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?
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.”
Belittle Miss Sunshine
I met a girl online, and we exchanged some email and planned to meet for happy hour. About three hours before, she texted me, “Sorry, have 2 cancel.” That was the last I ever heard from her. I’m not bothered by being texted (since we didn’t have a relationship), but at what point do you owe somebody more than the briefest possible blow-off?
Sometimes the technology at hand demands that a person send an abbreviated message -- like when their chisel breaks just as they’re etching the last letter of “cancel” into the stone tablet. Sometimes, the brevity is the message. For example, in the briefest way, this woman told you everything you need to know about her: “I’m not about to type out eight words of explanation just to preserve some stranger’s dignity.” In Internet dating, because you’re meeting face to online dating profile, the coldly calculating find it easier to treat you like you’re just a bunch of digital information that has the possibility of becoming a boyfriend. Being kind and polite takes very little -- just some excuse that suggests you matter enough as a human to put some effort into blowing you off. So, this woman didn’t need to give you the real reason, just some reason -- “realizing i'm not over my x so sorry” -- instead of simply unsubscribing to you and your offer of a date like you were unwanted email from Lyndon LaRouche or the Pantyliner Of The Month Club.
Smells Like Libertine Spirit
I got involved with my co-host on my Web show -- a woman in an “open relationship” with her live-in boyfriend of two years. Things were light and fun between us until we developed actual feelings for each other and he got jealous and she became guilty and torn. Two weeks ago, after we had an amazing date, she texted to say she was “falling apart” and quitting our show. She’s since made our friendship conditional on our not being involved anymore and my not questioning her quitting or discussing what happened. I either abide by these rules or “watch (her) walk away.” I said she was being emotionally manipulative, and she got really angry. She knows I care about her and want her in my life, but it seems unfair that I have to constantly worry about saying the wrong thing and having her cut and run.
Some people in open relationships can come off a little smug about how cool, modern, and progressive they are -- that is, until they write that first check to the private detective to make sure you and their girlfriend are only getting your freak on, not holding hands.
Monogamy might not be “natural,” but neither is watching your partner run around on you and being all “no problemo!” about it. A couple who decide to have an open relationship may tell themselves they can intellectualize their way around jealousy (and insecurity, possessiveness, and other such fun) without really working through how, exactly, they’ll manage that. This guy, for example, maybe got so excited about “having his cake” that he neglected to consider what would happen if his girlfriend really, really liked her cake.
These two actually had a responsibility to anybody they got involved with to do their open relationship homework and figure out that they could only manage “happily ever afternoon,” not “after.” It would be nice if she took responsibility now for failing to take responsibility then, maybe with an “I’m really sorry” and a “We probably shouldn’t see each other,” but she prefers to extend her history of denial with the notion that you can be “friends.” Oh, and P.S., feel free to ask her anything, as long as it’s about nothing more emotionally sensitive than the time.
As for whether you should stick around and meet her terms, well, with friends like her, who needs bar fights? Also, it’s hard to stop wanting somebody when you don’t stop seeing them, at least for a while. It seems your time would be better spent pursuing a woman who doesn’t already have a boyfriend. You and she can try the sort of open relationship you’re looking for now -- one sans conversational restrictions -- as opposed to the sort that, for a good many people, works out like the hen becoming BFFs with the coyote. (Eventually, somebody’s going to end up a pile of feathers.)
Random Acts Of Silence
You advised a guy who “choked” when talking to girls to focus on saying things he finds interesting and fun. Well, I often can’t think of anything smart or funny to say until the woman’s gone. I saw the cutest redhead at the supermarket, and not wanting to let the moment pass me by, I blurted out, “Are you an actress?” She smiled politely and replied, “No.” To which I responded, “Do you get that question a lot?” To which she replied, “Yes, I do.” I had nothing after that. Smooth. Very smooth. After she left, I thought of a million witty things I could have said.
My boyfriend hit on me by talking about a “kernel panic” (some kind of computer panic attack that fills your screen with scary code) -- a subject of slightly less interest to me than the projected weather for tomorrow in Hammerfest, Norway. But because he’s very much my type, I didn’t care what he was saying, just that he was sticking around saying it and, I hoped, working up to asking for my number. Most women know whether they’re attracted to you before you open your mouth. If a woman’s into you at all, you don’t need to perform like there’s a two-drink minimum next to the kale; you just need to ask something that keeps her there and allows you to regroup. “Are you an actress?” is less than ideal, as it comes off as a version of “You’re HOT.” She’ll want you to think she’s hot. But women tend to downgrade men who hit on them by remarking on their looks. Ask about something she’s wearing or carrying or something in the environment. If she seems responsive, keep talking. If she’s giving you one-word answers, it’s a sign either that she isn’t attracted to you or that you forgot to point to the cider when you asked, “Those jugs yours?”