The person with whom you have decided to have a monogamous relationship owes you fidelity, as you owe that person the fidelity you also promised. If that person breaks that promise, I can guarantee one thing: he or she made the choice to do so.
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that a one-off mention that a women who has committed the supposedly cardinal sin of sleeping with another woman's partner isn't a horrible slut unworthy of love sparked a discussing about the appropriate amount of blame she should share for breaking up a relationship. But, to recap: when you and a partner choose to make a commitment of monogamy to one another, it is incumbent upon the two of you to keep that promise. It is not, however, incumbent on the supposed slut next door to keep her claws out of your man—unless she is your friend or relative, in which case she owes you the respect of a friend or relative.
Every single man and every single woman is perfectly capable of not cheating on their significant others, of having a conversation about their emotional and sexual needs and—as is one of my three rules of dating—having a conversation with their significant other when those things change. Is it easy? No. Does it, perhaps, seem easier at times to fuck first and talk later? Certainly. If, however, one chooses to fuck first and deal with one's life later, then it is not the fault of the person one fucked.
I have been hit on by a lot—and I stress this point—a lot of married men. By virtue of the career I used to have and the work I used to do, my work environments were extremely male dominated (though, to point out, married men started hitting on me before I could drive). I can't say for committed women, but when it comes to men, they weren't particularly creative. They basically tried to get me into bed one of four ways.
- My wife is cool with it.
- My wife doesn't fuck me anymore/hates her body/hates sex.
- We're totally separated/lead separate lives.
- I love you.
I've actually asked around recently, and there's a general consensus: it's inevitably the same script. Every story of every woman I know who has ever been hit on—or yes, gotten with—an otherwise attached man describes a story that has one of these starting points
Interestingly, people that cheat have a similarly clichéd script by which they explain their behavior when caught (or, more likely, half-caught by a partner that doesn't want to believe it).
- It didn't go as far as all that.
- I was drunk/high.
- S/he seduced me.
- You're paranoid/insecure.
- If you had just done x, I wouldn't have.
As with the excuses the cheater tells the other person, the excuses a cheater tells his or her lover revolves around the same basic point: it's not really my fault. And who's fault is it? Either the cuckolded person, or the person with whom the cheater cheated. It is, of course, not the fault of the person who cheated when he or she is confronted—because he or she is trying to minimize her/his own culpability, and because the cuckolded partner wants to think that there's something else going on.
And, look, I get it: It's a lot easier to accept that the person you love wouldn't hurt you like that of his or her own free will. It's a lot easier to believe that there's something amazingly special about you that would make a partnered person risk their partnership in order to be with you than to think that person who wants you is just an amoral pusbag. The truth is kind of an ugly thing.
Cheating comes down to one thing. The person breaking their commitment fucked up. Period. Maybe it's about insecurity, maybe it's about libido, maybe it's about not caring about a partner's feelings, maybe it's just intended to be a catalyst to force a shitty relationship into a break-up. Nonetheless, it doesn't matter: If the cheater was a better partner, he or she wouldn't cheat.
And, quite frankly, arguing about women's responsibility not to fuck partnered people is like arguing about the war on drugs: decreasing the supply of available pussy by appealing to sisterly solidarity isn't going to end infidelity any more than advertisements about pot funding the War on Terror stopped people from toking up. I don't cheat on my partner because I can't fuck other people; and he doesn't refrain from sticking his dick in other women just because there's no one else who would fuck him. We've chosen monogamy because it makes sense for us, and it's a commitment we live every day despite other opportunities. Monogamy isn't a default, it's a decision. And if one partner decides not to abide by that decision, it might be a crappy thing for the "other woman" to do for dozens of reasons but, at the end of the day, it's not the responsibility of someone in the supposed sisterhood to keep their legs closed for your monogamous partner—it's the responsibility of your partner to keep from intimate engagement with anyone else's genitals.
[Image via Photocapy on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed]