I am so sick of Cheating Is Always Wrong types insisting with one breath that sex and sexual exclusivity are hugely important. Even the contemplation of an affair, to say nothing of its consummation, represents an unforgivable betrayal. And then in the very next breath, CIAWers insist that sex is so unimportant, so colossally trivial, that a person should be able to go without -- forever! -- if their mate is unwilling or incapable.
You can't have it both ways, CIAWers. If sex is hugely important, then people can't be faulted for wanting some; if it's unimportant, then it shouldn't be seen as a huge betrayal when some poor f-ckers, under duress, are forced to get their needs met elsewhere.
--Dan Savage, March 27, 2007
So what do you think, folks? Radical or reactionary???
In my virginity: once an asset, now a liability post I've already discussed a bit about the natural conflict in modern marriage that arises from the fact that each spouse has the right to insist on 100% fidelity and also the right to refuse sex with one's partner 100% of the time. On the other hand, I'm sure that many will read Mr. Savage's statement and see that olde-tyme wisdom: "If your husband cheated on you, it's your fault for not satisfying him."
My personal take is that his position is pretty reasonable. If you follow his column, his GGG (good, giving, and game) strategy basically boils down to a consistent philosophy of making a sincere good faith effort to accommodate your partner's needs and constraints. His radical idea seems to be that when one partner refuses sex (or wants it to be more vanilla) then that person isn't always the angel and the one that wants more sex or wants to indulge a harmless-yet-eccentric fantasy isn't always the demon.
I think if a difference in libido or fantasies is the only major problem in a relationship, then good communication and good faith effort to be as considerate and accommodating as possible will generally solve it. But sometimes the problems are more serious in a relationship where there are still good reasons not to give up completely.
Dan Savage says:
But here's a pro that's rarely acknowledged: Sometimes cheating can save a long-term relationship. Sometimes only cheating makes it possible for a sexually rejected partner to stay in a relationship that's worth preserving for other good, valid reasons -- like kids, for instance. And sometimes only cheating makes it possible for a person whose partner has a chronic, debilitating illness to stay put and stay sane. In these cases, cheating isn't just the right thing to do; it's the decent and honorable thing to do.
So is Dan right? Is cheating ever "the decent and honorable thing to do"?
With his example of a couple with small kids where one partner has cut off sexual contact completely: Is it more selfish to divorce over it? Or to cheat? Or are both choices selfish beyond the pale? What about in his "chronic, debilitating illness" example?