In sickness and in stealth
This woman and I were involved 13 years ago, before I met my wife, but she was married then. She got divorced and moved away. We reconnected recently on Facebook, and I discovered she’s now only 20 miles away. I told her I’m happily married and I’ve never cheated on my wife, but I would risk everything for her and want to meet her for an intimate encounter. (She and I had great sex, far better than I have with my wife.) She said she still has feelings for me but is happily married and couldn’t cheat on her husband because she would feel “too guilty.” She says he is her “rock” and has done so much for her, including taking her and her three kids in during the ordeal of her divorce. I’m perplexed. She cheated on her first husband with me, and we had lots of fun. I thought the leopard couldn’t change its spots. How could it be okay for her to cheat then and not now? –Spurned
It’s so annoying when a woman lets a little thing like a lifelong commitment get in the way of providing you with an hour and a half of better-quality sex.
No, a leopard does not wake up in the morning and think, “Maybe I’ll do paisley today.” Humans, on the other hand, have an irritating tendency to fail to conform to pat aphorisms. For example, this woman, who, in the past, has provided you with some seriously excellent adulterous sex, now refuses to run off to Goodwill to get back her leopard-print blouse with the scarlet A on it. Amazingly, she feels it would be wrong to reward a guy who’s “done so much” for her by doing you whenever you can both sneak out for a nooner.
As for why she cheated in the past, maybe she was young and narcissistic and thought being unhappily married was enough of an excuse to be happily adulterous. She’s since picked herself up a set of ethics – maybe after seeing the ravages that conscience-free living can cause on husbands and children. And tempted as she may be, she seems to realize that the best way to avoid going around feeling all queasy with guilt is to avoid sexual multitasking: trying to gaze in one man’s eyes like you love him while trying to remember what time you were supposed to meet the other man at the motel.
Economist Robert H. Frank explains in Passions Within Reason that moral behavior seems to be driven by the emotions. Guilt, clearly, has worked for your former cheatums, and Frank sees love as a “commitment device” that bonds people beyond what would be in their sheer self-interest (like running off to the first opportunity for better sex that moves back to town). In other words, if you focus on what you’re grateful for about your wife and engage in little loving touches and gestures, you can reinforce what you have – which seems fairer than rewarding her for making you happy by giving her believable excuses for your disappearances. Remember, they’re called marriage vows, not marriage suggestions – as in, you don’t get to live according to “Till the prospect of really great sex do us part, but only for an afternoon, and I wouldn’t even think of it if she weren’t double-jointed.”
Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email AdviceAmy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com). Weekly radio show: blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon. 2013, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved.