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Cheating on you, he could live with. Hurting me, he couldn't bear.
August 24, 2013 10:09 AM   Subscribe

A Letter to the Wife of My Boyfriend
posted by SkylitDrawl (212 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Dismal. Perhaps fun to hang around with, but not someone you would want to spend your life with.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:11 AM on August 24, 2013


I do believe that I owe it to myself to fall in love and stay in love for as long as is humanly possible.

Who is the "self" referenced here, and how does it differ from the "I"?
posted by Greg Nog at 10:12 AM on August 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm not particularly into the narrative of the "other woman", but man, this is an unsympathetic persona.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:13 AM on August 24, 2013 [29 favorites]


Christ, what an asshole.

I mean, seriously, to write (metaphorically) to the wife, "he didn't break up with me because he loves you, he broke up with me because he didn't want to hurt me [so suck it, you deluded b****]". And then, after that, to be all crushed because "he loves us both". I mean, the only possible non-horrible outcome is that the dude loves/loved both of you, because otherwise you and he are horrible, horrible people and his wife is being played. Yuckers.
posted by Frowner at 10:14 AM on August 24, 2013 [37 favorites]


Cheating on you, he could live with. Hurting me, he couldn't bear.

Or maybe he decided that the novelty had worn off and you were beginning to demand more than he felt like giving, so it was time to jettison you.
posted by orange swan at 10:14 AM on August 24, 2013 [57 favorites]


It’s been a year now since your husband broke up with me. He didn’t do it for you, or to save your marriage. He did it because our relationship had reached a point that it was causing me more pain than it was bringing me joy.

What a selfless, thoughtful guy...

Seriously, how is it possible to write something like that without immediately thinking, "Oh, hey... I'm living in a fantasy world"?
posted by Sing Or Swim at 10:16 AM on August 24, 2013 [28 favorites]


It actually reads like a piece of fiction written by the wife to describe the character of the woman she has never met. It's really the classic "selfish, smug, competitive bitch" image of the other woman in a relationship, it does that infuriating thing of giving the guy zero real agency, and the end note is just tonally bizarre.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:18 AM on August 24, 2013 [64 favorites]


It can be really much easier to get into a situation like that.

Back when I was 20-21, I was the other man. The woman was 32 and her husband was away a lot. We were friends via what passed for the online community back then. We had drinks, and I ended up on her couch, as the Mormon couple I rented a room from would not appreciate me coming home seriously sloshed.

One thing led to another. We then became a covert thing for a while. She needed romance, intimacy and sex, and I was dumb and led by my hormones.

We ended it on basically good terms a long while later. Her husband worked for the government and had a security clearance renewal coming up, so we agreed that it was the time to end it.

I regret it going as far as it did now, but I do not regret the learning experience.

Hate on me if you want, but I am only (mostly) human. [semigrin]
posted by Samizdata at 10:19 AM on August 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


(Oh, said woman and I recently reconnected online. Nothing untoward happening, but some shared memories.)
posted by Samizdata at 10:20 AM on August 24, 2013


from the piece:
Because I’m not a bad person, I’m not a heartless person.
Mm, yeah, you are. Not to mention stupid.
posted by jfwlucy at 10:20 AM on August 24, 2013 [14 favorites]


I never understood May’s assertion that there’s some sort of sisterhood I’m betraying. I don’t believe in a loyalty we all owe each other as women.

....misses the larger point here. Sleeping with someone's husband isn't wrong because he's married to a woman, it's wrong because you are hurting other people.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:21 AM on August 24, 2013 [45 favorites]


I'm assuming "Leigh Keck" is a pseudonym, but even so -- the point of this piece seems to be to include just enough detail so that the wife, if she ever sees it, will know what happened and who was involved. Because "Leigh Keck" can't stand it that husband and wife have moved on from the mistakes that he made. I think that's what makes the story really disagreeable even above and beyond the bare fact of the affair.
posted by escabeche at 10:23 AM on August 24, 2013 [37 favorites]


You know, I'm only half kidding when I say I'm okay with stoning adulterers of both genders.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:24 AM on August 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


That is not a person I would wish to have anything to do with. I seriously wonder if she couldn't clinically be diagnosed as a sociopath. Ick.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:26 AM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I know I am probably in a minority here, and cheating on a partner is not very cool at all...BUT with so much baggage around relationships in modern times, I guess I feel like people have a right to try to be happy. People generally are not mature enough to get married when they do, and when you find you've made a wrong choice, you're fucked. Its a pretty big deal to get divorced...and sex is a very strong motivator, its hardware. Its hard for me to revile people for not resisting temptation. I also expect that many who criticize, have never been in that position. It takes a strong will and moral fiber, which most don't possess.
posted by sfts2 at 10:27 AM on August 24, 2013 [22 favorites]


I do believe that I owe it to myself to fall in love and stay in love for as long as is humanly possible.

I'm not a super religious guy, but the best way I can think of to put it is that to knowingly harm another person for your own benefit is the definition of sin.
posted by Chanther at 10:28 AM on August 24, 2013 [27 favorites]


Surely every affair is different, and folks like Dan Savage go to great lengths sometimes to justify a few edge cases. But this particular affair doesn't seem like one of those.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:29 AM on August 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Polyamory is ok, betrayal ain't but maybe if our culture was a wee bit more honest about how crappy monogamy is, and were more open to other arrangements, this type of crap would happen less.

It's complicated.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:29 AM on August 24, 2013 [23 favorites]


I never understood May’s assertion that there’s some sort of sisterhood I’m betraying. I don’t believe in a loyalty we all owe each other as women.

Fine. How about a loyalty we owe other humans? How you can sit there and think you are somehow a decent person when you knowingly and happily did what you could do to hurt another person is beyond me.

Oh, and sweetie? He didn't dump you because it hurt you too much to be with him. He dumped you because the drama outweighed the fun.
posted by teleri025 at 10:33 AM on August 24, 2013 [16 favorites]


it does that infuriating thing of giving the guy zero real agency

Yesss. The girlfriend might be a bit douchey, but the real douchecannon is the married bloke cheating on his wife. Of course she has to believe he broke up with her to stop causing her pain, otherwise she'd be just as much a victim as the wife and that would break her.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:33 AM on August 24, 2013 [22 favorites]


It's funny that before being cheated on my attitude would have been "this is flowery and self-aggrandizing" and now it's a hearty "go fuck yourself" at an almost pre-conscious level.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 10:36 AM on August 24, 2013 [26 favorites]


You know, I'm only half kidding when I say I'm okay with stoning adulterers of both genders.

It's not genocide when it is only just about a quarter of the married adult population of the United States for example (which is about 55% of the adult population of roughly 200 million). So your only 'half kidding' about killing approximately 27 million people.
posted by srboisvert at 10:36 AM on August 24, 2013 [20 favorites]


That is some despicable, self-justifying, self-absorbed bullshit.

You want to cheat w/ a married guy, that's a call people make. But to want to sit down and have a drink with the wife of the man you've been fucking...

What kind of solipsistic "Me, me, me" life is this woman living that she could even contemplate a letter like this?
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:37 AM on August 24, 2013 [18 favorites]


Jesus talk about reveling in someone else's unhappiness. I don't think all cheating is created equal and I think sometimes good people can really mess up and hurt people and do things they regret because their emotions got away from them, but that isn't this. This is just repulsive.
posted by whoaali at 10:38 AM on August 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


This is precisely what is wrong with our culture's attitude toward love. It sums it up so perfectly, I half suspect that this was secretly planted by someone solely to be used as an example in some future op-ed.
posted by vorpal bunny at 10:39 AM on August 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Executive summary:

"The whole world revolves around me."
posted by chasing at 10:43 AM on August 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


I kept waiting for her to describe how they fell in love, thinking it was building up to that, and thought I'd reached it at: "For weeks, I kept it a secret. But one night, after too many tequila shots, I finally..." and then she talks about confessing it to her friend. Who (rightly) friend-dumped her.

Self-absorbed, yup. Doesn't know the definition of "love". Sad. It does read as fiction in that sense, on the other hand, have met enough people who approach "love" with "me me me, got mine, suck it" personalities that I can also believe it may be non-fiction.
posted by fraula at 10:43 AM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


While her actions aren't laudable, I do admire her for writing the article and attempting some, if not every deep, thought about the affair.

Far too often society is just willing to stone adulteress, whereas if people were able to talk about it a bit, it might be better for society all around.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:44 AM on August 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is either the ugly fiction of youth or one of the cruelest things I've read in quite awhile. Either way, it appears calculated to cause the maximum amount of pain to the boyfriend's wife, complete with a "haha, just kidding!"-style ending. I read the ending as an attempt at redemption in the sense of "after all of my gloating, I have to admit defeat", but it rings very hollow. It's redemptive in the same sense that "I'm sorry you were offended" is apologetic, which is to say, not particularly.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:44 AM on August 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


I have fucked
the husband
that was in
your marriage

Don't bother to forgive me
We should discuss this over coffee sometime
posted by vanar sena at 10:45 AM on August 24, 2013 [136 favorites]


I didn't know that sociopaths were the "best of the web."
posted by desjardins at 10:46 AM on August 24, 2013 [14 favorites]


entropicamericana: "You know, I'm only half kidding when I say I'm okay with stoning adulterers of both genders."

As a previous adulterer, I agree with your campaign to legalize marijuana!
posted by Samizdata at 10:48 AM on August 24, 2013 [18 favorites]


Yuck. This makes me feel sad and tired in the way you feel sad and tired for people who will never have enough depth and insight to understand that they are the problem. Those immature, narcissistic, "I'm a free-spirit artist not playing by anyone's rules" types. Gross. I'm getting old to find that stuff at all charming anymore.
posted by quincunx at 10:50 AM on August 24, 2013 [27 favorites]


...and then what?! Sorry, I got to the end and was like "wait, does it want me to sign up so I can read the rest?" Or maybe her editor just decided to close up this particular hellmouth early? I don't know, but I feel like there was more to this story. Not that it would be redeeming - that ship has clearly sailed.

I mean, from a literary perspective, this is just not compelling at all. We leave her on the sidewalk, stalking them, devastated to learn that he actually *does* love his wife. AND THEN WHAT, BLACK SWAN?! THEN WHAT?!
posted by jph at 10:51 AM on August 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


People justify the shitty things they do. I don't see that as sociopathy as much as delusion.

People do deserve the best they can get, and there's a reason why adultery is legal in all but the most repressive countries. This story made me sad more than anything. I hope she's able to get the happiness she craves.
posted by zoo at 10:52 AM on August 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


So your only 'half kidding' about killing approximately 27 million people.

Look at this way: Rents will go down and wages will go up!
posted by entropicamericana at 10:53 AM on August 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is this an out-take from Ayn Randers column?
posted by jph at 10:54 AM on August 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


AND THEN WHAT, BLACK SWAN?! THEN WHAT?!

Yeah, isn't this first act in your average thriller/horror "I cheated with someone and got away with it, but they too into it so I broke it off but now they're stalking me and cooking my pets" story?
posted by The Whelk at 10:56 AM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


For this woman, having a lover is meaningless unless she is actively taking him away from another woman.

If the poor fool had actually left his wife for her, he would have found her cheating on him with another married man in a matter of months.

Without fundamental changes to her personality she will probably never have the insight to realize she needs to make, her only prospects for stable relationships are men who will never leave their wives, and are too stupid to grasp that she is not so much fucking them as fucking over their wives.
posted by jamjam at 10:56 AM on August 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Let's not forget that this woman cheated on nobody. He was the cheat, not her. If anyone would have strayed if they had got together, it would have been him.
posted by zoo at 11:01 AM on August 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


I mean, of course people have affairs, and relationships are troubled and children cause stress, and I imagine that if we all knew the truth we'd realize that there was a lot more cheating going on than we thought. And of course monogamy is difficult and there are alternatives to it, even though they are also a lot of effort (funny how there's just no way to sustain sexual and emotional intimacy alongside raising a family without sometimes making sacrifices and not getting everything you want, no matter how many partners are involved...). The issue is that this woman actually thinks that being the other woman means that she's a specialer snowflake than the wife, that the wife is deluded, that she is more wonderful and free-spirited and of course the husband couldn't bear to hurt her precious precious feelings even though he was happy to trample on his wife's, because boring old worka-mommy kind of deserves it, amirite? Also she seems to think that it's some kind of transgressive detail to talk about the dude going home without showering, when it's not, like, erotic and compelling, it's just ne plus squick.
posted by Frowner at 11:01 AM on August 24, 2013 [33 favorites]


I contend that he loved neither. I picture this guy as a bottomless pit of neediness and perhaps narcissism. And the protagonist of this snippet is just as deluded.
posted by sevenofspades at 11:01 AM on August 24, 2013 [15 favorites]


Wait, I thought we weren't doing "point and laugh at this person" posts? Because this basically seems like an excuse to hate on this woman.

That said, Jesus. What a self serving masturbatory piece of dreck.
posted by emptythought at 11:03 AM on August 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Let's not forget that this woman cheated on nobody.

Yeah, no. If you're dating someone you know is married, you're just as guilty.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:04 AM on August 24, 2013 [22 favorites]


She's desperately trying to romanticize a fling. The guy has most likely moved on to the next one and doesn't think about her at all.
posted by stavrogin at 11:04 AM on August 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


I get that this woman wrote a horrible tedious awful article and thus we should smite her but in general it would always be nice if more smiting was aimed at the guy involved, who actively chose to participate in an affair and did not walk down the street and accidentally trip and fall penis first into the lady's tricksy vagina trap.
posted by elizardbits at 11:05 AM on August 24, 2013 [92 favorites]


Time and time again the 'other woman' is vilified in these situations while the man with the ring on his finger gets off more than lightly. I have no dog in this fight but have seen plenty friends have affairs and each time it's the woman who is branded the slut, the destroyer, the evil bitch who ruined other people's lives. People love and lust and unless you've been stupid enough to take vows in front of your family and friends that you will remain faithful to another human being then, personally, you can fuck and fall in love with who you want without one iota of guilt. Seriously. Again, personally speaking, the notion of loving one person and one person only for the rest of your life is nuts. I'm sure it can happen and if it works for you then swell but for the most part it's total BS and f you're the one who made promises, you're the only one to blame for breaking them and all the fallout that entails.
posted by Callicvol at 11:06 AM on August 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


Sleeping with someone's husband isn't wrong because he's married to a woman, it's wrong because you are hurting other people.

If unmarried Alice has sex with married Bob, Alice isn't hurting Bob's wife Charlene. Bob is. There's only one person there who's breaking a solemn promise, and that's Bob.

In general, the worst I can say about someone being The Other Person is that it's usually not terribly smart, at least not if you're looking for a long-term stable relationship. This one is obviously different insofar as this particular Alice admits to taking actions specifically to hurt Charlene.

I expect some of my reaction is because I'm in the "Oh, thank GOD I was cheated on!" camp.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:06 AM on August 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


elizardbits: "but in general it would always be nice if more smiting was aimed at the guy involved"

He's not the one who aired his delusions in print though. I strongly suspect we are being trolled, because if not I mostly just feel pity for this woman.
posted by vanar sena at 11:08 AM on August 24, 2013 [12 favorites]


I never understood blaming the 'other' party. I've never been the cheater but I've been cheated on plenty of times, even in poly relationships (lying makes it cheating). I've NEVER been mad at the 'other', only at my supposed partner.

The 'other' is human too.
posted by _paegan_ at 11:11 AM on August 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


If unmarried Alice has sex with married Bob, Alice isn't hurting Bob's wife Charlene. Bob is. There's only one person there who's breaking a solemn promise, and that's Bob.

If Charlene knows Bob is married, and knows Charlene wouldn't be OK with it, she's at the very least helping him break his promise. When someone wants to do something shitty to someone else, it seems like a basic element of decency to *not help them do it*.
posted by kewb at 11:12 AM on August 24, 2013 [15 favorites]


I know I am probably in a minority here, and cheating on a partner is not very cool at all...BUT with so much baggage around relationships in modern times, I guess I feel like people have a right to try to be happy. People generally are not mature enough to get married when they do, and when you find you've made a wrong choice, you're fucked. Its a pretty big deal to get divorced...and sex is a very strong motivator, its hardware. Its hard for me to revile people for not resisting temptation. I also expect that many who criticize, have never been in that position. It takes a strong will and moral fiber, which most don't possess.

I would actually agree with what you say about pursuing happiness in general, but a moral disconnect in culture (at east in my mind) is in defining what it is to try to be happy. It's not informed much any more by investigating to what extent virtue, long-suffering, and delayed gratification can build into a life of contentment, satisfaction, and happiness; and to what extent actions informed by instant gratification offer only fleeting views of happiness. Pleasure and well-being are not the same and they are too often equated, and this is why the temptation can be strong, I think. We think we're pursuing happiness when we are really pursuing a shadow of it and wondering why life doesn't feel quite right. It perpetuates the cycle. Pleasure should be a subset of a life properly satisfied, not the train that gets us there.

You are right, too, that it's true that not as many possess this strong moral fiber, but I don't think it eliminates the moral responsibility to cultivate those more enduring virtues in culture at large. I agree, too, that I wouldn't revile people for falling into temptation (except, perhaps, those who celebrate it), but it certainly doesn't let us off the hook. The stakes are too high and potentially devastating, so it's worth emphasizing, I think, that we should have higher standards in relationships.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:14 AM on August 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


Meh. Alice hasn't made any promises to Charlene (unless she has).
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:15 AM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Alice should respect Charlene as another human being in the world. Alice probably wouldn't steal Charlene's credit card, so she shouldn't sleep with her huband.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:17 AM on August 24, 2013 [15 favorites]


Spouses aren't credit cards, aren't possessions, and can't be stolen.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:20 AM on August 24, 2013 [24 favorites]


Alice should respect Charlene as another human being in the world. Alice probably wouldn't steal Charlene's credit card, so she shouldn't sleep with her huband.

Sorry, but that made me cringe with the unfortunate implication of Charlene's husband being her property. I would rather go for the credit card myself.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 11:20 AM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Remember she talks about this beginning on a double date. It's one thing to have an affair when you've never seen or met the innocent spouse, it seems a somewhat different thing when the spouse is someone you have met socially. And the way she writes about wanting the guy's wife to smell her scent, that just seems really mean-spirited and petty. Generally yes, the reproach should fall mostly on the wandering spouse, but there's no need to be so nasty about it.
posted by ambrosia at 11:21 AM on August 24, 2013 [24 favorites]


Shallow sociopath, middling writer.
posted by LarryC at 11:22 AM on August 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


Is it really so difficult to acknowledge that both the cheater and the person they're cheating with are knowingly misbehaving? (Assuming the latter knows.)
posted by c'mon sea legs at 11:23 AM on August 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


Even if that's true, the difference is like that between ebola and rhinovirus.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:25 AM on August 24, 2013


It's the seemingly deliberate cruelty that sets this apart. You may have a personal morality which justifies covert relationships with people who are already in committed relationships themselves (I sometimes feel like this is a sort of relationship libertarianism) but no one has the right to be cruel in the way this article is.
posted by feloniousmonk at 11:25 AM on August 24, 2013 [26 favorites]


Spouses aren't credit cards, aren't possessions, and can't be stolen.

I don't think that was the analogy. You wouldn't do something shitty like steal a credit card, so you shouldn't do this other shitty thing, either. The comparison hinges on the respect issue.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:26 AM on August 24, 2013 [14 favorites]


I was the other woman without knowing it -- and yes, I was a fool. Even after seven months, when our twice- or once-weekly dates became ever more sporadic, when sometimes weeks would go between us meeting and one or the botb of us would blame work, even after the excuses for why we always had to retire to my shitty Brooklyn apartment instead of his place got ever more strained (do adults really have "no overnight guests" rules for roommates even in the tiny closets that pass for apartments in NYC?), even after I saw his face turn white after he picked up his phone during a late-night dinner -- I still found reasons to convince myself that I was it, this was just how relationships worked between two driven, ambitious people with demanding jobs in a hard city in a world that gave back nothing of what you sent into it.

Had I known the wife existed, none of that would have happened. When I found out she did, there was no drama, no demands. I simply stopped returning texts, phone calls, even the knock at my door that turned out to be a delivery man holding an ostentatiously gaudy bouquet. There was nothing else, as I had clearly been nothing but useful in a particular moment to this man, a chance meeting at a Hold Steady show that found emotional connections beyond the physical ones that he was too stupid to ignore and I was so deluded to believe.

Three years later I live with guilt at myself and fury at him. This writer is selfish and in her I see the parallel universe where I am a sociopath and carry on with it all. Painful. I am grateful it is over; I am angry that I ever believed a relationship had existed at all.
posted by none of these will bring disaster at 11:29 AM on August 24, 2013 [35 favorites]


Assuming this is all on the level, this piece was an at least somewhat interesting illustration of the subjective nature of reality, the way people often need to create narratives that allow them to be the hero of their own stories rather than insignificant pawns. Much the same way it is more likely to hear someone claim after being terminated from a job that, "I was let go because management was a bunch of idiots" rather than, "I was fired because as it turns out I wasn't all that great at my job", this woman has created a reality where her lover didn't dump her because he was bored of the meaningless affair, but only because their love was so intense and meaningful that he couldn't bear it.

For years I sort of bought into the theory that a few have defended here of the "other" person in an affair being somewhat blame free. After all, that person didn't make a legal vow of commitment to anybody and has no such responsibility to defend the sanctity of somebody else's marriage. Over time though, I've come to think of this as a somewhat immature attitude. Without trying to get all Mr. Rogers or anything, I think the world would definitely be a better place if people generally tried to be good to one another. Intentionally involving yourself in a situation where you are likely to cause someone intense hurt and sadness simply to meet your own carnal desires, no matter how you rationalize it, is hard to justify (though I do agree with the theory that too often the "other woman" seems to receive far more blame than the husband in these scenarios which is definitely not fair).
posted by The Gooch at 11:29 AM on August 24, 2013 [31 favorites]


Oh, Elizabeth Wurtzel is working again?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:33 AM on August 24, 2013 [12 favorites]


Yeah, the husband is the worse offender, but just barely. I think sleeping with a married partner is like sleeping with someone much younger than you are...it's technically legal and you're not breaking any vows, but you still shouldn't do it.
I'd like to see divorce laws amended so adulterers of either sex leave the marriage with no settlement...nothing. It might just make a few people think twice and stop justifying their shitty actions with excuses like "divorce is messy".
posted by rocket88 at 11:34 AM on August 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


"I was let go because management was a bunch of idiots" rather than, "I was fired because as it turns out I wasn't all that great at my job"

Why not both? Not bitter at all. And not a very good cleaning lady.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 11:34 AM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


...in general it would always be nice if more smiting was aimed at the guy involved, who actively chose to participate in an affair and did not walk down the street and accidentally trip and fall penis first into the lady's tricksy vagina trap.

And, once he writes a loathsome, utterly unrepentant screed and posts it to the web for all to see, we will duly smite the cad. But, since he isn't the topic of the FPP, we shall refrain.

One scoundrel at a time.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:36 AM on August 24, 2013 [16 favorites]


Without trying to get all Mr. Rogers or anything, I think the world would definitely be a better place if people generally tried to be good to one another.

I agree. This would be one of many good reasons for people not to cheat on whatever their current romantic relationships are.

Intentionally involving yourself in a situation where you are likely to cause someone intense hurt and sadness simply to meet your own carnal desires, no matter how you rationalize it, is hard to justify

But this would apply just as well to getting in a relationship with someone who has a stalker, or starting a relationship with someone Alice or Bob really likes but has never been able to summon the courage to talk to, or starting a relationship with someone whose ex is still pining for him/her and can't let it go, and so on.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:37 AM on August 24, 2013


I think sleeping with a married partner is like sleeping with someone much younger than you are ... you still shouldn't do it.

??? Where is your cut-off age difference here exactly, because I have a few very happy marriages in my circle with two or three decades between them.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 11:39 AM on August 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


Meh. Alice hasn't made any promises to Charlene (unless she has).

So what? Alice is helping Bob break a promise he made and engaging in activities that are likely to hurt Charlene, and so willfully becomes complicit in his wrongdoing. The principle here isn't "marriage between any two particular people is a sacred vow to be upheld by all society," but rather, "don't help someone betray and emotionally hurt a third party."

Alice is doing things with Bob that will cause pain to Charlene, and Charlene's expectations are not unreasonable or illegitimate, unlike your "stalker" and "shy secret admirer" examples. How, exactly, is Alice not in the wrong? She intends to help Bob do something that would hurt Charlene, she actively behaves in a way that would hurt Charlene, and so she is *hurting Charlene*. That is what we call "wrong" or "morally bad" or whatever synonym you prefer.

Put another way, Alice isn't responsible for Bob's promises until she gets involved with Bob in exactly the sort of stuff those promises are about. If you want a slightly modified analogy, think of it as knowingly sharing in some of the benefits of someone else's fraud or con artistry. You didn't carry out the con directly, and maybe you didn't make the promises being broken...but you are still the perpetrator of a crime and you have still helped hurt the victim of the crime.
posted by kewb at 11:40 AM on August 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


Happy partnership here, we are 31 years apart. Not the same thing, at all.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:41 AM on August 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think she's just misunderstood.
posted by mazola at 11:42 AM on August 24, 2013


I generally think being the other (wo)man is tacky and should probably be avoided, but I think sneaking around on your spouse is contemptible. Narratives like this annoy me because they reinforce women-as-conniving-bitches and men-as-helpless-penis-conveyances. That's not flattering to anybody, and it doesn't actually illuminate any of the reasons people do things that they obviously know are morally questionable at best.

I'm just struck by the degree to which the narrator has bought in to this narrative that paints her as the villain, weaksauce narcissistic excuses aside. That's why it doesn't really read to me like it's an actual personal confession. I've seen exactly this story told by married friends of mine who discovered their husbands had cheated on them, and while it makes no logical sense and completely excuses the husband, it at least makes emotional sense from that angle.

Seriously, honey, your husband's a sweet guy but he's a raging alcoholic and you knew that. Why are you mad at the emotionally-damaged 25-year-old? She's not the villain here.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:42 AM on August 24, 2013 [12 favorites]


Being the other person is wrong. I am amused and bemused that people will insist otherwise. It is wrong for the same reason that it is wrong to knowingly receive stolen goods or to hire a hit man.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:42 AM on August 24, 2013 [13 favorites]


i need to go wash up after reading that.

not just because of the infidelity but because of the arrogance of the narrator.

filed in the ick folder for sure
posted by lampshade at 11:43 AM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know I am probably in a minority here, and cheating on a partner is not very cool at all...BUT with so much baggage around relationships in modern times, I guess I feel like people have a right to try to be happy. People generally are not mature enough to get married when they do, and when you find you've made a wrong choice, you're fucked. Its a pretty big deal to get divorced...and sex is a very strong motivator, its hardware. Its hard for me to revile people for not resisting temptation. I also expect that many who criticize, have never been in that position. It takes a strong will and moral fiber, which most don't possess.

I have complex and/or somewhat non-traditional ideas about relationships and exclusivity but none of that really affects my judgement of the paragraph that says "he didn't do it for you."
posted by atoxyl at 11:43 AM on August 24, 2013


Dear Wife of My Boyfriend


Shouldn't that be, "Dear Wife of My Ex-Boyfriend?"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:44 AM on August 24, 2013 [11 favorites]


I generally think being the other (wo)man is tacky and should probably be avoided, but I think sneaking around on your spouse is contemptible.

More or less this. Compared to the towering mountain of ick on the part of the cheating spouse, whatever wrong there might be in being the Other Person is so tiny as to be approximately zero.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:45 AM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


A couple I'm close to is dealing with the myriad fallout of an extramarital affair. I can't bash the brains in of the offender, since we're close, which is part of the reason the fantasy of meeting the Other and bashing their brains in is so appealing. I could savor that sweet revenge fantasy all day long, like a gigantic lollipop.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:47 AM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Having been the spouse that was cheated on lets be real honest - no one is without fault.

The reality is, for this kind of shenanigan to go on, you have to assume the marriage was not on good terms. There was complacency in the failure to acknowledge this. But no, having looked at my own marriage - there were signs that any askme advice giver would have a boatload of advice to give that would run something along the line of 'Marriage counseling now' or anything that acknowledged that there were some bad decisions made about our compatibility. I'd like to think that we loved each other. I know I loved her, but I didn't love her enough in a way that she wanted. Likewise, she didn't love me enough in a way that I wanted. The unraveling happened long before the cheating, but both parties were unable or unwilling to change the trajectory.

So two days before she ends it with me - I cooked the guy she was involved with dinner. In my home, at my table, eating... awkwardly. Inside, I knew that something was up... my wife was too distracted, too happy but pensive at the same time. She knew the gig was up - that this disguise was a sham. - that somewhere inside, I knew who he was. And I did. And I said one thing that revealed that I knew exactly what was going on and that he had crossed a line. Two days later, the day before her birthday, she tells me that she is leaving me.

I was mad at her. I was mad at him. I was mad at myself.

My anger at myself works like this: there had been a time in the relationship when I had it in my power to prevent this, but I didn't - because truthfully I was afraid it was too hard. There's a piece of this that is victim blaming - if you see me as the victim. Or you can alter your perspective and see my wife as the victim - or if not the victim - at least not solely responsible in our marriage becoming 'stoic' at best. My ex-wife cheated, but it was because of a failure by both of us and an opportunity that presented itself to her.

I remarried, have two kids and a dog. I'm happy. I have no room in my heart for hate for her. Ultimately, she saw our incompatibility before I did and she did something about it. She made a decision and lived with the decision she made. I'd like to think that she made that decision not only for her happiness, but for mine as well. She eventually married the guy. I don't know if they have kids. I've attended a few functions of mutual friends where she has been there, but they guy has always declined to make an appearance if I'm there... I have not seen him since the night that I met him for the first time and cooked him dinner. I know exactly what he looked like though, and exactly what the look in his eyes were when he looked into mine and he knew that I knew.
posted by Nanukthedog at 11:47 AM on August 24, 2013 [54 favorites]


Compared to the towering mountain of ick on the part of the cheating spouse, whatever wrong there might be in being the Other Person is so tiny as to be approximately zero.

Setting a homeless guy on fire is a towering mountain of evil, but being the guy who stands by cheering him on, handing him a can of gasoline, is not an insignificant crime.
posted by straight at 11:49 AM on August 24, 2013 [17 favorites]


It actually reads like a piece of fiction written by the wife to describe the character of the woman she has never met. It's really the classic "selfish, smug, competitive bitch" image of the other woman in a relationship, it does that infuriating thing of giving the guy zero real agency, and the end note is just tonally bizarre.

This is by far the most charitable interpretation of this piece. I'd much rather believe this is a the projection of someone who has been cheated on than believe that the narrator of this story actually exists.
posted by straight at 11:51 AM on August 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think in general sleeping with a married person (who isn't in an open relationship etc etc) is not good -- especially if you are friendly with the spouse. Cheating on your spouse is worse. But writing this kind of bragging article is not better than cheating, especially when it's written in such a way to clue in the relevant parties.
posted by jeather at 11:51 AM on August 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


with so much baggage around relationships in modern times, I guess I feel like people have a right to try to be happy.

Absolutely, but the means to this end are a separate moral consideration. Have a relationship? Great. Have a relationship that's fundamentally dishonest and hurtful to someone else? Not sanctified by your right to be happy. Maybe justifiable on its own, but some nebulous "I have a right to try to be happy" does nothing to clean out the stains.

As for Alice and Charlene, we all have a general moral obligation not to knowingly and gratuitously cause pain to other people. The difference between a wife and a stalker (or an unrequited crush) is that the latter has no expectation of being treating as something they're not, which is the acknowledged (theoretically) monogamous partner. Alice is aiding and abetting the shitty thing that Bob is doing to Charlene, for her own gratification.

And Bob is totally a shitheel.
posted by fatbird at 11:52 AM on August 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Compared to the towering mountain of ick on the part of the cheating spouse, whatever wrong there might be in being the Other Person is so tiny as to be approximately zero.

If I understood you correctly, your moral calculus might be determined (at least in part) by the notions of promises made or broken in relationships (per a comment you made earlier). However, there are moral obligations that transcend contracts between people.

There would be no infidelity without the Other Person continually saying yes, knowing that saying yes is creating a scenario that is causing someone else pain. That's a bit higher than zero, and in my mind, close to a shared moral responsibility. Whatever you think determines moral behavior at the end of the day, even if you distill it down to not doing actions that contribute more harm to other people than contribute to a greater good, it's hard to see how the behavior of the Other Person is negligible.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:55 AM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


The more I read and experience and learn about relationships the more inclined I am I to think that what most of us call "love" is some weird un-diagnosed mental illness.

Askme convincing me of that the most, lol.
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:56 AM on August 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


My anger at myself works like this: there had been a time in the relationship when I had it in my power to prevent this, but I didn't - because truthfully I was afraid it was too hard. There's a piece of this that is victim blaming - if you see me as the victim.

I see you as a victim, but only as a victim of solidly believing that you could have changed the way things turned out.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:58 AM on August 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


There would be no infidelity without the Other Person continually saying yes

I'd say that the infidelity effectively begins when the Cheating Spouse begins actually intending to cheat. Whoever looks at a woman (or dude) lustfully, and all that.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:03 PM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's complicated.

No, it's not.

It's only complicated if you want to do the wrong thing and pretend to yourself that it's OK.

This is one of the few areas in life that are black-and-white.

You don't knowingly and willingly fuck over other people to fill holes in your life. Getting involved with a partnered-up person without that person's partner being 100% OK with it is just straight-up shitty behavior.

There's a space between impulse and action. In that space lies contemplation, the exercise of judgment, and the option to be a stand-up person and do the right thing.

And from the article: goddamn if I don't hate that dopey "The heart wants what the heart wants" goony-babble. What the fuck does that even mean? My heart isn't some alien being in my chest cavity.
posted by nacho fries at 12:04 PM on August 24, 2013 [56 favorites]


For someone "in love", the essay sounds really hateful.

And she does sound a bit delusional - had she posted in AskMe "Should I send this letter to my ex-boyfriend's wife" there would've been a MeTa in the blink of an eye. And a huge pile-on in both.
posted by ipsative at 12:04 PM on August 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


from article: “I’m not sorry. I've done countless undeniably repulsive things — all without an ounce of regret... I’m not a bad person, I’m not a heartless person.”

I know the persona of the narrator here is a bit more sociopathic than most humans are, but I think this reflects one of the most problematic lies we tell ourselves today. We say: "I'm not a bad person; I'm just a person who's done some bad things." While it's good for us to avoid personalizing our sins and to learn to move on in a health way, we're lying to ourselves if we try to deny that people aren't as "good" or as "bad" as our actions. A virtuous person is a person who does virtuous things. "Feelings" – while they may seem important – don't enter into ethical calculations.
posted by koeselitz at 12:05 PM on August 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


The most baffling thing about this piece is why it was written at all. What was the motivation here?

If there's no guilt there's no need for self-justification. If there's no animosity for the wife there's no need for public humiliation. And the guy is pretty much just a prop to her.

I suppose it makes for a provocative column, which makes me wonder if its even true or just an elaborate fantasy about a guy who met her eyes in a restaurant once.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:06 PM on August 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


After reading it and all the comments here, there are many statements I agree with, but in general, I think the clearest thing for me is the deep and complete denial the author is in.

He did it because our relationship had reached a point that it was causing me more pain than it was bringing me joy. He knew he would never leave you and the kids.

It's hard to believe someone can actually state these as facts, claiming to understand and acknowledge them, and still write this essay. It's a study in the blind spot. He ran a great number on her. That "this is hurting you so much, I need to end it because I just can't bear to see you in pain" line is a good one, very handy, especially for those with needy egos who are not grokking the fact that they don't rate more than side bacon and it ain't going anywhere. Nice and clean ending.

I hope the couple in question repairs things and goes on to have a long and happy life together.
posted by Miko at 12:12 PM on August 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Someone can correct me if I'm wrong about the details, but I've always liked Dan Savage's take on covert infidelity:

1. Don't do it. Leave the relationship instead or get permission.
2. If you're going to do it, know that you're doing something wrong, and do your best to minimize the damage, preferably by being perfectly secret. Don't kid yourself about what you're doing or rationalize it. You're making a conscious choice to do the wrong thing, and you own all the fallout from it.

Mostly what I like about it is recognition that people can decide, reflectively, to do the wrong thing and to deal with doing the wrong thing, without delusion or justification. I think we don't pay enough attention to this idea.
posted by fatbird at 12:15 PM on August 24, 2013 [17 favorites]


I really can't tell if she's in huge denial or knows full well that it was a line and is thus writing this specifically to hurt the ex and his wife.

I mean even if she is in huge denial I can't see any reason for writing this other than to hurt the ex and his wife.
posted by elizardbits at 12:16 PM on August 24, 2013


Yeah, the contorted versions of reality I've heard expressed by women I've known who opted into the role of Other Woman are pretty shocking. I mean, they sound like they've suffered a psychotic break when they start in on their justifications. It's painful to listen to.
posted by nacho fries at 12:19 PM on August 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think this article is more evidence to support the notion that traditional marriage is designed to create optimal misery.
posted by Annika Cicada at 12:26 PM on August 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


OK, so first, I think this is fake. I think this is someone's little short story experiment. Having said that, I think it's an exploration of the nasty mammal feelings we have running around inside us, and how they collide with our modern liberal consciousness and conscience. Because you know, there's a part of the husband that is just screaming, "God I hate that bitch wife!" and there's a part of her screaming the same thing about him, I'd guess. Now the woman enters the picture, and she probably, on some level, wishes the wife dead.

These feelings are in us all, and this piece is an exploration of those feelings. On a certain level, the woman wants to stab the wife in the eye, and that's just the way it goes.
posted by Mister_A at 12:27 PM on August 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'd say that the infidelity effectively begins when the Cheating Spouse begins actually intending to cheat. Whoever looks at a woman (or dude) lustfully, and all that.

Sure, this could often be true. It's just a pretty far distance between noting the start of a moral action, and saying that those who choose to participate later have negligible moral responsibility.

It is interesting that you bring up the looking lustfully issue as part of the moral criteria. If looking lustfully to move away from your partner is a problem, perhaps so is looking lustfully at someone else's partner, if it leads to real harm. The fact of the matter remains that infidelity would not have happened if two people weren't moving intentionally towards each other, knowing that it was causing someone else pain in such a way that it could have been avoided by one person simply saying no.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:28 PM on August 24, 2013


I've been on both sides of this issue. IMHO, its bad but sorta garden variety bad. publishing a story like this, though, is monstrous. as the mittens said, there are things that should be discussed in quiet rooms.
posted by jpe at 12:39 PM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean even if she is in huge denial I can't see any reason for writing this other than to hurt the ex and his wife.

Pageviews pageviews bo bageviews banana fana fo fageviews fe fi mo mageviews. Pageviews!

I can't see any good reason to assume the letter is true.

The fact of the matter remains that infidelity would not have happened if two people weren't moving intentionally towards each other

I guess for me, there isn't anyone at fault for a cheating spouse except for the cheating spouse. Nobody forced them to do it, nobody has psychic powers to control their will so they would appear to choose to do it. It was the cheating spouse's choice, and they bear full responsibility for their choice. Not anyone else. Even if someone else offered them the opportunity, it's still fully and completely their fault for choosing it.

And for me, any part of it that's somehow the Other Person's fault removes responsibility from the cheating spouse. And that's not right or proper. It's entirely the cheating spouse's responsibility to maintain their vows, not other people's responsibility to thwart their entirely serious attempts to break them.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:40 PM on August 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure how you think a Cheating Spouse can cheat without an Other Person.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:42 PM on August 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


I don't think this is fake because it sounds familiar, exactly like the kind of thing you might say to yourself to try to justify being the Other Person in a relationship. But the worst part about it is that the lesson you are supposed to learn from doing something like that, when you've had a year to reflect on it and are no longer in the confusing glow of sex/love/whatever this is, has not only not been learned but has calcified into a much harder to accept kind of wrongness.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:45 PM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Surely no one thinks this "letter" was actually sent to the wife? It a a piece of writing, designed to be published, an excercise in the hypothetical, nothing more.
posted by Callicvol at 12:46 PM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


One of the strange mythologies of the particular brand of monogamy which dominates our culture is the idea that real love only happens one person at a time, and anything else must be lesser or one-sided or false. This extends beyond the world of monogamous cheating into polyamorous and other non-monogamous arrangements, where it is often assumed, even taken for granted, that there is a primary "real" relationship and then fuck buddies on the side. From that perspective, it is easy to see how the other man or other woman would feel the need to defend their love as real too. That is how I read lines like "He didn't do it for you, or to save your marriage."

I also agree that it is the spouse who is responsible for keeping their vows. Of course it would not be possible to cheat without another person, but that other person has no vows to break.
posted by Nothing at 12:48 PM on August 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


any part of it that's somehow the Other Person's fault removes responsibility from the cheating spouse. And that's not right or proper.

Moral responsibility isn't zero sum. If you and I rob a bank together, we don't split the sentence when we get caught. If we assault someone together because we don't like the color of their skin, we're not each half guilty of a hate crime.
posted by fatbird at 12:49 PM on August 24, 2013 [14 favorites]


I'm not sure how you think a Cheating Spouse can cheat without an Other Person.

So what percent of a cheating person's decision to cheat really isn't their responsibility, but is properly the fault of someone else? To what degree was are cheating spouses incapable of controlling their own actions?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:50 PM on August 24, 2013


Please, show me a single person in this discussion who said that the Other Person is the only person to blame and the Cheating Spouse is just a blameless waif before their wiles. I'll wait.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:51 PM on August 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


It’s been a year now since your husband broke up with me.

So why did you wait so long to write this? And why is it still on your mind a year later? Isn't it a little late to gloat? And you believed he left you so as not to hurt you? And you still believe it a year later?
posted by Obscure Reference at 12:54 PM on August 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ann Sexton wrote it well. The last 2 lines have always stayed with me.
posted by theora55 at 12:55 PM on August 24, 2013 [24 favorites]


ROU_Xenophobe: "And for me, any part of it that's somehow the Other Person's fault removes responsibility from the cheating spouse. And that's not right or proper. It's entirely the cheating spouse's responsibility to maintain their vows, not other people's responsibility to thwart their entirely serious attempts to break them."

Mm - I believe this is the wrong way of looking at guilt. Guilt is not like causality; it involves agency, but each person's agency is separate - there is no reckoning of comparative agency, only individual reckonings of each person's wrongs in a given case.

Take another somewhat common example: a person who snoops on their partner's email and discovers them having an affair. Snooping on your partner - violating their privacy and their trust - is wrong. Having an affair is certainly worse, but that doesn't change the fact that snooping is wrong, too. Those two things have to be dealt with separately; I think it's clear that the affair is the much more massive thing to deal with, a morass of broken fidelity and betrayal, but if the snooping thing isn't also dealt with it will come back to haunt both people.

In the same way, both a cheating partner and the person they cheated with bear blame. There's no "percent," and there's no person who bears all of the guilt - assuming, of course, that everyone involved knew about the partnership beforehand. There is no calculation of who everyone can point the finger at; pointing fingers helps nothing, anyhow. There are just two people who have their own sins to deal with, sins that are specific to their circumstances and that must be confronted and paid for and gotten past.
posted by koeselitz at 12:58 PM on August 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


And for me, any part of it that's somehow the Other Person's fault removes responsibility from the cheating spouse. And that's not right or proper. It's entirely the cheating spouse's responsibility to maintain their vows, not other people's responsibility to thwart their entirely serious attempts to break them.

I think there's such a thing as sharing moral responsibility in an action in which each person is 100% responsible for their own actions, even if it's a joint enterprise. So, a cheating spouse does not get a pass (at all) if we acknowledge the role of temptation. But this also doesn't mean that we should turn a blind eye to those who enable that temptation, either.

I'm okay holding people fully responsible for not giving into temptation, while asking people not to be creating it. Other people do have a responsibility to not contribute to the vices of other people, even if a person is determined to partake in that vice. If someone is determined to commit a crime, for example, it's not okay to get them the resources they need to pull it off simply because they would have gotten it from somewhere anyway. Perhaps we don't always have a responsibility to thwart the bad intentions of other people, but we do have a responsibility not to contribute in a way that causes harm to other people.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:05 PM on August 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think it's dignifying this piece way too much to even discuss it.

This reads like a bullshit story dashed off by a hack in an attempt to get hits. How does anyone think this is worth either praise or scorn? This seems like nonsense that is designed to be part of an ad sales algorithm. This story has nothing to do with people or real life.
posted by Unified Theory at 1:08 PM on August 24, 2013 [14 favorites]


I wish I lived in a world where "I slept with your husband and am justifying myself as the romantic" rang as obviously fake.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:17 PM on August 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Just urgh. I need a shower now.
posted by arcticseal at 1:22 PM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Here's also another way of thinking about it. We have been talking about the harm that it does to the partner of the person cheating. For the Other Person who chooses to get involved with that cheating person, though, it actually does harm to the person who is doing the cheating, as well. When we break our vows, it hurts us as individuals. It makes our souls smaller, our resolve to do The Good weaker, and our ability to lie and be deceptive in our dealings much easier. I don't want to contribute in such a way that I'm helping a person become less of a person as they cheat on their significant other, with full knowledge that this is happening. That's a whole other level of moral responsibility. There's a word for this kind of behavior when it comes to other vices: enabling.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:23 PM on August 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


There's also the harm that is done to the third party, which is weirdly glossed over in this piece for being the punchline. I mean, you could narrate the exact same events with a message of "he jerked me around emotionally for our entire relationship and eventually I had to tell him to fuck off, hope you're happy with this self-involved douchebag." How many AskMes do we see with someone talking about their partner who's married but about to get a divorce any day now but they've been saying that for eighteen months and now I kind of feel shitty about myself.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:32 PM on August 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


By the way, there is a Leigh Keck on Facebook --not the author -- who was wondering why she's been getting so many friend requests from people she doesn't know.
posted by ambient2 at 1:37 PM on August 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


So what percent of a cheating person's decision to cheat really isn't their responsibility, but is properly the fault of someone else?

I don't understand this line of reasoning. The Cheating Spouse is doing something wrong. So is the Other Person. Saying so doesn't excuse or lessen the offense of the Cheating Spouse. And the fact that the Cheating Spouse's crime is worse doesn't excuse or mitigate the crime of the Other Person.
posted by straight at 1:37 PM on August 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


I wish I lived in a world where "I slept with your husband and am justifying myself as the romantic" rang as obviously fake

Yeah, me too. I don't think it's fake. You can go to your local Craigslist "missed connections" or "rants and raves" and see a less flowery version of this sort of thing every day. Sometimes its more oblique, sometimes more direct, sometimes names are named and it's downright hostile. Sometimes it's just someone throwing feels into the air because they can't tell anyone else, but often (as in this case) it's a pointed message to one party or the other in the marriage/relationship.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:40 PM on August 24, 2013


So what percent of a cheating person's decision to cheat really isn't their responsibility, but is properly the fault of someone else?

*briefly considers linking to something about that dentist in Iowa

gets too grossed out*

There is a strong belief among some that it is the fault of those wicked temptresses for leading men astray.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:42 PM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Among who? Time travelers from 1952?
posted by entropicamericana at 1:45 PM on August 24, 2013


entropicamericana: Among who? Time travelers from 1952?

Maybe you should've linked to the dentist, louche.
posted by tzikeh at 1:47 PM on August 24, 2013


OH VERY WELL
posted by louche mustachio at 2:02 PM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, I typed Iowa dentist into Google, and it was the first search result that came up.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:04 PM on August 24, 2013


Oh dear god.
posted by Miko at 2:13 PM on August 24, 2013


Well! They were BOTH very unpleasant characters.
posted by jaguar at 2:17 PM on August 24, 2013


the idea that real love only happens one person at a time, and anything else must be lesser or one-sided or false.

The thing is, if you fall in Real Love with a new person while still being in Real Love with the first person, you don't get to lie to the first person about it. It's difficult and painful and scary to tell your partner "I love someone else too and I need to know if we can make that work," but it is the only honorable thing to do. Even if it means you lose them.

Every time someone uses I Really Love You Both! as a reason for secretly boinking behind a partner's back, they make it seem like such a thing doesn't really exist, but is just a cowardly dodge.
posted by emjaybee at 2:31 PM on August 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


Surely no one thinks this "letter" was actually sent to the wife? It a a piece of writing, designed to be published, an excercise in the hypothetical, nothing more.

I don't think it was sent to the wife, but I do assume the author is hoping the wife comes across the article and is hurt.

I hate hearing that nonsense about the heart wanting what it wants. That's your heart. Those are your emotions. The actions you take are your actions. Stop with the passive bullshit.
posted by Area Man at 2:41 PM on August 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


I did not write this.
posted by purpleclover at 2:43 PM on August 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's complicated.

I don't think it's complicated. I have been close, very close, oh-so-close to being the husband of this story. The drinking, the sexual tension you can cut with a knife, and the many, many, many true reasons: he wouldn't find out, I couldn't remember the last time I felt passion, he and I weren't compatible and the relationship should be over anyway . . . And boy, in the moment it felt really complicated because my desire was that strong. I couldn't sleep for thinking about it. I understood what it meant to feel on fire. When you feel that excited about someone and you haven't felt that way in years it really consumes you.

BUT. I knew, in reality, it wasn't complicated. If I stepped away from my genitals it was a simple choice: do I betray him or not? Though our relationship wasn't what it had been, that didn't make it OK to do that to him. The Other Person would still exist after I ended the relationship properly and it wasn't honest to do it any other way.
posted by schroedinger at 2:44 PM on August 24, 2013 [11 favorites]


I probably should have registered the URL, though.

Maybe I should try to get a freelance gig with them.
posted by purpleclover at 2:46 PM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is a great response I've discovered to "My marriage is practically/technically/for all intents and purposes over." It goes, "Call me when it's actually over, and forget I exist until then." Because I've seen too many poor dupes fooled by others and by themselves into waiting for that divorce that either never happens or happens right before the cheater goes off with some surprise fourth party none of the others even knew about.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:03 PM on August 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


There's nothing here that sounds fictional to me; I can absolutely believe someone wrote this about a real experience. I can believe as easily that, if they did not, this would scan with many people who have had this experience. It seems plausible. It also seems obvious to me that the narrator is not reliable. This sounds like a series of justifications made by someone who deep down realizes she has been used and has invested in a relationship that led nowhere.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:05 PM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


So, little bit of a funny story...A woman was working down the hall from my coworker and me, in a somewhat related role, but part time. Having an acquaintance in common with my coworker, she stopped in to chat. And whaddayaknow, next thing you know she is spilling the beans about how Acquaintance is having an affair with a fellow who happens to be married, and she doesn't see anything wrong with that, she wants her to be happy, she deserves to be happy, don't we all. Oh, and don't we have such interesting jobs, she would love to work with us, let her know if anything opens up someday... as she waltzes out again.

I swear it took us married ladies 10 minutes to pick our jaws up off the ground. What a display of absolute professional and social ignorance. over the years that followed we watched her take and leave at least 2 other jobs in the organization before she moved out of the area and we still shake our heads over it.
posted by SLC Mom at 3:19 PM on August 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Leigh Keck appears to have written some other pieces for the website, in case people want to further analyze her thinking...

What I Learned From Tony Soprano (June 24, 2013): Denial may be a great Band-Aid for a troubled relationship, but eventually, you have to rip it off.

What Breaking Bad Taught Me About Cancer (July 1, 2013): At the moment my doctor was informing me I had breast cancer, I couldn’t stop thinking about Walter White.

How To Be Friends With Your Ex (July 7, 2013): Flirting isn’t the only thing that suddenly fell outside the lines. Jealousy also had to be off-limits. On our way out to catch a movie one night, Keith took a call from his girlfriend Amy and I couldn’t help but overhear him say, “love you, babe” in that soft whispery voice that was once reserved for me. It was like nails on a blackboard.

Why I Still Lust After Bill Clinton (August 18, 2013): My colleagues launched into a furious debate. Most of us agreed that his testimony was CYA bullshit. All of us agreed that Monica was a cow. But a super-heated argument broke out over two questions: Is it wrong to have sex with your boss? And — would you do Bill? I didn’t dare weigh in much on the former. No one knew what the boss and I were up to — and I loved my job too much to screw it up by spilling the beans
posted by Going To Maine at 3:31 PM on August 24, 2013


The reason it is not complicated for you is that you agree to fall back into line and follow what I would consider to be rules for relationships that create unhappiness for most people. I think it's time we can start challenging that notion, and just because you choose not to follow the complications does not mean those complications go away, what is means is that you are choosing to keep it simple.

That's your right, btw. What I said way up there is that if people would be willing to follow different "rules" then maybe less cheating would occur.

I see cheating as a symptom of a culture that shames any relationship that falls outside of serial monogamy, and here we are...

It is complicated for me, and that's ok.
posted by Annika Cicada at 3:42 PM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm with everyone who says this is fake, and that it was most likely imagined by someone who was just recently cheated on. It focuses way too much on the wife's feelings and reads too much like the entire affair was cooked up as an act of spite towards the wife. It would have taken a fairly unique combination of empathy and malice for a real person having an affair to have come up with this letter. On the other hand, when you are the one whose feelings are hurt, it's pretty hard to distinguish between "the woman dating my husband didn't care about me" and "the woman dating my husband was trying to rub the affair in my face" and imagine things like keeping him out late specifically so his wife would worry.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 3:47 PM on August 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have been on each side of this triangle.

I do not recommend any of it.
posted by Danf at 3:54 PM on August 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


martinX's bellbottoms: "I'm with everyone who says this is fake, and that it was most likely imagined by someone who was just recently cheated on. It focuses way too much on the wife's feelings and reads too much like the entire affair was cooked up as an act of spite towards the wife. It would have taken a fairly unique combination of empathy and malice for a real person having an affair to have come up with this letter. On the other hand, when you are the one whose feelings are hurt, it's pretty hard to distinguish between "the woman dating my husband didn't care about me" and "the woman dating my husband was trying to rub the affair in my face" and imagine things like keeping him out late specifically so his wife would worry."

And when you look at the list of articles she's written, she just seems to be the woman that's done it all, as long as it is trendy and can score pageviews. This really makes me want to place this story in the fiction category.
posted by Samizdata at 3:55 PM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


And from the article: goddamn if I don't hate that dopey "The heart wants what the heart wants" goony-babble. What the fuck does that even mean? My heart isn't some alien being in my chest cavity.

I think it's a Chinese whisper of Pascal's famous Pensée "Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît pas," "The heart has its reasons which reason does not know."

Pascal viewed human spirituality as a hierarchy of corps, raison, coeur - body, mind, heart or "spirit" if you will - and viewed the coeur/spirit as the highest of these, the level at which we are most able to connect with the divine. It has to do with faith not being a primarily intellectual exercise.

Saying that Pascal put the body lowest in the hierarchy doesn't mean he was a body hater, at all. Far from it. So when I see the justification "the heart wants what the heart wants" used as a way of saying "my genitals want what my genitals want, so I'm just going to let them run the show and chuck out empathy altogether," they're (in my opinion) not even rising to the level of the body in Pascal's hierarchy.

Tune in next week for "Dumb People's Familiar Misquotations," in which we explain why we use more than 10% of our brains!
posted by tel3path at 3:59 PM on August 24, 2013 [15 favorites]


Quoting from BermanBraun's website: In June 2013, BermanBraun launched PURPLE CLOVER, a lifestyle website for men and women ages 45-65 that features dynamic content reflecting the truth about how this audience really lives today.

Purple Clover has no staff listing, no central article listing (I found Keck's work by Googling), and the only contact emails that jump out are at the bermanbraun.com domain. None of this proves the article is a fake, but it certainly makes the site feel like it's just the product of some corporate pr-wizards who are hoping to make a cash grab.

If this is all just a hoax created by pseudonym, my heart goes out to the real Leigh Kecks out there. Well, it does anyway, but more so.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:04 PM on August 24, 2013 [4 favorites]



The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?


-old school King James version.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:10 PM on August 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


The story of a worm and a worm.
posted by francesca too at 4:16 PM on August 24, 2013


Almost all relationships have their unique complications that may not easily be understood by general moral guides of how a relationship should be. I understand we are quick to label and assume when the author or confessor of such activity only offers a vague and blurry scenario that leads to such actions. I am happy to see some of the comments call out the guy in the relationship because I often see the woman is quickly vilified before any attention is paid to the man in these types of stories.

I'm beginning to think instant anonymous venting appears to only lead to more confusion on how one should deal with breaks from society's moral codes because we don't have to sit and critically analyze each relationship detail, real or not. Apply generic labels and move along, please.

With that said, based on the the writing, what a narcissistic, sociopathic bitch!
posted by nataaniinez at 4:19 PM on August 24, 2013


The reason it is not complicated for you is that you agree to fall back into line and follow what I would consider to be rules for relationships that create unhappiness for most people.

Wow, that's really objectionably condescending. Whatever works for you is not The Right Way, nor is it better than what all those less-evolved people are doing. It's just what works for you.

Every relationship is an agreement between two people that has whatever rules those two people agree that it has. You're not forced to be monogamous if you don't want to be. There's nothing preventing people who want multiple partners from seeking out like-minded people who will agree to those rules.

But polyamorous relationships have rules too. Breaking the rules that you agreed to, and lying to your partner about it, doesn't make you an oppressed victim of the unfair rules that nobody could REALLY have expected you to follow. It just makes you a big dickball.

And incidentally, if you have some statistics which indicate that people in poly relationships are happier, more stable, and less inclined towards this sort of melodrama than people in monogamous relationships, I'd love to see them.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 4:20 PM on August 24, 2013 [17 favorites]


I can certainly get behind narcissist and just generally awful, but I think sociopathic and bitch are out of line.
posted by onlyconnect at 4:25 PM on August 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


Other people do have a responsibility to not contribute to the vices of other people, even if a person is determined to partake in that vice.

This is actually why I've largely stopped playing poker in casinos. I was playing a lot for while during some layoff time and getting pretty good at it. Then there was one night, or more accurately early morning, and a couple of older women sit down at the table. They're obviously not very good, so poker law says take as much of their money as possible. As time goes on, the table disperses, except for me and these two women. A lot of people don't like to play three-handed, but they said they wanted to, so ok.

And they were terrible, and I crushed them, because they really had no idea how to play at all. But that didn't stop them from reaching into their pockets, pulling out another couple large bills, and having a go. And losing it, and reaching in, and losing it, and reaching in.

I made a lot of money that night, and I felt really, really fucking awful. In that moment, I saw that the bread and butter of poker living was basically inviting addicts to try some more heroin. You don't make anything, you don't create anything, you just find desperate people and exploit them. And I just couldn't keep doing it. I didn't stop all at once, but that's when the heart for it went out of me. I didn't want to be the person who gave them permission to destroy themselves and then profited from their misery.

So, yeah. I've been in some sketchy romantic situations before, and I wish I could say I'd always done the right thing or the considerate one, or that someone else had. But I agree with this. I think we do have a responsibility to help other people do their best, not simply try to do ours.
posted by Errant at 4:45 PM on August 24, 2013 [18 favorites]


Oh, and this: "With that said, based on the the writing, what a narcissistic, sociopathic bitch!" Not cool, yo. That's basically the sexist "the other woman is a jezebel" thing that we've done pretty well to keep out of the conversation to date.
posted by Errant at 4:47 PM on August 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't subscribe to many moral absolutes, but this is one of them: if you are a party to cheating by a married (or otherwise publicly committed) person in a monogamous relationship, you are a Bad Person, and I hope Bad Things happen to you. Especially - ESPECIALLY - if you know the cheated-upon party, have accepted their hospitality, are someone they might consider a friend. I hope you end up lonely and sad. Forever.*

As for the cheating partner - that's up to the cheated-upon person. It really is. No one really knows what goes on inside a marriage, and it might be worth it to try to fix the relationship. I can never judge the non-cheating party. They may have contributed to problems in the marriage, but they aren't the one who decided to cheat.

*I may have strong feelings about this issue.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 4:48 PM on August 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


So you're willing to condemn the third party to Bad Things whilst letting the cheating partner off the hook? I dunno.
posted by lalex at 5:12 PM on August 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


No. There are consequences for the cheating partner. Those consequences are - to my mind - up to the cheated upon party. Sadly, the cheated upon party isn't usually in a position to create consequences for the third party, unless they decide to go public and name-and-shame. Call it an appeal to karma or cosmic fairness or whatever you like, but I am perfectly comfortable wishing Bad Things on someone I consider to be a Bad Person. Maybe the cheater is also a Bad Person. Maybe my opinion is a double standard. Don't know, don't particularly care.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 5:21 PM on August 24, 2013


Maybe my opinion is a double standard. Don't know, don't particularly care.

Yeah, this is where we'll have to agree to disagree.
posted by lalex at 5:27 PM on August 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


Wow. Garth Brooks' songwriting has just gotten weirder and weirder since that Chris Gaines thing.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:28 PM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Humblebrag: Subtly letting others now about how fantastic your life is while undercutting it with a bit of self-effacing humor or "woe is me" gloss.

Example: I just ate about fifteen piece of chocolate. I gotta learn to control myself when flying first class or they'll cancel my modelling contract, LOL.

This is my problem with the letter. It reeks of "look what I got away with" right beside "I'm so sorry."
posted by Shouraku at 5:50 PM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Being the other person is wrong. I am amused and bemused that people will insist otherwise.

No one really is.

It is wrong for the same reason that it is wrong to knowingly receive stolen goods or to hire a hit man.

No one's saying it isn't, they're just saying "receiving stolen goods is bad, but being the person who steals the goods is worse".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:04 PM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


People, read what I'm saying. Yes there are rules, they are whatever you want to try out with whover you can find who is willing to make whatever rules work between the two of you.

Set your boundaries, yes, but those are not absolute for everyone by any means. What's cheating for you may be a grey area for someone else, and in a healthier culture perhaps people could shed the fairy tale aspects of a marriage and set up something a little more realistic and nuanced before the relationship ever gets serious.

That's all I'm trying to say. But yes, whatever you do, discuss it first. I agree that infidelity is wrong, what i am trying to get at is how underlying cultural expectations set us up for failure by attempting to homogenize relationships into a rigid black and white framework that does not account for the widely varying expectations humans have.

Am I being dense? I dunno.
posted by Annika Cicada at 6:29 PM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


The reason it is not complicated for you is that you agree to fall back into line and follow what I would consider to be rules for relationships that create unhappiness for most people. I think it's time we can start challenging that notion, and just because you choose not to follow the complications does not mean those complications go away, what is means is that you are choosing to keep it simple.

I'm going to ignore the condescension. Quite simply, if you and your partner have agreed upon monogamy and not sleeping with other people, and you sleep with someone else, that's a betrayal. You have broken a promise, period. My partner and I had agreed on monogamy at the time I was tempted. He'd openly stated in the past he would be extremely hurt if I slept with someone else. In that light, there would be no way for me to characterize sleeping with someone else as anything but a dick move.

If you decide monogamy is not for you, then you have that discussion with your partner and you fuck other people after. You don't say "Well, gosh, I think humans haven't evolved to be monogamous so obviously that means I get to fuck whomever I want without telling my partner, starting with this sexy person I've been flirting with all night." There is no way that behavior is not deceitful. If you want to be non-monogamous, and your partner wants monogamy, then find a different partner. The two of you are obviously incompatible on a very fundamental level and it's not fair to either of you.

I don't give a shit if people sleep outside their relationship as long as the partner is OK with it.

In this article's case it was pretty clear the wife in the triangle was expecting monogamy out of the relationship, and the husband and Other Woman were ignoring that. Which makes them assholes.
posted by schroedinger at 6:42 PM on August 24, 2013 [19 favorites]


Another option is to go to your partner and have a tough conversation requesting to open the relationship, figure out if that's possible, and go from there.

Never once have I advocated or supported cheating in any of my posts. I'm trying to say that if people were less afraid to want to be in polyamoryous relationships, then maybe people would cheat less because the pair could work out the ground rules beforehand.

That's all I'm saying here.
posted by Annika Cicada at 6:52 PM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


If the couple in the story had made any sort of arrangement for consensual non-monogamy or had any special circumstances in that regard, the author had the opportunity to say so. Since she did not, I think we, the readers, are justified in assuming that they did not.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:10 PM on August 24, 2013


I don't know if religion is necessarily required to see the emptiness of happiness defined in this way, but I am religious and reading this reminded me of the hollowness of this kind of happiness motivated life. Its not just that she happily cheated with the man; its what I can only call hateful sadism in how she relishes the pain her affair caused the wife. Like her happiness was an increasing function of the relationship with him and the knowledge it was or could hurt the wife. I think the person who wrote this, if its a true story from her vantage point of view, is lonely beyond description and the loneliness is growing as she ages. She mentions having all these friends but notice how they are all married -- her married girl friends and her married guy friends. That's kind of interesting. Not necessarily as a rule, but when a single persons main friendships are married people, it can be a lonely feeling. I have a few friends who sought other churches because they found the constant married activities for their age in the church this constant accusation against them, like they were defective. This woman feels like she has a rage boiling inside her that's powerful, and maybe the affair is just incidental really to this other feeling within her.

The husband must feel like a dog. I would love to hear his side of this. I suspect his take on it is much different than her mind reading version.
posted by scunning at 7:20 PM on August 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Two more oddities about Purple Clover.

1) On the original story's page, there's a link to another story by a David Green, "My Cheating Heart". It's about how Green (a pseudonym) likes having affairs and justifies it because he needs more than his wife can give. It's not impossible that a lifestyle website could aggregate multiple stories about people cheating on their partners, but it seems weird.

2) I was wrong about the writers not having profiles. At least one does: Adam Albright-Hanna. (If anyone can find a complete listing, that'd be cool.) Albright-Hanna, however, appears to maybe have written some pieces as Craig Carilli: one, two, three, and perhaps others. That is, the bylines link back to his profile as opposed to being dead links.

None of this is proof of some kind of hoax, but it doesn't make me feel like the website wouldn't stoop to engaging in, say, publishing content submitted by community members without any kind of due diligence about its accuracy.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:47 PM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think if the 'Other Woman' did not know the guy was married, she is less at fault. In fact it's possible she's a victim.
When she knows the guy is married, she is as guilty as he is.
Especially if she also knows the wife.
People airing this kind of thing aren't cool either.
I think what Dan Savage has to say makes great sense.
Also, hygiene people! And rubbers! It wouldn't kill ya!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 8:12 PM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Annika Cicada: "Another option is to go to your partner and have a tough conversation requesting to open the relationship, figure out if that's possible, and go from there.

Never once have I advocated or supported cheating in any of my posts. I'm trying to say that if people were less afraid to want to be in polyamoryous relationships, then maybe people would cheat less because the pair could work out the ground rules beforehand.

That's all I'm saying here.
"

Not so much. I used to be in a poly triad. There was me, my girlfriend and her girlfriend. There were "my" nights and "her (girlfriend)" nights. Her girlfriend refused to respect the scheduling boundaries previously established and agreed upon. Every night my girlfriend spent with me, HER girlfriend had another unspeakable crisis that she needed the mutual partner for. The mutual partner was a soft touch and would never chastise her girlfriend effectively.

Poly, rules established ahead of time, and sheer misery.

That's all I am saying here.
posted by Samizdata at 9:02 PM on August 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


There are zero relationship structures that can withstand someone's willingness to hurt someone else. There is no magic relationship structure that solves all human problems.
posted by Miko at 9:06 PM on August 24, 2013 [12 favorites]


(I mean, intentional monogamy is also a working out of ground rules beforehand).
posted by Miko at 9:07 PM on August 24, 2013


Polyamory is ok, betrayal ain't but maybe if our culture was a wee bit more honest about how crappy monogamy is, and were more open to other arrangements, this type of crap would happen less.

It's complicated.


Yes, it is indeed complicated, but I, personally, don't believe attempting to completely sublimate our essential human nature...jealousy, possessiveness, and the desire to establish and maintain a unique and intimate connection with another individual...within some idealised but realistically unattainable (for most) lifestyle is necessarily the answer.
posted by Nibiru at 9:11 PM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Funny, I first read that comment as a pro-polygamy comment, and it works just as well the other way, arguments from "essential human nature" and all.

It points up the truth: there are a lot of perfectly fine ways to have relationships, none are ideal in all ways, you need to choose what works best for you, etc.,: but there are no relationship structures that guarantee you will never be betrayed. There never can be.
posted by Miko at 9:16 PM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


...I'm trying to say that if people were less afraid to want to be in polyamoryous relationships...

That's a little presumptuous. Personally (again), I don't fear polyamory; I simply accept and embrace my essential human nature, and additionally refuse to accommodate the lifestyle choices of others should they significantly infringe upon the way in which I choose to live my own life.
posted by Nibiru at 9:19 PM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


there are a lot of perfectly fine ways to have relationships

And the thing that all of those ways have in common is mutually-understood consent and clear lines of communication. Polyamorous, monogamous, open, whatever: either you are an enthusiastic and explicitly willing partner in all the matters of the relationship, or someone is being defrauded.
posted by Errant at 9:40 PM on August 24, 2013


I'm not afraid of polyamory; I choose monogamy because it is what I want. Please don't tell me I'm some kind of less-enlightened individual because of that choice.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 9:51 PM on August 24, 2013 [12 favorites]


I think maybe everyone in the thread is on the same side here? It's just that even in a everyone-should-do-what-they-want environment the majority are probably going to stick with good-old-fashioned monogamy.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:55 PM on August 24, 2013


The only reason I jumped in was I perceived polyamory/plyamory acceptance was being given as a sovereign remedy.

It isn't.

The only real fix for relationships is to understand what each partner wants, effective communication thereof, the reaching of common ground and ground rules, effective communication thereof, and playing by the set rules, and when there isn't good sportsmanship, effective communication thereof.
posted by Samizdata at 11:20 PM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


This woman is the reason married men seek prostitutes.
posted by evil otto at 11:35 PM on August 24, 2013


I have no problem hating on the writer as 1.) She wrote the piece 2.) She's the sort of self-hating misogynistic twit who thinks being with a man in relationship she's achieved something over another woman because a man's attention is just that important and 3.) She knew he was involved and, more than that, it was a feature not a bug.
posted by bgal81 at 11:35 PM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just being the Other (Wo)man doesn't make you a despicable creep. You could be sleeping with a married person because you're in a weak phase of your life, where your self-destructiveness or your loneliness are outreaching your ethics. You could be mixed-up and sad. You could be someone who didn't know at first that your partner was married, and then who was too weak to break it off when you did find out.

This narrator, in contrast, actually IS a despicable creep, someone who not only sees herself as above ethics, but who actively wants to inflict discomfort upon other people (at least, upon the wife), and who seems to think she is chic and forward-thinking as a result.
posted by feets at 11:56 PM on August 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


Oh gosh immediately after writing that I want to soften it or take it back. The narrator APPEARS to be a despicable creep. Leigh Keck, this is not your best angle, and I hope you have better ones.
posted by feets at 12:00 AM on August 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's basically the sexist "the other woman is a jezebel" thing that we've done pretty well to keep out of the conversation to date.

Woah, dude. Calm down. No reason to compare someone to a Gawker website.
Not cool.
posted by GoingToShopping at 12:46 AM on August 25, 2013 [13 favorites]


I once had a long-term girlfriend who cheated on me with a whole baseball team of guys. Our relationship was fucked for a long time before I found out, and I was still a college kid so I had a lot of mistakes yet to make -- I'm not the cheating type but we both were manipulative children who held onto failure with tenterhooks, as the emotionally immature are wont to do -- the fact that our relationship was so dysfunctional, just a lot of crying and fucking, made it easier for me to drop her like a sack of shit when I finally found her cheating heart.

Believe it or not, that's all pretty much beside the point. That same girlfriend had a phrase she'd trot out, I think she learned from her mom or uncle, to describe a compulsive cheater as being so crooked that "he'd cheat at solitaire."

I once used this phrase when talking to my brother. He thought for a minute and said, "You know, that's wrong. Cheating at solitaire is probably a good thing. I know you mean that person has a compulsion that they can't control, even when there isn't anyone eles playing, but playing solitaire is really the only time someone can cheat.

"The bad thing about cheaters is that they hurt people. Any other time, cheating hurts someone else. Cheating at solitaire hurts no one, not even yourself, because you've obviously decided that it's okay. Playing solitaire is literally the only time I can think of when it's okay to cheat."

I love my brother, and I think he's right.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 5:24 AM on August 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Maybe I'm naively mistaking strawperson arguments for a genuine misunderstanding in this thread, but I think it warrants pointing out that the people who are saying this woman is despicable aren't saying that the cheating husband isn't. They're pointing out that she has added a layer of ickiness to this already unethical situation by bragging about it and showing no remorse for - indeed, appearing to relish in - hurting the innocent wife.

The people who are saying the cheating husband's just as fault as she is, if not more, are right too; but that's kind of not the point.

The point of the article, as far as I can tell that it even has one, is that the ordinarily equally-to-maybe-slightly-less-equally morally blameworthy party has upped the ante by being a self-centered twit about it.

And the whole monogamy/polyamory sidebar isn't really relevant when the premise is that the author has presented herself as having enjoyed hurting someone. As pointed out above, people can get hurt and be betrayed in polyamorous relationships just as they can in monogamous relationships. Both are vulnerable to a person who gets off on being destructive.

Not entirely convinced the article is real in the sense that it reflects actual events that actually occurred and the genuine sentiments of the author regarding said events, but the pageviews have been acquired and the discussion started, so it doesn't really matter.
posted by AV at 6:46 AM on August 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm honestly kinda fucking amazed people are riding out their hobbyhorses here, in this case as the time to go "Why attack the other woman? it's the mans fault!".

You really had to choose pretty much the most unsympathetic "victim" to defend here? I barely even see anyone attacking her in the whole "tricksy vagina trap" way that she somehow caused the affair, simply that she wrote a totally batshit delusional "the entire world revolves around me, and this is how!" little diatribe here.

Like, really, here? This time? You're basically calling out some kind of misogyny where there arguably is very little to none.

Normally i would be right there with you, but going "shame on you" to the people attacking her and what she wrote here seems really misplaced. Go do that in one of the kabillion other cases where people actually are doing the tricksy vagina trap "she made him cheat/it's somehow her fault" shit.

Like the basic argument here seems to be that the people who are hating on what she wrote and her attitude are just using the awfulness of that as a blast shield for the same misdirected misogynistic hatred, and go "AHA see we're justified this time!" or something and being totally disingenuous. At least that's my read of the people still going "how dare you". Go ahead and tell me if i'm wrong, because otherwise i just don't get it.

It's like, maybe take the people disgusted with her delusions and attitude at their word, and don't defend some really weird gross person on principle just because there's too much hate out there in a general sense(WHICH I AGREE WITH!) for people in her situation.
posted by emptythought at 11:47 AM on August 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Go ahead and tell me if i'm wrong, because otherwise i just don't get it.

Well, the problem is, for me, that:

a) This does not pass the sniff test in terms of plausibility. It reads like fiction, and not terribly well-written fiction at that.

b) IF it's fiction, it's supporting a narrative about the motives and character of the "other woman" than does not particularly align with reality, and tends towards misogyny. It reduces the situation to "Person C is Evil" without really looking at the motives or actions of anyone else involved.

c) because this is a widely-accepted narrative, fiction supporting it irritates the fuck out of me. It's not helpful, it doesn't lead to either less cheating or more healthy relationships, and it erases the culpability of 50% of the people involved in the offense. (Coincidentally, that's usually the 50% with the vast majority of the social and political power.)

If you are taking this as an actual confession by a reliable narrator, then yeah, she's despicable. I just don't read it that way.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:56 AM on August 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


it's supporting a narrative about the motives and character of the "other woman" than does not particularly align with reality

I'm curious: how do you know it doesn't align with reality? I'm not saying it doesn't; I'm just wondering what your basis is for that claim.
posted by nacho fries at 1:45 PM on August 25, 2013


Honestly? A decade or so of reading AskMe (and having friends who have been on various sides of the equation.) People don't think of themselves that way, for the most part. It's not completely unimaginable, but it's seriously, seriously atypical.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:50 PM on August 25, 2013


Yeah, it could be a fictional projection. In my experience, though, truly dysfunctional people will come out with "self-justifications" that are precisely as shocking as this.
posted by tel3path at 2:10 PM on August 25, 2013


I've been the cheater and the cheated, and managed through without ever being this delusional.

I have to say, there's something very "intro to creative writing/let's explore the unreliable narrator" about it that feels more like caricature than actual character.

Not to go o/t, but this:

Who (rightly) friend-dumped her.

I've had several friends over the years who cheated on their husbands, and I would never, ever even for a moment consider ending a friendship over that. Your friend -- your friend! -- makes a mistake (regardless of whether that mistake is the marriage or the affair) and she comes to you to talk about it, and so you "rightly friend-dump her," because her take on it is different from yours?

Even if I were somehow friends with someone as 2-dimensional as Leigh Keck, I wouldn't dump her as a friend for this.
posted by MoxieProxy at 2:16 PM on August 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yea, what tel3path said pretty much. I think you're painting your own preconceptions of this type of situation onto it making it seem more implausible because it doesn't fit your worldview.

As someone who's known more than a couple "truly dysfunctional" people, nothing about this seems totally fictitious to me.

This is starting to remind me of debates I've had about false rape accusations, but I don't want to throw that bomb in here.

And on the friend dumping part, I read that more as this being the straw that broke the camels back in that other persons case. Do you really believe some as dysfunctional and delusional as this wouldn't have done other harsh, friendship damaging things?

I feel like a lot of people on here just haven't known seriously self absorbed people like this. Not to mention the BPD people I've known who would perpetually construct narratives like this that sounded completely fictitious and wacko to anyone but themselves or new friends who hasn't seen the big picture yet.
posted by emptythought at 2:22 PM on August 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I know people like this exist, but my application of Occam's Razor suggests that this is a deliberately provocative piece of fiction. Your read may vary.

That doesn't change my assertion that people like the narrator aren't the norm. The third party in a cheating situation is not usually a narcissist who revels in the pain of others. Cheating is far too common, and people like that too uncommon, for this to be an accurate narrative, despite its prevalence in fiction and the wounded rantings of the cheated-on spouse.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:32 PM on August 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


And honestly to really get to what was bugging me about that attitude, is that i've repeatedly seen people rail against stories that align with the anti-liberal talking points or shitty attitudes about this thing. As if rather than there actually being people who do fit some aspect of the stereotype, they must just be fictitious stories because those people existing is like detrimental to the progression of the world to being a better place or something.

Like people are just incapable of accepting them as is because they don't fit their views, even though if the story was the opposite they'd instantly eat it up for the same reason. Just because you don't like it or it makes you uncomfortable doesn't mean it can't exist.

The arguments for this being fiction seem to trend towards "It aligns with talking points made by assholes too well to be real". Like, that's the crux of the entire argument as far as i can tell. That, and it's "poorly written". Not everyone is Hemingway.

I'm also mostly confused by the motivation to jump out and go "this isn't typical!" and then slap eachother on the back and high five when all of us know that. My main issue is that yes, this is an edge case, why do we need to attack it like it either doesn't exist or grab the megaphones to remind everyone it's such? Where is the assumption coming from that anyone thinks this is the typical "other woman" besides Men Going Their Own Way types?

I'll eat crow if the writer is somehow outed, or later comes out and goes "lol i trold u". But for now i have no reason to suspect that it's fake just because it's aligned with an unpopular(To MeFites at least) point of view commonly held by assholes.
posted by emptythought at 2:36 PM on August 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know people like this exist, but my application of Occam's Razor suggests that this is a deliberately provocative piece of fiction. Your read may vary.

I'd say it could be both.

That doesn't change my assertion that people like the narrator aren't the norm.

Not suggesting they are. But oh boy, have I encountered some real lunatics in this world. I could count several people I've met in the last five years who talked in exactly this gobsmacking way about a variety of wrong things they'd done. I friend-dumped them all, not out of self-righteousness but because I was afraid they might eat me.
posted by tel3path at 2:57 PM on August 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


That doesn't change my assertion that people like the narrator aren't the norm.

In real life, probably not. In cliche-land, the evil temptress is absolutely the norm. I think most of the objections in this thread have been thoughtful examinations of the cliche, and the objections have been about how this piece reinforces misogynist stereotypes.

I very much liked restless_nomad's earlier assertion that the author of the piece seems to have bought into the misogynist stereotype, and that's a large part of why this piece is problematic. So even while commenters here may not have been pulling in "evil Jezebel" stereotypes, the author very much was, and so that's influencing the commentary on the article.
posted by jaguar at 3:09 PM on August 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Right, I get that it's a stereotype but really dysfunctional people do often cleave to stereotypes, and they are also capable of donning evil stereotypes when they feel particularly powerless and need to convince themselves that they're the real winners in a given situation.
posted by tel3path at 3:19 PM on August 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


It doesn't sound like we really disagree. This is a depiction of a classic misogynist stereotype that really needs to be challenged when it comes up. Whether or not it's a true story doesn't change it all that much, although if it's not, I feel rather less charitable towards the author than if she's just a deeply damaged person desperately trying to displace her anger onto a safe target.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:34 PM on August 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


If anyone's projecting I guess it's the cheating husband writing this, imagining his ex-mistress has completely bought his bullshit and is still hung up on him a year later, that his own sloppiness conducting the affair was her dramatic manipulations. At least, that's where I'd put my bet.
posted by Salamandrous at 3:50 PM on August 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I will add my voice as another person who thinks it's a bit odd that so many are immediately dismissing this as a work of fiction. I can think of a handful of friends and acquaintances who have been the "Other" person in an affair, and always managed to find a way to make him or herself the protagonist of the story, either by demonizing the cheated upon spouse and/or dramatizing the level of passion between him/her and the other party to the point where standard rules of behavior no longer applied (The "The heart wants what it wants" defense as was used in this article). While the author definitely comes off poorly, there was nothing in her article that I haven't seen in some form in real life.
posted by The Gooch at 4:20 PM on August 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes, if the cheating husband wrote this it makes even more sense to have himself at the apex of a triangle of misogynist stereotypes with one woman pitted against another 'cause chicks are competitive like that. Also the thousand violins of "he just couldn't bear to hurt me cause he loves her so so so much." And "I am still soooo hung up on him all this time later, he consumes my every waking thought, how I wish I had what his wife had..." Yeeeah.
posted by tel3path at 4:54 PM on August 25, 2013


If you all think this is the work of fiction, I'd suggest skimming Rielle Hunter's (former US senator John Edwards's mistress) book -- that is, whatever pieces of the book are available for free online, and/or the reviews on the Amazon site. [Note: I did not say to buy the book.]

The level of narcissistic delusion in that book is way worse than in this article. If this article requires a shower after, that book requires a powerwashing... with lye.

I feel bad for the writer here, actually, because she had her life derailed by a scumbag, and a year later she's not over it (to the point that she's writing an article about it). Her life sucks. She's STILL delusional in an important way -- I think of her as actually showing a bit of compassion for the wife in that last sentence, because she is saying, "He actually loves you wifey." What this poor woman (still) doesn't realize is that the feeling of luuhrv plus $2.00 will buy you a cup of coffee -- it's no consolation that this scumbag may or may not feel luuhrv for his wife, as evidenced by his pretty fluttering eyelids and tilted neck... because what matters is his actions, and the fact that he's failed his wife in a substantial way that can't be taken back for the rest of her life. He's failed her in a way that's profoundly insulting to her as a woman and a partner, and she will never again be a woman with a faithful marriage. He's eroded her trust, the potential intimacy between them, her potential happiness. Etc.

I pity this author probably as much as I dislike her. I also pity that she doesn't understand about loyalty to women (and yeah, sure, also to human beings). If she doesn't understand the need for loyalty among women, who have had a lot of shared struggles and who do well to support each other as part of a stronger whole, she is a lot weaker in the world as a result of what she doesn't understand. I think that you might occasionally lose out by being loyal to women (and humans, for that matter). Like, it means you can't/shouldn't take the opportunity to boink a married guy because you want to. But I do think that it's better in the long run, and I pity this woman for not understanding.

So... all the pity for her, all the smiting for the scumbag husband, all the pity also for his wife, and if you want to see horrible train-wreckage of the same genre, see Rielle Hunter's book. I don't recommend it lightly, by the way. Actually I don't recommend it at all. I think it's probably too vile to be a healthy read for most people. But if you're someone who gained something emotionally by reading this article, and are dealing with relevant issues where you want more of the same genre, you might check out the book.
posted by htid at 5:09 PM on August 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you all think this is the work of fiction, I'd suggest skimming Rielle Hunter's (former US senator John Edwards's mistress) book

Which is certified 100% non-fiction?
posted by straight at 5:43 PM on August 25, 2013


Which is certified 100% non-fiction?

Well, it actually happened, and is a story about actual people. Rielle Hunter is an actual human mistress and that is her actual book. Whereas this article is written under a pseudonym and may be written by the mistress, the wife, a troll, or Santa Claus.
posted by htid at 5:49 PM on August 25, 2013


Which is certified 100% non-fiction?

Strawman much?

Is there really any such thing as a story written by a person directly involved in a situation that is 100% nonfiction? Hell, i'd say most stories written by a 3rd party observer(biographies, investigative journalism, etc) probably contain an interpretation or fill-in from memory or two.

Where exactly are we drawing the line on something being certified nonfiction?

Also, i was in no way saying that this article was fact, nor do i think the majority of the commenters on the "this isn't fake" side are. I simply believe, or at the very least find it highly plausible that this post was written by the woman who claims to have been in this relationship. There's many delusional elements to it, but there seems to be a large contingent here that thinks this entire thing is a fabrication made up by an MRA troll or some other MGTOW type misogynist.

I seriously think a lot of people here didn't read like, ye olde livejournal posts about relationships or anything. This type of delusion about relationships isn't that uncommon.
posted by emptythought at 9:34 PM on August 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I do think situations like this happen. However, this particular piece reads like fiction to me because of its glib, detached, trollbait tone.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:44 AM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here's an interesting article with a similar thesis but without the melodrama. (Disclaimer: I am Facebook friends with this person. I have never actually met her, as she friended me when we were scheduling a first date via OKCupid, and then she just stopped responding to me and the date never happened. So... I take all of her "dating advice" with a grain of salt, but whatever.)
posted by restless_nomad at 9:03 AM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hmm, that Charlie Nox piece makes an interesting counterpoint to the Leigh Keck piece. Nox isn't nearly as off-putting as Keck, which is intriguing because they both sleep with married men and are unrepentant about it.

I think the difference is that Keck is mean-spirited. Nox might be deluding herself about the ethics of her situation, but Keck openly doesn't care about anybody but herself. Both of them might sleep with your boyfriend, but Nox might have other good qualities, while Keck seems like she would be happy to stab you in the back at any point, for any reason whatsoever.
posted by feets at 12:06 PM on August 26, 2013


I'm annoyed at the idea of just doing whatever "feels right" in one's body. That's not so much an ethical or moral idea as it is a rejection of the very idea of having sexual ethics.

Both of them might sleep with your boyfriend, but Nox might have other good qualities, while Keck seems like she would be happy to stab you in the back at any point, for any reason whatsoever.

Keck (if that's a real person and the article isn't fictional) almost certainly also has good qualities. They just aren't displayed in that article. I don't think it makes sense to think about these things in terms of whether someone is or is not a good person.
posted by Area Man at 1:06 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Would you be any happier to find out your supposedly-monogamous partner had been sleeping with someone else if the third person could write a more convincing article to justify doing so?

If you were looking for someone to date (exclusively or otherwise), and you had a choice of two people, and you found that both those people made a habit of participating in betrayal of their attached partners' SOs, would you choose one based on how well they could write about it in the press?

In case 1, I would break up with my partner, and I wouldn't give the third party more thought than I had to. (Unless they were crass enough to write a newspaper article describing how great they were for having done so, in which case, wow.)

In case 2, I'd skip both of them and go looking for someone else who hasn't advertised that they're a backstabber.

At a certain point you have to look at the effect a person's behaviour is having, not at how well they can excuse it.
posted by tel3path at 1:19 PM on August 26, 2013


I agree that in the end, what you do is a lot more important than how you think about it.

That said, though, we do attach value to a person's thoughts-about-their-actions -- that's why we have categories for manslaughter/crime of passion/premeditated murder, for instance. And "Cox"'s thoughts are less off-putting than Keck's.
posted by feets at 4:27 PM on August 26, 2013


Keck (if that's a real person and the article isn't fictional) almost certainly also has good qualities. They just aren't displayed in that article.

Yes, if Keck is real she almost certainly has good qualities. For me personally, though, meanness is an absolute deal-breaker, and the persona of "Keck" in that article was mean.
posted by feets at 4:29 PM on August 26, 2013


Also, this person supposedly had a year to construct, cast, and rehearse her narrative. That's why I read this story as true, because there are people who will dissect ever piece of a relationship or affair and create a narrative that paints them as the hero, or at the very least, a hapless victim of the heart.

It sounds rehearsed because it probably was, over and over again. That's also why it seems so fanfiction-esque, she had over a year to edit it (while possibly indulging in actual fanfictions for inspiration and to sooth her heart).
posted by Shouraku at 4:53 PM on August 26, 2013


Also, this person supposedly had a year to construct, cast, and rehearse her narrative. That's why I read this story as true

That doesn't make any sense to me. A painstakingly rehearsed, polished, and scripted narrative isn't true.
posted by restless_nomad at 4:55 PM on August 26, 2013


That doesn't make any sense to me. A painstakingly rehearsed, polished, and scripted narrative isn't true.

A painstakingly rehearsed, polished, and scripted narrative is true if it also adheres to the facts and correct interpretations of the facts. I'm not saying that this one does, but let's leave some room for credibility on the part of historians, non-fiction writers, and other folks who research, rehearse, and polish narratives over prolonged periods.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:36 PM on August 26, 2013


A painstakingly rehearsed, polished, and scripted narrative isn't true.

I should clarify: I mean "true" as in she believes it to be an accurate report of what happened, not "true" as in actual facts.

In other words, she had a year to convince herself that this delusion is representative of reality and fill in the needed details.
posted by Shouraku at 9:08 PM on August 26, 2013


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