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The Cheater's Manifesto (The Case for Non-Monogamy)

06/12/2013 07:10 pm ET | Updated Aug 12, 2013

The Manifesto: A list of thoughts cheaters may have to justify their actions

• I'm drunk. This person is hot. You're not here.
• Feeling sexually attracted to another person does not mean I'm no longer attracted to my partner or that my partner is any less attractive in general.
• I am not with my partner solely because they (used as a representation of all gender pronouns) refuse to have sex with anyone else except for me. Sexual exclusivity is not the foundation of my romantic relationships.
• Having sex with other people does not affect my commitment to providing love and support for my partner as I always have and will continue to do.
• I preserve the right to be spontaneous and act according to my own desires if it makes me happy.
• My partner does not own me and nobody has the right to dictate my behavior and be the sole focus of my thoughts and actions at all times.

These thoughts don't actually justify lying to and deceiving one's partner. But they do elicit questions about how much people prioritize absolute monogamy and whether sexual exclusivity is actually all that important in creating happy relationships.

Cheating is hard to talk about. It's a sensitive topic, as being cheated on can be very painful and devastating. Cheating is a transgression of boundaries and trust in a relationship, monogamous or non-monogamous. In a monogamous relationship, any romantic, emotional, sexual or even mental involvement with a third party can be considered cheating. In a non-monogamous relationship this isn't always the case.

Cheating is very common, unfortunately -- over 50 percent of both men and women admit to have cheated in a relationship. Cheating is often circumstantial -- it just kind of happens because two people were in the wrong place at the wrong time and hormones were high, or it was a spontaneous event that never happened again. Cheaters may go through the trouble of having long, risky affairs because deep inside they still want to be with their primary partners and ending a long, committed relationship isn't actually something they want to do.

People don't usually cheat with the intention of making their partners feel bad. If anything that's exactly what people don't want to do (hence, don't take it personally). Human beings' innate attraction to excitement and variety is the pitfall of monogamy, and the most reasonable explanation for why people cheat while maintaining long-term relationships. Cheating isn't always a consequence of individual deficiencies, as it is a desire for new, diverse experiences and wanting to feel attractive to other people. Those who get offended upon finding that their partners are sexually attracted to others are just as likely to want to find other people attractive too once in a while. A very impulsive mistake or the occasional craving for new thrills isn't always a solid reason to end meaningful relationships and banish people forever.

What is unfortunate for those who pursue monogamous relationships is that cheaters have all of human sexual evolution on their side (but humans are also evolved to make hard decisions and control themselves so don't blame evolution for hurting your partner's feelings). The evolutionary psychology book Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá provides the reproductive motivations behind why men and women cheat in monogamous relationships. Men cheat after they've knocked up a wife and pursue other cute women in the hopes of creating more offspring while ideally only having to financially support a few of them. Women secure access to a male's economic resources for herself and her children and then go after hot, rugged guys with the hope of having kids with someone better looking. Our primitive sexual nature is pretty depressing, and it seems that humans were conditioned to be assholes to the people we love.

It seems that human beings are engineered to want both secure, intimate relationships and sexual novelty at the same time. Hooking up with other people doesn't mean that one has stopped caring for one's partner, or that one is no longer committed to being in that relationship. The drama and devastation of cheating demonstrate the immense emphasis placed on sexual exclusivity in relationships, more so than the other non-sexual factors that make those relationships great. Exclusivity does not necessarily equal love and commitment and vice versa.

Disrespecting your partner's boundaries and trust is not okay. Lying to your partner is never okay. But acknowledging that you have desires and sexual urges outside of your relationship is okay, (and highly encouraged) because that's pretty common and normal. Everyone needs to be open and honest with their partners if they ever find themselves tempted to get at other people, rather than making bad choices and hoping that their partner never finds out. And in turn, partners should understand that such temptation isn't a product of anyone's personal faults or unattractiveness--it just happens sometimes. Cheating is terrible and shouldn't ever happen to anyone. But if it does happen and there are still emotions and commitment among partners, they should consider whether preserving exclusivity is genuinely worth destroying relationships, families and self-esteem.


For a sassier, more explicit version, read this on www.nadiacho.com