I’ve been asked to make another tribute video to a team member, this one in the style of a Collingwood Football Club mockumentary. I need to have it done by Tuesday, however, there’s only so much Collingwood FC footage I can watch in one sitting, so I’m taking a procrastination break.
I got asked an interesting question at work recently. Someone at work caught her partner chewing some nicotine gum. He had told her that he quit not long after they got together, and at the time, she told him she didn’t want to date a smoker, nor someone who was addicted to nicotine in general (gum, mints, patches). She didn’t break up with him on the spot, but she said that she was really disappointed and felt conflicted. She said, “Obviously, he hasn’t cheated on me, or anything like that, but I feel like he has.”
It started an interesting discussion on cheating, and what defines cheating. A few years ago, I was talking to Char about cheating, and she described it as doing something you know would make your partner upset if they knew about it. So I asked her if my eating KFC without telling MrFodder about it counted as cheating, and she said yes. Ever since then, MrFodder and I have had a strict rule that I tell him whenever I am going to have KFC, and I haven’t broken it yet!
After speaking to my co-worker, I realised that different people have different places at which they draw the “cheating” line. Having sex with other seems to be a common factor for a lot of people, and from what I’ve learned from /r/relationships, emotional cheating is also a thing: where the intimacy you share with someone other than your spouse affects your relationship with your spouse.
Personally, I feel like sex isn’t a line for me. Though I’ve never field tested this, as it hasn’t happened, I would be comfortable for MrFodder to have sex with someone other than me. I think sex as the ultimate act of intimacy is a bit outdated, as establishing paternity isn’t really an issue anymore, and with so many contraceptive methods out there now, sex feels like it’s more about mutual enjoyment, than about making babies. Plus, there are so many other sexual things you could do together that doesn’t carry the risk of pregnancy, but could be considered “sex” – e.g. oral. To me, sex is just an enjoyable consensual activity shared by one or more people (consent is super important here!), not too different from eating a meal, or playing a sport.
The inevitable question, which my co-worker also asked when I told her my views on sex: would I be upset if MrFodder slept with someone else? I would like to think my answer is no (I can’t speak for how I would feel it if actually happened, as this is probably an emotionally charged subject). There are things about me that are unlikely to ever change – e,g. height, voice, race, body shape. If MrFodder were to have a craving for a 2.5m tall, Swedish model who has the vocal range of a contralto (I think my voice is annoyingly high-pitched, but then again, most people hate hearing recordings of themselves), then why shouldn’t he be able to indulge? Much like how most of the time, I’ll enjoy eating a good pasta, but sometimes, you really just want a nice spicy curry or something like that.
I also feel like in terms of emotional intimacy, because I am quite open about a lot of things through my blog, I don’t feel like it’s fair to draw the line at emotional intimacy. I have quite a few friends that I feel very close to, and although I wouldn’t share things that I think would violate MrFodder’s privacy, I feel completely comfortable sharing things about myself that would be considered intimate details.
So I’ve been thinking about where I draw the line at cheating, and I think the biggest thing for me would be wilful deception. I try to be honest with people when I can, and I appreciate when the sentiment is returned. I really hate it when people lie to me in order to manipulate me into doing something I otherwise wouldn’t have done.
I was also asked, what makes my relationship with MrFodder different to my relationship with others – especially as I don’t see sex as a defining characteristic? Obviously, he’s the only person that I am physically intimate with, but that’s more to do with his beliefs than mine. (I would like to note that I don’t feel constrained being in a monogamous relationship.) I do like that I feel like we are a team. Even before we got married, I felt like a lot of our decisions were based around what would be mutually beneficial for both of us. I feel like I have his support for whatever it is I want to do. I feel like I can show him my weaknesses and he’ll still be there for me.
Maybe that’s my idea of intimacy – when you feel like you can trust someone enough to leave yourself vulnerable with them. When you’re not trying to second-guess their intentions, or whether there’s a hidden meaning behind their words. There is probably some overlap here with emotional intimacy. So after all that, what do I think is cheating? I think it would be if MrFodder was in a sexual or romantic relationship with someone else, and he felt the need to hide it from me.