Sunday, March 23, 2008

fidelity

This has never been my strongest subject and I approach it now with caution. In a comment on my last post, Heather raised the issue of cheating and I figured I'd tackle it. I don't have much else to report on these days (except a nice round of topping Mera last night, which is a rare and awesome treat).

I don't have the greatest track record when it comes to fidelity and I have often proclaimed that monogamy isn't something we should bother with, as a species, anyway. I don't know what happened to my scorpio loyalty, I guess it manifests in different ways. I have cheated (in often very small, yet very still-cheating, sort of ways) on many of my girlfriends. It usually runs this course: I get together with a new girlfriend who I love so much and spend all my time with, I rush into a serious relationship with that girlfriend without thoroughly vetting her, I probably move in with her after about 6 months, all our incompatibilities come streaming to the surface, I go into deep, deep denial for a few months, I don't know what else to do so I end up kissing some woman in a bathroom and my girlfriend breaks up with me.

Sound familiar? I like to think I'm older and wiser now and it's been quite awhile since I've engaged in this behavior, but for a good ten years, this was my m.o. And I don't think I'm the only one ever to struggle with this problem. I think it's more a backbone deficiency than a problem with fidelity. I was too weak to end a relationship that was clearly dead in the water, so I lingered miserably and opened myself up to temptation. I tried a couple of times to avert this tragedy by embracing polyamory, but it never worked. I had an open relationship with my drunk ex-wife, but for some reason I never took advantage of that opportunity to have my cake and eat it too. She did, repeatedly. And I would become insanely jealous and angry. It was a real eye-opener.

Later, after SK and I broke up last summer, I entered a phase of single-polyamory, which basically just meant I was dating a lot of random people and not seriously interested in any of them. As soon as I met Mera, though, all bets were off. Unfortunately, I announced to her on our very first date that I was polyamorous and had cheated on most of my girlfriends. These proclaimations were mostly exaggerated, but tell that to Mera. She believed them completely, as a matter of self-preservation, and she will probably never let me live them down.

She's naturally jealous and possessive -- manifestations of her fear of abandonment and rejection. I can live with all of these because I'm actually pretty jealous and possessive myself and I'm pretty content to cling to Mera and promise eternal fidelity as long as she doesn't leave me. After all, she keeps me pretty happy and we're both allowed to end it all if it stops working for us. I can tolerate her paranoia and her endless questions about every possible opportunity I may or may not have to step out on her, and she's not so crazy that she tries to stop me from doing things, so it works out.

I'll write more about polyamory in another post someday, but let's talk about cheating. Have you done it? Has your partner? Have you ever been "the other woman?" Here are two polls to start the conversation, but please feel free to comment with stories, I love to read what you have to say.



9 comments:

not drowning waving said...

... reminds me of a time (20 years ago) where I was a happy 'third' in a relationship.

I was really happy as the third.

Mostly I kept it a secret, but eventually I told a very close friend - because it had been going on for months, almost a year, and had begun to feel just 'normal' (which it was, since i also saw other people and had relationships of my own at the same time).

The friend then got to see me together with the person I was most involved with in the couple, and saw our chemistry, our care, our love etc and said "why aren't you two together? you should be together!"... felt nice, supportive, just nice... but then some weeks later this same friend bumped into my 'lover' with partner at a rally, and seeing their togetherness returned to me with a completely different reaction "how can you do that? how can you be part of a cheating relationship? they are so close, so good together, how can you jeopardize their 3+ years??"

i think my point is, that Mera knows early on a tendency of yours.... well.... in a way it keeps it present, keeps you present in it, gives her the opportunity to project onto you things about herself that might be around (ha!) and also she went on to choose to be with you in the knowledge of an adventurous and urgent spirit that is part of your/our natures.....

... i sometimes wonder, as i grow older, body changes, energy shifts, who that person was who could juggle affairs, relationships, short or long term partners/lovers, who was that person who could move between hearts and people and intimacy?

she seems so far away, long ago... and i love her fiercely and have a big grin on my face writing about her!
great blog RPP.
keep them coming...

heather said...

whatever your motivation, i think it's good you raised these issues with mera from the get-go. that way, if things change later (and hopefully they won't, you'll be in connubialesque bliss forever), at least you'll have had that conversation. i, too, am impressed with your candor and observation here. nice work!

mcCutcheon said...

re polyamory: I seem to be fascinated by the concept of polyamory. I have never officially tried it, probably for fear that I'd end up being the one person that couldn't handle it. But I definitely am inclined to believe that one can be in love with more than one person at the same time.

re cheating: Finn and I have this (hitherto purely theoretical) deal, that we won't cheat on each other. if something (someone) comes up, we'll talk about it and deal with it accordingly. so if we meet someone we want to fuck we just tell the other one who can then decide if she'd be fine with that or not. It hasn't really come up yet. So far I've only had some minor lustings that I didn't even want to pursue. I told Finn about them anyway, because, well.. she's the person I want to talk to about almost everything :)

I'm generally a kiss and tell person. In one of my prior relationships I fooled around with some really close friends of mine (2 girls, 1 guy) and told my ex-bf about it the next day (which then led to more fooling around. hehe, well done, all part of the bigger plan).
In retrospect it seems there was always always someone else whenever I was in a relationship. Throughout my time with two boyfriends I was always in love with my best friend, but it never led to more than making out (I think she was never more than just a little bi-curious), and when I had my first gf I had a huge crush on a male friend. talk about bisexual stereotypes LOL.

Somehow though I never actually acted on my desires. I mostly kept them in check out of respect for the other person. But at the end of the day I belittled the relationships anyways, because I HAD these feelings for other people even if I didn't act on them.

zuhn said...

Oy.

When rollermilf and I first got together, I had just started a no-strings, bdsm relationship and somehow found myself in this wide poly-network. It was pretty surreal for a serial monogamist such as myself. I also told the milf that I had cheated on every one of my girlfriends. (I'm a monogamist, but never said I was any good at it).

For future reference, this is a bad combination to start a relationship. And like mera, I think rollermilf really took it to heart and I've been trying to remedy that impression ever since.

My one foray into polyamory was an interesting experience but I am much too possessive and jealous to make it work.

For someone who has cheated in every relationship, I also have a very stringent idea of what's cheating. If you take time and energy away from me to pursue someone else even without physical contact, that's cheating in my book. I was cheated on once (in that more traditional, fucking kinda definition) and it nearly broke me, which made me feel pretty horribly about my own past.

Unbalanced said...

Much of your post sounds familiar to me. First let me say, I didn't answer the polls because none of them fit right for me, so I'll answer them here... To me, cheating is doing something with someone you wouldn't do in front of your S/O. As for cheating, firt time I ever cheated it was during my longest relationship and early in the relationship. It was a drunk, one time thing. Later when the relationship was failing I lusted after someone but never let it actually cross the line. In the end though, I guess I wasn't strong enough to leave the relationship based purely on that relaitonship. It took me finding someone else and eventually that led to me coming out of the closet. Sadly I later cheated on her and then on the one I cheated on her with. I'm currently in a new relationship that didn't start as a secret and I hope to have ended that unflattering streak.

Unbalanced said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenny B said...

I loved reading your entry on fidelity. I'm just not sure I believe in sexual fidelity and yet I do believe in long-term committed relationships. For me, I think open (and yet well-defined) relationships are the only way to go.

Best,
Jenny Block
Author of "Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage"

www.jennyonthepage.com

Grumpy Granny said...

I answered the 1st question, but couldn't really answer the 2nd because G. is really the ONLY "girlfriend" I've had, and I would never, EVER cheat on her, but I did cheat on both of my 2 husbands, with men, and quite honestly, never felt that bad about it. If I ever cheated on G., I would feel like cutting my own hand off. That's just how this relationship is. If I ever even felt like I was STARTING to feel anything remotely like attraction to anyone else, I'd have to tell her, and we'd talk about it. Early on in the relationship, we actually discussed the idea of poly, but we have such a different way of looking at things from most people we know, a different spirituality (Shamanism), etc., that finding anyone who could mesh with both of us would probably be impossible. If you're going to "do" poly, you have to be completely honest from the get-go, even to the point of feeling like your skin is off your bones, or it's always going to feel like "cheating". I'm not ready or even wanting to invest that kind of energy, and G. is so amazingly wonderful in so many ways, that to think of even looking at another woman "like that" to me is just silly. At this point (and for years to come, I hope!), there just isn't anyone else...

GG

south carolina girl said...

hmmm...when you have more than one partner it is called polyamory.

when you have one partner it is called monogamy.

when a man has more than one wife, usually against the women's will, it is called polygamy.

why don't we have a word "monamory"? is it just me?

mono=one gamy=woman
mono=one amory=love