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Is Cheating Wrong If the Partner Knows?

by  Merissa Nathan Gerson

September 27, 2010 | 1:07 am

Infidelity yields all kinds of results. See Julianne Moore in Far From Heaven for one scenario.

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Dear Yenta,

I am a man having an affair with a married man whose spouse knows about us and looks the other way. Is it still morally wrong?

-Cheeeeattttittttinnggg?

Dear C,

That’s a tricky one. It comes down to a number of things, mostly between the married man and his wife/husband. There are such things as open marriages, where the couple, despite their commitment to one another for life, choose to open their beds to others (see PiggyBack Dating for more). If this is the case, continue to ride the bull guilt-free.

But let’s play with some other scenarios, shall we? Let’s say this man you are sleeping with is married to a woman and the woman is not into open relationships. Ok. She catches her husband, whom she thought loved women such as herself, sleeping with male you. That blows on so many levels that she might rather go on pretending. In this case, it is definitely morally wrong.

I met a couple once, a man and a woman, who found each other at a support group. It was a group for people whose spouses left them for same-sex lovers. Ie, both this man and woman’s respective wife and husband went gay, they fell apart, and then found each other at my-wife/husband-left-me-for-homosexuality-anonymous.

Another time I met a man who was sleeping with men and cheating on his wife. They tried to make it work for 6 years until things fell apart. When they divorced he became very gay and very happily ever after. You never know what the deal is with a couple, if they are meant to be together, or if you are a bump on their road to moving on to stage 76587 of their existence. Regardless, it is messy to be tooting a married man’s horn.

Another option, you are sleeping with a man married to a man who is cheating on his husband. Forget the gay factor, infidelity SUCKS. People who don’t tell and accept the situation might be in a loveless business transaction marriage, or might be too terrified of losing their spouse, or maybe don’t care one way or the other. Either way, I am inclined to say that yes, no matter what the situation, it is always morally wrong to break a vow.

So, you know if you are involved in vow-breaking based on what you know of the scenario. Also, the onus falls on your lover, most of all. He is the one with a commitment that he is violating. You, on the other hand, are simply an enabler.

Moral of the story: check the waters before you jump. If you are already swimming with the sharks of infidelity, then ask one, “Sharky, are you married with benefits? Is your wife a repressed woman denying your homosexuality? Is your husband getting his heart broken?” Find out exactly what you are dealing with and then judge yourself accordingly. Generally, even if a marriage is already dead, an affair helps to put that fire out. I like building marriage fires for long slow lifelong warmth, so try not to mess with the flames.

It also boils down to you: why are you choosing married men for lovers in the first place? A question for you, yourself and you.


Ask Yenta an anonymous question!  Send an e-mail via www.send-email.org to merissag[at]gmail[dot]com.

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