When I post these, I generally pull a quote from the essay for the title, and when I asked a friend what he thought of the one above, he said, "I think it sounds delusional." Meaning, any and all infidelity did indeed make one a jerk. Period.
But...what if your spouse was...oh, in a coma or something for a long time and mentally and physically unavailable? Or what if they had no interest in fucking you--and in fact, would not fuck you--for 23 years? Or what if they were a loving spouse, a terrific parent and all that, but just didn't really get sex? Can you create chemistry where none lives? Is it wrong to yearn for the kind of passionate fuckery that makes your whole body hum? Is it all wrong, or is there some sort of continuum of wrongness with some points being...not so wrong.
I am more in the gray area on the subject, but maybe that's because I'm reading Dan Savage's latest book, American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics, particularly the chapter, "It's Never Okay to Cheat (Except When It Is)." In it, Savage argues that we are "monogamish." "I believe we should place a higher value on marital stability than we place on marital monogamy," he writes. That is, tossing out a largely working, good marriage over an infidelity is not always the only and best choice. We pair bond, mostly. And maybe we should figure out a way to work with that. Savage writes "as a society we have a responsibility to adjust people's expectation about marriage."
Tell me where you are on this lately. Not necessarily on Lucia's situation, but the issue in general. If your spouse cheated, would you toss them to the curb? Does infidelity automatically make you a jerk? Is it, indeed, all wrong?
Anyway, here's Lucia:
It sounds funny to say but I don't really remember exactly how we met. I know one of us posted to Craigslist, but I don't remember which of us or whether it was in Strictly Platonic or what... I think it must have been because I knew from the get-go that not only was he married and 20+ years older than I was, but that he was also... not attractive to me. I had like, zero draw to him in "that way." But he was smarter than pretty much everyone else I knew, was incredibly interesting, and always picked up the check at lunch.
For years it went on, meeting for lunch, talking about life. He never, ever did anything inappropriate. Occasionally there would be some innuendo, but it was never overdone. I got engaged and moved away; his goodbye kiss had more oomph than I was expecting and I flipped out a little. In retrospect that wasn't fair of me to do... he'd just lingered a little more than I'd wanted. But, I was moving 1500 miles away and it was hard to say goodbye and maybe being mad made it easier. I left him behind and we didn't talk for two years.
By the time I came back, my life had changed: I was still married, but it wasn't a happy marriage, and my husband was living in a different country. I found myself thinking about my friend and missing him, which I hadn't in the years I'd been away. I reached out with an e-mail, and he responded within minutes. It wasn't even awkward: when I saw him, I gave him a big hug and we just stood there for a long time, with the hostess waiting to seat us, probably tapping her foot the whole time.
It wasn't awkward but it was different. I didn't realize it at first, but it was there: we were looking at each other differently. My 20s were over, I was much more comfortable in myself, and I saw him differently too: he wasn't just an amusing way to pass two hours over lunch. I found myself thinking about him and about what it would be like to touch each other. I was pretty sure it wouldn't go very far, he'd been faithful to his wife their entire marriage (despite opportunities) and they'd been married since I was 12--but I was curious what would happen if I hit on him. So... I sent him a suggestive e-mail, and he responded with a hard-core explicit one. And we talked like that, via e-mail, about stuff we'd never talked about through all the years that had passed. And then... I invited him over.
I think we were both shaking when we laid down together. This was the only time we'd ever really been awkward around each other, ever. And when he kissed me, that line got crossed. We both knew that but it felt so good, and it'd been well-considered and accepted. I asked him to go slow, and he did, and we just kissed and petted for a few weeks. I don't know how long that would have gone on, probably a long time. But then something happened, and I got hurt. And it was him that I called, he came and got me and took me home from the hospital. And something switched in me, and all the awkwardness was gone, and I wrapped myself around him that night.
That was two years ago. Our friendship remains--we rely on each other for advice and honesty, levity and Words With Friends and of course, wonderful, amazing sex like neither of us has had before. We both work in fields where we can help each other personally with our professional knowledge and resources; we go to endless movies when we can. We're working through Sons of Anarchy. We send each other e-mail "status updates" frequently. But there are places we don't go: I know he is in love with his wife; that doesn't bother me. Because he loves her, she is just a topic we don't really discuss, except in passing--he feels that it would be an intrusive violation of her privacy to discuss her (I agree). I even saw her once, at a distance, at an event we were all attending--and I didn't really have a response, it just... was. Their relationship is a lifelong commitment upon which a family and an entire life has been built. My role is different--I'm an escape from that, a chance to do something that is only for him, that doesn't benefit them in any way... just his. And as far as I can tell, I'm the only thing he does for himself. I make it my goal to appreciate him for who he is, to be a joy to him the way he is for me: again, something just for him, not his wife or kids or coworkers, just him.
And for me? Well, the sex is truly amazing (yeah he's not the hottest guy ever, but it turns out those 20+ years of additional experience count for something!) not the least of which because he is so turned into me that I don't ever have to ask for anything, he just knows to do it. But also, I'm single now (marriage ended in there somewhere, for reasons unrelated) and I don't want to be in a full relationship yet. He gives me the perfect middle ground: a strong, long-term friendship, someone to talk to but with all the space I need for me. Obviously this is not a long-term thing, eventually I will want more from a guy, but for now, I don't.
We made an agreement that when it came time to end things, either one of us could do it without drama. Neither of us are dramatic people, so though I am sure one of us will feel a little stingy for a while, we'll get over it. Unless something catastrophic happens (read: wife) I think we'll find our way to another type of relationship, without the whole sex component. I know this is a dangerous game, and I don't take it lightly--but I am so grateful for him, and he for me. He is truly my friend, and proof that not all infidelity automatically makes you a jerk. If this guy is a jerk, there are no nice people out there.
There you have it. If you want to share your real sex story--be brave and go deep!--send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
*The name True Wife's Tales has become too limiting for these real life sex story things. You're smart and clever--what should we start calling them now?
(photo: Lady Cheeky)