SL Letter of the Day: Peace On The Side


and why is it ok to cheat on a disabled spouse? please elaborate as i (as a disabled woman) and all disabled people out here in cyber space really want to hear your justification on this one dan. or do you have a list of SPECIFIC disabilities that meet the criteria? you are an ass.
So they got each other off before she graduated, just not habitually?
Umm, xina, I assume (because I am able to think) he is talking about a disability that does not allow the person to have sex. Not poor eyesight, or lack of imagination, which seems to be your disable-ment. You are the true ass, and obviously want some attention. Grow up.
@xina : I imagine that would depend on the disability. For example, if a person is married to a spouse in a coma, what's better -- cheating or necrophilia? What about if the spouse is violently insane and confined to an institution? On the other hand, a spouse with ADD probably wouldn't be sufficient reason to cheat.
Wouldn't a person who wants to have an affair be willing to like through his/her teeth about his/her reasons for doing so, in order to make a convincing case?

GOTS, your consciences is nagging at you for a reason. Dump this chump--pronto. Tell him if he wants out of his marriage, you're not going to help the process along, and tell him if he contacts you again, you'll be placing a call to his wife.
@1: I think Dan's use of disabled in this case is literal... ie, the spouse is physically incapable of having sex, at least in a way that is minimally satisfying to the partner. He's written/podcasted before about situations in which one partner in an otherwise loving relationship becomes physically incapable of sex, through injury or illness, and the other partner is faced with the choice of enforced celibacy, abrogating the responsibility of caring for the injured partner by leaving, or... discreet, secret sex on the side, so as to maintain sanity enough to continue as caretaker of the injured spouse. In that case, he says, "cheating" is allowed.
Good rules, except that you still have to make a judgment call. You don't really know if he's telling the truth about his supposedly disabled, terminally ill, mentally deranged, sexually frigid, manipulative bitch of a wife. You might meet her and find out that she's the sweetest lady ever and that he's just an asshole trying to get some on the side. Or you might find out bitch be crazy and the price of involvement with Mr. Sexy is that you have a bunny-boiling fatal attraction crazy woman stalking you to your job, keying your car and showing up at your home. Don't take the man at his word is all I'm saying. If he's cheating on her you already know something about him, regardless of what he says about her to justify his own cheating.
What happened, did Dr. Phil win Dan's column in the Strangercrombie auction?

1) Drop the "CPOS" acronym already. Seeking hot and passionate sex outside of a monogamous relationship doesn't make you a "piece of shit", even if your spouse wouldn't like it if they knew.

2) Romance, passion, attraction, and seduction aren't concerned with your silly rules.

3) The cultural norms around this subject should be that everyone in a monogamous relationship gets one "get-out-of-jail-free" card that allows them a single fling without losing their parter.
Amen, Dan.

To the woman involved, look, what part of fooling around with a married man do you think supports/preserves his marriage? Zero. Don't give yourself pats on the back because you remind him that he could get caught.

And, he's going to be a father. So it's a hard time for his wife being pregnant for the first time.

All I can say to you is someday you might be married, pregnant and hoping your husband isn't cheating on you. How would that feel?

Get a real boyfriend and not this pathetic excuse.
Please could we have a flowchart!
@xina, I'm guessing Dan doesn't mean *all* kinds of disability, as most disabilities people have don't preclude sex. On the other hand, people who, say, recently became disabled may be in too much pain to have sex, may be too depressed to have sex (depression that's directly caused by the thing that caused the disability), or may have become disabled in some way that prevents sex for a long time. Some kinds of mental disabilities end up getting treated with medicines that do a great job of helping the person function... but kill the sex drive, and they don't always wanna change the meds because it's really tough to get even a semi-decent combo. And naturally, some terminal or chronic illnesses end up killing the sex drive.

On the other hand, a lot of people (who genuinely love their spouses) will want to stick by their spouse despite some of these sex-killing disabilities but as healthy adults with healthy libidos will still want to have sex (and I think it's in THAT case Dan advocates cheating, as then the healthy partner can remain sane and can be a good, supportive, comforting partner and help their loved one through whatever difficulty)

I'm pretty sure he wouldn't say to ALL spouses of disabled people "CHEAT!!!!"
@1 Xina, Dan did not say "disabled" was, BY ITSELF, a criterion for which cheating might be okay. He said in a case where the cheater "who made a monogamous commitment isn't getting any at home (sick or disabled or withholding-without-cause spouse)".

What he is saying is that if a couple makes a monogamous commitment, and then one becomes disabled in such a fashion that she (or he) is unable to have sex, the other person is not a complete piece of shit if he seeks sex (not love, not commitment) somewhere else. There are other rules (be discreet, for instance), but the general point is, human beings have sexual needs, and if the choices are (a) divorce the disabled spouse who can't have sex, so you can get a new spouse who can, or (b) honor your commitment to your disabled spouse, but quietly get occasional sexual release on the side, (b) seems like the least bad option. It's what I would want if I became disabled and my partner needed release.

Of course, there are some people who believe that the only option is (c) stay married and forego sex because the disabled person can't have it either, so it's your job to suffer right along with her because of course if she's not happy, nobody deserves to be happy. I (and Dan) happen to think that's worse than (b). Your mileage may vary. Tax, title and license extra. Offer not valid in all states. See rules for details.

In this case, there's no sign that the wife isn't withholding sex (for good or bad reasons), nor is there even a claim that she is. So the writer doesn't get this exemption. If she keeps it up, she is a CPOS, as Dan noted.
Dan almost always advises that people actually, you know, talk to each other before gaining/assuming "permission" to cheat.

If your partner is disabled, I don't think Dan would suggest sneaking off at every opportunity to cheat on the sly, but rather talking to each other and figuring out what each others expectations are before acting.

Also, @9,
Just because people are hardly better than primitives doesn't mean they should behave like primitives with total disregard for their partner's feelings.

If you know for a fact that your partner would be extremely hurt by your cheating, but you go ahead and do it anyway, that's definitely being a piece of shit.
@1: Dan published a letter from a woman who was sexually dissatisfied because her partners had a disability or illness that severely limited his sexuality (e.g., paralyzed from the waste down). She asked whether she should leave her disabled partner or secretly get her sexual needs met elsewhere, and Dan recommended the latter, which I think makes sense.
Oh man.

This CPOS sounds EXACTLY like my adviser. He has a tendency to get it on with any female student in sight. Which sucked for me, because I naively thought the attention was academic... until he leaned in and his sour breath made me realize he was totally making a move for it.

"It's okay" he said. "My wife and I have a don't ask, don't tell relationship."

Really? A relationship founded on the basic principles that some people are more equal than others just to appease squeamish Christians??

In the 2 years since that awful night, I have watched him seduce my friends and my students, all voluntarily -- no one seems to feel taken advantage of -- while his wife is back-to-back pregnant. Serious, yo. He drinks 7 nights a week in seedy bars picking up strangers and telling his wife he is "working late." He takes weekend trips to rendezvous with women who have graduated and moved to Chicago, Vegas, or San Diego.

His wife (also a grad student) complains to mutual friends about how busy he is. How he never can make it home before midnight. This is no open relationship. He's a CPOS. And I would call him on it, but he's got power over me so's I gotsa stay quiet until graduation.

@ Xina, obviously disabled means comatose or hit by a grenade while working in Iraq or undergoing cancer treatment that destroys sex drive. Dan is no POS when it comes to individual rights, sex, and desire. And his archives show whole columns dedicated to differently abled individuals' sex lives. Chill.
@1 I think Dan means "disabled" meaning some disability (whatever the form, mental or physical) that makes it impossible for the person not disabled to have a healthy sexual relationship with the person who is disabled. I don't think he means "disabled" as in, lost a leg in a motorcycle accident. People with one leg, I'm guessing, can still fuck just fine.
I think a better rule is stay the fuck away from people in relationships. It will save you a lot of head aches and bad karma. They all have excuses. Some "good" and some "bad" but in my book none are worth it.
@14: If you know for a fact that your partner would be extremely hurt by your cheating, but you go ahead and do it anyway, that's definitely being a piece of shit.

That all depends on whether you think it's reasonable for your partner to feel extremely hurt in this situation. What if I felt extremely hurt when my wife talks to other men, but she does it anyway? Everyone would agree I'm the piece of shit in that situation, despite my hurt feelings.

Personally, I think we make way too big a deal of extra-marital sex. If we made less of a big deal of it, there'd be less "cheating" and less hurt feelings all around.
@9 Anytime you deliberately lie to keep information from your partner which would hurt them if they knew, you are a piece of shit. I don't care if it that you cheated, or that you racked up $10k in credit card debt, or anything else it makes you a dishonest piece of shit. Violating your partner's trust is the single best way to ruin a relationship.
@19 That example isn't quite equivalent. If you didn't like your partner talking to other men and she AGREED not to do it, did anyway, and lied about it. That would make her a dishonest piece of shit. Whether or not you would be a piece of shit for requiring that of a partner is irrelevant (it does, BTW) to her being a piece of shit for doing what she made a commitment not to do.
@20: I agree that total honesty and truth in a relationship is a worthy goal to strive for, but it requires that both parties be mature and secure enough to handle the truth.

If one party is too insecure, manipulative, or controlling to react productively to facts that they don't like, then the other partner can either try and maintain the relationship with tactical lies and omissions, or they can end it. Often, the lies are a better option.

Anyway, I have yet to meet a single couple who's relationship wasn't maintained with at least small lies and omissions. For example, a married woman I know has a crush that she hasn't told her hubby about to spare his feelings. Is she a piece of shit for keeping info from him that would hurt him? Quite the opposite, I think.

Jesus, some people will get butthurt at the slightest excuse.
@21: Ok, then, here are some other hypothetical examples for you:

1) My wife asks me if I'm still attracted to her. The truth is, childbirth and aging have taken their toll, and I'm not physically attracted to her anymore, although I do still love her and want to be with her. So, do I tell her she has hit the wall, or do I lie and say I'm attracted to her?

2) My wife spends all day in the kitchen making me a fancy dinner for my birthday. I take a bite and the food is barely edible. She asks me "how is it?" Do I tell her it tastes like dog food, or do I lie and say it's great?

(Solution: if you told the truth in either 1 or 2, you are a piece of shit who doesn't deserve to be in a relationship.)
Dan, this week's podcast seems to have technical problems. I can hear your pre-taped stuff and the callers, but not your responses.
@24 worse than that... on question #1, I'd say she likely knows the answer. (Not so sure on #2.)
seandr, you're listing reasons NOT TO ENTER monogamous relationships, not reasons to break them and lie about it.

If monogamy is difficult, don't make monogamous commitments. Date people who don't expect monogamous commitments. Have all the non-monogamous relationships you want; they're fantastic!

Making a monogamous commitment that you know you'll break because you don't want to be upfront from the get-go is not "human nature." The kind of human nature you're talking about doesn't involve monogamous commitments at all, broken or otherwise, so that excuse doesn't work for dishonest cheating.

And don't get me wrong; I don't think that cheating is absolutely unforgivably horrible either. How shitty it is varies a ton, but it's usually at least kinda shitty to do to someone and the human nature excuse doesn't work for cheating like it does for good ol' fashioned non-monogamy.

And whether or not the cheating itself is okay, the kind of open disregard (almost hostility) that this guy is showing towards his wife's feelings goes above and beyond giving in to a bit of innocent lust for a piece on the side.
@ seandr,

It's not the cheating that makes someone a POS, nor is it lying to spare a partner's feelings, it's when someone intentionally hurts their partner when they could have easily avoided hurting them.

If you're with someone who you know would be hurt if you cheated, then if you cheat, yes, you are a POS. It doesn't matter if you don't think they should feel upset about it. You know they don't want you to do it and you do it anyway.

It's not that "if everyone made less of a big deal of extra marital sex, it would be less of a problem" it's that if people honestly communicated with each other and respected each others wishes (or respectfully left the relationship if those wishes were too harsh), THEN it would be less of a problem.

Simply hoping that everyone should come around to the idea that extra-marital sex is no big deal is unrealistic.
My understanding is that narcissists are people who -- when their lives falls apart -- will trade-in the well-being of another dollars (so to speak) for pennies for their own well-being. Sociopaths, on the other hand, will look for any opportunities to cash-in the well-being of others for pennies on the dollar.

Now that his wife's pregnancy essentially traps her in their marriage, this might seem like a sociopath's opportunity to start torturing her with his infidelities, with no actual intention of leaving the marriage as long as he enjoys seeing his wife run around like a specimen in a maze.
"Alexandria School District 206 is trying to cope with the unexpected death of an 18-year-old student.
Lance Lundsten, a senior at Jefferson High School, died Saturday.
According to preliminary autopsy results that were shared with the family, he died from cardiac edema, a condition caused by an enlarged heart."

Dan said Lundsten committed suicide because of Gay Bullying.

Dan is an Ignorant Lying Piece of Shit.

please make a note of it.....
I'm prone to think that one can be a "cheater" without being a "CPOS", and while one could propose general guidelines there must still be allowances for individual situations.

In this instance the LW seems concerned, and that suggests that she, at minimum, has become uncomfortable with the situation and Dan's advice could be right on target.

I'm guessing that all relationships have a level of "lies" or "omissions". I just happen to be crappy at being dishonest, so I focus on saying things with kindness. And, that includes acknowledging that I found one of my friends attractive once, and could see myself going on a date in an alternate unmarried life. So, I shared. No biggie for us. But, I don't make a point of asking "how is it" with regard to my cooking or baking, as observation is far kinder way to determine if a recipe is worth repeating. I don't ask if I'm attractive, I honestly don't want to know the answer, I know that I'm no longer the 18 year-old he first met and we've built a life that includes two children. Plus, I don't want to awaken the vain 20 year-old that lurks within. Nor is he still the 19 year-old basketball star. I'm aware that time and gravity gets us all, so we must be willing to allow attraction to evolve and choose to celebrate its changing face. Besides, it seems far kinder to not put loved ones on the spot, in my opinion. Just my $0.02, though.
The best idea on this page is... flowchart!
Bravo, Dan. So relieved to hear your position which I agree with completely.
GOTS, what could you possibly be getting from this relationship/situation that impels you to continue in it? The man is scum: a user, (of you) and a cheater (on his pregnant, ignorant wife), who seems to be on some sort of suicidal mission to end his marriage and use you as the weapon. A woman is going to suffer, and suffer big-time; do you really want to be a party to that? An innocent child is going to have to live with these two as parents; do you want to be any part of the drama this kid is going to grow up with? He's begging to get caught, and when this blows up, do you want to hear from the devastated woman who blames you for her husband's assholery? He keeps your texts, so she'll have your phone number, remember?

I can't imagine that at 21you don't have other, better, hotter, and more ethical options. Please exercise them and sleep better at night.
@27: Date people who don't expect monogamous commitments.

Most people who end up cheating are happy with a monogamous commitment early on in the relationship when the sex is great. Then 20 years later, something happens that they couldn't have predicted - maybe a partner's libido drops or their perspective on sexuality and relationships change - and monogamy stops working for whatever reason.

That leaves you with the option of cheating, divorcing or living out your days in resentment. In my opinion, a no-strings-attached secret fling is hardly the worst outcome here, especially if it reduces marital conflict.
And ethics aside, is it honestly worth the drama of being the means to a dramatic end to a marriage? What a fucking hassle. Set aside an entire five minutes and find a less complicated source of cock.
Bonefish: I love that phrase: "a less complicated source of cock." Mind if I borrow it?
Most people who end up cheating are happy with a monogamous commitment early on in the relationship when the sex is great.

Care to offer any evidence, or are you content to blow claims out of your ass?
@16--I hope the first damn thing you do after graduation is to destroy this POS. You could also send some anonymous letters--to his wife, to the university's admin., etc., now, and at least make him answer some difficult questions.
35: That's when you discuss non-monogamy. Again, not saying that cheating is always terrible or never an option, but it shouldn't be a first resort. Relationships do change, but that's all the more reason that people should make attempts to work out (and re-work) honest arrangements rather than sneak around because it might be too awkward to bring it up. I didn't mean to imply that you get one shot at deciding "monogamy or not" early on in a relationship. But I think that, if minds change, it's better to revisit this decision honestly before unilaterally deciding to break the commitment secret.

If something changes throughout your 20-year relationship and you discuss the issue and bring up ideas, and things are still irreconcilable, that's when you make the choice of cheating, breaking up, or just living with it. And then, sure, cheating really isn't always the worst option, depending on circumstances. But two things:

1) This only becomes your sole set of choices after bringing up the idea and getting it shot down. Cheating before discussing is usually not the best choice (even if it isn't always the worst, which I didn't say it was).

2) There really isn't an excuse for this specific case. If you're at the point where you have this guy's level of contempt for your wife, and you're figuring that you're "going to get caught eventually," then maintaining the relationship is clearly not a priority. And when that's the case, cheating is a way worse option than just ending it honestly.

Especially since the wife is currently pregnant. Better for the parents to get a (relatively) low-drama divorce while the kid is still a fetus than for them to have an explosive divorce when the kid is 8 years old because that's when the dad is "eventually caught."
whoops; meant "break the commitment IN secret" instead of "secret."

Dear GOTS, run away from this situation as fast as you can. This dude is being not only a cheater but an idiot. You know it's wrong to enable him the way you are. Cut off contact and be glad you didn't get any further entangled with him, cause he's a married, stupid flake!
seandr @35, the fourth option is for the one who wants outside sex to renegotiate the terms of the marriage, openly. It sounds like you're sure (@22) that the "insecure, manipulative, or controlling" partner will "not react productively" -- I guess that means getting a divorce. (If you mean that telling the truth will lead to violence, then please seek out help before it's too late.)

Why isn't that the upset partner's right, if he/she doesn't like the idea of non-monogamy? And why would it be so terrible to be divorced from someone you think is insecure, manipulative, or controlling?
Sounds to me like the married man is getting off on the thrill of not covering his tracks. But yeah, CPOS.
Whoops, Bonefish got there before me.
The opening to this makes little sense: 21 years old, didn't start the phone sex til she graduated and moved away (guessing that she moved, she states he's in a different state) was she 16 when she started college, can she not add, or is she just full of shit?

Who's to say that the wife doesn't know about his fun and games, and just doesn't care? It's not like she can't look at the cell phone usage and see who he's texting, or look at the long distance charges and see who he's calling.

Is phone sex and sexting really cheating? I don't buy into the whole emotional affair business, and maintain that if there isn't any actual penetrative or other physical contact (which there seems not to be here) then no one involved is a cheating piece of shit. Since when are fantasies (even shared fantasies) cheating?
I agree with Dan, and with almost everyone else, about the CPOS position.
I strongly disagree that if you are the bit on the side you are a POS if they are not fulfilling the criteria for cheating. They made the monogamous commitment, it is up to them to uphold it. I mean how could you even check? They could be a CPOS and a lying POS, I think those go together.

I agree that GOTS should not waste her time on this douche, and I think continuing would be slightly unethical on her part, but not very.
I vote with @6....
@ Xina, #1 - I'm an example of the disabilities that Dan is talking about. When my fiance and I because involved, I was still able to do a great deal of sex, but not vaginal penetrative. So we had a good time. And I felt like there was a light at the end of the tunnel as far as finding a treatment would work.

Time has gone on. My condition has gotten worse to the point that any physical contact in the vicinity of my vulvar region is excruciatingly painful. Not only is vaginal penetration off the list, but so is pretty much everything. And knowing stuff will hurt has started making my brain pre-emptive strike by killing my libido. Although I've recently found a new doctor who's taking a whole new approach to this and seems to have seen it before, there's no telling how long I'll be with this.

Our solution has been to open up the relationship (although he's still looking for a girlfriend), especially for his side, in order for him to get some of those needs met. But if I was one of those crazy-bitch girlfriends some guys saddle themselves with, they definitely would put their foot down with "me or nothing", even if "me" was only every 3-4 months (which I feel awful about, but can't do much for). In that kind of case, the guy would totally be justified to go cheat.
There are no rules for the home wrecker. He took the vows, not you, and you're not obligated to help him preserve his marriage in any way.
Re: Seandr's comments, didn't Dan write that cheating a few times in a long (mostly) monogamous relationship was to be expected, and that the relationship could still be considered a success in that context? And didn't he also say that if someone has an opportunity to cheat, that they should at least do it in such a way that their spouse never finds out? I don't remember the CPOS label being applied in those situations. I seem to remember reading something in the archives about discreet cheating...? There was a time I would have said cheating was a deal-breaker for me, now, after reading through all the archives, I see it from the other side as well, that 20 or 30 years of complete monogamy just isn't possible for some people. The thing is, I think there are very few women who would agree to the kind of open relationship that Dan advocates, so where does that leave men? (I know these boards are the worst place to generalize about women, as the women on them are probably not representative of most.)
@50, you are of course completely right, but wouldn't it bother you to be involved with someone who clearly had so little regard for the feelings of others? I think that's the real point here. Even if you wanted to come at it from the point of view of complete self-preservation, it's better not to be involved with such a piece of shit.
@46 -- the math works out if you assume he was an undergraduate advisor -- some universities have those. Otherwise -- yeah.
The Golden Rule applies, as it does in most situations. If you had a partner and wouldn't want someone fucking around with them behind your back (which, I presume, would be the case with most people), then don't fuck around with someone else's partner behind their back.

seandr is just bitter because Dan hasn't given HIM permission to cheat on his partner (boredom and selfishness are insufficient grounds) and he's too much of a coward to leave his partner or tell them that he's no longer willing to hold up his end of the monogamous agreement he made.

In other words, he's a gutless cheating piece of shit, or will be soon.
Ah Chase, if I've learned anything reading this blog and all of the archives, it's that what I thought I knew to be *true* is just my particular viewpoint, and that relationships come in many different incarnations.
@51 Dan has said that, especially if it is the context of the cheating partner giving in to temptation on VERY rare occasions and feeling guilty afterwards - if you slip up once or twice, don't contract any STIs, and don't want to make a habit of it, then you can do it and not tell or need to negotiate an open relationship. The difference between that attitude and seandr's (at least the part about seeking hot sex outside your marriage, not the bit about having a get-one-free card) is that seandr seems to be talking about semi-frequent, intentional cheating. Saying an infidelity or two over the course of a relationship isn't a big deal is not the same as saying infidelity is never a big deal.

I'm a woman who isn't into monogamy, but I think if I was then I would feel a difference between being cheated on a handful of times over a few decades and being cheated on a handful of times each month. The former is an example of someone trying hard and failing on rare occasion; the latter is someone who isn't trying at all and doesn't care about the supposed commitment we made.
@57 Good points. I think you're right, if it becomes something with any predictable frequency, maybe bringing up the open relationship idea is the way to go. From what Erica P has written, she and her husband seem to have managed it.
@57, yes, I think Dan usually gives this advice to people who *have* cheated, telling them that if you can keep your mouth shut, and want to stay married... then, yes, bury that secret deep within you where it won't come out during a fight or drunken sob confessional. I'm not sure he ever gives people permission in advance, unless they basically aren't getting sex from their spouse.

@58, knock on wood. Fifteen years of marriage, but only one year under our belt with this new arrangement. The odd thing is that I have way more opportunity to have outside sex than he does. So, I found myself sowing wild oats this year that I didn't know I had in me, and felt at times as if I was sowing my husband's wild oats for him, when I would come home and then have wild sex with him while talking about my adventures. Things have calmed down more recently, as he's crazy busy at work...and we're falling back into maintenance sex, as a result... not sure what the new year will bring.
Oddly, Prudie gave this exact advice today:…
>>having gotten many letters about the fallout of a confession of a one-night stand, I've become somewhat skeptical about the usefulness of this revelation. I'm talking here about the situation in which one partner cheats one time, is consumed by guilt, and realizes this is something he or she never intends to do again. I'll also add the caveat that protection was used so there's minimal chance of passing on an STD to one's spouse.... ultimately, as I've heard, the revelation can cause more pain to the spouse hearing the confession than it's worth. The entire foundation of the marriage ends up being shaken, and for what? An incident that was stupid and won't happen again.
@59 You're correct, Dan doesn't like to give permission in advance for cheating without grounds (though I can imagine situations where he would, e.g., 'Dan, I'm 45, I've been faithful for ten years, and I have the opportunity to sleep with someone whom I will soon be unable to attract without paying for it. I promise to be safe and never see them again after this. Can I cheat, just this once?'). This is another difference between his approach and seandr's: Dan is backward-looking (it's okay to have cheated, so don't keep beating yourself up for it) where seandr is forward-looking (it's okay to cheat, so go for it). People who share seandr's perspective and still agree to monogamous commitments baffle me; I don't know what else to assume than that they have no respect for their partner and want to feel free to fuck whomever they choose while being fairly certain their partner isn't doing the same.

And that is some solid, well-timed advice from Prudie.
@31: Kim in Portland, you are a gem. You are the best exemplar I know of the social intelligence, diplomacy, tact, and love that keeps a relationship strong after 20, 30, 40, ... years.

And, I'm not surprised to hear your relationship is strong enough to withstand the occasional inconvenient truth.
@38: I've read a bunch of the science in this area, but alas, I don't have any stats for you, kesh.

I assume from your comment that you think most cheaters fully intend to fuck other people from the very start of their monogamous relationship? You might be right, and I'm sure such people exist, but of all of my friends, acquaintances, and ex-girlfriends (who cheated on me), I don't know anyone for whom cheating was a part of the original plan.
@51: The thing is, I think there are very few women who would agree to the kind of open relationship that Dan advocates, so where does that leave men?

Exactly, Cannuck. It's much easier for gay men to negotiate open relationships with their partners than it is for straight men. Excluding the rare and wonderful exceptions, if a straight guy needs sexual satisfaction outside the relationship, his choices are forget it or lie. I hope extra-marital sex will be less threatening to future generations of hets, just as it is today among gay men.

P.S. I know Dan is sympathetic to the straight man's plight, so the Dr. Phil comment was probably uncalled for.
I really think it has to be a mindset thing, seandr. I think a lot of women are told that cheating is a total deal-breaker (I know I was), whereas I don't think boys are given that message quite as strongly growing up. It's also interesting that men (I think) seem to crave variety, even when they are in a happy, stable relationship, and I don't get the sense that women feel that need in the same way (not to say that we don't stare wistfully at the models on the Hollister shopping bags, though...) I do, absolutely, think it's something that could change over time, just using myself as an example. If I could go from thinking "complete deal breaker" to "yeah, we'd have to talk through that one," I would think anyone could... I can certainly see both sides of it now.
@54 In my opinion you hit the nail on the head.
A good person should follow this rule, or at least consider the implications of what they are partaking in, but ultimately it is the responsibility of the person in the relationship not to cheat.

What Dan says is that the piece on the side is a CPOS too, so falls into the same category as the cheater, just as bad, which I think is way off
I think this classification is bad because in my mind it elevates some of the blame from the cheater.
I think there is already a tendency to blame the person on the side, homewrecker, or they seduced the cheater, etc. In my opinion not where the blame lies.
Wait a minute Dan! She is not the one in a committed relationship and I don't think she needs to check the validity of a potential partners's reasons for cheating. If I know someone is in a relationship and hook up with them anyhow without checking with their partner to ensure that the relationship is truly open it's not my bad and I am not a cheating POS. I'm not in a relationship, my potential partner is and maybe their partner deserves it for refusing sex, maybe they are ggg and don't deserve it but regardless it is not my place to investigate the state of their relationship in order to avoid being a CPOS. Why would I owe it to their partner? I'm not in a relationship with that person?
Maybe his wife is the type who only had sex because she wanted to get pregnant and now isn't interested. Based on the letter we can't tell so why is it her responsibility to figure out his reasoning? Or are you now really saying that in order to avoid being a CPOS a person must investigate their partner's relationship or shoulder the responsibility of breaking up the relationship?
@68 While I kind of agree with you, I think there is something to be said about considering what you are facilitating the other person to do.
People go through emotional vulnerable states, such as when they freak out before getting married, or before having a baby. As a result they might be more inclined to cheat then they normally would be, and end up massively regretting their actions or ruining relationships that would have ultimately been happy in.
I think as an emotionally considerate person, you do have a responsibility to stop someone from being self-destructive, or at least not facilitate it, especially when children are involved. But as you say, there are limits to how much you can realistically know about their relationship.
Am I the only one who thinks he hasn't cheated yet? They haven't had sex. You can't cheat with someone while they are in a different state. Of course, everyone has their own definition of what is cheating and what isn't.
It amazes me how many people are blithely hurting others in their one-sided selfishness and then whining about their problems to Dan. I guess that's the true mark of a POS.
I tend to agree with EricaP and Canuck above. Before cheating, there is talking. If you are in a relationship that excludes cheating (monogamous or endogamous), and you willingly entered into it, then you have to renegotiate if you want the conditions to change. Either that, or you're being dishonest.

It may well be true that most women don't want relationships with cheating while men crave variety (that's at least the traditional telling of the tale). But if you're a man and you so crave variety, well, keep having lovers one after another and don't commit to one woman! Yes, it's important to change people's minds, so they understand that open relationships are possible; too many people still think that open relationships are synonymous with lack of respect for each other. But frankly: rather than being dishonest just because people still have old beliefs, it's better not to tie the knot with them. Living on one-night stands will be better.
@70 I would agree that there has been no cheating yet. Cyber-sex and phone sex to me are only slightly different from porn, and don't cross the line of cheating, but only if there is no intention of meeting up. They are surely in a grey zone though, forming an real emotional relationship based on sexual interaction is pretty close to the cheating line, in my opinion
Also, the question implied that cheating was probably going to happen soon, and asked what the morale implications of crossing that line were.
I've got to jump on Xina's comment @1. Dan--you seem to have a real hang up about people with disabilities. There is this whole "Leotarded" thing. It's not clear, but I think you think it is clever to take a disparaging term, change it slightly, and then say, you've found a technicality that allows you to ridicule people with intellectual disadilities (yes-that is the preferred term currently, learn to use it). If your racist Uncle started using "shigger," no one would think it was funny or clever, accept for the asses who would think it was a hoot.

People with intellectual disabilities ask that we not use the term "retarded" as a descriptive term because it is dated (like "colored"), and ask that we not use it as a pejorative term like you do. These are real people, not punchlines. And unfortunately not all are particularly good at letting things roll of their backs or understanding that you're the jerk and not them. Needless to say I thought that the Constance McMillen episode would have taught you something about basic human dignity. Recall that the mean-spirited hoax ended up netting the students with special needs as well as McMillen. Frankly, you talk like someone from the jerk part of McMillen's town. You need to apologize and start acting right.
So Dan, how do u feel about married and closeted men over the age of 50 who are getting some gay tail on the side?

Currently, I have 3 playmates who are all older married men who can't/won't divorce. I enjoy their company, but I've always wondered about the ethics of such arrangements.
An addition to Dan's rules should be: the married person also has to take any and all precaution possible to prevent harm to his family and spouse. This means physical protection obviously, condoms, birth control, etc., but also being as careful as possible to not allow discovery on the part of the spouse. This guy in the letter is a scumbag all the way around.
As I understand it, not being a lawyer, if you participate in an action that results in a murder makes you an accessory to the murder (or chose any crime you like). If you become aware of the crime after the fact and aid or enable that person who committed the murder, you become an accessory after the fact. I know, its guilt by association. Limiting myself solely to instances where cheating is not warranted (I don’t use justified because cheaters can always justify their cheating). Anyone who “knowingly” gets involved with a person in a committed, monogamous relationship is as big a CPOS as that person. You don’t have to be a participant, also who needs the sordidness and drama. As to controlling your emotions, people do that all the time it’s called being ethical and civilized. They used to teach that in school, but we live in more “enlightened” (debased) times.
As I understand it, not being a lawyer, if you participate in an action that results in a murder makes you an accessory to the murder (or chose any crime you like). If you become aware of the crime after the fact and aid or enable that person who committed the murder, you become an accessory after the fact. I know its guilt by association. Limiting myself solely to instances where cheating is not warranted (I don’t use justified because cheaters can always justify their cheating). Anyone who “knowingly” gets involved with a person in a committed, monogamous relationship is as big a CPOS as that person. You don’t have to be a participant, also who needs the sordidness and drama. As to controlling your emotions, people do that all the time it’s called being ethical and civilized. They used to teach that in school, but we live in more “enlightened” (debased) times.
One thing that is worth noting is how much a piece of shit it makes him that he's cheating on her while pregnant. Pregnancy is a time when getting an STD can matter a *lot* more - especially herpes, which you may well have and not know it (80% of people who have it don't know it). If you pass it to him, and him to her, *and* it's after whatever time they did the STD panel for her, then the docs are unlikely to catch it in time, making pregnancy possibly very dangerous for the child. Especially since new infections are most dangerous.

So although I agree with Dan's advice that you should get away from this situation, if you decide to fuck him, please wait until after she has given birth.
Seandr....I am a girl...backing you COMPLETELY, on everything you have had to say. Preach on brother!! Not everyone read Dan while young. Not everyone was so sexually liberated an knowledgable (sadly) while young. People change, and its not always the man who wants variety.

I also wanted to point out, what is in it for the poor thirds? Who the hell wants to be the boyfriend or the girlfriend of the married partner? That is what I will NEVER get!!! Not that I am judging....I just have, that is just a losing position to be in.
@ 80: Lots of people, that's who. And why, you ask? Because not everyone wants hot sex from somebody who might be looking for a permanent emotional commitment. Sometimes (shockingly) we just want a really powerful orgasm from someone who knows how to give one. Yeah, I mess around with closeted married guys... I have qualms about it sometimes, but damn... those guys can fuck.
@78 That logic is non-sensical. Not aiding murder (or other crimes) is an implicit commitment we make in exchange for civil liberties and citizenship. Whereas cheating is bad because you are breaking a commitment you have made to your wife. It is a completely different situation, in no comparable way does anyone have responsibility to aid you in your commitment.
cxq: Like I said, I am not judging at all! Hell, my boyfriend is married too, but so am I. I think it just makes for better balance, it works best for us. But we have been fucking for so long, we have gotten a mite attached to each other, and if I didn't have my happy homestead to jaunt off into the sunset to, I admit I would be jealous of him heading back to his. But hell, our emotions were accidental and incidental. Risks of the trade I guess.

I do want to defend myself here a little bit. I did argue for opening up my marriage, but my husband would have none of it. I was not being satisfied, my husband wasn't up for the task, and there are children invovled. So I didn't want to break up my family. I certainly didn't go INTO my marriage thinking "Hey, awesome, lets do this, and then I can go fuck around, GREAT!!!". Having been invovled with my lover now for going on 8 years, its one of the most harrowing things I have done. Of course, there are amazing perks as well. The orgasms mentioned are *mindblowing*, but the emotional toll, well....let's just say, I do pay the price for being a CPOS.....and its not like I dreamed of this lifesyle when I was a wee little gal....just beats the two alternatives in my book: divorce or complete sexual dissatisfaction.
cxg @75, you already know what Dan thinks from his answer to this SLOTD: unless there's a valid reason why the person can't be honest and accept the possibility of divorce, that person is a CPOS... "and so are you."
Sorry I should have said controlling your impulses, not your emotions
Also, just for the record, and because the analogy was made to actual crimes -- I don't think that anyone is arguing that being a CPOS should be illegal, or even cause for liability in a civil suit. We're just saying it's not kind to your partner, it's not following the golden rule, it's not something to be proud of.

I cheated on my college boyfriend. But I saw it as a sign that the relationship was in trouble, not as a mechanism for allowing me to build a lifetime relationship with him.
@83 This is probably going to come across as overly judgmental. My primary purpose is rhetorical, stating my personal reasons for not having an affair. The costs are just too high
and benefits too limited. The prospect of seeing the hurt/accusation in the eyes of my children is more than I could bear.

I hope for God’s sake (just an expression) or whatever you believe in or value (your children for instance) that you don’t leave any evidence (written or electronic journals, emails, texts, phone bills, credit card receipts or bills, etc, ad nauseum) that can be stumbled upon or found by your spouse or children (you may be surprised by how inquisitive/devious/intuitive children can be about their parents). Where do you find the time for extramarital activities what with time spent on children, spouse, family, and work. That assumes you have a job, which if you don’t explains where you get the time. Hopefully neither of you have shared your secret with anyone else or are relying on someone to cover for you. Your risk of exposure increases exponentially with each additional person who is aware of your secret. How do you account for time or the inability of your spouse, children, family to get a hold of you. Hopefully you are taking precautions against pregnancy and disease. No matter how discrete you may be, sooner or later someone will see you and start asking questions. I also hope your families don’t socialize, that is just asking for trouble. This is probably unnecessary, but never ever have extramarital sex in your homes or marital beds. People who do that want to be caught and revenge is usually the reason for it. Unless you are a great actress, how do you mask the guilt and depression that result from the lies and deception inherent in your situation? Both of you obviously lie to your spouses, do you also lie to your children?

Bottom line, on some level you already know that you have destroyed your marriage and family by your actions. The lies, deceit, and betrayal, not the sex are what do the damage. You can judge what is truly important to a person by what they are willing to risk/sacrifice for it/them. Harsh though it is, you’ve risked everything you supposedly value and therefore your lover and orgasms are more important to you than your children, family, or spouse. I really do wish people would stop pretending otherwise. At least be honest with yourself if no one else.
@ 87....Yeah, pretty judgemental for sure. You are making an awful lot of assumptions about some people you know nothing about. After all, as stated above, I have been doing this for 8 years. My family has not been "destroyed by my actions", as you so eloquently claim above.

Au contraire, having my lover has actually enabled my to stay with my husband, by all accounts a good man, who is just unwilling to sexually satisfy me. Well, *was* I should say. He should actually be greatful to my lover, because thanks to him, I now know my body infinitely better, have more cinfidence, and now even my husband can please me. All this would have never have happened without my lover in my life. But yes, for people in your mindset, life is always black and white. Cheaters = awful, horrible people who value nothing. Ironically, having my lover has even enhased my sexual relationship with my husband. I wish I could be open with him about it, but alas, when I tried to talk to him about it, he shut me down.

Of course we are careful. We both value our families. But I am not a martyr. I am not one of those people who stops living once children enter the picture. I sacrife a lot for them; however, I will not stop give up my sexuality. I take every precaution possible (and trust me, they are quite extensive) so that they are protected, but I will not enter a convent simply because I am a mother. Both my lover and I care very very deeply for our families and to imply otherwise is pure ignorance. The key here being both of us being on of the reasons we are so well matched; security and family is our top priority. Pregnancy and STD's are a non-issue in our situation. Our meeting times do not take away from family...they do take away from employers yes, but oh well, lol.
And 87, if you really were just questioning, and didn't mean to attack, sorry if I came across as defnesive, I am! Its hard to judge tone via electronic media....having an affair was certainly not my first choice. It really asucks, and I don't recommend it to anyone actually. I felt cornered, and realize its not a moral decision, but now I have feelings for both men, so feel rather trapped, and realize how society views "the other woman". I am willing to bet dollars to donuts, many "homewreckers" are actually pretty nice people just caught up in bad situations.
@65 (or others) so how can I get my man to make the transition you did? I seem to only end up with men with traditional values -- I've always wanted to be in an open relationship, and the men I date don't. I can't imagine my guy having an interest in a second gf... he's romantic and traditional. Before we dated we discussed open relationships theoretically... I told him I'd always wanted to be in one, and he said he had no interest. This is not a dealbreaker for me... I'm in my 30s and we plan to start a family in a year or so... but it would be so nice to kiss the hot Latin guy I work with and flirt with.... mmm! I don't think I'd ever slip, but I'd sure like to... especially with permission!
Everybody: cheating is fucked up. When you make a commitment in front of the person you're supposed to be in love with, and with all the people you love watching, you should take it seriously. Unless they completely deny you sex, or for other reasons Dan has stated, you should have the guts and respect to talk to them about it first. This has been said, but it's the deceit. It's somebody telling you lies everyday, because they are such a cowardly piece of shit, they can't talk to you. I don't know about you guys, but my significant other is my best friend. As my friend and my lover, he should be honest. It just shows a utter lack of self control and respect when you ignore their feelings and fuck somebody. Not everything is about YOU. If you wnat to go through life only thinking of yourself, don't be in a relationship. If you don't think you can be monogamous, don't marry or date someone that wants that. It's that simple.
@90, does "romantic and traditional" mean no talking in bed? If he's open to fantasy, can you ask him if it's okay if you fantasize about other guys, and have him do the same about other girls? Not sure what to do if even that is upsetting to him... Maybe ask if you can watch while he masturbates to porn -- still no talking, but other men & women are (virtually) there with you. Or see if he'll go to a strip club with you?
Nope. I never promised you I wouldn't bang your girlfriend, so if I bang your girlfriend, you got nothing on me. Take it up with her.

@54 - Golden Rule??? I've been cheated on, and I only felt betrayed by my partner, not her piece of ass. I prefer that people want to bang my girlfriends... it means I chose well.
SEANDR and others: I understand your position, but not your cowardice. If you "love" someone, and you want to be with them, you respect them enough to treat them as an equal participant in the marriage/monogamy. You don't do what you wanna do and then say that they'd never agree, when you never even gave them the opportunity. Maybe you're right, but ethically, their needs/wants are EQUAL to yours. And if they want monogamy, and you don't, you're not capable of meeting their needs. You have a right to your desires and SO DO THEY. One has the right to set the terms, and leave or be left if those terms don't fit their partner's.

Don't marry someone you can't tell the hard truths to. When you realize you can't be honest with your partner cause they're too "irrational, insecure, or controlling" DTMFA! If you don't, because it's easier, or you want to stay with your kids, or you can't afford a lawyer, etc. etc. etc. than that's on you. You deciding to stay in a dishonest, unfair (to you too!) relationship is a decision that has consequences, such as not getting your jollies on the side cause you're not (wo)man enough to lay out the options for your partner. If people are socialized to expect to be able to get hugely fat and stop banging their partner, they might just do so. You need to be clear about your expectations from the beginning, and that includes sexual, emotional, financial. Have the stones to say what your dealbreakers are, identify and address them when they approach, and keep the lines of communication open. I'd be a lot less hurt if my partner said that my messy hair and unbrushed teeth are a turnoff than finding out he's doing someone else. And people, before you let it all hang out, realize that desire can be extinguished permanently. Keep up your appearance. It's your responsibility.

Yeah, it's kinda harsh to say you're not sexually attracted to your partner anymore. But did this happen overnight? Or did she start putting on the pounds and you didn't have the balls to say, "hey honey, we need to start hitting the gym" or "hey honey, I'll watch the kids for an hour a night so you can hit the gym." You are perfectly right to expect your partner to make a good solid effort to stay physically attractive. And to the people who will say, "(s)he should love me no matter what size I am!" you're right. S(he) should love you, but (s)he damn well will stop wanting to fuck you. Sorry, you don't have a right to be desired at any size, shape, stink, grooming, etc.

Or is it just that she's not 25 anymore? In that case, she deserves a divorce so she can find someone that can think the 25 year olds are hot, but that she is beautiful and sexy in her own way too.

These problems are not insurmountable. It just takes the honesty to state your needs, the conviction to stand up for yourself, and the courage to not always be the nice guy/gal. You don't get to keep your mouth shut and then whine that your undisclosed needs aren't being met. Cry me a river.
I would be worried about the reason that he can't/won't just divorce (and I really hope it's not because of the kid; that would make him an even bigger asshole). If and when, going with when, the wife finds out, she can use the affair to make his life a living hell in divorce court, and, in some states and countries, name GOTS as the reason for ending the marriage. I'm pretty sure there have been cases where the wife sued the mistress for emotional damages, or at the very least being dragged into court could make GOTS' life very difficult. Do what you want, but I might look at consequences if the wife who just had his baby decides to get vindictive.
Hmmmm, I would also like to know why Dan makes exceptions for kinky motherfuckers, but not those of us trapped in marriages whose partners just fail to satisfy us, even if our tastes tend to be fairly vanilla, with just a dash of mild submissive on the side?

So lemme get this straight, you get a get out of jail free pass if you like to be diapers, shat upon, or any other such kinky perversions, if according to him above, you "can do it discreetly and sanely", but if you are like me, and just like to get fucked properly by a big, strong strapping mildy dom guy....I am a CPOS. Nice. Perhaps I need to develop a fetish for getting peed on and I will be golden (pun intended, lol).

And all you holier then thou types...."talk it out, be honest, you shouldn't have gotten married in the first place", blah blah blah:

Marriage is about sooooooooo much more then sex. Who are you to tell me I should end my marriage because my husband and I are sexually incompatible? I tried talking, no go. We are compatible in almost every other way. Yes, I got married too young. Yes, I got married before I started reading Dan and realized how important sexual compatibility is. Did I make a mistake in marrying him? Perhaps. I try to communicate better now, and things have improved (thanks in large part to my f-king hot lover, lol!) but still, its never going to be what we are best at. But we have great kids and a pretty damned good life. I try to make him happy and try to be a good wife, but I don't have it in me to give up my lover who makes me extraodinarily happy. So I do my best to make sure hubby NEVER finds out. I am not destroying our life we built together just because your moralists shake your fingers at me and cry "wrong wrong wrong!", and nor am I tearing up my kiddies happy home.

Yippie Kay Yay you guys have such perfect, awesome relationships, and quite frankly, I am jealous. You are one of the lucky ones.
Badgirl - If you are soooo compatible, then you should be able to communicate with him and explain what you need to be happy, and what compromises you can make to both get what you need. If you don't lay it on the line, and keep making decisions autonomously that actually impact you both, people are gonna judge you. If you're satisfied you've done the best you can and that you're right, you don't need to justify it to a bunch of strangers. Who are we to give you our approval, right?
Sorry, seandr, if you know that your partner doesn't want you to have sex with other people, and you do it anyway, then you're a CPOS. Your hypothetical examples are not the same situation as this. Your values are NOT the problem. It's perfectly OK to think that monogamy is not how you want to live. But it's NOT OK to get into a relationship with someone who does want monogamy, and then sleep around because you've decided that their values are lame.
To each their own, if you want unattached flings and are honest with people you're supposedly committed to and dating about it, great. But NSA flings don't really do it for me. Its like playing poker without money. What makes dating fun is the emotional risks and what your interaction with someone might lead to. When you know going into it that you're just casually playing around, well that's not what makes sex so great to me. But hey, some people like the actual game for itself, so whatevs.
Badgirl- I agree, it doesn't make sense that people with kinks can cheat while otherwise unsatisfied people cant. If it allows you to remain a caring wife and mother when that would otherwise not be possible then I guess that is just how it is. I think it should be judged the same.

I would say one thing though, it seems to me like the very least you could is to extend your husband the same allowances you have given yourself. You don't even have to tell him about your affair, just say you wouldn't mind if he had discrete extra-marital sex. Seems a bit unfair otherwise, also might get rid of some of your guilt...
Meh. To each his own. If you are not in those shoes, please do not judge, that is all. The level of sanctimoniousness creeping through some of these letters is frightening. I'd much rather be badgirl, who is doing her best under the circumstances and is keeping her husband and her kids happy, than some of you who are so quick to judge her.