THE BLOG
03/31/2016 03:56 pm ET Updated Apr 01, 2017

Should Cheaters Be Shunned?

I am not a prude. What ever kind of sex consulting adults want to engage in is fine with me, but if the husband wants to be with the wife's close girlfriend or the wife wants to get it on with her husband's pal, isn't that worse than just having an affair with a stranger? And when this is happening within a close group of friends can't we agree that the two "cheaters" should expect some social consequences?

There seem to be two schools of thought about this situation that I am finding myself in. Live and let live, those are the personal sexual choices of those involved, and the other response of outrage, that a betrayal of a friend should be met with shunning and not just pretend everything is okay and go on socializing with the cheaters. I am sure you can see which side I am on.

Are there no moral absolutes? Doesn't the code of the dudes apply to women friends too? (Dudes don't screw other dudes' women.) When you have a friend, isn't the least you can expect from your friendship that you will not have sex with each others mates without permission? That seems like the minimum requirement to me, and yet, when one of the husbands of our "tribe" had a two year affair with the close friend of his wife, the general consensus was that it was none of our business and everyone should still be friends. Isn't that a horrible betrayal to the wife? What is friendship without loyalty and trust? Haven't the cheaters proven they don't have those two important qualities? Are there really no social consequences for such outrageous behavior?

I am not the "church lady"! No one is a stronger supporter of gay rights, open marriage or being a sexual libertine if that is your thing, but I feel the betrayal of a friend by having sex with their spouse deserves social punishment.

Judy Jackson, MA from John Jay College of Criminal Justice Forensic Psychology and founder of FullForce Forensics believes it is not up to us to be social arbiters and that shunning people is a device used as a control mechanism by those threatened by the behavior of others. She went on to say that monogamy is a social construct not everyone subscribes to. Open marriages and polyamory are becoming more prevalent yet she has observed, even under those conditions, people cheat.

Mark D. White PhD. chair of the Department of Philosophy at the College of Staten Island/CUNY in discussing the ethics of adultery and whether or not it is ever justified feels that it is natural to condemn adultery. Dr. White says that most moral philosophies allow for some justifications for cheating: some consider the consequences of the affair, others the circumstances around the affair, and yet others the character of the people involved. Moral relativism seems to be the order of the day.

But I have another take on this. Charlie Bennett was part of my close circle of friends when I lived in N.Y.C. When he stole millions of dollars from his/our closest friends, wiping them out financially, the whole crowd turned on him and wanted to kill him. That level of betrayal was unfathomable to me. There would be no set of circumstances that would induce me to steal from my friends. I see the situation between my sexually cheating ex-friends as exactly the same. Isn't a spouse more valuable than money? Why is it business as usual with the cheaters and a united front against Charlie? Shunning the cheaters and excluding them from all further social functions gives the right message, it isn't cool to poach a friend's spouse, there ARE social consequences to bad behavior. Apparently I am alone among these friends. I need a new circle that has similar standards for what constitutes friendship and what should happen when that trust has been violated.