Is There a Point to Cheating?: Being Sex Positive and Against Infidelity

by: Bobby Crowley

So, I was thinking about the word “slut” this week. I was thinking about the word “slut” and it sparked some mental churning. I began to think about how it’s been used in my presence or towards my person. This, then, took me on a magical journey of memories and philosophies that I hold inside my grey neighbor upstairs. I began to ponder the world’s dilemmas and accomplishments associated with the word “slut.”  This simple four letter word had a major impact on me.

You see, I always marveled at the glory that is the word “slut.” I love it. I love people who embody it. I am proud to see this word in an entirely positive light. What’s wrong with a good ol’ slut? It just so happens that I am not in the habit of slut-shaming. I happen to be sex-positive;  to think sex is great, and people who have it are great, just as great as those who don’t. Sex is not something that should evoke shame. I know this. In fact, recently, I’ve looked around and started to feel like our society is starting to learn it, too. Sex is everywhere: we sell it, buy it, live it. Why shouldn’t we?

However, there is one hangup I have about how we have sex. There is one plot line that riddles televisions and movie screens that I feel we could do without advertising. I began to wonder. With all of the sex in the world and all of the possible encounters, why do we romanticize infidelity?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some judgmental bitch who hates every person who has ever cheated. I couldn’t. There are too many to hate. However, my (what some would call loose) morals entertain a lot of circumstances and actions. Yet, I can’t back up cheating. Sure, I have my reasons, but it isn’t just some personal vendetta. I truly believe that we, as a society, are evolved enough to see that cheating is entirely unnecessary.

In a world that is slowly, but surely becoming more accepting of polyamorous relationships, friends with benefits, one night stands, and open marriages, I ask you, what’s the point of cheating? I mean, practically everything on that list is a movie title. I don’t care if you hook up with a different person every night. I don’t care if you hook up with a bunch of different people in one night. Truthfully, I probably don’t hold much concern about your sex life at all, but I’m trying to make a point.

What is the point of cheating? Cheating isn’t cool. Cheating isn’t cute. Cheating is a form of betrayal, a lie you tell someone you’re supposed to love… or at least like a little bit. To me, cheating never really seems like the answer, not when there are so many other possibilities and escapes. But how would we know better when shows like Torchwood (don’t hate me, I love you) and movies like The Notebook depict such romantic and sexy yet adulterous relationships?

Granted, The Notebook has all of the issues of the 1940s to back up the twisted love story, but Torchwood (like many other movies and television shows) can not say the same. I love Torchwood. I love the fluid sexuality of the people of Torchwood. I love just about everything about Torchwood. However, when Owen and Gwen started have sex behind her boyfriend’s back, as turned on as it made me, I wanted to turn it off. There was no reason, no undying love, no breakup. There was just some hot sex. Usually I don’t put the word “just” anywhere before “hot sex,” but that’s all it was. As quickly as it started, it ended without a hint of remorse or dilemma, like it could have never happened in the first place. So why did it?

I know I’m digging into Torchwood right now, but I just needed an example, and I just watched that season again. The point remains, we don’t need to cheat to have hot sex. We don’t need to cheat, period. Why do we not see cheating for what it truly is? Why do we have this obsession with being in relationships in the first place, if all we really want is sex? Go ahead, have sex, have it all over the place! But, do you need to break someone’s heart to do it? That seems unfair.

I do believe we are too evolved to romanticize cheating. In fact, recent “news” reports tell me just that.  I’ve been seeing a lot about Kristen; there has been a lot of talk about the negative publicity she’s been getting and how it’s sad that such hostile slut-shaming is still so prominent. However, I have my own theory. The world isn’t shaming Stewart for having sex with her director, they are shaming her for cheating on Robert fucking Pattinson. In fact, they are shaming her for playing a part in the dysfunctioning (it’s a word, now) of her director’s family. Granted, he didn’t get as much publicity. But, don’t you think that’s because he didn’t break the heart of what many thirteen year old girls, including myself, would call the dreamiest sparkle monster alive?

There is a difference between being a slut and being a cheater. One is not necessarily the other. I find this difference to be alarmingly important to make distinct. I would never shame someone for being a slut. Well, I don’t think I would necessarily “shame” someone for just about anything, but you get my point. Having sex isn’t a crime and it doesn’t hurt anybody… unless it does. If you are legally allowed to have sex as much as possible with anyone of consenting age and willing mind, what more do you want? You could have an orgy, you could have an open relationship, you could just have an endless string of one night stands. Why commit to someone and then break their heart to get something you could have had before all of that?

If you didn’t read all of that because it was so goddamn long, and you, instead, scrolled to the bottom, welcome. For you and the rest I might have lost on the way, I’ll sum it up. Sluts are good. Cheating is not. Torchwood is good. Ryan Gosling is my patronus. These are all, of course, totally my opinion. Except for the Ryan Gosling thing, that’s real. I just thought it should be said.

Bobby Crowley is a Queer woman with a love for all that is fabulous. She is currently working on her Creative Writing degree at Loyola University where she is also on the board of Advocate and a writer for the alt. magazine LUChameleon. She is in love with Andrea Gibson, her labradaniel puppies, and singing loudly in the shower.

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9 responses to “Is There a Point to Cheating?: Being Sex Positive and Against Infidelity

  1. I wonder what you would say to a person that has many open relationships, who’s partners know about each other, enjoy it anyway, and live there life normally. Cheating is just another way for humanity to say, “Hey, your mine, I own you, nobody else” When you put yourself in a relationship, you are, in a sense, becoming an object. If you simply break down these barriers of cheating, jealousy, and need, well then you will become a better person. After years of being in several open relationships, well, I can say it is much better then being with one single person. There are so many people out there to experience life with, why settle for one?

  2. I can see your point, and can agree with most of it. Cheating is the malicious act of having sex with someone else and malicious in the ways of lying and mistrust.

    My biggest stop to this is that I think it hurts the intimacy of a relationship, of course I am lacking on “field testing”. How does an Open relationship affect intimacy (not physical sex, but emotional intimacy)? Help me understand this, please.

    • You can really grow closer to two people then one. all the sharing and love that is brought between three people is so much deeper then it is two. human beings are pack animals. We thrive together. Why shouldn’t this be the same in a relationship? for years and years it has been the same all over, just one person with one person. but why do what society thinks is normal? what is normal? who knows. My opinion is that we should always strive to break the barrier that society has put around people. Be free.

      A not on your question about emotional intimacy: I really do think in order for an open relationship to work, you should be close to your primary (if you have a primary [aka main lover/bf/gf]) or too the people you started the realtionship with. an open relationships means trust. LOTS AND LOTS of trust. You cannot succeed without it. Trust, and honesty, and communication, having brought you closer then is normal in a usual realtionship means a deeper intimacy.

  3. I make it a point to encourage polyamorous relationships and open relationships in the 5th paragraph BECAUSE I think it is a wonderfully evolved approach to relationships and relations in general. I believe if one is AWARE of the openness of their relationship and it SERVES all involved, there is absolutely nothing wrong there. It is the lying and betrayal that I don’t quite agree with. If there is honesty, who cares who you sleep with? (my opinion)

  4. There are plenty of illustrated examples I could provide here of what could drive a person to cheating, but I agree, it’s never an answer. Polyamory isn’t either, however, nor are open or swinging relationships – those work for some people, but very rarely work as solutions for a previously monogamous couple experiencing issues with said monogamy. It’s not just an issue of sex and sexual acts – infidelity frequently seems to stem from a lack of emotional intimacy, and/or a lack of respect, and/or a lack of self worth. To frame the entirety of cheating as a physical issue alone misses a large, if not the primary reason of why it happens.

    I’ve got no source to back me up on this, just a lot of time spent reading, but from what I’ve gathered couples experience infidelity usually because one partner feels like they are not receiving something essential from their significant other, and are unable or unwilling to communicate that need, or resolve it. The issue here isn’t that cheating has become this glorified out to a relationship, or a way of “having your cake and eating it too” (not to say it doesn’t happen because of those reasons on occasion); the issue is that a large majority of our population, for whatever societal reasons, have not been endowed with the tools to maintain a healthy, communicative, functioning relationship.

    I think you would be very hard pressed to find anyone who backs up cheating, really. Sure, it’s a plot line in every drama, but is this because it’s something we glorify or a theme that a lot of people can relate to? I can’t imagine what actual statistics would show, but I’m sure nearly everyone has experienced a side of infidelity to some degree – whether by being involved in the cheating or being cheated on. Adultery is present in our media because it is present in our lives, not the other way around, and it shows up glamorized because nearly everything in our consumer media is exaggerated and glittered.

    • going from a mono relationship to a poly is not always best. Sometimes it works out. sometimes it doesn’t. Its not for alot of people that have there mind stuck with society. obviously religious and moral beliefs come into play for alot of people, but I, being a nonbeliever of anything, find that religion, and sometimes morals, can hold people back from something great that can happen

  5. Well said. Personally I think that parents simply being more open and positive about sexuality would go a long way toward reducing tendencies toward destructive sexual behavior by eliminating the association of sex with shame and secrecy.

  6. As someone who has made the transition from monogamy to open marriage I’ve thought a lot about the issues brought up by this article and the comments above.

    We had been married for 13 years when we decided to open up our marriage to others. No one was cheating, but my wife was getting hit on a lot. Her libido was in overdrive and maybe these guys could sense that. I set the stage by telling her all the time that she needed to get a boyfriend because she was so horny all the time. Her Spanish tutor was really coming on to her and she felt like it had reached the point that she needed to tell me about it, they had kissed. She felt that that had crossed the line of our monogamous arrangement. This started a long intense and very satisfying conversation that led to us opening up our marriage. Ten years down the line it is working out very very well for us.

    Enough background. Here’s my point. Cheating is a violation of trust. It’s dishonest and it strikes to the core of a relationships foundation. I think it would be very difficult for a relationship that has been violated in the way to successfully transition to open. You need a lot of trust to be open. We know many people who have gone to open after years of monogamy and are very happy, but none went through cheating to our knowledge.

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