Someone on Twitter this afternoon linked to a post explaining why they don’t like a particular tv show.  It was a very interesting read, and although I’ve never seen that particular show, I now know for certain that I have absolutely NO desire to change that.  At the end of that article, there was a link to another article with a somewhat provocative title:

“Maybe Men Cheat Because They Love Their Partners”

Here’s a link to it so you can read it for yourself, if you’re so inclined:

Go ahead, I’ll wait…

I found it interesting, because I’ve mused on this topic for a while – that sex and love do not necessarily go hand in hand (I know, I know, I’ll never be allowed back in through the hallowed gates of DisneyWorld with an attitude like that).  I have, at different times in my life, happily engaged in a long-term “friends with benefits” arrangement or several.  Guess what?  We’re still friends!

I’ve got several male friends with whom I can have rather frank conversations of a sexual nature.  Many of them express their frustration to me that their wives simply aren’t interested in sex any more (or not *as* interested as he is), and yet they’d completely lose it if the man expressed any interest in meeting those needs elsewhere.  The women “know” and “understand” that their men have “needs,” but aren’t willing to meet those needs themselves.  So why, I wonder, is it a big deal to let him find another lover who IS willing to meet his needs?  Why is it easier or more acceptable to A) continually tell him “no” or to B) grudgingly give in and let him have his way when she’s not really interested or C) ignore it altogether and pretend he’s not surfing internet porn and masturbating in the shower every morning?  Certainly she must know from her own experience that masturbation takes the edge off but just isn’t anywhere near as satisfying as the connection between two people slapping flesh together.

I realize I’m not “normal” for thinking that way.  I’ll probably have my Pink Card revoked or something.  But really, if there is open, honest, respectful communication between all parties, and acceptable ground rules are laid out (more on that later), and nobody has to feel insecure that the other might leave the partnership, WHAT is the big deal?  It’s just sex.

Yeah, yeah, sex is wonderful, it’s lovely, it’s actually really freaking MARVELOUS when two people make that kind of mind-blowing connection.  There might even be genuine affection, or even (*gasp!*) love between the man and his newfound partner, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he wants to leave his wife – especially if she’s finally acknowledging that his needs are real and valid, and allowing him to meet those needs, which probably provides her a certain measure of relief that she’s no longer *obliged* to do so until/unless she wants.  With the pressure off, she might even find her interest re-awakening…

Some examples of ground rules that will likely vary with each persons comfort: the wife might or might not want to meet any prospective partners first; overnight visits might or might not be allowed; any children of the couple might or might not be allowed to interact with the new partner; the wife might or might not want to hear details of the encounters; the wife might want solid assurances that no threat to her marriage will be tolerated – the instant the new girlfriend starts asking for more than the agreed-upon days and times, or wondering if the husband might consider leaving his wife for her, that’s when things need a serious re-evaluation, possibly even a full stop.

And I think this kind of arrangement needs to go the other way, too.  I know there are women out there who aren’t sexually satisfied in their relationships, but are otherwise quite happy with their man.  Why couldn’t she (again, with open, honest, respectful communication) seek that physical connection without being looked at as a tramp, or without her man wondering if she’s going to ditch him for the new guy?

I know this isn’t the standard paradigm for the modern marriage (far from it!), not everybody is going to be capable of the kind of communication required for it to work well, and certainly not everybody is even going to be willing to try – largely due to a fear that just asking for permission to stray will lead to a major meltdown, loads of hurt feelings and resentment, or possibly even an end to the marriage.  I think that it will take a very long time, if ever, for these kinds of dialogues to be considered acceptable.  As one man pointed out to me – a woman looking for an extra-marital lover is probably less likely to run into resistance than a man would.  Imagine a man telling a woman “my wife is okay with it…”  Is she liable to believe him without a LOT of convincing?  Whereas a man approached by a married woman is probably less likely to ask questions and more likely to jump on the chance for some no-strings fun.

Either way, I’d love it if sex wasn’t such a taboo subject, if our bodies weren’t sources of so much shame, and I find myself struggling with HOW MUCH to share with my daughters (13 and 10) to help them be confident in their emerging sexuality and their future (hopefully healthy) relationships.