I Found Out We Weren't Exclusive...
No, this is NOT about my current relationship...at least I don't think so. I have NOT found out that we aren't exclusive...
This IS about a conversation I had at dinner with some girlfriends last night...one of them was speaking of a friend of hers and how she found out that her man was stepping out on her. She didn’t call it cheating...she said, “That is when she found out they were not exclusive...”
I laughed. I wrote it down...
I mean that is funny.
What a way to word it...
We have so many ways to say the word infidelity. We have so many ways to describe one person’s lack of loyalty to another. And in today’s world we have so many variations of the intention. You can physically cheat, emotionally cheat, you can sext, you can carry on an intimacy (non- sexual in nature) with another person.
In today’s world there are open relationships, lots of people practicing non-monogamous relationships with and without their partners’ knowledge. Why is it so hard for us to be faithful to one person in today’s world?
I think the short answer is that we are living longer than we ever have before and forever is, well, more like forever than it was before. If you committed in the 1800s, forever might be for like 20 years and that was your lifetime. Today we are living well into our 90s. Forever just got a lot longer...
Also, back in the day, your spouse was not your everything. It wasn’t expected that you loved each other passionately, told them everything and had a spouse as a best friend. Mostly marriage and commitment were for preserving wealth and raising children. Love was often not part of that equation.
Today we all have expectations...
We all have lists, be they written or just in our heads. We have ideas about how they should look, what they should do, where they live, what kind of cars they drive, if they have kids, if they want more or any. How we get along. The list is quite endless and the saddest part is that we are all really searching for the same person - someone who makes us laugh, turns us on and has our back. And then when we find this person, or a close approximation, we settle down and then think we are set for life.
I think the real reason infidelity is so rampant is because we treat relationship like they are static. Like we are static, unchangeable beings. We are not. None of us. All of us evolve, or devolve. All the time. Most of us do both, often. And without a lot of communication and effort, and a great deal of honesty, first with ourselves then with our partners, no relationship really stands a chance. And for the most part, I think humanity goes around lying, first to themselves, then to everyone else.
So I will say that I believe this lack of exclusivity in relationships that have defined fidelity as being integral to their relationship’s survival is because we all have been lying to ourselves.
We want to have one person, but we don’t want to stop having sex with others.
We want commitment and security, but we marry or commit to someone who really doesn’t want that or isn't really capable of that.
We agree to be exclusive with someone because that is what they want, but not really what we want.
We are afraid that not committing is going to leave us out there roaming the earth in search of love forever, so we lock in and down a person who “will do” instead of holding out for that person that lights us up, turns us on and makes us feel safe at the same time.
Some of us lock it all down simply because it is time and we do not want to be left out of the generational partnering that is going on.
Whatever the reason, even if our reasons are honest, it is a hard thing to have those reasons stand up to the test of time, most especially 70 years of time.
People still do it. My parents have been married for 55 years. I do not believe that anyone has cheated. I do not know this for an absolute fact. But I am pretty sure. Neither of my parents resembles the person they were when they got married. Like at all. But somehow they have weathered time and have managed to stay together likely during periods when one or both of them kinda wished that they had married someone else, or not married at all.
I suppose many people stayed married due to fear. Fear of what life would be like on their own. How would they make it financially, how would they survive without their kids all the time? These are realities of divorce and singledom...you have to be willing to go it on your own and it is never, ever easy.
But heading back to my topic du jour, fidelity is something that is changing. But I am not so sure that our needs in this regard are likewise changing...everyone I know seems to need, on a fundamental level, someone to love them exclusively. Forsaking all others, and committing to them only. Men and women alike seem to all be searching for this one relationship where they can settle down, trust, feel safe, loved and secure all while being passionately sexed up. And the price of that is being willing to forego a turn screwing all others.
Some of us make the commitment, only to find out later that there is someone else that makes us feel safer, hotter, better. And so it easy to make the trade. We think we are trading up when all we are really doing is making a new choice that has its own issues and problems and pitfalls. There is no relational panacea. No matter if it is friendship, love, sex or some combination thereof, nothing stays the same, needs change, wants change, feelings change. And most problematically, sex changes.The best I think we can hope for is some gut level honesty with ourselves about all of the above then maybe we might have a chance at being faithful.
I believe that fidelity really has nothing to do with the other person. So long as we define fidelity in relation to another person, we are always going to make room for infidelity. I believe that fidelity is to oneself. One’s book of law, one's code of conduct. And cheating is either on the table or off. If we clear this up within ourselves, it matters not when that really hot person walks into your life. You know what you are going to do and not do, how you are going to handle it because you know who the fuck you are and you are congruent with those beliefs.
And to me, the best, most honest thing you can do, even if it makes you look bad, is to own that you with everyone you know. If you are a flight risk, own that. If you are a philandering scoundrel, own that too. If you are loyal as the day is long, own it. This is the only way that I see that we create a reality that is somewhat impervious to the perils of infidelity.
In the end, people cheat. All the time. Sometimes it is situational...usually with too much to drink as part and parcel to the cheating event. Most of the time though, I think cheating is about who we wish we were. This idea that in a different relationship we would be better. More loved. More secure. More desired. More what-the-fuck-ever that we think we are lacking in who we are in our current relationship.
It takes a lot of work to come to know yourself. And even more work to stay true to that person. If you can’t be true to you, how can you ever be true to someone else?
I think that we usually find out that we are not exclusive, long before we have hard facts. Most of the time, we have known this all along...about them or ourselves. We just lacked the ability to be honest about any of it. Because we wanted to have another version of ourselves that we could peddle, someone who is way more capable than we currently are, and some ideal sexual love relation that is way more exciting than our current love interest.
I certainly do not have it all figured out...but I do believe that for all of us, it must start with being honest about who and what we are. Most importantly with ourselves...then maybe, someday we will figure out how to share this unadulterated version with someone else. And they will be able to accept that person and commit. And love. And endure the test of time...so that maybe one day, you can rely on the exclusivity arrangement with some confidence. Until then, I think we all just have today...