The “I” Word

Infidelity is a dirty word for a lot of romance readers. And not the good kind of dirty. The bad kind. Researching potential reviewers for my erotic romance novel, Please, a surprising number of reviewers flatly stated, “No cheating”, in the same way you might say, “No necrophilia” or “No bestiality”. Graphic descriptions of sexual acts with vegetables and other inanimate objects, A-okay, fucking someone you’re not committed to, nuh-uh. What’s that about?

I, on the other hand, am fascinated by infidelity. Sexual attraction is as natural as being human. And we all know that no matter what the fairy-tale says, it doesn’t stop when we find our One and Only. Human beings are, in essence, animals, programmed with the same biological urge to procreate that every single life form on the planet is. Our primal self tells us “More sex! With more people”. But over the millennia, we have found that while more sex with more people makes babies aplenty, it doesn’t always ensure the survival of those babies. And so we’ve developed this idea of fidelity, these rules that we play by to make sure that even if everyone’s not happy, most of us are. So we follow the rules. Except for when we don’t.

What I want to know is, what makes us break the rules?

Infidelity is a topic that I explore from a lot of different angles in Please. First, there’s the question of Elizabeth’s fidelity to her husband. Her marriage may not be perfect, and she is definitely tempted by the attention of the charming and seductive Sebastian, but what does it take to make her cross that line?

And then there’s Sebastian. He has an entirely different idea of fidelity. Even after he declares his love for Elizabeth, he continues to feed his sexual appetite from the buffet. He doesn’t ask her to be sexually faithful to him, either. In fact, he’s turned on when she isn’t. Yet, he believes he loves only her. Do we believe him?

And then there’s Elizabeth’s husband, Steve, who shtups his co-worker in a moment of weakness after months of sexual rejection from his wife. Was his affair justified? Is cheating ever somebody else’s fault?

Some other questions:

Is any relationship immune to infidelity?

Is it possible to be sexually promiscuous yet emotionally faithful?

Can a relationship that starts with cheating end Happily Ever After?

More questions than answers, I’m afraid, but I’d love to hear your thoughts!

8 thoughts on “The “I” Word

  1. I think this whole post is disrespectful to those who have had the pain of infidelity thrust upon them. I would suggest before you get into some kind of theory you read some real stories. Most of us weren’t in sexless marriages, most men don’t have to be unhappily married to cheat, and it has zero excuse in evolution or culture, it is quite simply a form of emotional abuse to your spouse. Try answering your questions after replacing infidelity with domestic violence and see how sick they sound.

    • Respectfully, I think that’s like saying replace “infidelity” with “torture”. They are completely different issues. I am absolutely NOT condoning infidelity. It is just a psychological question that interests me. I have been cheated upon and know what it feels like. I also know that each time I was cheated upon, I had a different reaction to it, depending on where I was in my life and how I felt about that partner. I, personally, have never cheated but I an curious about what pushes people to cheat, how people rationalize their behavior and if anything good can ever come out of it. Sorry if my post offended you.

  2. Hi,
    Your first paragraph made me smile.
    As for the questions you ask, I don’t think there is an answer for each one. It really depends on the couple and how they live their sexuality. I know a couple that actively cheats on each other but they both know it and it’s part of their relationship. And they’ve been together for years. That’s not something for me, but it can be liberating for some couples it seems.
    I’d like to give my opinion on your third question, though. It’s only my opinion though. I think, if a relationship starts by cheating, there would be close to no chance for it to work. For me that is. One of the questions I would constantly ask myself is, “If he cheated with me on someone, what keeps him from cheating on me the same way?” So for me the answer is quite obvious, no, the HEA is hardly possible.
    But again, I know people who started their relationship just like that, and who are happily married to this day. Are they faithful to one another? I have no idea. But their relationship has and still works.

    I don’t know if you’ve read those books but the Thoughtless Serie by S. C. Stephens is all about the topic of cheating and then building a relationship from there. I only read the first book (that I loved) but not the others yet. I really recommend it if cheating is a subjects that interests you.

    • Wow. You’ve given me even more questions to think about. Like, is fidelity essential for a healthy relationship? And what exactly does healthy mean? I’m also curious about different attitudes toward fidelity based on culture, class and gender, and how our attitudes toward it have changed over time (Nathaniel Hawethorne’s Scarlet Letter was chilling!) but have always been more forgiving toward men. I will definitely check out the Thoughtless series. Thanks for your recommendation and comments.

      • It was my pleasure 🙂
        Those are very interesting questions. I don’t condone cheating and I’ve never cheated or been cheated on so far but I have friends that have experienced both. Talking with them about it was very interesting and often enlightening 🙂

  3. Why are you apologizing for this post? Free speech: “Freedom of speech is the political right to communicate one’s opinions and ideas using one’s body and property to anyone who is willing to receive them.”
    Defend, discuss, but don’t apologize. Somebody will always be offended. Not your problem.

    There wasn’t really a reason I started my affairs other than the opportunity was/is there. They wanted me, pursued me. I happen to find both of them extremely hot, so why not. My husband is a nice guy, he does nothing wrong, but he drinks. A lot. Doesn’t really put me in the mood for sex to be honest.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Not apologizing for the post, only for offending. I’m Canadian, so apologizing is practically involuntary. Your comments reflect exactly what I was trying to get at with my post. That cheating is a murky subject. That there are so many different reasons for it and ways of thinking about it. Yet a lot of people (and interestingly, a disproportionate number of romance junkies) see it as black-and-white wrong. I, personally, can’t judge, only explore through my writing and reading and discussions, and ponder.

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