Thursday, May 27, 2010

Reinventing the Cheating Game...

Guys and gals, sit up and listen. I'm about to propose changing the game...the cheating game, that is.

One of my girlfriends (who is the biggest sweetheart in the world) posted a link to an article titled "Will every man cheat one day?" on her FB profile. She then asked that all her married, male friends who have never cheated 'like' the post.

She got one response. And, a comment from me that no guy is ever going to be honest about this.

Now, let me state for the record that I'm no man hater, and I'm most certainly not going into a "all men are scums" rant. (On the contrary, as many of my guy buddies will testify, I rather like your species. You're pretty fun to be around when you're guzzling beer, watching soccer or beating up the mouse because you're being thrashed by the game algorithm.)

What I really don't like, is this really outdated discourse: 1. that men are biologically predisposed to cheat, and 2. hence the women must either stand by their men (I HATE that song) like a 'good wife' should, or turn into a man-hater.

Granted, the first point is completely true. It's been scientifically proven (although I did suspect if the whole study was just a brilliant conspiracy by the researchers to ratify the male species). It seems that there is a gene in the male makeup that determines if he is more predisposed to sowing his oats than other guys. The article my friend posted briefly quoted this study (

So, we can't change nature. But we surely can change the way we perceive and think about the whole issue.

Firstly, in most cases, when a guy cheats, it usually has a lot more to do with the state of their relationship/marriage, or their personal issues, than their natural inability to keep their pants on. The therapists and counselors are pretty unanimous on the former probable cause. Married life can get boring, and the intimacy suffers, especially when the couple is sleep deprived or stressed out by the bills, the kids, etc. The psychologists, in the same note, agree on the latter cause. A guy who is having self esteem issues, or going through some major life changes, often finds a sexual conquest to be a great boost. (Like we women don't.)

So, I'm not saying I condone the act of cheating. I'm saying, stop demonizing the guy, but more importantly, stop focusing on the act. Seriously, each time a celebrity, or a friend of a neighbor's second cousin's friend is caught cheating, the whole world gasps and spreads the news, like it is really something new and surprising. Get over it, people. Give the guy and couple a break, and let them have a chance to sort out the root causes of their problems.

Secondly, and this is something you guys need to hear, it's not just the men who cheat. Women can, and do cheat, too. It's true. Maybe it happens less often with women, or we're just smarter and don't get caught as often, but yes, we can, and do cheat. And we're apparently not biologically predisposed to do so. Which then means, seriously, that there is this element called free will and/or choice that comes into play. Guys or gals, if we cheat, we make a choice to do it. Deal with it, and stop blaming the genes.

If you think about it, it's actually much easier for a woman to cheat. All she has to do is to put on makeup and some nice clothes. If, by the cliche definition of guys as biologically unable to not respond to a hotblooded, willing female, then it shouldn't be too hard for her to net one of them. C'est vrai?

What is really passe and trite in this whole discourse, is the concept of the 'good wife' -- the stoic, long suffering, noble woman who will 'stand by her man' (I HATE that song!), extend her gracious forgiveness and continue to hold their family together. This may have been a case of necessity in the good old days when women have no means of economic independence. But these days, we have OPTIONS.

So, this is what the gals need to hear. Our options, when it's broken, are: 1. Fix it, but only if we're sure we want to, and that they want to as well, and both parties are willing to work on it; 2. Leave it, and move on; and 3. Take one course, with the option of switching to the other.

And it's time to switch track for the whole "love-and-cherish, have-and-hold" paradigm of marriage to work in this day and age. The guy is no longer just there to provide, and the gal is no longer just there to nurture. Both need to do both and find some sort of comfortable meeting space in between. The rules need to change, and the whole game, reinvented.

Guys, if you want to be able to get away with it because you were bored, just having some fun, and it didn't mean anything, then you'll have to be able to live with it too if your wife/girlfriend does the same. Gals, "forever" and "happily ever after" only works if there is, indeed, happiness. If there's any standing to be done, it shouldn't be you, alone, by your man. It should be standing together.

Just so it's clear, I do still believe in good, old fashioned stuff like love and growing old together. There's not many scenes I find sweeter than an old couple, still holding hands, crossing the road or shuffling down the supermaket aisle together. Which brings me back to the can only be done together, both parties willing, and working to make it happen.

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