Online Personals Watch reports that the website AshleyMadison.com has been given a $50 million Hedge Fund investment. This makes it sound like cheating pays. Intrigued, I headed over to see what this money-making cheaters site is all about. It appears women sign up for free, as a lure for guys, and you don't have to be married to be a member. They also apparently give you your money back if you have no luck within six months. (Not sure how they can prove that one). Don't hurry over, though: I was spammed with email, even without signing up.
So infidelity is a business, and a discrete one still. People pay to have sex with someone they don't know, or else find a regular screwing buddy. Cheating, or the more elegant term, "having an affair", has been in vogue since humans were cave dwellers. Who is not intrigued by the promise of encounters without strings, daring to get caught, or a bedroom romp with someone new? Before we got mired in the confines of puritanical rules of conduct, it was de riguer for men and women to have affairs. High society and the poor alike were not ones to buy into morals. And, full disclosure here — I think that as consenting adults, we should follow what is authentic to our personal code so I am not here to count partners.
Personally, I have always been a one-man-at-a time woman, with no interest in a taken man. If I was completely at ease with my sexual nature, like the goddesses who roamed in pagan times, I might just couple with whomever I chose whenever nature called. I never cheated on my ex-husband in all the years we were together, and rarely fantasized about how it would be to have sexual intercourse with someone else. So I have little personal knowledge of cheating — but I have seen my clients struggle with the fascination of "mattering" to someone, often outside the marital bed, at whatever the cost.
Men and women will always have affairs. Relationships forged outside the confines of convetional institutions like marriage are often an escape. Fantasies gives us fuel, and society encourages cheating by playing up the cache inherent in our animal roots. Yet, having an affair is an excuse to hide in plain sight. As long as you cheat you are not required to love wholly, or commit to the challenge of being enough. Too often, the phrase "my partner made me cheat" is used. Pardon my disbelief, but what a crock.
What else has us scorning vows? The possibility of scoring better in the next encounter? Or perhaps it's because many of us are reluctant to ask for what we really want in our relationships. When the going gets tough, the weaker link finds solace in sex with someone new or from their past. It is exhilirating for some to imagine screwing a stranger in a hotel room and walking out. That secret keeps a smile on their faces all day, until they get home to their real lives — which they are running from. Maybe the cheater has no interest in becoming the person one needs to be in a lasting relationship. Fighting constantly about money, taking out the garbage, or how to raise the kids can be a serious turn off that could have you longing to run away at least temporarily into warm, willing arms. Acing that test is a challenge I could not rise to in my own marriage. But instead of running to a lover, I escaped real life by burying my head and heart in romance novels, in which god-like men roamed with tender hearts.
Infidelity in any form is a sign of immaturity and insecurity. God knows I suffered from both. The reason people cheat on school tests — they want to pass — is also the reason they escape in noncomittal sex. It's a lot more fun than studying. How you show up to take the test is your choice; are you totally prepared for all possibilites, or do you want to take the easy way out? A teacher can hand you the material and give instruction, but still there is nagging homework, and possible, embarassing failure. Partnership demands vulnerability, and that's scary for some. An affair has a "Peter Pan" quality about it; all pretense all the time. Meeting Tinkerbell under the bush is much more sexy than growing up. The only thing you take home after the wild romp is the scent of secret, and the knowledge that the person you are really cheating on... is yourself.
To deepen the love connection with your partner, be willing to show up and grow up. Honesty is not the most comfortable of poses, but it is worth it. Practice being the love you want in your life. Try seeing your partner as a wonderful provider, and dig up some genuine gratitude and grace. Don't fake "you" — set your boundaries, find your value and use your voice to derail drawing a cheating heart. As witnessed by Ashley Madison, affairs might be money makers, but liars make true connection impossible.
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