How Knowing You Could Cheat on Your Wife Can Help You Prevent Cheating on Your Wife

Thursday, January 17, 2013 | 3 Comment(s)

This piece has two important caveats.

1) As my academic expertise is related to romantic relationships, I am often motivated to write about such topics.  Now that I am married, however, I am a bit worried that some of my more edgy romance related columns (such as the one about to be written below), will be taken as scenes from my own marriage.  I must assure you this is not the case.  Ever.  Unless specified.  While I am more than happy to over-share regarding most aspects of my personal life, I don't want to cause any unwarranted unnecessary worry or speculation.  Case closed.

2) In this particular piece, I will be writing from the point of view of a heterosexual man.  While most of the topics below are at least partially generalizable to both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, some differences are sure to come up because of gender variability, gender norms, and societal pressures.  I give this caveat because I despise it when love related blogs assume heterosexuality. So, in an effort to be the change I want to see in the world, I want to hereby recognize that homosexual relationships exist, that they face many of the same challenges as heterosexual partners, but often have to overcome additional societal hurdles.

And now...

How Knowing You Could Cheat on Your Wife Can Help You Prevent Cheating on Your Wife

There are two amazing young women who came into my life recently.  The pair (they are roommates) are hilarious, fun loving, and sassy.  All things i admire.  In learning of my academic credentials, they took to calling me Dr. Love.

I need you all to understand something.  Fifteen years ago, I would have happily taken a machete to a live farm animal in order to have any size group of attractive women call me Dr. Love.   I would have probably even gone running (on occasion) if it helped buoy the usage of a nickname that proclaimed I had any advanced degree in a passion related field.  Twenty years ago, I probably would have sold myself into domestic servitude for that name.  I hope you're getting the point.

Oh what a difference a decade or two makes.  Turns out, this particular nickname, as a married 34-year-old in a tight knit community, is one of my least favorite nom de plumes.  I can't exactly put my finger on why, but it feels somehow sketchy when said aloud.  In some way, that address just seems to make me into an "other," outside of the realm of the common human experience.  And to the contrary, I have no interest or motivation towards being something separate from the world I inhabit.   Conversely,  I have a constant needling desire to be known.   To be a part of, not apart from.

This all being said, I simultaneously feel the need to share my knowledge of romance with the world at large.  What is the use of pouring over years and years of research if you never try to better the world with said information (this is an open question to the academic community btw)?   So perhaps there is a place for Dr. Love, but I would prefer to keep that place on the inter-webs, and out of my day to day interactions.

"I would never ever, in a million years, cheat on my wife."  This single lie to oneself can have dire consequences for a relationship.  (That got your attention!)

Here is the thing.  Being human means accepting a certain amount of fallibility.  More to the point, we fuck up.  We ALL do.  And those who haven't yet, will eventually.  While it may not take the form of an affair, there are just too many choices and situations to confront in life to think you can escape with a clean slate.

How would you do in a presidential background check?  One of those reeeeeeally thorough one's where any moments of weakness in your life are exposed to the general public.   The only idols that remain are false ones.  Or imaginary.  General Petraeus was a exemplary military leader, and has simultaneous been a part of some weird upper level 5-way sex-a-gon.   Clinton got head in the White House, and the ex-Pope was in a Nazi Youth Group.  There is a reason why the best bad guys in the movies are those with whom we can empathize.  It is because we, somewhere down deep, realize that we don't live in a world full of "good guys" and "bad guys" (gender exclusivity aside), but rather it's a world where people have impulses towards both poles.  There are situations where we must do bad to find good (stealing for medical bills), and other times we do good deeds for the wrong reasons (letting the awaiting car turn in front of you just to piss off the guy riding your tail?) We are in a world full of moral grey areas with wiggle room -- and we are a terrarium full of earthworms.  The more completely that you can accept this, the better.  And here's why.

When you wholeheartedly recognize your own ability to fuck up, you realize and accept the danger and temptation present in the world around you.  You realize that you are way too stupid to mentally iterate all the possible experiences that could happen to you.  Just sitting here i briefly daydreamed a situation involving ecstasy, an adorably nerdy sorority, and my car engine overheating, that nearly broke me -- and i wasn't even trying that hard (pun intended).   By recognizing the potential for unfathomable temptation, you begin to protect yourself from its impending arrival.  You temper the metal of your moral fiber in the fires of plausible scenarios.  Just like the coast guard motto, "Semper Paratus" (Always Prepared) -- the best protection against doing something you would regret is to have already thought of how you want (or should) to react, were the situation to arise (buy lollypops and then call triple AAA immediately and get towed the hell away from there).

*Begin Tangent*  Let me take a second here to provide a brief public service announcement.  For those of you who have never cheated on someone you really care about, congrats.  This tangent is for you. The rest of us already know this stuff.

When you are with the person who is not your significant other, you feel a number of different adrenaline rushes.  This hot girl wants you.  Adrenaline rush.  You are a "pimp".  Adrenaline rush.  How does she kiss?  What does she look like naked?  How hot is this!?! Rush rush rush.  Your body, physiologically speaking, maintains maximum "aliveness" for all of those moments leading up to the moment where your lips touch, and all those questions find their answers.

What you don't know, you wonderful pristine unicorn of a person, is that the noxious stench of betrayal doesn't wait until morning to begin nauseating you with your own behavior.  It begins that night, post-coitus, as you are still lying next to this invader who has now been *ahem* inserted into your life.  Her prolonged proximity reinforcing the wrongness of what just transpired.  But you're not a dick.  You can't kick her out right now.  Even with the regret already rising (along with the stomach acid moving into your throat), there is no way to gently push her out the door at this point.  And so you lay there.  The mystery dissolved in the curves of her body, you are left alone upon the shore with your thoughts and your misery.  And you get to see every hour pass.  Sleep doesn't even stop by to visit tonight, the guilt and regret and disgust and sadness and loss all mixes together into a 5 hour energy drink that is sure to leave you groggy.

And this is all before the next morning.  You know, "the next morning."  The time traditionally used to denote how you awake from your slumber to the realization of what you've done.  It doesn't happen like that folks (unless you full on pass out from alcohol, which is different than sleeping).  Morning is simply the earliest you can semi-appropriately get the woman you just slept with (or whatever you did) out of the apartment. Uncoincidentally, this is also the exact moment when you stop thinking about how awful this whole scenario is for you and begin to thing about how horrible it is for your partner and your relationship.  And that realization is such next level shittiness that it feels like the entire nightmarish process has begun anew, when really it started the very moment you came.

In short, this tangent is meant as a "FYI: Cheating" manual to those of you (even the one's who have cheated and forgotten about it) who begin that mental exercise where you picture what it would be like to just have 30 mins with that girl from the bagel shop.  I'm hear to tell you it's all a mirage that ends up with your mouth full of sand and cream cheese.  *End Tangent*

Inevitably, the majority of people will end up believing in their infallibility.  Whether it be because of their fancy management jobs, their deep abiding love for their spouses, or the simple human drive to believe that we are invulnerable while the others around us are not. They will stand firm on their moral high ground.  Unwavering.  Unwavering that is until that night at the bar when you and your friends ran into that gaggle of hotties.  It was all drinks and giggles and good natured fun.  So you were just going with the flow when that redhead nuzzled into your neck and started nibbling.   And later. when the after-party poured over into your boy Todd's house . . .  you weren't thinking . . . you . . . you . . .

I think you get me.  Our hubris leaves us unprotected.  Our need to believe we are good impairs our ability to lay the groundwork necessary to be that good person.  (Isn't that ironic? Don't yah think? -Alanis).

I'm not saying you have to go around telling people you *might* cheat on your wife, just to be sure you never do (I actually, strongly discourage this particular course of action).  I am saying that when you accept the limitations of your humanity, which include a partial to complete lack of control over the world around you, you more effectively ready yourself for a reality which is bound to contain unknown trials and tribulations -- the shape and size of which are impossible to predict ahead of time.   Think of it as a mental condom that protects you from your own potential stupidity while simultaneously defending the sanctity of your relationship.

Yah, you know, like a mental condom.


  1. This is a great post! (I'm also glad that it is not too much of a personal reference.)

  2. Thanks Levi. Never fear, marriage is clear.

  3. I particularly liked the part where you describe when "regret" kicks in. The reality is never as good as the fantasy, and the guilt is something that never fully goes away unless you are some kind of sick jerk who has learned to ignore it. I might refer a few friends of mine to this post for a little clarity.