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Dear Em & Lo: What’s So Wrong with Cheating on My Husband?

Wed, Mar 18, 2009

Advice, Dear Em & Lo

set_him_free_signphoto by Son_of_Groucho

Dear Em & Lo,

I’ve read your books and love your website, but I notice you are against any infidelity and look down on those who have affairs, but you’re okay with swinging and group sex and anal sex probes and bisexuals and all kinds of things that normal folks (who occasionally stray) find disgusting. I guess my point is, how can you judge like that?  You judge cheaters but support skank!  You know your sex drive better than I do, obviously, but let’s say your husband could no longer perform in bed due to E.D.  You don’t honestly expect me to believe you would go without sex or rely on a dildo for the rest of your life, do you?  I think that’s B.S.

What I’d like you both to know is that we’re not bad people.  We’re your softball coaches and school teachers.  I feed my neighbor’s son peanut butter and jelly on a Tuesday afternoon and have sex with her husband on Thursday night because she hasn’t let him touch her since she had the baby — THREE YEARS AGO!  We’re not trailer trash from the Jerry Springer show. We’re real people, ignored by our spouses.  We’re not evil. Give us a break, okay? After all, it’s not like you two are devout Church-going types either, ya know? You preach about free, uncommitted sex with both the opposite sex and the same sex (as long as a condom is involved) and hey, that’s fine.  Just don’t judge the rest of us. There are reasons for the things we do.  We don’t spread disease through our little suburban neighborhoods or anything like that.

– Straying Dog

Dear S.D.,

Here’s what we do judge:

  1. Lying to your husband (except when he asks if his penis is too small).
  2. Lying to your neighbor (except when she asks if her new haircut makes her look like Blossom).
  3. Lying to anyone, for that matter. And yes, faking orgasms is lying.
  4. Sex without barrier protection (i.e. condoms) — unless you’re monogamous, have been tested together, have agreed to incur the risks of forgoing barrier protection, and are using another form of birth control (unless of course you’re both trying to get pregnant together).
  5. Sexism.
  6. Homophobia.
  7. Anti-choice people who want to take away our reproductive rights, comprehensive sex education, and access to birth control.
  8. Um, we can’t think of much else that we do judge. Pleated khakis on men, maybe?

And here’s what we don’t judge (as long as it’s done safely and consensually, of course):

  1. Homosexuality.
  2. Bisexuality.
  3. Swinging.
  4. Group sex.
  5. Open relationships.
  6. Casual safe sex (so long as both parties understand and accept its casual nature).
  7. Anal play.
  8. Sex toys, including anal sex probes.
  9. Jerry Springer.
  10. Kink.
  11. Roleplaying.
  12. Spanking.
  13. Bondage.
  14. Booty calls.
  15. Dirty talk.
  16. Phone sex.
  17. Text sex.
  18. Pony play (okay, sometimes we judge pony play…hey, we’re only human).
  19. Strap-on sex.
  20. Celibacy.
  21. Solo sex.
  22. Latex.
  23. Watersports.
  24. Legal prostitution.

Need we go on? We didn’t think so. You’re right — you totally nailed us. So long as sex is consensual, legal, honest, and fully condom-ed, we probably wouldn’t judge it. But if you’re married and sleeping with your neighbor’s husband and the respective spouses don’t know about it or don’t condone it — then hells yes, we judge you! You think anal probes are skank? Well, we think that cheating on your husband — and not only that, but doing it with someone else’s husband, to boot — is 100% pure skank.

We know we sound naive when we say this. We know we’re idealists. And we admit we have no idea what it’s like to want to stay in a crumbling marriage for the kids (or for the mortgage). We have no idea what it’s like to be ignored in a marriage — or in the bedroom. And we have no idea what it’s like to be married to an inoperative penis.

We can think of a only a few very special circumstances where unsanctioned cheating might be justifiable, or at least understandable: For example, a husband suffers from E.D. and it threatens his masculinity to the point where he just completely shuts off from anything sexual and doesn’t deal with it at all it in order to keep it together psychologically, while his wife, who loves him and wants to be with him and doesn’t want to break his heart, decides to get a little no-emotional-strings-attached-sex on the side to satisfy her needs. Maybe we could understand that.

Or maybe not. We’re inclined to believe that in the majority of cases of cheating, there’s a lot of rationalizing that’s done on the part of the cheater for two major reasons. First, because it allows people the opportunity for drama and excitement in their lives (doing the forbidden thing, the taboo thing, the wrong thing always does). But that drama and excitement comes at the expense of the trust and feelings and dignity of the people they made a promise to, the people they’re supposed to truly love: their spouses. Second, it’s simply the easier way out.

Sure, it sucks if your husband gets E.D., but isn’t that the whole point of “in sickness and in health”? Also, who said that sex has to be all about intercourse? Last we heard, cunnilingus didn’t involve the penis. Same goes for handwork. And the same goes for most of the stuff in our don’t-judge list, too. We’re sorry, but we just don’t think that faulty mechanics void your marriage vows (assuming, of course, that your marriage vows included sexual fidelity).

And sure, it sucks if your husband or wife ignores you, but since when did cheating solve that? Last we heard, good old-fashioned communication was a much better tool to fix that kind of problem. Or marriage counseling. Or divorce.

If your partner just plain doesn’t want sex anymore and you do — and you’ve tried everything you can possibly think of to remedy the situation, including reading all our books and seeing a sex or marriage therapist together — then ask their permission to have an affair. (Yep, that’s right, if they give their permission, it’s not skanky — it’s just good, clean fun.) If your partner says no, then you have two options: (1) Leave them. (2) Suck it up and deal with a sexless marriage (and learn to appreciate the art of masturbation). And those are your only two options. If sex is soooooooooo important to you that you think it justifies cheating, then it should be important enough to you to get a divorce. And if your marriage is soooooooooo important to you that you can’t possibly consider a divorce, then guess what? You’re going to have to sacrifice the sex part.

If you choose option one and leave your partner, do not, under any circumstances, have an affair with someone else’s spouse. We’re all in this monogamy biz together, and it’s our civic responsibility to keep each other honest and faithful. We don’t care if you’re not spreading STDs (though you can never be 100% sure about that if people are sleeping around) — you’re still spreading lying, disrespect, and some seriously bad karma.

We know that a sanctioned affair isn’t really the “done” thing yet. But you know what? It should be! Slowly, more and more people are catching on. And we’re going to keep on preaching our honesty message until the rest of you cheaters get on board.

And that’s the gospel according to Em & Lo.

From our high horse,

Em & Lo

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136 Responses to “Dear Em & Lo: What’s So Wrong with Cheating on My Husband?”

  1. Lacey Says:

    Mayhem – Just curious, do you consider open marriages and swinging “skank?” I certainly do. If watching another person get your SO off excites you, you’re skank in my book. Sorry, all. But swinging and threesomes and the like ruins more marriages than a secret lover ever will.

  2. Sophie Says:

    Married Lady: Exactly!

  3. Elizabeth Says:

    niki … um, if you’re against the threesomes, open marriages, etc on the basis of religion (which I’m deriving from your comments about getting into heaven), then you should be 100% against adultery… because see, I’ve read the bible from cover to cover and there is nothing about threesomes and open marriages… but there is definitely a LOT about adultery. You know, the ten commandments and all. Now, I know religion takes that adultery thing to include threesomes and the like, and if you live like that then more power to you (I do, too, but I don’t care whether others do or not). But my point is, if you’re going to avoid the things that commandment is pushed to include, why are you not avoiding the act that it is OBVIOUSLY against??

    Also, I would MUCH rather endure a divorce than have my LIFE endangered because of possible STDs and such. I guess that’s just a personal choice, though.

    Oh, and, speaking from family experience, staying in an obviously unhappy marriage “for the kids” is much more hurtful to them than divorcing. Kids aren’t stupid and they can tell when something is wrong.

  4. Elizabeth Says:

    **sorry, I mixed up Nikky’s comment with others. Either way, my point is, yes, the bible claims same gender sex is wrong… but it also claims adultery is wrong. Again, adultery makes the ten commandments, same gender sex doesn’t. You can’t take one thing and throw out something else.

    As a side, I don’t base my feelings of cheating on what the bible says, please don’t go yelling at that… I read it to decide whether or not I agreed with it.

  5. Mayhem Says:

    Lacey – I do NOT consider open-marriages and swinging “skank” because those are consensual. Even if it turns sour – they both went in with full awareness of what was going to happen.

    I disagree with liars and weaklings, but coming to a mutual decision to have an open-minded relationship (of whatever sort someone might choose) is okay by me.

  6. Lisa Says:

    I pledged when I got married to be faithful to my husband, I said nothing of threesomes and anal. So to compare sex with your own husband no matter how kinky it is to an affair is the most asinine thing I have ever heard. And if you were truly ok with the decision you have made to cheat then you would not have found it necessary to come on here and defend such “skank” actions.

    I will not lie, I did to at one time have thoughts of cheating, things weren’t going good between hubby and I. BUT I loved him and respect him enough to go to him with my feeling and give us a chance to fix what what wrong. Guess what!! Honesty worked! We were able to address our problems and we now have a wonderful marriage and sex life, and I have no more urges to cheat.

    So I am not saying it is wrong to think about it, or to have times when it seems like a good idea but your commetment is to your husband and family and that should be worked on first.

  7. Devyn Says:

    I will always be a faithful person, no matter if his manly parts stop working or not. Or if it was the other way and he ignored me. There are other things you can do to eachother as a married couple to “spice things up”. And even have an orgasim;-) I think cheaters are just sleezy, and trash. It doesn’t matter what neighborhood you live in or what income bracket your in Cheating is lying and that still puts you in the the catagory ~ trash, skank, slut gutter garbage!

  8. Vivian Says:

    After scouring through this huge compilation of comments, some of which I took with a grain of salt (“What your spouse does not know won’t hurt them!” Really, Nicky?), I must say I really did enjoy Matt’s comments the most. It makes sense- you lie to your spouse and screw another person, you’re fucking up the relationship. As for Married Lady, I’m glad that you are 100% against affairs, I am too; but to say that asking for permission would hurt your husband just as much as lying to him and sexing someone else anyway is just wrong. It’s an ugly subject but in the end, if your husband wants it to work, he’d much rather have the choice (and the chance to rectify the situation) then get screwed over (literally).

  9. RMC Says:

    In November, 2004 I was using my partner’s computer to check election results as they came in because the TV channels were giving conflicting results. He had left something open in his web browser that made it clear he had had sex with someone else. We had people in our home, and I just couldn’t process it immediately. The next morning, in spite of the horror in the news, I slowly started to digest the information. I felt some anger but it passed. I thought I should feel indignant but it felt kind of manufactured. I knew he loved me. I am also a male and maybe am able to let it go easier because of some combination of knowing how easily it happens and the fact that gay men often make less of it. In the end, I never confronted him but felt peaceful with letting it go.

    I did however do it a couple times myself in the years that followed. I didn’t go out of my way, and it didn’t seem like it was revenge-driven. But when opportunity presented itself, I took the previous incident to mean some sort of implicit permission.

    I think he may still do it from time to time. I’m okay with it. I really don’t want to know either in general or the specifics. That would be hurtful.

  10. RMC Says:

    I want to add that I would feel very differently if either he had lied to me or it was an extended affair rather than an isolated hook-up. In 8 years of being together, however, I don’t believe he has ever lied to me. This fact alone has made it easier for me to trust the sincerity of his commitment to me. At the end of the day, it doesn’t seem like a big deal.

    I think many people have affairs (and to me, it’s almost by definition if use that word) for needs that go beyond just sex. If you are experiencing anything emotional and ongoing for a person other than the one you committed to, you are lying even if you haven’t been caught. This nonsense about people being your yoga teacher, fellow parents, vision of chastity, etc. is just a bullshit rationalization that betrayal does not make you a bad person. It does.

    I just am not sure the sex alone makes you bad.

  11. Lavonne Says:

    What I find to be the most interesting is that SD, Nikki, Lacey, and others say there is nothing wrong with cheating, but they visit a website that faithfully talks about what is cheating and what is not. I don’t understand your confusion. If you are in a relationship and you have to sneak around and keep secrets to do something that you know you cannot openly admit, it is wrong. If there really is nothing wrong with it, try bringing it up over breakfast one morning. “Baby, how do you like your eggs? It’s such a beautiful day. Oh, by the way, I’ve been having an affair with the neighbor. Could you pass the salt?” Please. You people know perfectly well that what you are doing is fucked up.

    If you’ve noticed, the people against cheating are both people who have not cheated and never been cheated on, people who have cheated, and people who have been cheated one. They have been on both sides of the situation and they are all simply expressing their opinions. You people on the other hand are not expressing opinions. You are making excuses and rationalizing. Then you attempt to turn the tables and make it seem as if everyone against cheating believes themselves to be high and mighty and above it. But this is incorrect.

    No one here is saying that they don’t believe they could be tempted to cheat. Everyone has urges. It’s just a part of human nature. I think it’s safe to say that though people may be completely against it, everyone has the potential to cheat. However, the difference between you skanky whores is that you don’t feel bad about it and make it seem as if it is okay to do and everyone else is wrong. Again, I say PLEASE.

    When you enter into a relationship with someone, unless otherwise stated, it is expected from the beginning that you are to be faithful to them. Like others before me have said, if you feel like you cannot resist whatever urges you may be having, end it. All of this crap about leaving your significant other will hurt them more than you sneaking around is complete and utter bull shit. Again, you are just making excuses and rationalizing your fucked up actions. They will still be hurt either way and what you are really doing is taking the choice away from them. Be man or woman enough to come clean about your actions and give your significant other the choice weather they want to stay with a cheater.

    …I could keep going on and on, but I know nothing is going to get through to you selfish bitches…

  12. Lavonne Says:

    B.S. What your spouse does not know won’t hurt them! You are all crazy in believing that strap ons and same sex f—-ng is ok. You are the sick ones and need to be judged. If my spouse is not giving me what I want I’m not leaving if I have alot to lose. Forget about permission, permission for what?!! My spouse would not be the wiser. Though I would not f my next door neighbor for fear that my behind may be busted. Don’t judge! You are doing and believing in sicker crap that will not get you or my cheating behind in heaven!

    -Nicky

    You are seriously fucked up. Can you actually give logical reasons why strap ons and homosexuality are wrong? Besides religion, what other reason can you give. And no, I’m not saying besides religion because I’m an atheist or anything of that nature. What if someone doesn’t practice the same religion as you? (I say “practice” loosely because, like I said, you’re fucked up.) Can you really believe it’s okay to judge them based on a system that is not their own?

    If your spouse isn’t giving you what you want you won’t leave because YOU have a lot to loose, huh? What about them and what they will lose? What about how your infidelity and abuse (yes, in my book cheating is abuse) will affect them and your relationship together? The knowledge that one has been cheated on can take away any notions of pride, dignity, and self worth he or she may have. Once again, you are taking away their choice and acting selfishly. Being with someone is about the two of you TOGETHER, not just you and your wants.

    And you ask why should you ask permission. OBVIOUSLY, because you are too much of a coward to end the relationship or stop cheating. So, if you are really worried about losing what you have with your significant other but want to continue seeing/sleeping with someone else you need to be honest about it and give the other person a choice with how they want to move forward. Again, you are a selfish, fucked up, cowardly bitch.

    So, people are doing and believing in sicker crap than your cheating, huh? What exactly is this sicker crap to which you are referring? Using sex toys that add to the pleasure sex brings? I could argue that the person you are cheating with is nothing more than a talking sex toy. “Same sex effing” as you so graciously put it? If someone is attracted to the same sex and acts on that attraction, can you really fault them for being true to themselves and not simply conforming to your (again) fucked up point of view and beliefs? The reason why this “crap” is not “sicker” is because using sex toys and homosexuality is not hurting anyone. They very fact that you used the word “sick-er” shows in itself that you already know what you are doing is wrong… Or, “sick” as you like to put it. And I’m inclined to agree with you because, like I said, I think you’re fucked up.

  13. Beware!!! Says:

    It is called ADULTRY and they used to hang and shoot people for it (and justifiably in my opinion) People will do what they want and everyone has an opinion (most were very intriging and enlightening despite what side they favored) but the bottom line is ITS AGAINST THE LAW and many wives see a hefty settlement if they can prove it GOD SAYS ITS WRONG but i guess that doesn’t matter if you don’t mind going to hell. The truth always comes out eventually no matter what, that being said, the truth is CHEATING PISSES PEOPLE OFF!!!and more often than not, the cheating spouse takes less blame than the one they are cheating with. More simply put, “what your spouse don’t know won’t hurt them” may be true, but when your lover’s spouse comes home they might hurt you!!! To all the people lying in a bed where they don’t belong, beware of husbands/wives coming home early as well as the 2nd ammendment!! Happy Whoring! LOL

  14. Rachel Says:

    Matt’s quote:

    “It’s selfish behavior, and trying to dress it up with moral relativism is pure bullshit. Grow a pair, actually talk to the person, and let them at least make the decision whether they want the relationship to be over or they’d be up for some kind of consensual arrangement. That’s showing your partner the respect and decency he deserves.”

    I am getting tired of reading posts here, and on other forums that people can love someone, and cheat on them at the same time. Pure evil fucked up shit right there. If you aren’t getting your sexual fix in your relationship, communicate to your significant other about it!!!! Always best to talk about it and get help than to be deceitful, twisted, heartless Mo*Fo that goes behind their “Lover’s” back and cheat.

    I do, however, forgive the people who come clean when they cheat, feel deeply bad about hurting their loved ones, means that they know right from wrong. THEY understand the hurt they thrown upon their lovers. But it still would be an anti-trusting relationship; how can you trust someone again if they cheated?

    All I can say, is cheaters should get together with other cheaters, they belong together.

    And the people who preach that no person can be in a monogamous relationship for a very long, and ‘needs’ sex on the side, shouldn’t waste anybody’s time being in a relationship with them in the first place. Grow up people. Be civil. This is not the barbaric period.

  15. Dennis Says:

    We are all only human. It is best to realize this, accept our weaknesses and faults, and guard against them coming inbetween ourselves, our loved ones, and our spiritual beliefs.
    Men can and do get ED. More often as we get older. If our arteries get clogged, then it’s all over. There’s no bypass for a clogged artery to some body parts at this time. It’s also very possible for men to have a psychological experience that leads to “mental ED”. If the man has night time “automatic errections” while asleep (normal) but can’t do so while awake, this is likely the cause. The issues may include drugs, pornography, or trust between partners as well as others.
    Females may also experience interrupted ability to climax if on certain classes of antidepressants.
    The first line of defense is to NOT allow oneself to be drawn into an affair. The time and (mental) energy put into the affair is time not put into your real relationship. One real attraction to an affair is it’s lack of responsibilty. For those who have had one, did it turn out like you thought it would? How many people were hurt because of it? Would you do it again?
    Some things I might do if I were a female are these:
    Talk to your husband about your need for physical climax. Make it clear that you want him to participate in it. Don’t focus on things that aren’t working. Let him help you choose the techniques, devices, and lubricant’s you’re going to use to get the results you need. Get yourself looking totally hot. Hot so you know and feel your absolutely stunning. In your own home, there are really no rules. Work yourself up to the climax for hours, or all day, including your husband as you and he are able to do so.
    When alone, get your husband to “assist you” as you “can’t enjoy and run the show at the same time”. Get all the release you need, as many times as it takes.
    Your husband married you for a reason. He wants you to be pleased. Just so he participates, and isn’t judged for what he is either able, or not able to do, he will be a happy man. When things are done, lie with him and consider thanking him for what he did to make your experience possible. Tell him it would not be the same without him being there. Ask him if he will again assist you “next time”.
    In other words, have an affair with your own husband. Skip the rumours, the guilt, and the horrible aftermath of stepping outside your marriage.
    If this seems outlandish, impossible, or you’re just not willing to put out the effort to try this sort of thing, it’s time to be honest and separate. The lack of trust – which may be unspoken – is harmful to your spouse, and the others in your life.

  16. Jennifer Says:

    So yall hit the nail right on the head! This woman is ridiculous, and to think that she expects people to support that kind of thing!? SO yeah, I`m not going to comment any further accept to say that you guys took all the words right from my mouth! :)

  17. Zonali1961 Says:

    Wow, I have never before read an article like this one. Really impressive! But to say I agree with the majority of the replies here. Cheating is no advantage for no one. It makes no one happy at all. It’s really not worth it, no matter what situation may approach your marriage life there is always an answer for any unsatisfying need just look for professional help or better yet just look for GOD! Bet you he’ll give you the best answer and reward!

  18. Lacey Says:

    Lisa -
    When you married, the vow was “forsaking all others,” and I hate to tell ya sweetie, but threesomes and swinging are “others.” See you in hell.

  19. Nick Says:

    what’s wrong with pleated khakis on men?

    Loved the rest of the post though

  20. Anna Says:

    Leave him, dont cheat on him. obviously if you can cheat then you dont even care enough to be with him. you dont care about him enough to be honest with him. you and that neighbor guy need to leave your spouses and be together. and fake people piss me off. thats disgusting going over and being buddy buddy with ur neighbors wife and kids, then you go and bang her husband and their dad?? hmm.. wrong. leave the man if he doesnt treat you the way you want to be treated because honey honestly, there r plenty of guys that will.

  21. princekaos Says:

    I agree completly cheating is a horrid thing to do to a spouse. It has happened me. I found out pretty quickly and was then beatin near death and left for dead in another state by my spouse, the one with whom the cheating was happening with, and one of his friends. Obviously i survived and filed for a divorce and a restraining order. Now i’m raising our child alone, my spouse did some time, and the one the affair happened with is still doing time. This is an extreme i know but look what a “little deciet” could turn into. By the way my spouse was cheating because she wanted a change and thought the grass was greener on the other side. Her actions hurt more than just me as now she can never come in contact with her child as was court ordered.

  22. jules Says:

    AMEN!!!!!

  23. ayung Says:

    of course cheating is a bad thing.but sometime,we not do it on purpose.what if your husband dont want to ‘touch’ u anymore n not interested to do it?and when u trying to make move first,he reject u everytime u do so.so…..?is it wrong that i want to fullfill my need as a wife?i’ve tried to talk with him about this but he seem not interested to discuss about it..so,what can i do then?i accidently met my ex and since then,he always contact me n after a few month we both feel something for each other..then it happen…since then,i felt that my life more meaningful than before.and i’m more cheerful now.so,,what u guys think about me????

  24. Rachel Says:

    ^Ayung, a little common sense, get out of your marriage if both you and your husband do not like each other anymore, what’s the point in keeping your marriage? Divorce the man, and get back with your ex. That would make your life more meaningful, and knowing you are not cheating behind any backs. :)

  25. Victoria Says:

    a critique offered in reference to Straying Dog quote: “I feed my neighbor’s son peanut butter and jelly on a Tuesday afternoon and have sex with her husband on Thursday night because she hasn’t let him touch her since she had the baby — THREE YEARS AGO!”
    LOL first of all, about your commending yourself for committing adultry with your neighbor’s husband and the justification of doing so because of something he told you, I don’t buy it and of course he doesn’t nor does anyone else and I’m even surer that you don’t either, it’s just fluff, a pile of nothingness to justify publicly what you have chosen to do and take part in helping her husband to do that you know is inherently wrong. Also a potential trump card in case the adultry is addressed by the Mrs. at a future time.
    Laughing here..it’s exactly what little kids do when they know and do something wrong anyway, they justify it by the cheapest most available means possible which in your case is very apropos ;p
    In reference to your victm (and yes she is your victm and his) I find it interesting that you didn’t use the word ‘friend’ which of course you are certainly no friend and seems that you feel you aren’t either in not choosing the term, but you’re over there often enough to give the man’s wife the impression that you are indeed her friend which I am sure is purposeful.
    You say you ‘feed her son peanut butter sandwiches tuesdays’ then go on to admit that you commit adultry with his father on thursday evenings, who the hell do you bloody think you are to USE a child to get closer to some married man to committ adultry with him!? Do you go tuesdays and get Jr. to be friendly with his new found ‘Auntie’ to encorporate your installation so you can be with his father on thursdays and make it APPEAR legit? Do you go tuesdays to get her work hours so you’ll know when to schedule your adultry around it with this guy? Hmm, can’t help but wonder if the sandwiches are laced with anything or what you do the other days of the week. Your other references “We’re not trailer trash from the Jerry Springer show” – I feel (well know actually) Jerry would disagree with you and invite you both, and the wife and peanut butter laden child to the show. You say you are ‘real people’, I’m not buying that either, you’re both extremely unreal, if you were REAL you’d address the problem, but of course there is actually psychologically no problem, it is just an excuse used by both of you to justify adultry. Get divorced and play the field if you like, decietfulness and using a child..pfft! neither of you have any shame. oh btw your ditty about not spreading diseases through your neighborhood, there are diseases that are not bacterial, but I digress.

  26. Paloma Says:

    I have been married for 19 years. My husband and I have two children and a really great life together. He is wonderful despite the fact that I found out two years ago that he had been having an affair with a former coworker for several years. This whole experience has made me reevaluate my attitude about infidelity, what is tolerable and reasonable to expect in marriage and what is not. It also forced me to acknowledge the role my inattentiveness and preocccupation with other things played in my husband’s decision to have an affair.

    I think infidelity under the circumstances described in the letter is understandable. If you are unable to keep up your side of the marriage contract (the promise to “love” has a physical component) I think your partner is justified to seek comfort elsewhere. It’s not always as simple as leaving, especially when there are children involved. Sometimes a discreet affair is the best solution.

  27. Rei Says:

    ^Does that mean you didn’t pay attention to your husband, that’s why he had an affair? Hummmmmmmm

  28. Paloma Says:

    I think I was like a lot of women who have been in relationships for a long time: more focused on my career, my own needs and my children than on my husband. Not excusing what he did, simply acknowledging that how I may have laid the groundwork.

    The past two years have been tough: lots of tears, a separation, therapy, thoughts of retaliation and lots of talk, but I think we will survive. I certainly don’t take anything for granted now.

    Point is, folks have needs, and if those needs aren’t getting met within the relationship, chances are they will look outside for satisfaction. Blaming “the cheater” and throwing the relationship away may not be the right thing.

  29. kb Says:

    Paloma-f that. maybe what you say is reason for the cheater to divorce you-depends. or to have a serious conversation with you about how much you want him around. it’s not an excuse to go behind your back. That doesn’t mean you can forgive him or her and decide to move past it, if you think the relationship is worth it. Many are. Or heck, it doesn’t mean you can’t say “I need an open relationship.” but it’s never anyone other than the cheater’s fault. There are more honest and healthier ways to get your needs met. and I say this as someone who has both cheated and been cheated on before.

  30. eb Says:

    Wow. I can’t believe I read through all of these posts. But it was worth it. I have been looking for this exact conversation for the past 2 months. I haven’t been able to talk to anyone and ask how to deal with being someone’s potential mistress. So this has been cathartic.

    The “relationship” (term used very lightly) is/was 85% emotional and 15% physical.

    After falling head over heels for each other, he told me that he was on the outs with his mate (and they were living in different countries) when he found out that she was pregnant. 2 weeks later she was in the states in order to have her child.

    He is following through with his duties but once the baby is born, the mother is moving back to her native land. They have 5-6 years of personal and professional dramatic history between them.

    The intensity of how we feel (felt) for each other and the intensity of him having his first child, as well as how we both feel about integrity, truth and morals is just way too much to t hink about on top of living out our daily lives.

    The first night we met he kept saying that he just needed 6 months. 6 months. But in reality he needs a year at least. Time to be his own person again. And I need to know that he can be truthful to his baby mamma now in order to not fear that he will cheat on me later.

    It has been an extremely strenuous situation. One that no one ever teaches you the ropes for.

    It isn’t so cut and dry “Just don’t cheat” because we didn’t have sex but it still feels the same. Shitty, confusing, manic, guilt-laden… the list goes on and on.

    We totally were straight on the “no sex until single” topic.

    But the emotional connection to me is even more debilitating. We are dealing with people’s spirits and their souls. Love is what we live for, right?

    It’s supposed to be Sacred. Beautiful. Good. It’s all any of us want, right? The happily ever after? We have to remember why we got into these initial relationships in the first place. The spark. The magic. How can we function when we are split off in so many different directions? Which part of us is the real part?

    As for my situation, the gentleman (because he truly is) and his baby’s mother have never been on better terms than they are now. They finally see eye to eye on something. That being going their separate ways while being there for each other for the baby. They are now (for the first time in over 2 yrs) in a calm place.

    I don’t think that she knows about me (though he was supposed to tell her and I thought it best). I think he had a change of heart (and I did too but never told him) because of the baby. In this particular case – since they were already finished-and the baby’s health is involved, it seems wise not to tell her. IF they were to stay together, then yes. tell her- after the baby is born. But not now. This woman is very volatile. It’s hard to say what she would do …

    I don’t know if I will be in the picture once this is all over. I sure hope so (since I found out what this guy is really made of and I am comfortable with his level of responsibility and integrity, etc) but I am just glad that I had the guts to make and agree to the right choices.

    It’s hard to let go of love-if it is love. And I know that people get addicted to sex and to drama. That’s when we need forums like this to slap us awake or give us a nudge in the right direction.

    I miss him every day but the pain of missing him is worth my self respect as well as how I want to view him, lead my life and be.

    I never ever thought I’d find myself in the situation of being someone’s mistress. And I am glad to say that I am not. But the way the scenario was dealt really mixes it all up a bit.

  31. Bailey Says:

    I admire your views on fidelity, etc., Em and Lo, however, I have to agree with S.D. and Terry. Marriages are not always so black and white. I am the product of a broken home because of a cheating mother, but before you go attacking her for her “skankiness” (do you think you could find a better word than SKANK?!) or infidelity, please let me offer a different perspective.
    She had her reasons for cheating; my father was a psycho about money and was going on and off anit-depressants, so he was almost never in a good place mentally. I remeber things getting very violent between him and my mom at times. He was also struggling with weight problems, and I’m not totally sure because I was so young, but I’m guessing they were not having sex because if this or other reasons (however, as their child, I would much rather NOT think of my parents being sexually active, no matter the circumstances.) Either way, my mother started an affair with her boss (the steryotipical secretary-boss office affair), and carried this on for 4 years that I know of.

    I knew about the affair the whole time it was going on, but never said anything to either of my parents about it until the very end because I didn’t know what would happen to me if they were to split. My step-sister (who I have no contact with because of the following incident) and I discussed what we thought was going on, and so she took it upon herself to inform her mother that her dad and my mom were having an affair. Thus a literal can of shit was opened a month before I was to start high school, and the only control I had over the situation was to tell my father of the affair…over the phone…while he was trucking on the East coast. I’m not totally sure why I did this, but I was 14 and panicked. Still, this is something that will follow me for the rest of my life.

    Anyhoo, I thought this was the worst possible thing that could ever happen to me, and I HATED my mother for what she’d done. However, I survived and life got a lot better and quiteter after the divorce was over. I lived with my dad after the divorce, but that only lasted a month as I soon realized the real reasons my mom left him to begin with. My dad and I had the same problems with each other as what led my mother to cheat on him. I realized then, as the CHILD from the broken home and the cheating mother, that maybe, JUST MAYBE, she did have had some valid reasons for cheating on my father. When I came to this realization, I too, left my dad.

    I also had a breakthrough on the “Stay together for the kids” theory: IT DOES NOT WORK!!! If anyone should take anything from what I’m saying here, please, unless you CAN work it out together, DO NOT stay together for your children. It will never work and children are extremely perceptive creatures. They may not know WHAT is going on, but they will know SOMETHING is WRONG. And they’ll resent you when they are old enough to understand for destroying any chance they had at a happy “normal” childhood.

    I also haven’t mentioned anything about the other half of the affair, either. But my step-father also had some very valid reasons for leaving his wife. Most of which, she was a straight-up BITCH.

    Now, I realize you think that none of these reasons condone cheating on your spouse, but if you yourself were in such a position, having been married for 15 or 20 years in a loveless relationship, fighting constantly, and having to raise your children all at the same time, what would you do? You don’t know until you’re there, and until you do experience such a situation, I think you should keep your judgements to yourself.

    Also, have you ever considered that everything happens for a reason?? Maybe things would be better the other, perhaps “wrong” way? You talk about Karma, well you should know she works in mysterious ways…

  32. Tom Says:

    i have two things to say to this.

    1) OWNED
    2) DOMINATED.

    that lady was super silly lameness and was put in her place!

    Later all!

  33. Deb Says:

    Dear Em and Lo,
    I am ashamed to say that I am a cheater! While there were extenuating circumtances I completely agree with your opinnion on cheating and I am well aware that there is NO justification whatsoever. It happened 6 years ago with a work colleague, I eventually told my husband and he eventually forgave me. We are still together and our love is stronger than ever, however our relationship is a mess! To this day I am still racked with guilt, I feel I don’t deserve his love or forgiveness. I no longer enjoy sex as I feel I gave up that right when I cheated him, he would love to experiment but I am so uptight that I feel guilty for even entertaining the idea of being with another person. Now I know deserve to feel this way & I should for the rest of my life yet this is also stopping my husband from enjoying everything sex has to offer. We love each other to death and I just wish I could find a way to forgive myself so that I can give him all the wonderful things he deseves. Can you help me?

  34. Paloma Says:

    OK…i’m going to say more about my situation than i have ever said outside of my own head…sex between my husband and i was never fantastic, but he is a great guy with a lot of wonderful qualities and we do love each other. he wanted sex more than i did and I was less than thrilled because it was more of a let down than anything else. I believed the good stuff was more important than the sex, and still do, and I hoped the sex would get better but it didn’t really. He obviously wanted more than I was willing to give and so he found a willing partner. I know that he is committed to me and our family, however.

    Now, however, I am wondering whether I am cheating both of us. I hate the thought that he may be the last man I sleep with. We have talked about opening things up, but he has been resistant, claiming he is afraid I wouldn’t want him anymore. But he has to his credit given me “permission” to cheat. When I was still angry abiout what he had done, I was seriously thinking about exercising this option, but eventually decided it would seriously undermine my relationship with him, even if he did say it was okay. I am thinking that something discreet on the side would be the best way to proceed, while protecting my marriage and family.

    While the possibility that I’d ever go through with this is pretty slim, I think my personal experiences stand for the idea that it is never black and white when it comes to infidelity especially in marriages where there are kids.

  35. Naome Says:

    I have been married and divorced twice. My first husband, my high school sweetheart, was probably cheating on me when we were in high school. He cheated on me throughout our marriage but I blinded myself to it. Until I had enough. Then I got remarried about 2 years after my divorce. Same thing, different guy, but no kids, THANK YOU JESUS!!! The only good think I got out of my first husband is my three kids. No more kids from anyone after that (tubal ligation). My mother has five children altogether. Two girls from her first marriage, One girl from a fling turn live in, turn domestic violence, turn I’m gettin the hell outta here and taking my kid with me, and a boy and a girl from her second husband. I happen to be the daughter of the fling she had after she divorced her first husband. Ok enough of the life story. I’ve been cheated on, beat on, ignored, and verbally abused by my first husband and my second husband. I never cheated on either one of them. And I feel that after they had hit me, they deserved to be cheated on. But I still didn’t. And I DEFINITELY DO NOT condone anyone screwing around with someone else spouse.

  36. Leah Says:

    Cheaters are liars. Marriage can be sweet if there is trust and communication but even if there is not, or he whines that he’s had no sex since the baby came along, she is a terrible person to scratch his itch and think being kind to the little boy and being hospitable to dad are both altruistic. Swingers who engage in consensual sex with like minded adults, who are open and honest and aware are quite different from nasty bags who creep around and service married men. If he’s gone three years without sex, he needs to get a pair and discuss that with his wife because she should be having sex with her husband. If she isn’t there are problems that can be made worse if infidelity rears it’s ugly head. It’s ugly, I know as the wife of a foolish man who threw me away for some cheap, tawdry sex with a neighbor who wanted to rock his world and did. We had nineteen years and were taking each other for granted but had no issues that could not have been dealt with if he had turned to me instead of on me. The affair devastated my life, my self-esteem and broke my heart. It was compounded by lies, refusal to take responsibility for his actions and I would not accept him as a victim, let him white wash himself, blame the skank, who was far from blameless but answerable to her husband and family. I told her what I felt about her and the idiot did come to have a huge crush on him, thought she was in love. I might consider payback a legitimate reason for cheating but someone has to start the cycle of stupid, destructive behavior and that freak gets to be the number one skank. I was insulted when told I should even the score so we could carry on. I married and vowed to forsake all others with earnestness and sincerity, no thought of a circumstance under which I would not keep the vow and I never cheated, avoided flirts and showed my wedding band to anyone who approached . I loved the ring, what it represented, no beginning, no end, eternal…. Very unlike marriage, my experience of love and I gave it back to him. He kept his. It’s engraved with our wedding date, my name, the word “always”. It wasn’t true but it fit better than “sometimes” or “until a lay becomes available. My husband encountered another one of his kind, offering a freebie he did not want to refuse. He wanted to believe he could not resist because men cheat as some biological imperative. That sounded good to him. I did not agree. The woman was responsible in all cases, as sex was up to her, giving her the power which made him unable to resist and made him a victim. Is that not as stupid as feeling altruistic for banging the neighbor’s man for any reason? Men and women who cheat do so because they are reprobates who meet their counterpart, an adulterous skank. Don’t do it if there is a chance it will be discovered. Cheaters give away the deception because an act of betrayal can be difficult to live with, to hide and even dyed in the wool liars who won’t admit a thing, may tip off a spouse. My husband told me to even the score. I was insulted. He was often suspicious and jealous of me and that too was a sign he was chasing tail. I was not going to cheat to get even. I was brokenhearted and grieving over the loss of a marriage, a man I did not have except in my mind. I have never had casual sex, was married for 20 years. I may do that or may wait for something more and devote myself to my personal growth and my children. I am free, no longer looking for the one, aware he was not the one, a soulmate or worthy of me. I can explore things I never would have as a married woman. I can become a swinger and buy sex toys for myself. The possibilities are endless. I would never sleep with a married man because I know that until he is unattached, he has no place with a woman other than his wife. I think women who find married men acceptable for sex, companionship or anything that violates his bond with his wife are terrible and shameless as are men who go for married women. His lover thought she fell in love with him and in her mind that sanctioned her actions as did blaming him for chasing her. He denied any emotional ties and blamed her for chasing him. In the end, they were so stupid and there are far too many men and women who chose to honor their commitments for any of us to sanction them . I thought he was one of the decent ones. He went to great pains to keep his behavior in the dark and that is a good sign that all of the nasty whoremongers know very well they are scum. All the protestations that it didn’t mean anything, was just sex, he was a victim, fell on deaf ears and 20 years with a woman who was his and his alone are lost and the anger, pain, grief and devastation will linger long after the thrill of being desired and the titillation of meaningless sex and sneaking around have faded like the laughter of his children and the companionship of the woman he knew would always be there, companion for life-until he thought hooking up would be harmless and he would not get caught. I caught him. I faced the fact that without trust, the ability to communicate the deeply painful feelings his actions caused and utter contempt for the idea he had no control over actions clearly he took and must claim as she must claim hers and own the destruction of her family. Of course, sleeping with a neighbors husband on Thursday is pure skank. Her explanation for why she thinks it’s okay, are the rationalizations, excuses and justifications liars use when they try to sell BS as legitimate reasoning. If it’s so alright, eliminate the secrecy and be open with his wife, who may have a different explanation about why she doesn’t have sex with him. He gave her venereal disease and she’s sure he sleeps with skanks and they must be doing some pretty nasty things if they’re spreading crud all about. Let me assure her she is indeed a bad person. She has no place in a marriage which seems to have issues. Let the couple work them out without compounding them by bringing an idiot who’s doing good deeds without discriminating between what is good and what is selfish, sleazy and makes her a common trollop. It’s admirable to feed the child but daddy needs to work things out with his wife or get out of the marriage before he takes her up on her offer for sex because he is not free and he has no right to partake of the easy neighbor just because she’s easy. Don’t believe a word he says about his wife either. He’ll lie to get a piece of skank tail. It’s obvious he’s a nasty SOB. He’ll cheat on his wife and kids with the tart next door. She’s a simpleton, puts out for married men and if he will do her, he will do a great many things decent people would look down upon. Decent people know whatever goes on next door, it’s wrong to do something as unsavory as servicing some man on Thursdays. If she’s married, here’s hoping some bimbo similar to herself is nailing her guy while she’s next door making peanut butter sandwiches. Let him correct his marital problems without compounding them and making them so bad they may have no chance. She should quit kidding herself that she’s anything but a morally bankrupt scumbag. She may not live in a trailer, a stupid statement that assumes everyone who does is trash and belongs on Springer when trash is trash and housing does not trash make but screwing married men and wondering why it’s judged negatively when open exploration with no victim and no deception is not, are excellent indicators that she is slutty and rather slow.

  37. Bander Says:

    My parents who have been together for 26 years told me something mind-blowing the other day…”Odds are,” said my mom, “the majority of people in relationships have cheated.”

    I found this disturbing because my parents have always led of life of fidelity…but odds are there is more than they are willing to share. Odds are they cheated on each other. What it comes down to though, I think, is that cheating happens. Mistakes happen and sometimes multiple times and yes, there is a cost, there are consequences. Cheating is wrong, but when you cheat and you can realize it’s wrong, you have the ability to change your ways and be faithful again. That’s understandable. That in my opinion is admirable. But cheating then choosing to continue cheating and being proud of it…cheating and justifying it…cheating and bragging about how you feed your neighbors’ son peanut butter and jelly sandwiches then screw her husband…that is absolutely 100% FUCKED up and absolutely worth judging. Have not only some respect for your neighbor (the wife), but have some damn respect for yourself. You will caught and when you do you WILL realize what a horrible person you are. Enjoy it while it lasts, but prepare for the reality check in the near future.

  38. Claudia` Says:

    I disagree with em and lo, its easy to point the finger and say someone is doing wrong or “sinning” or inflicting pain, what is much harder is to empathize with this individual, no one wants to hurt someone they love, but life gets in the way. so you say to leave him .. things are not so black and white and easy, u can fully love someone and yet fully care about someone else also, u cant just leave someone over sexual desire, and yet u cant live ur life with out it, i say rethink what your moral values are and try to be a little softer on your response, i find it synnical how you want to trash someone who trusts your views. I am sorry that this woman finds her self truly stuck, but you know what?…thats life, it sucks balls at times, and you have to make the choices your self, because they are going to affect your life, i do not condone this woman, but i fully understand her situation, and i hope she is happy, and at the very least loves those she is hurting.

  39. Destiny Says:

    Cheating…..??? If you lose interest in the one you love enough to get to the point were you will have sex with your neighbor or anyone for that fact I wonder how you go about life with that constant reminder of being unfaithful!!!. Its a sad sad decision and Karma will get you in the butt eventually. Whether you end up single till your 90 or get hit by a car I believe karma catches up with you. cheating on someone is plain selfish AND RUDE no matter what the situation . I don’t think cheaters are skank’s. I believe they are people with major insecurities and major selfish morals and values.STOP thinking about yourself please and start thinking about your actions because in the end cheaters always in my right mind lose. The pleasures of trust and love are far greater than an orgasm. Common now orgasms last hmmm how long not very long love on the other hand love can last as long as you choose. Thanks for reading this and I hope any cheaters out their start thinking about other people rather than themselves.!!!!!!

  40. Hugh Jass Says:

    @Leah:

    Please use paragraphs (TL;DR).

    There are a lot of either current or future hypocrites here. 20% of people admit cheating during their marriage and 35% admit cheating during some relationship at some point in their life. Because many people won’t admit it, estimates of the actual prevalence of cheating are between 50-60%.

    I’m surprised all you kinky people, who usually like to look down on people who are politically conservative for not being able to see the “gray areas,” and only looking at the “black and white,” cannot see that there are gray areas in marriage as well. Sometimes, even the suggestion that you’d “like to” have an affair would be enough to drive your spouse to harm themselves or to have a negative effect on their health. Despite what people say here, over 70% of people who have been cheated on did not know about it (or if they did, did not tell the cheater that they knew). Thus, in some cases, it is better to cheat than to “request an affair.”

    The media has made the standards for romance and marriage impossibly difficult to live up to. This is why divorce is so prevalent today, because people think that their “everyday marriage” isn’t good enough and that they “deserve better.”

  41. Becky Says:

    i believe cheating (no matter the situation) is 100% unacceptable! you made a commentment to one person sooo STICK TO IT!! since you are married to your husband you must have loved him so why sleep with another person when you have the one you love in your bed with you who loves you back

  42. tlt Says:

    “…she hasn’t let him touch her since she had the baby — THREE YEARS AGO!”

    You fell for that? You *really* fell for that? Oldest line in the book. You never even considered that he’s having sex with you AND his wife, or with you and someone else OR with you, his wife AND someone else, did you? Bless your heart. Dumb as a post.

  43. T Says:

    Cheating is wrong, no matter what excuse you use for justification. If you loved someone enough to take those vows and get married, you should stay committed. i think that is why so many people get divorced…because they don’t know what it takes to be married.

    i’ve been married for 3 years and have encountered quite a few issues along the way, and i still have a long way to go and many more things to learn.

    i just don’t know how people could cheat on their spouses and continue living a lie. yes, i’ve cheated on a couple of boyfriends when i was younger, and those relationships weren’t serious.

    if you get to that point where you feel you have to find satisfaction from someone else, then it’s probably time to figure out if you still want the relationship or not.

  44. Wow Says:

    In one case everyone involved in what’s going on is ok with it.

    In your case, you’re lying, and everyone involved isn’t ok with the situation.

    What more is there to say? You’re lying. It’s not the actual physical part that’s wrong, it’s the hurting people’s feelings part. So you can’t compare it to other types of sex, that doesn’t matter. It’s caring about your promises and feeling of your husband that matters.

  45. Lacey Says:

    hey, ladies, that thing your husband does that you like so much.. i taught him that

  46. Juls Says:

    I am in love with a man who was lured into a relationship with a gay woman, unbeknownst to him. He is a house-boy, a token man, and now, he’s leaving her and he’ll be mine. He is an honorable, kind, gentle man who has been sexually ignored, like so many men these days. I chose to have an affair with a married man because he makes me feel great about myself, he is more caring, nurturing, accepting and loving than anyone else I’ve ever known. I am not saying I believe in affairs, I just know that we both found our lifetime mates.

  47. Wendy Says:

    Cheating is cheating whether your husband knows about it or not! Once you marry whether opposite or same sex your to be faithful to that person til death do you part or you divorce. That woman is married and so is her neighbor and neither her husband or his wife knows what’s going on. SO she’s not only a cheater but a liar. Skank all the way in my book.

  48. Ann Says:

    Hey Lacey, you a lady-hater or something?? Have poor self esteem? Was your mommy a cheater??

  49. Cami Says:

    ED is a treatable medical problem. If your husband doesn’t want to get help he probably doesn’t have ED. He just doesn’t want to admit you don’t do it for him anymore. Having sex with someone else isn’t going to get your neighbor’s wife to have sex with him, so if she isn’t going to let him touch her he needs to end the relationship or cheat for the rest of his life. People are lying when they say they are staying together for the children. They don’t end their relationships and cheat because they are emotional retarded and cannot handle the emotions a divorce would cause or because they don’t want to lose money/support themselves financially.

  50. Mike Says:

    Cheating on your husband because of erectile disfunction? Really?? Have you even talked to him about it? Have you talked to a counseler before deciding to cheat on him. You can try to find any reason to cheat on someone…but it’ll never be a good reason. I dont care if you are not married or you are…cheating on your SO is uncalled for! If it’s THAT bad…seek help! If you really love this man…you would do everything you could to save the relationship, not go behind his back and cheat on him. That’s the worst thing anyone could do to someone else. I mean, when I am going on a date with a woman, I dont even date other women at the same time cause I feel that would be disheartening.


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