Wednesday, January 21, 2009

How to gauge your odds of being cheated on. Lesson 1.

First off, a personal fashion take. Before that, a disclaimer, one of two today. What follows is going to strike some people as mean-spirited. It is not my intention to be mean-spirited—and that is certainly not how I approach life. (People who know me will tell you I'm a teddy bear. Then again, I never get out of the basement, so there aren't many people who know me.) But sometimes in order to make a point, especially when the point is that people are only looking at a situation in one narrow way, you have to be a bit jarring. That's what I'm doing here.


So: Is it really necessary, as part of the ongoing Obama-fest, to rhapsodize about how "stunning" Michelle O. looked in her various get-ups yesterday? She is a middling-looking woman at best*, and that white number she showed up in at the Neighborhood Ball in particular reminded me of something my sisters and I might've made out of Mom's old bedspreads. Nevertheless, the media this morning are uniformly agog at her "fashion sense." (No one felt that she looked unattractive, even silly at times, yesterday? No one? Everyone thought she was a knockout?) Barack, on the other hand, looked classy and sexy (can I say that without having my Guy License revoked?); and as he and the Missus danced tentatively to Beyonce's exquisite serenade (God, can the girl sing!), I kept thinking what a winning couple he and the songstress would have made, physically. (Or what a winning couple he would have made with just about anybody else who was there, including Sting or Bono.) This is not taking anything away from the First Lady as a person; she's as impressive in her own way as Barack is in hisand that's far more important than looks. But then why must our media friends go on and on about the looks? I see this as a minor (but excellent) example of what I mean by "the Givens." You're not going to hear a Mr. Blackwell** on any of the shows today (or anytime soon) ripping Michelle O's appearance to shreds. It's impolitic, and impermissible. Just won't happen.

P.S. Speaking of the Obama-fest and its apparent dictates: Musically, Aretha Franklin's rendition of My Country Tis of Thee sucked. Over-long, overdone, and very "pitchy," as American Idol's Randy Jackson might've put it. No Beyonce or Whitney Houston, she. At least not yesterday. Bet you won't hear that anywhere, either.

==============================

To return to Ashley Madison, or more broadly the overall topic of adultery and related, um, affairs...

I have long believed that women don't understand the subtle psychodynamics of adultery, and the proof of the pudding is that they tend to look at the problem in simple quid pro quo fashion: I don't cheat on you, so don't you cheat on me. When I hear a woman propose that even-Stephen equivalenceand it always comes from a womanI am somewhat reminded of the pseudo-Catholics I know who give up something for Lent that they never eat anyway.

For the remainder of this post
this will constitute my second disclaimerplease bear in mind that it's just me, one guy, talking, as he reflects on what he regards as the lessons of his life. I don't have an overwhelming cache of evidence to back me up, save for what I accumulated anecdotally as a result of my own admitted missteps (which don't even necessarily fit the pattern described herein), my informal conversations with other guys, and the somewhat-more-formal research we did at Men's Health in connection with projects like The Book of Sex. I've devoted a lot of thought to all that, and what you're now reading is the result. So take it for what it's worth: if nothing else, a springboard for further conversation, perhaps.

Today's crazy hook-up culture notwithstanding, promiscuity isn't nearly as much a part of a woman's programming as it is a man's. Not once she settles down, anyway. Single women may be every bit as piggish and libidinous nowadays as the average single guy and then some (making up for lost time?). Still, I'm not convinced that the basic nature of the beast has changed that much. And I'm fairly certain that once a woman goes through the pageantry of selecting her bridal gown, deciding on a type-face for the invitations and focusing her energies on a committed relationship, she's, well, committed. She has sowed all those wild oats, got it out of her system, and now she's ready to nest, to do The Family Thing. Not so, we males. Family thing or no family thing, in some corner of our reptilian brain, we're still single. The only difference is that we got married (or, increasingly today, moved in with someone). At least in spirit, the store is always open for business. And gals, for my money, any man who denies it is just telling you what you want to hear.

To be clear: I'm not saying that all men actually cheat. I think it's a mistake to draw literal inferences from comedy routines like those Eddie Murphy classics or, these days, the work of the surreally raunchy Jim Norton: routines that assume that every guy "knocks off a quick piece whenever he can." Those routines may be funny as hell, but they are comedy, in the end, and I'm 96% sure that they overstate the case. In doing so, they also create fertile ground for lots of arguments on the way home from the club.

Having said all this, cheating itself
which is to say, going through with itis not, I'm conivinced, for most men, a crime of passion. The urge is sexual, no doubt about it. A man has a fleeting impulse to mate with just about every sweet young thang who swishes through his field of vision in her scandalous Juicy jeans. What stops him, when he's in a loving, committed relationship, is guilt; conscience.* A sense of loyalty to his woman. Respect for his woman. It follows that anything that erodes those feelings also markedly ups the odds that a man will stray. (This does not apply in the case of celebrities, who probably do it just because it's there to be done, and because their egos are such that they feel above consequences and judgment.)

If a man feels that he's being mistreated
disrespected, ignored, overlooked, criticized, even in ways that have nothing to do with sexthen the conscience and, hence, the guilt become less of a factor. They lose their power to rein him in. So when he feels the urge, there's less holding him back. (Question: When, historically, is one of those times when a man is most susceptible to an affair? Answer: Soon after his wife has a baby. Now, lots of people would think, My God, how could he do that, with his beloved woman and the beautiful blossom of their love waiting at home? Simple. Because his wife is giving all of her attention to the love-blossom. He feels, suddenly, like a non-entity.) I see adultery, then, as a passive-aggressive form of retaliation. The man is getting even for something. The normal controls slip away, because he starts to feel (rightly or wrongly) as if he was victimized, first. She fired the first shot in this battle of the sexes. (OK, here comes a third disclaimer: I'm not defending it. Just explaining it.)

We'll get down to cases next time.

UPDATE, 11:30 a.m. The View polled its studio audience, overwhelmingly female, and Barbara Walters announced diplomatically that "they didn't love" the dress (shown above).

* Barack's extravagant and unself-conscious compliment, if sincere, proves that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.
** You wouldn't see him anyway, because he's dead. But you get my drift.


37 comments:

RevRon's Rants said...

Steve - First of all, I have to agree with the assertion that men fantasize about doing virtually any attractive woman who appears on their (our) radar. I would also agree that when we feel neglected, the guilt factor that might prevent us from straying is significantly diminished. We do feel somewhat justified in seeking fulfillment of needs that our partner fails to meet.

However (and you knew there would be a "however," didn't you?), we part ways when you say that guilt is the only thing that keeps men from having affairs, and that "for my money, any man who denies it is just telling you what you want to hear."

While I might feel a tinge of that passive-aggressive temptation to "punish" a mate for not giving me what I want / need, fear of the inevitable guilt isn't what stops me from acting on those impulses, and I suspect the same holds true for an awful lot of men. What is probably most important to me in a relationship - any relationship - is the sense that I can trust the other person. And the only way that trust can be real for me is when it is a two-way street. If I do something that forces me to acknowledge that I cannot be trusted, there's no way I can really experience trust for the other person. Before I can trust, I have to feel trustworthy myself.

Near the end of my marriage, I puffed myself up with a sense of faux nobility, since I was the one who had always been "faithful," while my ex was not. It never occurred to me that my own emotional unavailability throughout our marriage had left her desperately needing - and ultimately seeking - something I had failed to provide. Yet as angry and hurt as I was, I couldn't bring myself to "get even." I was clinging too tightly to that noble self-image.

Transient events aside, however, I think the one thing that kept (and continues to keep) me from having affairs is the memory of having allowed one "part" of my nature to write checks that the rest of me wasn't willing or able to cash. Entering into a complicated and convoluted relationship - which an affair inevitably is - ensures that there will ultimately be complications that I'm unwilling to accept. And the best (only) way to avoid those complications is to avoid the relationship altogether.

Connie knows full well that I am diligently observant, and that I really appreciate looking at a beautiful woman. She also knows that I am somewhat flirtatious, but only when it is obvious to everyone that the flirtation is harmless, an end unto itself, rather than a prelude to something else. She knows my tastes. She knows me well enough to know that if I were to ever *stop* looking, something would be going on inside me. And if my interaction with a woman she knows I would find attractive became more rigidly controlled than normal, she would know that I was struggling with temptation. Fortunately, she is sufficiently confident in our relationship to not be bothered by my behavior.

Ultimately, it isn't guilt that stops me from doing much of anything... its simply an unwillingness to deal with what would inevitably be a colossal pain in the ass.

Steve Salerno said...

Refreshingly honest, Ron, especially at the end there. What I mean by that is that I think it's your honesty; that doesn't mean the sentiment is valid for us all, right?

The one observation I would make is that I'm not contending that guys "get even" consciously or purposely (which is what I infer from your comment). In fact I think it's quite the opposite: that as a wife becomes more of a shrew (if you will), other women just naturally become more attractive, and the reasons for "denying yourself" seem somehow less operative/pressing. I was going to go into this in more detail next time. Curious to see how you react.

RevRon's Rants said...

"it's your honesty; that doesn't mean the sentiment is valid for us all, right?"

Of course not... not any more universally applicable than the statement that guilt is the only thing that keeps men from having affairs, and that "for my money, any man who denies it is just telling you what you want to hear."

As you know from past dialogs, I have a real problem with statements that attempt to compartmentalize too many variables, such as "all Republicans are greedy," "all Democrats are socialists," or the one we've struggled with here, "everyone who disagrees is an idiot."

Simply put, not all men will screw around, and among those who won't, guilt isn't the only thing that will stop them.

As to the revenge factor, I think that most men who perceive their mates as becoming less attractive and/or accommodating, and who end up committing adultery, would probably be conscious of their desire to punish their mate's behavior, and make it an integral part of their justification for having an affair.

Elizabeth said...

If a man feels that he's being mistreated—disrespected, ignored, overlooked, criticized, even in ways that have nothing to do with sex—then the conscience and, hence, the guilt become less of a factor.

The very same thing -- substitute unloved for disrespected, etc. -- holds true for women.

Elizabeth said...

Wise words, Ron, here (and elsewhere, too) and they do illustrate my earlier point:

Near the end of my marriage, I puffed myself up with a sense of faux nobility, since I was the one who had always been "faithful," while my ex was not. It never occurred to me that my own emotional unavailability throughout our marriage had left her desperately needing - and ultimately seeking - something I had failed to provide.

On Michelle... sigh. She is tall and has an excellent figure, beautiful arms, a wonderful smile, warmth, grace, intelligence and humor. She appears to be the emotional anchor for Barack (and he for her, read the excerpt I forwarded earlier today to the last thread).

And yes, she has a unique and interesting sense of style. Yesterday's outfits, however, were misses on my list. Not outrageous misses, but in the "could have been better" category. The yellow upholstery get-up looked like something my mom* has on her sofa. The white gown was boring. The asymmetrical strap looked like a piece of bandage meant to secure an injured limb. Not her best, imo. (In comparison, Jill Biden looked stunning. Forget the "comparison." Jill Biden looked/looks stunning.) BTW, Michelle can do better. We have pictures to prove it -- I saw them last night somewhere, but cannot find the site now.

*My mom loves and adores the Obamas. She has been praying daily for them for more than half a year now, and we cannot have a conversation without her gushing over Barack this or Barack that (handsome, wise, smart, good-hearted, a people-man, a holy savior sent to save us from damnation, dapper, dashing, and, oh, did I mention a saint?) And yet all these conversations end invariably with her sad concern about (in her opinion) Michelle's lack of beauty: "Can't they do something about her hair? Or face? Or the rest?" My mom is not a "lookist," btw (she herself is a common sense saint, in my eyes -- emphasis on the saint part), but she is terribly earnest in her opinions and expresses them as they come.

Cosmic Connie said...

Re the inauguration: It does seem that the press is going out of its way to be nice to Michelle. How times have changed; they tore poor Hillary apart for her fashion choices (and her ankles, as I recall) during President Clinton's first coming-out party. I, however, agree with you about Michelle's ball gown; it did look like a chenille bedspread. And I didn't like that rather garish yellow number she wore for the daytime ceremonies.

Furthermore, Aretha not only over-sang "My Country 'Tis Of Thee" but she wore one of the silliest hats I've seen in a long time. There, I've said it.

Now, as for the second matter (cheating, etc.): All I have to say about this is that in general I agree with your observations, Steve, but I am *very* grateful to have a guy like Ron, who is better than I probably deserve. In any case I always find these discussions interesting and look forward to seeing your elaboration, Steve (and Ron's response :-)).

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go to Bed Bath and Beyond's web site and see if they have a cheap knock-off of Michelle's ball gown yet. Oh, bad, bad Connie.

Elizabeth said...

P.S. Steve, you say:

Or what a winning couple he would have made with just about anybody else who was there, including Sting or Bono.

I must disagree. The only "winning couple" that Sting could make in his current edition would be with another fellow werewolf.

Dimension Skipper said...

With regards to the disclaimers sprinkled throughout the above post, here's an illustration by Jim Meddick of Steve's method of promoting dialogue in action. (Can also be found on its original "Monty" source page here.)

;-)

Anonymous said...

Maybe she nags and 'disrespects' you because you stopped paying attention to her.

Elizabeth said...

The most pressing question and concern I have after re-reading your post, Steve, is this:

Why are you spending your life in the basement? This cannot possibly be good for anyone. Especially not for someone who is "a teddy bear."

Jen said...

This is such a great topic, and yes - kudos to RevRon for sharing so candidly. I am fortunately married (for almost 20 years now) to a very forgiving man, yet one who has not-unrealistically high expectations for behavior, both his and mine. We both understand the boundaries necessary to keep the trust alive between us. I won't say the boundaries have never been crossed, for that would not be true. But we do have respect for them and seek to honor what is best for our relationship.

Steve, you wrote: "At least in spirit, the store is always open for business."

This is true, I believe, for most people. Of course, we'd need a consensus on the definition of the word "business." :)

I don't think men and women are all that different in our need for companionship, understanding, and intimacy in all its aspects, physical and emotional.

Anonymous said...

I would agree (with qualifications)with your simple assessment of the passive agressive nature of male cheating as a way to get back at the woman whose attention is diverted, by a new-born child, from the man.
Men have traditionally been reared to view their wives' main priority as fulfilling the husbands' needs whether they be sexual, emotional or any other that is required and a surprising number of men still demand this of their women.

Women are aware that they are usually the ones left 'holding the baby' and most realise that some compromise must be made--babies have constant needs and require enormous attention that has to come from somewhere-- so the husbands quota of attention is diminished.

In fact it is an impossibility for any one person to cater fully to anothers' emotional needs and I would speculate that this erroneous and impossible expectation of another person is at the root of many marital failures.
I would contend that womens lack of interest in pursuing affairs when she is 'settled'(i.e. tied down with children) is a direct result of her available attention being already accounted for. Women with dependent children are also economically disadvantaged and are acutely aware of this.
"I don't have affairs so neither should you." is a form of magical thinking, indulged more in hope than in expectation, is my guess.

I have carefully avoided mentioning trust, RevRon has said it and nothing that I can say can shed any light on the experience of trust to anyone not knowing this trust at first hand.

Elizabeth said...

One more comment here and I just may be done with the topic.

Steve, you say:
I see adultery, then, as a passive-aggressive form of retaliation. The man is getting even for something.

Alright now, consider it a public service announcement directed at any man who thinks of having an affair as a form of retaliation: Don't.

Do us all women a favor and keep your, er, hands to yourself (apologies, if needed, for being so blunt).

An affair can be a lot of things, and actually a lot of great things (not that I endorse them, necessarily), but if your motivation for it is a retaliation against your wife, then consider some other form working it out for yourself, without involving another person. Dunno, develop an interest in model trains or something, just stay away from real, breathing and feeling women. (And/or do what Spitzer did, hire a professional [not that I necessarily condone that either].)

Don't mess with other human beings just because you want a revenge on your spouse, consciously or not. PSA out. (The more we know, huh?)

Elizabeth said...

Turns out I have one more comment in me (darn it). And this one is sorta deja vu, because I remember making it before on SHAMblog when the issue of men's infidelity came up.

Steve, you say:

I'm fairly certain that once a woman goes through the pageantry of selecting her bridal gown, deciding on a type-face for the invitations and focusing her energies on a committed relationship, she's, well, committed.

Sigh. I feel sheepish repeating this, but you are mistaken, Steve. Women -- married women, women in relationships -- are as lusty as men and quite possibly as promiscuous. They just hide it better and are more circumspect about sharing their personal lives with others (men especially).

But as my experience teaches me, and that experience includes women I have known throughout my life, the notion of women's (in relationships) chastity and nesting-above-all-etc. is a myth, one likely perpetuated by men for their own benefit. Nothing like denial to lull one into a sense of (dangerous?) complacency. ;) Trust me, the store is open for business, though the, um, shopping conditions may be somewhat different.

And as this research suggests, it is women's biology and not "heart" that is responsible for this state of, er, affairs.

Though the researchers here say that the more attractive the woman (and the higher her hormones' level), the more likely she is to stray, I would disagree again, somewhat at least. My informal knowledge of other women's lives suggests that the less attractive and even ho-hum women are as likely to venture outside of marriage when the need arises (so to speak).

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Dimension Skipper, for
'Steve's method of promoting dialogue in action'
I'm voting for this cartoon to be the new Shamblog banner.

RevRon's Rants said...

Elizabeth said, "less attractive and even ho-hum women are as likely to venture outside of marriage when the need arises,,,"

I'd take it one step further and suggest that a woman who *feels* less than attractive - whether those feelings are justified or not - is even more likely to wander than is a woman who has a sense of her own beauty. Of course, this runs contrary to the old song, "If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life, don't make a pretty woman your wife..."

Same holds true for men, I might add.

And Connie wrote, "I am *very* grateful to have a guy like Ron, who is better than I probably deserve."

Hold that thought, sweetie! Especially the next time I revert to my insufferably grumpy self!

OldFaithful said...

I am woman and I've been living with my partner for 6 yrs. We get along very well, rarely argue and both of us are anti-drama. Our sex life, not so good; mostly because I'm a little more...adventurous. I'd like to have a little extra-marital fun. But. The world is sooo small these days and if my partner found out... Ai, yi, yi! He'd be so hurt, and then I'd be heartsick over causing all this drama and pain.

Even if the sex was the best ever, it's still a loose-loose situation. If it's the best sex ever, I'd want more-more-more and that's bound to be trouble. If it's not the best ever, then I've wasted my integrity on some 3rd class nookie. So, cheating is just not worth the trouble for me.

And regarding Michelle O., she's really beautiful! I don't know how you can miss that! Part of what makes her attractive from my perspective is her grace and gravitas. She's the best looking first lady we've had in a long while.

I wasn't feeling the white gown but that greeny-yellow inauguration get-up was gorgeous!

Anonymous said...

Steve:

Want to cheat with a married woman? There is a very simple way to go from flirting to forging an emotional bond which because you give her the attention she craves, but her husband does not supply.

It's text messaging. Quick; simple; discreet. She'll have the phone with her at work, in the car, even in the bathroom. You don't even have to be in the same time zone. Text messaging allows for an affair of the heart from long distance - a heart longing for attention. And she'll quickly delete the messages so her husband won't find out. Unlike email, you don't have to sneak into a room with a computer at odd times.

Text messaging is the greatest facilitator to affairs going. It evens the playing field - the horny guys can meet up with the lonely women who are ready for action.

Steve Salerno said...

Thanks, Old Faithful, for chiming in. Hope you get in touch with your inner geyser. So to speak.

Anyway, re Michelle O... Wow. I just don't see it. Beautiful? Seriously? I guess you must be from that school that sees outer beauty based on projected inner qualities--which she has aplenty--because the gal's got serious facial problems (what is that with her mouth/jaw??), gawky posture, and major body-disproportionality issues. I'm not trying to be mean, again, and I recall having a similar conversation with someone about Cameron Diaz, another girl where people loosely use the term "beautiful," and who looks, to me, like a cross between a prizefighter and a Cabbage-Patch Kid. But hey, to each his own.

I guess it just bugs me that we throw around words like beautiful with such abandon (and that we're inclined to muddy the waters by using those words to upgrade the looks of people we merely like and/or admire). Very, very few people, of either gender, are beautiful.

Steve Salerno said...

Incidentally, at the risk of inviting a torrent of invective, I happen to think Laura Bush is a very pretty woman. She gets my nod for the "best-looking first lady we've had in a while."

Been There said...

Why do people cheat? I believe women do it because they want to feel special again. Lots of women of all ages are very disappointed in the type of men they meet, consequently, it's easier to play around with a married man vs. getting serious and risking another mistake. Besides, they always say "the good ones are taken." No doubt, I was motivated by those aspirations. It was more fun to live dangerously than settle down and tolerate the wrath of another man's children and ex-wife.

I would agree that the average "sweet" woman believes in commitment once she sets her sights one on man, but countless women have seen how men disrespect relationships and women in general, and they are tired of feeling bad and threatened by it. A lot of women are driven to retaliate.

IMO, I believe most men gravitate to women who respond to them because they like feeling needed. In fact, there are quite a few men who are "a bottomless pit of need." Granted, all the primal reasons to cheat are valid, but it's far better to act them out with your devoted partner instead of adding another branch to your emotional tree.

It's too bad if the door is always open for business, because seldom does any one walk away unscathed, especially if they fall deeply in love and do not wish to lose their person.

Anonymous said...

http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=216538&title=changefest-09-obamas-inaugural

really funny!

Elizabeth said...

I'm reading people's comments and see that among motives given for starting, or more importantly not starting an affair, one is conspicuously missing. We have revenge and sex as the most prominent reasons for an affair, and convenience, respect, trust, avoiding hurt as the most important ones for not having one. However, nobody mentioned love for one's spouse/partner as the reason to abstain from straying (or for having an affair, as it may be). While the latter may be understandable, the former is, IMO, curious. Hm.

Elizabeth said...

Cameron Diaz, another girl (...) who looks, to me, like a cross between a prizefighter and a Cabbage-Patch Kid.

Ha ha ha!!! Yes, indeed.

Steve Salerno said...

Eliz: What I find intriguing about your latest comment is an implication that deserves exploring. You seem to be implying that we're all tempted to stray...but if we love our partners, we focus on that love and it holds us back. That in turn implies that love and the desire to stray can exist simultaneously in the same person, whereas I think some would argue (the romantics surely would) that if you're truly in love, you have zero desire to stray in the first place. So the love isn't really "holding you back," because cheating wouldn't occur to you even if the hottest movie star known to man/woman showed up naked in your shower. Which sort of brings us full circle, to my observation about Catholics who give up something for Lent that they have little trouble resisting in the first place.

So what do you folks think? If you're really in love, can you still be tempted to cheat? Or if you're tempted to cheat, does that mean you're not really in love? Or are we all, by nature, cheaters, and it's just that love is part of what keeps us in line? Or are these all different ways of asking the same question(s)?

Interesting topic, anyway.

Elizabeth said...

You seem to be implying that we're all tempted to stray...but if we love our partners, we focus on that love and it holds us back.

No, Steve. And yes... sorta, I think. I'm simply surprised that love was not mentioned at all in the comments (save mine about being unloved as women's motive for seeking affairs and Anon's about falling in love with your affair partner AFTER you started an affair).

I imagine that whether we are "all tempted" but love holds us back, or whether love closes our eyes for anyone else in the world except our beloved (which is my preferred state of being/thinking/feeling, even though it may be unrealistic and/or not applicable to the majority of people -- and that I simply don't know), I imagine love matters, or should matter here. No?

That's why its absence from the discussion, especially from the more personal comments, is so curious. To me.

roger o'keefe said...

Steve and Elizabeth: The saddest part of this and the reason why love hasn't been mentioned, IMO, is that love is taken as one of your famous Givens. People see no contradiction at all between being in love and having other sex partners, so the love doesn't even enter into the picture. As I say it's a very sad commentary on today's society, and I blame Hollywood and the MSM for popularizing such notions, i.e. that even if you're in love "the store is always open for business" as you put it.

Jen said...

Quick answer, Steve.

Sure! Thinking back to the various times in my life that I have fallen in love, I realize the feeling is remarkably similar. These guys hung the moon! Without a doubt, I developed an emotional attachment that would not quit. Wild horses couldn't drag me away. ;)

Okay. So, here's my question: Is it possible to be in a long-term committed relationship with one person and be in love with other people without upsetting the balance of the primary relationship? And yes I am talking about emotional affairs.

Steve Salerno said...

My own "quick" answer, Jen: Love is not a zero-sum game. I think it is entirely possible to love multiple people, and that the love for one does not diminish the love for the others. (Isn't that true of parents and their children?) I also feel that once the "secondary" or even extramarital love comes into being, it should not necessarily be scorned or cheapened. It strikes me as a little bit like, maybe, a child born out of wedlock: Maybe it's not how you'd ideally choose to bring a baby into the world, but once it's there, you love that child no less for its misbegotten circumstances. (Although even that analogy seems anachronistic now, since hardly anyone bothers to get married before having children anymore.)

roger o'keefe said...

Steve: Once again you leave me shaking my head at the contrast between some of what you say on the blog and *most* of what you wrote in SHAM. So was that a pose you adopted in order to get your book published? How do you explain all that hand wringing and moralizing about social ills that were clearly tied to aspects of the liberal agenda, if you're now going to take all these stands on behalf of moral relativism, adultery, and so forth? You leave me wanting to shout "Will the real Steve Salerno please stand up"!

Steve Salerno said...

Roger, I understand your exasperation. Sometimes I shout the same thing at myself ("will the real...") ;)

Try to keep in mind that there's a difference between explaining how something got to be a certain way (which is what I spent a fair amount of time doing in "SHAM") and taking a stand on it. Yes, I was addressing a certain audience, and the reason I was addressing that audience is that the people who hate a lot of what has happened to America (like, say, yourself) don't really have a solid understanding of how and why everything got to be that way, and the profound role that psychobabble has played in that transformation. Also, I think you should re-read the "overall disclaimer" that I recently placed near the top of the right column of the blog. I think it will help resolve some of the personal/global and objective/subjective discord for you.

RevRon's Rants said...

I think we're talking about apples and oranges here, or at least varying degrees of appledom. There's a line between loving someone and being *in love,* and I believe that line is what holds great sway over whether we choose to have affairs or not.

I deeply love a few select people in my life - a couple of them, women with whom I either had a relationship or, given different circumstances, would probably enter into such a relationship. I make no pretense about my feelings for them, either to myself or Connie. And I think that being honest with myself and Connie goes a long way toward preventing the kind of confusion / illusion that might be conducive to my having an affair.

A woman might be strikingly beautiful to me, but my appreciation is generally limited to aesthetics, rather than libidinous fantasy. The most powerful fantasies - even those that allow for the presence of one of those beautiful women - inevitably have Connie in the picture (I know... typical guy thing!).

In the final analysis, I think that most affairs are the product of the confusion / illusion to which I alluded above. While we might find ourselves occasionally haunted by the phrase, "if only...," allowing ourselves to finish the phrase *realistically* is generally enough to keep us on an even keel.

literary lioness said...

Where are all these people to cheat with? Seriously, maybe I’m wired differently, but it was hard enough to find one guy I wanted to have sex with let alone two. Sure, I dated some beautiful (handsome) guys, but once they opened their mouths, it all went down hill for me. Celibacy was easy, once I realized they were rather boring and pedestrian. Who wants that? Not me.

I remember being hot and bothered over this one guy who was physically very attractive to me. He was an attorney I use to work with. He had black curls and a face that looked like it could have been stamped on a Roman coin. He was always very quiet and would just nod his head, when I spoke. I use to think to myself “oh, he’s so deep, like Buddha.” Then one day he started speaking and I realized he was an idiot. He totally screwed-up my fantasy by telling me what was not going on inside his cranium. I even asked him if he paid someone to take the bar for him, because I didn’t think he had the grey matter to hack it.

I married my husband because he makes me think and he is emotionally mature. It’s a nice mix, if you can find it. I’m faithful, because I am lazy and rarely find any man I want to sleep with. That’s a lot of work to be hustling two men. I don’t know how guys find the energy to do it with women. My husband says he is faithful, because he fears diseases. One in five people have herpes and the STD rates in the United States are out of this world.

As far as love goes, I think it is great. It rarely has much to do with sex though. Humans are built to be social and to procreate. I would venture to guess; no one can define love for another person. Each person has to come-up with his or her own definition. If he or she is really lucky, he or she might find someone who agrees.

About Michelle Obama, I do not find her physically very attractive either. I also do not find her too articulate for being a Harvard grad. "You know?" She must of taken notes with Caroline Kennedy on how to do interviews. You know?

Steve Salerno said...

Lionessa, it's interesting how so many of us have demystified the whole fidelity thing, or at least dropped the historic pretenses about its being rooted in something more than pragmatics. For example, you're faithful because you're "lazy and rarely find a man to sleep with," while your husband is faithful because he "fears diseases." Not exactly the stuff of Shakespeare or Byron, eh? ("Oh Romeo, Romeo...wherefore art my Gardasil shot...?") Maybe this goes to Eliz's point about love not even being part of the equation anymore. You seem to validate that in your penultimate graph.

As for "You know," that is actually the more formal, scholarly term; most of us are down to "yanno" by now. Before I started teaching college, I never used such "throat-clearing" speech; I didn't feel it was necessary to supply each sentence with an introductory phrase, and if I lacked something meaningful to segue to, I remained silent till I found something worth saying again. Now I often find myself filling all space by lapsing into a down-market argot of "yannos," "wells," "I means," and even the occasional "lemme tell you." It's extremely contagious; worse than any STD!

literary lioness said...

"Not exactly the stuff of Shakespeare or Byron, eh? ('Oh Romeo, Romeo...wherefore art my Gardasil shot...?') Maybe this goes to Eliz's point about love not even being part of the equation anymore. You seem to validate that in your penultimate graph."

Shakespeare was not a romantic, but a very big pragmatist. It always cracks me up when people quote Shakespeare and call him a romantic. He was one of the best businessmen you can find. He knew what people wanted to hear and he had fun with it.

I was actually being a bit facetious with my post. My point is, love is many things to many people and so is the case with faithfulness. Are my reasons any less just because I do not ascribe the word "love" to them? Does my faithfulness mean anything since it is not difficult for me to be? Wouldn't it be greater for a sex addict to be faithful than a person with a low sex drive? How does one judge the merits of what is more honorable for another?

By the way, I am considered quite romantic. I make no money at my art and I have starved in a grotto. Can't get more romantic than that!

Anonymous said...

Skipping all the other viable discussion points, I sadly agree that The Queen of Soul's rendition wasn't very good. Color me sad.

But, her hat is showing up everywhere. Check out this blog http://www.buzzfeed.com/expresident/arethas-hat-is-everywhere

Elizabeth said...

It strikes me as a little bit like, maybe, a child born out of wedlock

Hm. So that would be, what -- a bastard(ly) love?

Romantic... ;)