I happen to think that this sort of behavior, where people in serious relationships engage in sexual banter, flirting, etc, is ridiculously common. More so than I think most women want to acknowledge. I agree that in the confines of a fantasy situation, where there’s no threat of one or both parties getting attached, that this is not cheating. However….
I understand why some people do feel this particular situation was “wrong.” This wasn’t as simple as some guy anonymously sending shots of his genitals to random women. He was conducting an ongoing relationship with a young woman who knew who he was, what he did, etc. If you read the transcripts you’d know that this woman believed there was more going on between them than just a fantasy. When Weiner ceased communication with her, she went from, “Hey baby. You hard?” to “I won’t be ignored, Dan.”
When the person on the other end of the internetz threatens to out you, it’s no longer a fantasy. Had the woman Weiner been involved with been a little bit older, I have no doubt people would have called her a psycho. (But for the record, if she were older and she knew the guy was otherwise committed or unavailable, she loses her right to cry foul. I cringe when women go this route.) At 19, 20, 21 you don’t really understand that all this stuff the guy is saying isn’t real. Of course she was going to get attached. A man so much older, like Weiner, should have known better. What he did was alarmingly reckless. That, to me, is what’s truly disturbing about the whole situation and these situations in general.
I’ve watched women on Twitter and Facebook publicly lash out at guys who refuse to acknowledge them. That’s why, to me, these situations are so fraught with landmines. If you’re going to look outside your primary relationship for attention or physical gratification, then you better be damn skippy sure that who you’re swapping bodily fluids with (even if you’re just jerking off to them) knows it’s a fantasy or has an expiration date.
Whether or not these situations are cheating is up to the individual couple. To dismiss all situations that involve this behavior as “just a fantasy” is ignorant. I think it’s easy to brush this behavior off as nothing when you have been without a relationship for an extended period of time. I know that’s how it was for me. The longer you stay single, the easier it becomes to forget how it feels to fear losing someone.
A recent relationship, while short, had moments that made me remember. Reading things while naked in bed, silly in jokes, learning (and being annoyed by) someone’s little quirks. Even something that lasted only a few months had me re-thinking how I’d feel if I knew, or thought, I wasn’t enough for someone.
So much so that when a guy re-entered my life recently, someone I had met earlier this year, I was baffled at his personal view of commitment. In a nutshell, he suggested we get together for a drink. But “to be honest” he “got” in to a “relationship thing” since the last time we spoke. I asked him to define “relationship thing.” He said he had a girlfriend. I said I understood and that meeting wouldn’t be appropriate. He said it “just kinda happened.” Hmm…Moxie intrigued.
Is it an open relationship or does she think you’re exclusive?
She thinks we’re exclusive. I’m just being honest here. I definitely think you’re hot and think we could have a lot of fun.
So I said:
Well, bonus points for “being honest.” But maybe try being honest with your GF first.
And the funny thing is? I believe that “it just happened.” I do believe that some men just find themselves in a situation where they tell the woman they are her boyfriend..just for the hell of it. Sure. We’re exclusive. Sure. We’re a couple. You want to call me your boyfriend? Alrighty then. But the minute it becomes too serious/obligated/not fun, suddenly they feel trapped. And you know why I think they do it? Because being able to say that you’re in a relationship is a great way to avoid being in a relationship.
The girlfriend isn’t a partner, she’s a beard. If she’s particularly young or inexperienced or too understanding, the guy will pretty much get away with murder. And he knows it. So he has the girlfriend at home waiting for him while he’s out shagging whomever. And then he’s using the girlfriend as an excuse why he can’t stay longer or give more. These situations are ideal for men who aren’t emotionally evolved enough to carry on a true, committed relationship. In this scenario, the fantasy is the committed relationship. There is no reality involved.
I guess what all of this has me thinking is how we have individually developed various definitions for monogamy and cheating and commitment. It used to be that we wanted to know if the person we’re dating was on the same page as us in terms of the direction of the relationship. There’s just too many loopholes nowadays. Too many ways to cheat, too much temptation.
Now it feels like we have to make sure we both agree upon what constitutes fidelity, cheating, monogamy and commitment.