If we have a good lady at home, then we’re going to resist any sort of temptation. And it’s easy for a woman to keep a man interested by being a true friend who’s got his back, providing support, and tearing it up in that bedroom. Simple.

Jerry “The Loverman” Wade, syndicated Talk Show Host

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If a man’s emotional needs are addressed, he feels respected and that elicits a bonding trust within him toward the woman who best addresses his particular combination of emotional needs. His emotional needs would include protecting his reputation, giving him his quiet time, and supporting the lifestyle he works to achieve. Depending on what is most important to him as an individual, even the most notorious player can be emotionally faithful if his emotional needs are met. One of the differences between men and women is the emotional impact that the act of sex has on the genders. For women, the act of sex can potentially address most of her emotional needs. For men, the act of sex IS an emotional need; thus, since it only addresses one emotional need, great sex alone will not make a man emotionally faithful.

Frank Kermit, relationship coach

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As a man you have to be willing to put all cards on the table. I believe a relationship works when both partners inspire each other, as well as feel fully expressed. If someone in the relationship is stifled or unhappy with anything else in his or her life, it will chip away at the relationship. Also, if you’re not getting what you want in a relationship, don’t be afraid to say: “I love you, but I’m not happy in this relationship.” Honesty is key.

Jason Silva, founding producer/host for Current TV

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To suggest that men cannot be faithful, when sixty percent of married women cheat on their husbands, is preposterous. In addition, women lie about their fertility and use of birth control (which is maternity fraud), as well as the actual men who fathered their children (paternity fraud).AshleyMadison.com, a noted dating website for married people, reports a significantly increased enrollment of women the day after Mother’s Day. Fidelity has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with integrity, maturity, and stability.

Marc H. Rudov, author and Fox News personality

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Emotional infidelity is a lot harder to quantify than sexual infidelity. Where’s the line? What if it’s only one-sided? I bet a lot of guys think of it as a loophole in cheating—”Hey, we’re not touching.” But I bet that if men imagined their wives emotionally straying, they’d be as alarmed, if not more so, than if their wives slept with other men. You know damn well if your wife is lying in your shared bed or someone else’s, but you’ll never really know where her emotions point.

Communicate. Speak up when something is wrong. If a relationship is healthy, you won’t need to look outside of it to feel loved. And include. If you’re growing close to some woman—someone at work, or someone you met through a friend, or whatever—invite her (and her boyfriend/husband) to join you and your girlfriend/wife for dinner, whatever. Bring a relationship out into the open, and make it part of your public life, and it no longer feels like a secret space to stash your feelings.

Jason Feifer, editor, Men’s Health

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A man must be emotionally present to his wife in order for emotional faithfulness (whatever that might actually be) to even be an option. If a man is indeed emotionally present, then he can be truthful—to himself and to her. It seems to me that any type of “emotional infidelity” must be a result of emotional disconnection (absence) with one’s spouse. I suspect that if a man is truly emotionally present and authentic, then the whole issue of emotional faithfulness just sort of dissolves. If he is emotionally present, then he is truly in the relationship. The marriage is alive.

Justice Marshall, creator of The Hero Principles, theheroprinciples.com

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Many men have no concept of being emotionally faithful—they feel that physical faithfulness is enough of a “sacrifice.” While a man would flip out if his wife was ‘emotionally’ involved with another man, he often do not recognize or care that he is emotionally involved with another woman. Many men also think that having a relationship with another woman that does not involve sex; of course it usually ends up involving sex of one sort or another, but is rather a way of ‘sharing feelings’ is somehow OK. Men can be anything they choose to be—it is making the right choices that makes a good man.

Pablo Solomon, artist

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The best way to explain emotional fidelity is to explain what constitutes emotional infidelity. Technically, this is when you choose not to or you’re unable to share your emotions, thoughts and feelings with your significant other, yet you share them with someone else of the opposite sex. Although you’re not having a physical affair, you are being emotionally intimate with someone other than your partner.

 

Emotional infidelity is not simple flirting. But, it can begin with flirting, as that is how many relationships develop. That casual banter with a co-worker may turn in to flirting and something more serious and emotionally involved as time goes on.

 

To be emotionally faithful is to not betray your partner. You know your partner better than anyone else; what her needs are and how she feels about everything. If you’re sharing special thoughts, feelings, ambitions or dreams with someone other than her, then you are knowingly being emotionally unfaithful and trust has been broken.

 

Paul Falzone, Chief Executive Officer eLove.com

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I always liked the saying, “The definition of character … is doing the right thing when no one is watching.” I think this applies to relationships as well.

Ted Wayman, news anchor

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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. We’ve decided they are: sex, revealing personal secrets/exposing some sacred trusts, and allowing too much time to be taken away from our relationship. They are NOT flirtation or infatuation or attraction. I mean, come on: Cupid only shot his arrow through my heart—or my wife’s heart—once in our lifetimes? That seems pretty naïve to me. Better to admit the fact that a wide variety of people are going to appeal over the decades of a committed relationship, and focus on what the lines are that are not to be crossed.

Stuart Horwitz, senior editor, BookArchitecture.com

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It seems to me that the journey to emotional honesty is first a journey to understand one’s feelings. If I understand what I am feeling, how my fears color my feelings, then I may have a shot at being emotionally honest—if I can find the words and the courage to express them.

Joe D’Ariggo, business executive

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Infidelity isn’t a “capacity” problem; it’s a ‘choice’ problem: Do I choose to grow up, be responsible, and embrace the requirements for loving rather than remain detached and ungrounded as a “flying boy” in search of Never Never Land? Granted, there’s a complex relationship between fidelity to one versus desire of another. What is undeniably in our nature is a lust for novelty, some modicum of freedom and separateness while in passionate pursuit of its polarity—belonging to some “one” and committing to a person that expands our sense of ourselves.

Infidelity is not so much about the sex as it is about the deception, both toward our self and our partners. So let’s get honest. Men have the ability to be both intimate and faithful. It’s not that men are commitment phobic; it’s that they’re frightened by the requirements for loving someone because it asks us to evolve. Are we willing to become who we must to live up to what love and a real relationship demand of us? It’s time to choose.

Dr. Jay Ferraro, licensed clinician and relationship expert

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Tom Matlack, together with James Houghton and Larry Bean, published an anthology of stories about defining moments in men’s lives — The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood. It was how the The Good Men Project first began. Want to buy the book? Click here. Want to learn more? Here you go.

About Tom Matlack

Thomas Matlack is a venture capitalist.

Comments

  1. 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.

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  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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….

  9. There is as much or more evidence that some people are born included toward polyamory as homosexuality, where a man (or woman) can be happy and content with two or more intimate relationships. For millenia, that was not uncommon or considered immoral, as long as all parties were awared. However, for religious and political reasons, that is now considered cheating,

    Is it any more unreasonable and realistic to force a person who is naturally inclined toward polyamory into monogamy than it is to force a homosexual into a heterosexual relationship? What are the odds that such a person will over the long run be satisifed and fight their natural leanings for a lifetime?

    However, infidelity has become whatever people say it is, and can even change over time. I’m not sure if that’s reasonable and realistic either.

    • Correction/addition:

      “where a man (or woman) can ONLY be happy and content with two or more intimate relationships. That is, one is not entirely fulfilling.

    • Artemis says:

      Cheating =/= polyamory. People who don’t understand what polyamory is may not understand that, but people may be able to be more acclimated to the idea as our attitudes towards sex relax.

      You can still have a polyamorous relationship, though people may not understand, but a lot of people don’t understand homosexuality and people are still out there in homosexual relationships.

      We should all just continue schooling people on what polyamorous means. 🙂

  10. Anthony Zarat says:

    I have never done any of the things that you question. No affairs (emotional or physical), no dirty magazines, no computer peccadilloes, no chatting with flames, no knowledge of exes, nothing.

    Not only do I not look at any woman other than my wife, I don’t even notice them. And I don’t have any nearby friends, of either gender.

    And yet, arguable, I am as guilty as the worst of your offenders:

    I am fighting without quarter against marriage itself. I believe that marriage is a weapon used against men, boys, and fathers. I cannot rest while young men walk innocently into the slaughterhouse, to be dispatched and dismembered.

    My wife feels betrayal, pain, and insecurity, just as though I had been “unfaithful” in a physical way. I don’t believe in “us”, and she knows it. I think our happiness is a crime, a lie that adds legitimacy to a broken institution that inflicts unspeakable harm on millions of men, boys, and fathers.

    So, to answer your question, it it can get very very complicated.

    • Julie Gillis says:

      While a part of me understands your political point of view, I feel great sadness that you and your wife face this particular pain. If she loves you, cares for you and believes in your unit as an “us” I can understand how she’d feel betrayed. Do you have true fear she’ll leave you? Can you allow happiness into your life and marriage? This is the intimacy of which I spoke in the other post, the risk and vulnerability that both partners give. If you truly don’t trust her or any woman, then I don’t know how you can truly share intimacy with her.
      It sounds so lonely for you, Anthony, and while it’s not really my business, I still feel a sense of sadness for you both. Love is precious and I hope you can take some joy in her love for you.

      • Anthony Zarat says:

        We have two boys. My wife is more angry than I am about what is happening to my older boy in School. She is the one who pushes me to to attend board meetings and get to the bottom of K-12 male persecution policies. We find great, mutual fulfilment in protecting our boys from a system gone berserk.

        In November 2010, when my son was first “warned” because he drew a picture of a Jedi knight, my wife and I posted an appeal for help on the site “feministe”. As a consequence, we were elected runner-up most h@ted trolls of the year on that site. As a consequence, I found the MRM, and my life’s mission.

        http://www.pellebilling.com/2010/11/misandry-hits-ny/

        Here is me scolding a fellow MRA in November of 2010:

        “Jim, I guess what I am trying to say is that I wish you had not used the term “scalded hogs.” If men’s sites cannot become less hostile to women, feminists will never visit. And, without the help of feminism, masculism is going nowhere.”

        Does not sound much like AntZ, does it?

        What came between wife and I is that the suffering of my son awoke injuries that I had suffered as a child, at the hands of a large community of feminists:
        * My wife is fighting FOR our sons
        * I am fighting AGAINST the enemies of men, boys, and fathers.

        To me, every ally of my enemy is also my enemy. Marriage, however beautiful in principle, is now an ally of feminism. Therefore, I fight to destroy it. My wife is my best friend, my rock, my happiness, my everything. But, the marriage between us is a horrible thing. She can’t understand this.

        • Julie Gillis says:

          I imagine it’s very hard for her to understand as she loves you so much. I know you have a mission, but I hope your relationship stays solid through it. She sounds like she’s very important to you and loves you very much.

    • Julie Gillis says:

      Why not make a social experiment, Anthony? Why not a no fault divorce but remain living together with mutual full custody? Would she be willing to take that kind of stand in protest if it helped the two of you to actually be more of a unit and an “us” though as domestic partners?

    • JSebastian says:

      Anthony, I agree that marriage is a pathetic sham. Nobody should be married, its anti-individualistic, its irrational, and it comes from a mentally ill perspective – the idea that people are property.

      • I do not believe in the necessity of institutional marriage either, but from a non individualistic non possessive aspect. I am Polyamourous and refuse to support a system which grants status to only ‘some’ kinds of relationships. I think actively Poly people who get married are committing the worst frauds against their future emotional long term commitments. Marriage is a pure sham.

      • Artemis says:

        “Nobody should be married, its anti-individualistic, its irrational, and it comes from a mentally ill perspective – the idea that people are property.”

        Our society is moving away from that idea though. More people marry for love now, rather than financial reasons. And with that comes increased individuality within a marriage.

        It’s not irrational, and it is judgmental for you to tell people what they should and should not do. Marriage is not for everyone, which our society is realizing, hence the dropping marriage rate. But for some people, it works and they are happy with being married. Just because you don’t like marriage and it is clearly not for you, it doesn’t mean it isn’t for other people.

  11. wellokaythen says:

    I find it intellectually amusing to see people make absolute, no-compromise rules about things that are so incredibly poorly defined. “No porn in my house under any circumstances! Erotica is okay, of course. What’s the difference? Can’t explain it, they’re just different.”

    And on the other side, looking at porn is never ever cheating? I can imagine a scenario where a married man watches sex tapes of himself and his ex-girlfriend. If I were his very open-minded, pro-sex wife I think would be an understandable dealbreaker for me. Or if a woman really really likes this one kind of porn and watches it all the time because it reminds her of the man who got away, as a husband I would find that unacceptable. (Okay, rare cases here, but my point is that it’s generally unrealistic to expect a total free pass just because it’s on a screen.)

  12. There are some really strange ideas about porn and fidelity in these comments. To me it is simple. Porn is not a relationship, it says nothing about my emotional connections. I do not see ‘all women as interchangeable’ , and anyone who spends any time around guys discussing porn would soon see that far from seeing women as interchangeable, many men have very specific preferences for actresses. Porn is a release, a habit. My porn consumption does not change when I am in a dedicated, crazy-monkey-sex relationship and when I am single. It is not by any means a replacement or competition for a real woman. Any woman who thinks it is has commitment issues. A woman who thinks that way would not be the one for me, the same way any woman who did not understand any other aspect of my self would not be.

    Emotional fidelity is also fairly simple. One of my best friends in the world is a chick. Do I love her, in that she is one of the most important people in the world to me? Yes. Do we share emotions and thoughts? Sure, she knows me better than anyone else in my life right now. We are emotionally involved. But this is not romance.. I am not interested in her that way. Any woman who sees my relationship with this friend as cheating, again, does not understand me.

  13. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    I suspect that few men’s, and actually few women’s, sexuality is actually like our cultural fictions portray it, sex-negative feminist or just traditional. I see the sense in not dating outside a committed relationship for those who choose this path. God knows that can create problems, especially if outside relationships are discussed with the commited partner. But our sexuality, all of our sexuality, is much more plastic and universal…

  14. And sometimes you need to do the right thing after your infidelity, like take care of your children from previous relationships, stop making excuses for your stupid mistakes and blaming other people. It is a joke that people who make mistake after mistake because of there big egos are capable of writing books and counseling people on love and relationships grow up men. Damage is done from irresponsibility and lack of commitment and blaming another instead of working together to make the most for the innocent victims aka the children. These people need to look at the big babies in the mirror and turn them into the man in the mirror. EGOTISTICAL IDIOTS

  15. For me, if a woman is asking me for “emotional fidelity” and meaning “I can’t deal with the fact you’re a fully-rounded adult who experiences other attractions, please build me a world in which I never have to face the truth of the person you are”, then she’s asking me for something unreasonable. She’s asking me to lie to her and lies don’t build strong relationships. They breed resentment and contempt for your partner.

    There’s a huge difference between being unwilling to take a step towards maturity, and confusing true maturity with giving in to another person’s insecurity-fuelled demands.

  16. Okay… I can’t define infidelity, but I know it when I see it.

  17. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    Sometimes porn, or more properly, erotica, can be just the thing for men, women, or couples. I don’t like abusive, degrading, or overly fetishized porn, but know that some get through times of sexual deprivation by using it. Example: wife may have zero libido during menopause.

    Sex is the new McCarthyism, unfortunately. We have moral panics around it. I like that the sixties liberated sexuality, and want to preserve it.

  18. Doctor Jim says:

    Notice how “faithful”, “loyal”, “straying” are all words you might use to describe dogs as well as words women use to describe men. THAT is creepy.

    If want to be some woman’s trained animal in return for sex or love then fine, but be aware that monogamy is not the natural state of man, and in the history of humanity as well as today it is a minority pursuit – even in western cultures which idealise it to an impossible degree, the high rate of “cheating” shows that it is just a front to what really goes on behind the scenes.

    As for pornography, women spend their entire lives with full access to the most beautiful thing that exists, and thinking negatively of men for even looking at pictures of womens’ bodies borders on sexism and is certainly quite insulting.

    I think that women just can’t take the fact that if a men have access to other women in whatever way then they do not have the complete and utter control over men that they crave.

    • May I say: yikes. However, I think you’re confusing immature attitudes about fidelity with the be-all end-all of fidelity.

      • JSebastian says:

        No, he’s right. What’s immature is the idea that you have ownership of someone else’s mind and body. This isn’t anything new of course, humans have been laboring under these primitive beliefs for thousands of years. Look at how we organize our societies with the belief that people belong to the State. Its sick, its dysfunctional, it is mental illness. And yet, it is.

        • Artemis says:

          “What’s immature is the idea that you have ownership of someone else’s mind and body. This isn’t anything new of course, humans have been laboring under these primitive beliefs for thousands of years.”

          Who has ownership? I am confused what you are talking about. He was talking about terms for men, which would imply women have ownership over men, but then you brought up our human history in which case men have had actual ownership over women (bridewealth, taking their property upon marriage, dowries, etc.). Are you just talking about relationships in general?

          If so, I would say any relationship in which a person feels they have ownership over another is defintiely unhealthy, but that is not true of all relationships.

    • Doctor Jim, perhaps monogomy isn’t natural for you. But I do believe it’s “natural” for some men. Lets not confuse “natural” with “easy”. It’s natural for me to be healthy. But living a healthy life style is not easy. I have to work out, eat right, get enough sleep, deny myself things that might otherwise be pleasurable. “Natural” and “easy” are not the same words.

      Monogomy certainly isn’t easy. But then, there are also draws backs to having multiple partners. They both have their pluses and minuses. It comes down to what a person ultimately wants. Some people only want it one way, some want it both. Whatever way you want it, be honest about it. There will be someone who will see it your way and want a similiar relationship.

      • NickMostly says:

        I think Christopher Ryan put it best:

        What I say in this column is that monogamy is like vegetarianism. All the evidence points to the fact that we’ve evolved as omnivores, but that doesn’t mean that living as an omnivore in today’s world is inherently superior than choosing to be a vegetarian. Being a vegetarian can make perfect sense, it can be ethical, healthy and smart — but it’s not going to come naturally, right? Just because you’ve decided to become vegetarian doesn’t make you an herbivore. You’re an omnivore who’s chosen to live as a vegetarian, but bacon is still gonna smell good and you shouldn’t feel guilty about that.

    • Artemis says:

      “Notice how “faithful”, “loyal”, “straying” are all words you might use to describe dogs as well as words women use to describe men. THAT is creepy”

      Those are used for both genders when referring to infidelity. As this is on a site for men, however, the article is geared towards men’s fidelity.

      And really? Women use words to describe men that are the same as describing dogs? Do they use the word “bitch”? Because that’s not even a subtle comparison to dogs that women routinely receive. You are gendering this “animal comparison” thing when it is not an issue of gender.

  19. Doctress Julia says:

    I agree with the women above. Porn is degrading and inherently misogynist. We live in a rape culture. I do not date men who watch porn or find it an acceptable way to relieve sexual tension. It sends a clear message that I am not enough for them- that all women are more or less interchangeable. THAT is creepy. Far less men than you think watch porn or think it’s OK. Those are the men that I want. If they are going to be having sex, it will be with ME, in real life; real time. 🙂

    • Misogynist is a hideously overused word. Porn being degrading (to both women and men.. people who bitch about the low pay, working conditions etc. some/most pro actresses in porn get conveniently overlook the fact that MEN in porn are, with very few exceptions, effectively a fleshy dildo) is debatable. Porn is not misogynist. Porno watchers do not hate women. Porno watchers are not universal rapists. As I have stated elsewhere in this thread, the idea that porn equals the interchangeability of women shows a startling lack of understanding about the very thing you dislike so much.

      Porn watching and masturbation is not sex. It is not close to sex. It is not a replacement for sex. It is a thing in of itself. Your views are, frankly, more sexist than porn is.

    • I’m a woman who sometimes gets quite jealous about her husband’s porn-viewing habits, but I think it’s pretty unfair to expect that you in yourself can satisfy your partner’s sexual curiosities. I’d be pretty disappointed with a lover who couldn’t think beyond our bedroom. While I’m fairly pro-porn, I can acknowledge that the majority of it is terrifying in its misogyny.

      A major step in my understanding of what it means to be partnered with a whole other person was that his desires are his, and they usually don’t have anything to do with me. His head may be turned by a pretty lady, but that doesn’t mean he’s lost interest in me.

      • I am seriously tired of this porn argument, labeling people as nutcases because they think it’s cheating. I suppose I am one of those nutcases. No, I wouldn’t immediately dump my fiance for using porn because it’s a lesser degree of cheating than physically cheating, but I would NEVER feel comfortable with it, and I can’t be in a relationship where I have to constantly hide my feelings about something just because someone wants to continue using porn without compromise. But it is a form of emotional infidelity for me, and I don’t see why I have to be considered insane for believing it’s cheating. Guess what? I found a man who dropped porn at the drop of a hat when I simply explained to him my viewpoint on other men watching porn. So for him, I’m worth it to compromise something that, in my opinion, isn’t a compromise at all because it’s porn–it’s not like I’m asking him to compromise actual hobbies or his sense of humor. Porn is not a freaking hobby or to me even a well-rounded interest or anything worth throwing a hissy fit about.

        I’m just asking him to compromise freaking porn, just as I have compromised free time that I’d normally spend writing to spend with him–while still finding time to write, of course, just not as much as I used to since we’re usually so busy. I don’t care if other men view porn because I am not in relationships with them. I don’t give a freak if their spouses don’t care if they view porn. I won’t judge that at all. It just drives me wild that there are people who claim they’d dump their SOs at the drop of a hat if that SO had a problem with porn viewing. My goodness, you people act like they’re asking you to stop breathing! And no, I don’t consider masturbating emotional infidelity, or even just merely thinking about other women emotional infidelity because I don’t expect perfection at all. It’s just porn, just freaking porn, because it’s a physical presence on a computer screen that is much like going to a strip club–not some abstract concept of a woman in someone’s imagination.

        Relationships are all about compromise, and it drives me insane when people insist on judging others for their feelings. Of course I’ve viewed porn, I’ve had porn curious phases, I know there are various types out there, not all misogynistic. But my fiance and I happen to be very sexually compatible, he doesn’t like getting off on his own (which he just discovered with me), so there is absolutely no reason for him to be viewing porn, just as there is no reason for me to be viewing it. Did I get lucky finding a man willing to compromise this, willing to compromise something he found out is no big deal? Maybe. But if a woman or man doesn’t like a partner’s porn viewing habits (assuming it isn’t obsessive), and said partner can’t compromise, then obviously both partners are not compatible and should find other people. And yet, even with this logic, there are people who still insist on believing people like me are insane for believing porn is emotional infidelity.

        Also, I could turn the argument around. Are you really not going to be with a woman just because she believes porn is emotional infidelity, even though everything else about her is wonderful? Not all people are insane. I was not hysterical when my fiance told me he watched porn. I was reasonable with what I said, he considered my feelings, and thus stopped, finding me worth the compromise.

  20. I think we’re all unfaithful at one time or another. We should stop expecting fidelity and appreciate good company. In the end, a good friend is what we all really need.

  21. I agree – if you think watching porn is cheating you are a nutcase.

    Emotional Fidelity is about preference, if your partner prefers porn to you it’s a problem. There is nothing wrong with wanting a little inspiration before self-gratifying. People need to fantasize to be sexually happy. About their partner, about strangers, about their ex-lovers.

    If I watched porn with my partner – does that make it a threesome? This whole thing is ridiculous. Most men watch porn, all humans fantasize.

  22. No, it’s ok, we’ll answer because we see no sense in your last insult attempt about who we are 😀 What about our blog would mean we are not qualified to discuss fidelity? We are young women who date – fidelity is completely relevant to who we are. Are old married dudes the only people allowed to have opinions on fidelity? Hmmm sounds like another limited view 😀 (<—- Intentionally passive aggressive)

    Here is clearer answer of our view on porn and fidelity:

    Many people believe fidelity is a mind, body, and soul or "energy" experience – we are some of those people that believe in that kind of fidelity. To us, porn is a mind, body, & energy experience with a 3rd party, which people like us would consider a betrayal. You even said this about porn:

    "relieving some tension during a drought to some random Internet porn"

    Did you ever consider that the "drought" you reference as a normal occurrence in your relationship – and the reason you feel porn is ok – would be considered a lack of connection in a relationship to other people? You could flip the scenario – maybe men who feel porn is not cheating have more "droughts" because they are less connected to their partners? To us, that comes across implying that the relationship lacks satisfaction, so you are going "elsewhere" which to us, sounds alot like cheating :\. Now don't get upset – we're not saying that's true for you – we're just making the point that other people may view it different than you, and explaining how it can feel like cheating to people that view relationships different than you.

    We were not trying to degrade you by using the word settling – but our point was this – FOR US – maybe not for you, but for us, being with a guy who was into porn IS settling, because it would mean we would be unhappy in our situation. YOU made the point yourself… "accommodating someone else’s views is that you can’t make yourself miserable just to make someone else happy." What we were trying to explain is that if you are allowed to make that statement for YOUR idea of what makes you happy, then WE also reserve that same right.

    Our original point was that we are valid in our right to feel how we feel whether or not you agree. It doesn't make us crazy – it doesn't make you wrong for your preferences – it just means we are all different. The main reason we commented in the first place was because you a made a really broad statement that implied that people who have different versions of fidelity than you – are crazy. We are simply stating that you should be aware that you are not the only type of man that exists, and we'll hold out for a type that makes us happy.

    • Anonymous says:

      J, K, A, and C:

      I’m fascinated by the topic because there seems to be so many gray areas, at least to me. I hope I am not out of line here, I am not interested in salacious details, and I am not trying to be a smart aleck. I am just curious about where you would draw the line. Here are some hypotheticals that might come up:

      Would you also consider it infidelity if a spouse or significant other masturbated in private, using just imagination, no porn at all? Whether yes or no, would it matter who/what he/she was fantasizing about?

      If that’s okay, then what if the internal fantasy is based on an R-rated movie that the two of you just saw together a few days before? Would it be different if he/she had seen the movie alone?

      If you’re watching a Hollywood movie with your spouse or significant other and he/she finds a scene especially arousing, should he/she fast forward over the scene, leave the room, keep it secret, talk about it later, or…..?

      As far as I’m concerned, you have every right to set rules for yourself about what you allow and don’t allow in a relationship. No one has the right to dictate what you should and shouldn’t expect in a partner, but there may be some insight here on this blog as to how realistic those expectations might be.

      I am sure there are men who have no interest in porn, erotica, etc. It takes all kinds to make the world go round. But, realistically, there’s a good chance that when you find a man who doesn’t look at porn, what you’ve really found is a man who keeps his porn hidden.

  23. Nevermind. I just realized I’m arguing with the “Pretty Princess Girls” about fidelity in marriage. Sorry, I should’ve clicked on your link first.

  24. “You seem really bothered by men being put in a category for liking porn, but you have no problem labeling women “nutcases” and “irrationally jealous” for NOT liking porn.”

    Again, you’re not taking the time to read what I wrote. I’m not calling women irrationally jealous because they don’t like porn. It’s labeling it as cheating that I have the issue with. I couldn’t have been more clear.

    And your passive-aggressiveness is astounding. You knock me for being arrogant but then you come up with gems such as “And we wont be made to feel we have to settle, because of other people’s limitations in life” and “it’s a statement to your partner that you are really that shallow” as well as “Well our point was that there are people who desire to evolve past a stereotypical “porn is awesome bro”… “atleast I have a job” view of men.”

    It’s hilarious you think I’m arrogant, yet you called me “limited,” “shallow” and told me I’m not “evolved.” So yes, I think I’m perfectly entitled to some hostility when someone is insulting me.

    But let me end with a question. If a guy watching porn by himself is cheating, do you consider masturbation in the same category? After all, that’s sexual attention a guy is lavishing on himself and not his wife. Is that a betrayal? Does that count as infidelity? Looking forward to your answer.

  25. First, we wont apologize for being “put on a total high” by the positive thoughts of those men. We’re a group of girls who are super excited about the Good Men Project, and we’re so stoked to read things like we read here because it exposes us to amazing perspectives that go beyond how men have been portrayed in the past.

    This was kind of our point with our statement – you have a hostility, and an unwarranted arrogance towards us as if we are somehow wrong in our thoughts because they differ from yours. You seem really bothered by men being put in a category for liking porn, but you have no problem labeling women “nutcases” and “irrationally jealous” for NOT liking porn. Well your stereotype is just a drastic, and you don’t seem to even realize that what you are doing is no different.

    Please read our statement versus your…we didn’t degrade you for your thoughts, we simply said they are a “limited view” – not because you are not allowed to have them – but they are limited because you assume EVERYONE agrees with you, and you loudly state then anyone who has a different opinion is wrong because they don’t think like you. Well our point was that there are people who desire to evolve past a stereotypical “porn is awesome bro”… “atleast I have a job” view of men.

    That’s the really beautiful thing about the Good Men Project to us… it is encouraging men to think, to change, to grow, and evolve beyond old stereotypes. YOU may consider “a smart guy, good job, watching some Internet smut” all that men are capable of, but we believe you are not the only model of a man, and that are men who think different than you – shocking as that may be 😀 – there are many types of men, many schools of thought, and plenty of guys who aspire to something different. And we think the “treats you right” part is debatable, because we feel porn is a degrading thing. And we hate to shock you – but we’re far from alone in that view.

    Sorry, we ARE a few of those “nutcases” who actually think their boyfriend/husband viewing porn is cheating on par with ACTUAL cheating. You say “it’s a simple fact that you can’t cheat on someone if the only person you’re having sex with is yourself.” But you’re totally missing the mark – that is not the issue with porn for most people. Many completely sane, rational human beings believe porn is an mental experience for people who view sex as an empty act, where any person can be the the vapid object of affection – and for many people it’s a statement to your partner that you are really that shallow.

    You may not agree with that – but our point was that there are plenty of people who do – women AND men – and for you do assume every guy settles for the same exact philosophy as you IS limited. We just think it would be an interesting discussion to explore the kind of women don’t like porn – that are NOTHING like your assumption of “crazy” or “jealous” – you would learn that those girls don’t watch “Cheerleaders gone wild” because they have their own cheerleading uniforms at home, and would rather experiment in a face to face connection with someone as opposed to “relieving some tension during a drought to some random Internet porn”.

    Some people just desire to be with people who desire to experience a different type of connection than the one you offer.

    And we wont be made to feel we have to settle, because of other people’s limitations in life.

    And thank you for the well wishes 😉

  26. So you’re “put on a total high” by the men whose opinions you agree with. What a shocker.

    You’re mistaking my point. I don’t care if you like porn. And I’m not even advocating for porn really. Porn is cheesy, often gross and pales in comparison to the real thing. And, like anything else, if it is used in excess it is probably not a good thing. But porn serves a purpose for a lot of men, good men, and the guys who watch it are not usually degenerates or misogynists.

    When I used the term “nutcases” I wasn’t talk about women who don’t like porn. I’m talking about women who actually think their boyfriend/husband viewing porn is cheating on par with ACTUAL cheating. That is crazy. Sorry you don’t like the term, but relieving some tension during a drought to some random Internet porn is nothing compared to giving yourself emotionally or physically to someone outside of your relationship. It’s not even close. Not even in the same hemisphere. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me about porn, but it’s a simple fact that you can’t cheat on someone if the only person you’re having sex with is yourself.

    That having been said, perhaps you missed the part where I wrote about how each couple is different and these things need to be hashed out beforehand.

    It’s pretty sad that if you found someone who was smart, had a good job, treated you right, etc. you would turn him away simply for occasionally watching some Internet smut. But good luck finding a guy who’s never watched porn. I think he’s camping out next to Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.

    But what do I know? I’m 31 and just part of the “limited view of past generations.”

  27. The short answer is the definition of fidelity and the guidelines of what is acceptable behavior in a relationship are going to vary greatly, depending on the relationship.

    I know some crazy people who think viewing porn is cheating. To me, that is utterly ridiculous. Same thing with having friends/hanging out with people of the opposite sex without your significant other present. But that’s why I married a woman who isn’t a controlling nutcase. She trusts me and I trust her. She knows the occasional porno is not a big deal, and is used mostly when she’s not in the mood. And sometimes she’ll join in the fun to boot. And she knows I’ll never cheat on her, so my going out with female friends is not an issue.

    But the problem I see with accommodating someone else’s views is that you can’t make yourself miserable just to make someone else happy. For instance, if all of a sudden your wife gets jealous of a female friend to whom you have little to no attraction and tells you not to hang out with her, that is wrong. I’m not going to stop being friends with someone just because my wife is irrationally jealous.

    But that’s why it needs to be discussed in great detail beforehand, and it will differ for every couple.

    • This is the interesting thing about the Good Men Project, we get insight into a super huge range of types of men that’s for sure.

      We get put on a total high by the thoughts of the men we mentioned in our comment above, Jason Feifer, Justice Marshall, Pablo Solomon, Paul Falzone, and Ted Wayman, and then what we consider to be the limited view of past generations, comes back in the conversation.

      The limited view we mean, is the idea that if girls and women are uncomfortable with or disinterested in porn, they are somehow wrong for that?

      We’re some of those “crazy people” that think porn is cheating :\ Not for religious reasons or conservative mindsets, we’re actually a group of open minded liberals with really free spirited views on dating & guys, but we just personally consider porn to be a really negative energy all around. (And for the most part really super creepy).

      We’re not “controlling nutcases” or “irrationally jealous” because we feel that way, we just believe in a different version of sexuality, intimacy, and view of sex & women in general. If you want a point of view from some girls… showing interest in other random women is the fastest way to make us less interested in you. On the other hand, making a girl you are dating feel like she can trust you, and like she is the hottest thing on your mind is a far more successful tactic to make your REAL sex life better.

      You Said…
      “The problem I see with accommodating someone else’s views is that you can’t make yourself miserable just to make someone else happy.”

      Your comment kind of assumes everyone agrees that your particular way = happiness :\. We would actually be insanely miserable and feel completely degraded if we had to pretend we were happy with dating a “porno guy”.

      We just think it’s unfair for girls not interested in having porn in their lives to be judged or categorized negatively for it. Our group of closest girl friends ranges from like 19 to 22, and we’re far from disinterested in sexual experimentation, we just don’t consider porn to be an interesting or exciting sexual experience. Some people truly do just think it’ cheesy, far less interesting than the real thing, and that it legitimately puts a wedge in real intimacy. We just think girls and women should be free to feel that way without being punished for it.

      This is an amazing place where men can be open about their views whatever they may be, but we’re for sure holding out for the non porno guys. 😀 There are so many articles defending the right to love porn, maybe someone should explore the topic of the freedom to not love porn, and not be held back or judged because of that view 😀

      • How is amateur porn cheesy compared to the real thing?

        I’m fine with people being uncomfortable with porn, but spades should be called spades :).

      • Honestly, I think the problem with this point of view is not your conclusions, but the premises you’ve based them on. For me, and many guys I know, masturbation and porn is almost totally unrelated to sex and intimacy. By looking at porn when I’m in a relationship, I am not expressing interest in a woman who is not my SO. The girls in the porn I prefer are generally quite unlike the girls I am actually interested in. Masturbation is in fact as much *or more* a release from boredom or habit as it is a sexual thing. I understand your complaints. I do, however, believe that they are unfounded. And that perhaps by feeling this way you are missing out on guys whose ideas of fidelity are maybe not so simplistic as yours.

        Also, I think you missed the point of “The problem I see with accommodating someone else’s views is that you can’t make yourself miserable just to make someone else happy.”

        You say “We would actually be insanely miserable and feel completely degraded if we had to pretend we were happy with dating a “porno guy”.”

        Well, a ‘porno guy’ would be miserable if he had to ignore something that he personally sees nothing wrong with to keep YOU happy. The sword cuts both ways.

  28. Fidelity is staying true to what has been agreed in the relationship. Infidelity – cheating – is when you act in ways that violate (explicit or implicit) agreements.

    To some, sex with someone else is OK. To others, having a friend of the opposite sex or masturbation is not. There’s no universal, golden rule. There are social expectations, social defaults that it’s probably safe to assume as implicit agreements unless you’ve talked about it (i.e., no sex outside the relationship). The simple rule here is, if you don’t want your partner to know about it, it’s probably cheating.

    However, the boundaries of the social defaults are blurry (is flirting at a party dinner OK?), and they get more so when it comes to emotional fidelity. Unless you talk about it, you can run into some bad misunderstanding here (i.e., friends of the opposite sex, porn, masturbation, meeting an ex for coffee, etc). Don’t leave the grey area grey. Have the conversation.

    I believe that there’s no “right way”. Instead, couples should define their own rules. Talk about what’s important,about what makes you heard and seen and feel special, talk about what makes you feel restricted and controlled, talk about what makes you feel loved. Be open minded. Listen. Then agree what is inside and what is outside the line for you. In your relationship. Don’t be surprised or ashamed that you have some really narrow boundaries in some areas (“no seeing that ex ever”). Don’t be surprised that you’re way more liberal that social expectations in others (“flirt and kiss and dance close at a part? Sure, come home to me inspired”). And don’t be surprised that over the 10-20-30 years of a relationship, things change. Have the talk more than once.

    Of course, having the talk can mean finding out that there’s a huge gap between what partners want. Talk openly about that, too. Think about how to make the relationship work with those differences. And think about what constitutes a deal breaker for you.

    Don’t look for that golden standard. Don’t be worried about what is OK or not OK in other relationships. Look at your own relationship and make your own deal.

  29. Know thyself first. Know your needs. And then, if you truly love another, you will know where the gray areas are. Sometimes people outgrow each other, sometimes they grow together.

    It is important not to confuse love with desire for validation, too.

    Communication is key, as well.

    To me, flipping it also works – would you be ok with your partner doing so-and-so to *you*? If not, think twice and figure yourself out before you go any further.

    Trust, once gone, is gone forever. We are all little kids on the inside.

  30. HumbledDad says:

    … did I finish my point? Anyway, I’m an insecure guy. Fidelity of any description would and has destroyed me.

  31. We wont ever stop being excited about, grateful for, and hopeful because of what you are doing with The Good Men Project.

    These are the kinds of issues even girls, teenagers, young women who are just starting to date have felt burdened by, and we never feel like boys and young men have to even think about this kind of stuff. You are finally inspiring men to evolve and grow, which we hope filters down through generations. To us girls, that means we can evolve and grow as females, and become better versions of ourselves, and not have to grow up be a generation of women who think it’s our duty to “change men” or “fix men” like our mothers generation. You are inspiring men to be better for themselves first, and that’s so totally awesome to us :D.

    Reading the above opinions from Jason Feifer, Justice Marshall, Pablo Solomon, Paul Falzone, and Ted Wayman shows us that there ARE men who think like the kind of men we want to experience in our lifetimes.

  32. This discussion is fascinating! I am particularly intrigued by the discussion in light of a previous article — Mostly Straight, Most of the Time. I wonder if the issues or defining moment sare different in the context of a mostly straight guy married to a totally straight woman? If the mostly straight guy goes and has casual sex with another guy, is that emotional infedility? As a woman, I want to believe that the incident has nothing to do with the bond of marriage but I worry that I am deceiving myself.

    • Bi-sexuality is not an alibi for infidelity.

      “If the mostly straight guy goes and has casual sex with another guy, is that emotional infedility?”

      If the 100% straight guy goes and has casual sex with another girl, is that emotional infidelity? Why does the sex of the person with whom a guy is being unfaithful with even matter?

      • I agree. You can be bisexual and monogamous, or you can be bisexual and poly. One does not require the other. If you’re bi and want to explore sex with both genders, better be open about if. If you’re, as you say, a “mostly straight guy” wanting a little man-on-man action once in a while, talk to your girlfriend / wife about it. She might be sympathetic, she might agree to an open relationship – or she might not. Either way, you know where you stand and can act on that. Of course, you may want to ask yourself first if an open relationship is really what you want, etc.

  33. Tom Matlack says:

    My definition of infidelity is based on what I know about my wife.
    To be “faithful” to here means not doing anything that might cause her pain.
    Because she is a widow she is very sensitive to anything that feels even vaguely like abandonment.
    It has actually been very clarifying for me because it means there is a bright line test not out of some abstract theory but out of compassion and love for her.

    • out of all the great points i read, this is my favorite. well said, tom. beautiful.

    • Great point. This is it exactly. It’s about you, your partner, your relationship. That’s where you look for guidance. Not some abstract ideal. Which also means that what is right for me may be very different from what is right for my neighbour.

  34. I couldn’t agree more. i.e. A spouse that has already crossed the line and continues to

    have a nonsexual realationship with the person after the fact. I think if you were to try

    and define fidelity/infidelity you would have to leave the options open for adding new

    definitions as they roll in. It would be interesting to take a toll and discover exactly

    what they have experienced with infidelity and maybe even add a sliding scale to

    determine how it effected them.

  35. Dawson James says:

    While the definitions of fidelity are as varied as relationships themselves, I think that a good rule of thumb for what constitutes infidelity for YOUR relationship is this: Anything you would not want your partner to know about.

  36. Lisa Hickey says:

    To me, the question comes down to this — if you are married, or in a committed relationship, is it possible to love, truly love, someone you are not married to? Of course it is — you can love your kids, family, friends — anyone where sexual infidelity would not be an option. But what about loving other people where there is the potential to be sexually attracted to them? Is that wise or OK, or possible if you are in a committed relationship with someone? If so, why is it sex and not love that is the arbiter of infidelity? And if not, shouldn’t love conquer all? Shouldn’t it always be possible to love other people?

    Is “emotional infidelity” about loving other people, other than your spouse? Or is emotional infidelity about having sexual feelings for other people that you don’t act in because you want to be “faithful”? And when we as a society talk about “infidelity” — we really do mean sexual infidelity, don’t we? That seems to be a very clear-cut line — if you have sex with someone else (at least if you are not open about it), you are “cheating”, if you don’t have sex, you are “faithful”.

    One way to look at it is – do you prefer, really prefer, to be with someone else other than your spouse? Would you rather talk to some non-spouse person about things that matter to you—would you rather spend time with someone else at the expense of your relationship – would your rather have sex with someone other than your wife (not a fleeting sexual attraction, but that profound sexual longing that makes you want to act on your desires?) Maybe that it where the line is – when, over time, you prefer to be with someone other than your spouse. And instead of trying to discover and fix why that is – instead of trying to communicate with your spouse about why you no longer want to talk with or be with them or have sex with them – you just go off and do that with someone else. I think that would be the definition of “infidelity”, in all its iterations.

    • Lisa,

      I agree with you. Fidelity is hard work – for the long haul. It is easy to “fall in love” — much harder to “stay in love” or to “love”. The real value of fidelity, whether it is emotional, sexual, physical, or any other form of fidelity, is this: fidelity is what holds two people together when life gets tough and other people or things look more attractive. Having been through a divorce, and now being married to a lovely woman for 9 years, I have come to believe that there is something very important about the hard work required to “love” someone even when the infatuation fades and life gets in the way and pressures build. I have come to love “love”. And I don’t think you can discover that without practicing fidelity.

  37. Fidelity is as individual as each relationship. I can not impose my ideas of fidelity on my partner, nor can she impose hers on me, but together we submit to the total well-being of the other. I know what my partner’s trust requires, and she knows what my trust requires. Those requirements might be different for other people. Decisions to break that trust, i.e. to be unfaithful, constitute infidelity.

  38. Kofi Blankson Ocansey says:

    I am a big believer in autonomy. I don’t think it’s right for any human to assign control or responsibility for their feelings to another person. So I don’t believe that emotional fidelity (which to me means that one checks with another person first before one has an emotion) makes any darned sense.

Trackbacks

  1. […] 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 […]

  2. […] 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 […]

  3. […] 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 […]

  4. […] 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?” […]

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